Previously, I detailed our trip from San Ramon-San Jose-Liberia-Playa Hermosa and I thought it might be good to add what we learned going from our second trip from San Jose directly to Playas del Coco which is essentially the same trip with a different ending.
I would like to suggest this trip as a first bus trip since it is not hard and goes to a great place.
Ok, this time I decided to buy the tickets a day in advance since we were traveling during the high season (Jan 1) and I could not miss this bus. They sold me seats 3-4-5-7 (left side , front, top deck), so not it was going to be sold out!. Still, I was glad to get buying the tickets behind me. I will mention, I typed and printed what I wanted / when since I do not speak Spanish and still I made a mistake on the dates which my wife was able to straighten up. The whole CR dd/mm versus my US mm/dd format still catches me sometimes.
I took an uber to get from my home in Sabana to the bus station to catch the 8:00am direct bus. Btw, I did not see any ubers in Coco.
During our last trip, we took the bus from San Jose-Liberia-Playa Hermosa. Notice below all the bus times available from SJ-Liberia. There are only three direct routes from SJ to Playa Coco each day but if you missed one, take any bus to Liberia and finish up the trip with a local bus from Liberia to Coco. Note the Coco bus ended up going through Liberia but not really stopping. I think it might have dropped someone off. Also, this bus did not stop at SJO or LIR airports on the way to the beach, if that was a question.
Below is a view from the front seats where I noticed a huge crack in the front window, I assume from rocks hitting them. I am sure who ever was in that seat at the time probably saw their life flash in front of them.
The direct bus from SJ to Coco stopped a few time to pick up passengers but did not stop at the airports – SJO or LIR. I could not see if the passengers boarded with tickets or cash. From Coco to SJ they were constantly asking if anyone wanted to get off at certain places so pay attention especially if you want to get off at the SJO airport which I am betting is a required stop but who knows. Returning from Coco to SJ, we stopped in Sardinal (which is listed on the ticket) and picked up the majority of the passengers, went a little toward Liberia not getting to the airport of town it appeared to pick up a rental car worker so I don’t know what that was about.
A suggestion. When you arrive at Coco, it might be a good time to buy your return ticket then since it will save you a trip later to buy it in advance. Again, it did not seem always sold out but returning to SJ, on guy did stand for 5 hours. I do not want to be that guy.
So the trip takes a +4 hours by car and +5 by bus. Remember there is no onboard bathroom but they do have a rest stop half way through for 20 minutes. I am conflicted on what to do with my backpack at the rest stop. The bus driver makes everyone get off and locks the bus so it seems safe but criminals could be the last off and take something. It looks so gringo to take it with you but it would be a pain to have it stolen.
Here is where we ate and where we stayed while in Coco. Coco is a tourist place so every thing is expensive. I think next time we will try to get into the Hostel M&M (instead of the Hotel M&M) which on the beach, has high ratings and is less expensive.
Here is a local taxi I use when I am in Coco. I think he charged us c6M ($12) to go from Playas del Coco to Playas Hermosa and back.
If you want to get off at a stop make sure to alert the driver 150 meter (2 blocks) before so he has time to stop safely
We caught the return bus back to SJ in Coco at 8am. Again, I bought the ticket beforehand and the bus was a single decker. Luggage goes on first into a huge storage compartment that could easily handle surf boards, etc. Note, you don’t get a claims tag.
Pulling out of Coco there were not many people on the bus so I am thinking what fool to buy the ticket in advance. But the bus stops in Sardinal before hitting the highway and all the remaining seats were taken and one guy had to stand.
Below was the onboard entertainment for the trip. She had a rough start but eventually settled down. Some folk might want to carry ear plugs or a headset if crying kids upsets you or bring cookies. Fortunately, my wife is a kid magnet and knows all the moves to keep them entertained.
Another option is to catch the local bus from Coco to Liberia. There is no “station” for the local bus in Coco, just a stop by the side of the road across from this chicken place. This bus will take you to Liberia where you can connect to buses going many places including SJ.
Here is the online schedule from the website thebusschedule.com I took the “2” choice (8:00am) below that says it goes through Alajuela and there is a change. They stopped but there as no change. Notice the arrival time is the same as the departure time which I think typically means you stay on the bus. In our case, they actually stopped at the airport which is in Alajuela not to be confused with the Alajuela station across from the airport. Note the return schedule is also included at the top of this post.
Coco is not that big. Below is the layout of the bus stations and where we stayed. The bus from SJ terminates a little way out of town and I was worried about the walk with our luggage but besides being hot, it was not a hard walk to our hotel. There are plenty of taxis too. Notice the location of the Direct Bus from SJ compared to the local bus that circulates between Coco and Liberia. Hint: You might want to take the opportunity when you get off the bus to walk across the street to the Auto Mercado which is air conditioned and get some supplies.
Here is another great write up on make this trip web