Summary (about $200)
Bus c4500 for two
Left 9:00am and arrived at 11:40
Lunch next t to bus station 2xc1500 = c3,000
Toured La Fortuna
Dinner 2xc3000= c6000
Lunch 2xc2000= c4000
Tour Hike, Arenal, Hot Springs (2-8pm) 2×35=$70
Breakfast 2xc1500 = c3000
Bus c4500 for two
(note: c540 = $1. The 2X is because I brought my wife who is an excellent traveling buddy)
I wanted to do a survey trip of La Fortuna and Arenal over a few days so we could we see where to stay and what there was to do. Fortunately, there is a direct bus from San Ramon to La Fortuna which makes San Ramon even more endearing to me.
First, I used TripAdvisor and Booking.com to locate the hotels I could afford near the center of town.
Second, I added the top rated places to eat to give me something to check out.
Third, I added the activities I wanted to check out – hot springs, boat tour and nature preserves. I was not really interested in the adventure trips like white water rafting, rappelling or zip-lining this time though there are plenty of those options available.
I also wanted to investigate how to get to Monteverde probably using the taxi-boat-taxi option. Many of my trips are scoutning trips to places I can eventually link together to make a tour of Costa Rica.
There are two maps below showing the route. The one on the left is Google Maps and the one on the right is Google Earth. I love how you can get Google earth to show the elevation change for the trip. Costa Rica is a hilly mountainy? country and you are constantly going up and down but you can see from the profile that coming from La Fortuna you are climbing in altitude which you will notice as you pass through the cloud forrest area a little north of San Ramon. Also, something I did not expect was the bus took 702 all the way which is much slower and carved than the route Google kept pushing which on the other hand made the trip more interesting. It is also interesting to note this bus is a working bus delivering packages along the way. The driver is constantly blowing his horn and shop owners run our and get their supplies along the route which adds an interesting dimension to the trip.
The La Fortuna bus pulls into the local bus station in San Ramon opposite the central market side and opposite the side with the shops. The cost was c4,500 for two. Our bus left at 9:00am and arrive a little before noon. We had thought about taking the 5:30am bus that would get us there are 8:30am, spend the day and come back on a late bus but we are not young enough to pull off a day trip like that anymore.
Map of San Ramon
La Fortuna pickup is on the side where the tan or taupe bus on the right below. Shops are on the left.
Here is what the La Fortuna bus looks like
It was a nice, clean, big, modern bus.
It liked that this bus has the separators for the overhead bin which you can use to secure your backpack so it does not slide to the front of the bus during sudden stops. I wanted to mention to bring ear plugs. They had the music up loud on the trip which along with curvy road can make you sick.
I think one of the amazing things about this trip is the diversity of landscape from city, urban, farm land, jungle, cloud forest, jungle, rural, urban, and back to city. I think this trip would give visitors a good tour of the country which they could enjoy while someone else negotiates the turns.
Here are the posted schedules for the La Fortuna station
The La Fortuna bus station is modern, clean and easy to navigate. Note, we bought our tickets on both sides from the bus driver.
Be aware there is a MegaSuper attached to the bus station which is a full grocery store where you can get your supplies before heading to the hostel.
If you wanted to go around the lake this station has a bus to Tileran which is on the west side of the lake.
Another great feature is the Soda (small restaurant) located next to the bus station which has a clean bathroom, a wide selection and reasonable prices. Soda Website
We toured around La Fortuna for the afternoon checking out the hostels and restaurants along with the church and park.
We ended up staying at Hostel Backpackers which is in the center of town and was the least expensive at $30 a night for a private room. It was off season so the cost was low and there were no party animals. They shut the music off at 10pm but I still used earplugs in case someone came in later drunk. The room has AC which I did not expect and they gave us a free drink so we would know where the bar was. Towels would have cost extra but we brought ours since we were going to the Hot Springs. I booked through expedia so did not pay a key deposit. There was plenty of hot water for the shower which was welcomed. The front desk said we could use the pool at the sister hostel a block down but we did not get around to it. Over all good value for the money. Note, come November the prices go up after green season.
We wanted to explore as much as possible and signed up for Red Lava Arenal Volcano Tour which was 6hrs guided tour of the trails, waterfalls and volcano followed by a drip in the free hot springs and home by 8pm. We paid $35 off season which goes to $45 high season.
More on the “free” hot springs included in the tour https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gV5dGSCnWB0
More Hot Springs Information http://crtraveling.com/hot-springs
We had a wonderful dinner here. Not cheap but good. There is nothing cheap in a tourist town like La Fortuna.
Here are a few other places I saw that we will check out next time.
This poster was at the Hostel with suggestions on what to do in La Fortuna.
More shots out the window on the bus trip back to San Ramon.
Other places on my short list to stay which need further investigation
0.3 miles from La Fortuna de San Carlos center
#9 of 62 Specialty lodging in La Fortuna de San Carlos
0.2 miles from La Fortuna de San Carlos center
#14 of 62 Specialty lodging in La Fortuna de San Carlos
1.6 miles from La Fortuna de San Carlos center
#17 of 62 Specialty lodging in La Fortuna de San Carlos
0.1 miles from La Fortuna de San Carlos center
#18 of 62 Specialty lodging in La Fortuna de San Carlos
0.4 miles from La Fortuna de San Carlos center
#19 of 62 Specialty lodging in La Fortuna de San Carlos
#30 of 62 Specialty lodging in La Fortuna de San Carlos
0.2 miles from La Fortuna de San Carlos center
#32 of 62 Specialty lodging in La Fortuna de San Carlos