Bus Travel Costa Rica is a part of the travel culture. There are very limited railways and flying is both expensive and a pain.
Distances are short and although bus trips are long in relation to the distance they will often be my choice.
Flights require either a shuttle (expensive) or the bus plus a taxi to the airport, arriving hour’s early, going through all the sludge of checking in, bags being x-rayed, waiting for the flight and then being squashed into a seat designed for a midget! Arriving a long distance from your destination in town, anxiously waiting for your baggage – hoping it won’t be one of the 2 million every year that finds its way to where you aren’t! – then another taxi into town.
Overall flying may be quicker but it’s not nearly so enjoyable and relaxing.
San Jose to La Fortuna
Finding and catching buses in San Jose is a pain – the bus stations are scattered all around the city. Each going to different destinations - some you can catch at the airport and some not.
Some bus stations in very dubious areas. The Terminal Central 10-7 bus station is located around the areas of Calle 12 and 10 and Avenida 7. We walked along Calle 10 and 12 and on both roads had some anxious moments. My advice – avoid them if at all possible.
As our bus left from the terminal a bus representative made an announcement in Spanish and English. The gist was 'be aware there have been incidents of people getting on the bus as it’s leaving the city and being “liberated” of their possessions'.
This was slightly disturbing and I hurriedly stashed my wallet and passports under the seat covers! But we left without an incident.
The bus departed on time with young people sitting on the floor. This over capacity didn’t stop the driver from stopping numerous times to add to the load.
The relatively short journey took much longer than expected. Stop, start, big hills and sharp descents all contributing.
Monteverde to San Jose
On a cold blustery morning we left Monterey for San Jose to collect some luggage that had been “lost” by Cubana Air and which they refused to deliver. This was another relatively short distance that took an inordinately long time to drive.
The road out of Monterey was a thrilling experience. Very steep descents with gaping valleys. Sections of the road washed away and not enough space for cars and trucks to pass side by side. The first 20 kilometres were very slow and bumpy.
Routes between cities are not direct and the distance travelled may be twice as long as the straight point to point distance.
There are many stops for passengers and the required meal stop … for the driver.
Uvita to San Isidro and back
Another circuitous route and slow local bus trip. Enjoyable but long. The buses are not air-conditioned and they stop to pick up and drop off passengers all along the route at bus stops on the side of the road.
Seat numbering is usually recognised at the origin of a long distance journey but from then on is 'find a seat where you can'.
San Isidro Local Bus
In San Isidro town we used the local bus service to and from town and it was convenient, cheap and reliable.
Bus Travel Costa Rica
- Enjoyable, a fun experience and recommended if you have the time and no critical deadlines.
- Drivers and conductors are friendly and helpful – even more so if you make some attempt at speaking Spanish … however bad.