Getting Around Costa Rica

The next day I got breakfast at around 9AM with Marlene and Pili (YUM). Afterwards, I was going to take the bus for my second time but it was going to be the first time going such a long distance.

Before arriving in Costa Rica I found this website (link at bottom of post) that had buses connecting people to many different areas within the country for $45+, however, from my travel experience I assumed I could find something less expensive by just asking locals. I also knew if I couldn’t I’d be able to book while I was there – I knew I’d have to eventually get from Liberia to San Jose (airports I was flying in and out of) but I didn’t really worry about how I’d do it.

This time I was going from Liberia in Guanacaste to La Fortuna in. I asked Marlene if it was possible and she let me know of two different routes I could take, like they were both just as long I decided to go with the option that would allow me to see different areas of the country. The ride was to be about 4.5 hours, just one hour more than the $45+ bus and the price was only about $10.

The problem with taking connecting buses is that if one is late the other won’t wait – I learned this the hard way haha. I was taking two connecting buses, going from the first was no problem but the one traveling to Tilaran arrived about 7 minutes late and the next bus I needed to take didn’t wait. One of the two things that made me feel better about the situation was that there were locals with me, it wasn’t something that just happened to me because I was foreign and didn’t know how the buses worked.

The second reason was because like the next bus scheduled wasn’t coming for another 3 hours I had time to explore the area I was in and the third (OF COURSE) was that I was able to make a stop in the area for ice cream (pictures to come).

But back the focus of this article -things to keep in mind when traveling through Costa Rica:
My 10 top of mind items for public transportation:

1. The country is extremely mountainous so although short distances it can take quite a while to get from Point A to Point B because it isn’t a straight flat path

2. Don’t be afraid to speak to locals – I often asked if I wasn’t sure I was taking the right bus or if I thought my stop was coming up

3. Fares are determined by distance – the bus drivers usually have tons of change if you don’t have any, some even take dollars

4. You need to know the name of the stop you’re getting off at so you can tell the bus driver, this is how you know the fare and he can also tell you where to get off

5. REMIND THE BUS DRIVER – they will often forget to call out the stop you are getting off on even if you asked them to so I recommend sitting close to the front and reminding him when you think you’re close

6. My personal recommendation is to google map how long a car would take to get from point A to point B and when you’ve been on the bus for 75-80% of that time go up and remind the driver again

7. The buses remind me of greyhound buses in NYC – I assume because the commutes tend to be longer they don’t have uncomfortable seats like the MTA does

8. Sometimes they have bottom compartments in which you can store luggage, other times you’ll have to take it up top and store by a handicap door

9. BE AWARE, especially attentive of who you sit next to – I was in a situation where I sat next to someone who looked my way too much and asked too many of the potential risk questions (who are you traveling with, where are your friends, are you married etc. – btw this is a circumstance in which its best to be dishonest), I made conversations as short as possible but still a very uncomfortable predicament

10. Be confident! I’m a city girl born and raised so I’m sure this helped me get around but even when you aren’t sure just know there is always a way to get from Point A to Point B

$45+ buses:

Local buses: (do it the local way, I dare you 😊)
I didn’t take taxis much and when I did it was with Pili who I know tends to charge less than the average so unfortunately I cannot provide opinions there. One thing I do know is that taxis in Costa Rica are red, not the yellow I’ve seen in other countries I’ve visited

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