Grecia to Puerto Viejo

Recently we took a trip to the Caribbean (Puerto Viejo) for the first time. We decided to go by bus for economic reasons – it cost about $10 each/each way. Having been in CR only 2 months, and not speaking Spanish, we were a little overwhelmed by the process, but Rob Evans is our hero. We found this site invaluable, and Rob is patient answering thousands of questions. We had exact instructions from Rob prior to leaving our rental in San Luis de Grecia. We took the local bus to Grecia at 6 A.M. Once in Grecia, we caught the 6:30 bus to San Jose. We arrived in SJ about 7:40, took a taxi over to Atlantic North terminal, and our plan was to buy our tickets for a 10 A.M. departure to Puerto Viejo. We planned to go have some breakfast while we waited. To our surprise, there was an 8 A.M. bus, and we were able to get on that bus, and be on our way. (This was a MEPE bus). The bus went to Limon, where it stopped for a potty break at the terminal in Limon. We were there about 15-20 minutes (long enough to get some breakfast at a soda in the terminal), then on the way to Puerto Viejo.

 

We arrived in Puerto Viejo right about noon. Our plan was to return on Monday morning, so we got up early and headed into Puerto Viejo to buy our tickets. The bus was to depart at 8 A.M. to San Jose. The ticket office did not open until 7:45 – I’m not sure if that’s the scheduled time or not – and there was a little bit of a line waiting when they opened.

The agent advised that both the 8 o’clock and 10 o’clock buses were full, that there would likely be standing room only. Here’s some advice – go to the ticket office the day before and buy your return ticket, instead of waiting until the day of travel.

The agent advised that we would be “stand-by”, or the last to load. We watched as the bus loaded, fearing that we would be standing all the way back. When we were down to the “stand-by” group, we were called up to load. A young lady who had purchased her ticket before us complained to the agent, and he replied to her “don’t you see how old he is” (62, FYI), referring to me (not my wife). Man, I love this place. We boarded the bus and found two of the remaining seats (not together though) for our trip home. The return trip was just like the trip down – stopped in Limon, then on to San Jose. Couldn’t have been any easier, because we had all the info we needed, thanks to this group, and especially Rob. Our total cost, including all transfer buses and taxis, was less than $50. We are thankful for Rob’s work, and looking forward to our next adventure. Pura Vida!

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Terminal Atlántico Norte (Terminal MEPE)

I am a little confused by this station.   I think it might have been a main station before Terminal 7-10, next door, was built so it appears to have a few names.  When I look it up on Google, it shows that Terminal MEPE and Terminal Atlantico Norte are both at this location.  MEPE is the main company here primarily services to the Caribbean side with a major hub in Limon.  I say all this so when you tell the taxi driver where you are going to remember both names in case he does not know one.

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I am probably the wrong person for this since I am so naive (I often strike up conversations with drug dealers and prostitutes not knowing their occupation until my wife hits me on the head) but I thought it was important to make folks aware that the area around Terminal 7-10 and Terminal MEPE has a bad reputation. I have been walking around and through the area for a year no knowing its reputation for a year without incident (daytime). I hear the telltale clue to seedy areas is the number of hourly hotels.  I knew it was seedy but I have been and lived in worse so am clueless but I see the guide books suggest caution in these area which is why I suggest folks take a taxi in and out to make sure you are safe. Again, I walk through here all the time but I am not looking for drugs or prostitutes and look like I know where I am going and am on a mission and so draw little attention. I marked the “red zones” below according to the guide books which I am sure are approximate.

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If you want to see backpackers, this is the terminal to see them.  I might guess, half the folks on my bus were backpackers.  I am betting many are on their way to Panama.

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MEPE has a pretty simple route headed to Cahuita, Puerto Viejo, Bribri and Sixola where you cross into Panama

 

The MEPE bus pulls into the middle bay next to the Central bus on the right.

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I wanted to mention that I noticed this station is also the home for Central Line.  Central Line, SA is a Nicaraguan company  dedicated to international transport service (daily) between San Jose – Managua and Managua – San Jose. facebook and website

A few other points.  There is a public bathroom that costs c200 and a restaurant on site.  Also, the taxi drivers are aggressive so be prepared when you step off the bus.

Oh, we really enjoy the Costa Rica children who are curious, polite and full of fun as they investigate why us old gringos are on the bus.

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UPDATE

  • Lisa Valencia

    12/29, 11:44am

    Lisa Valencia

    Hi Rob, MEPE is one of the bus companies that go to the Caribbean from San Jose. The other, Caribbeaños, only goes to Limon city from San Jose.

    Both used to leave from the bus station called Caribbeaños. About 2 or 3 years ago MEPE had a disagreement with the owner of the bus station Caribbeaños and changed stations. At that time they began and are still leaving for the Caribbean from the bus station called Atlantic Norte. Which also has buses to San Carlos, northwest of San Jose.

    The bus stations are not owned by the bus companies. The bus companies contract use of the bus stations. So the name of the station for the direct bus to Puerto Viejo, is Atlantic Norte. Atlantico Norte It is on Avenida 9, calle 12 in Barrio Mexico. The name of the bus company that leaves for Puerto Viejo from Atlantico Norte is MEPE.

    I always tell people the name of the bus station and the address, (above). I do not mention the name of the bus company, in case some uninformed taxi driver goes to the old bus station. I have heard of this happening.

    As for the Caribbeanos bus which leaves from the Caribbeanos bus station and goes to Limon. Their buses leave more frequently and are nicer and more comfortable buses. My husband prefers this one. He goes to San Jose once a month. But I do not tell most guests about this because this bus only goes to Limon and they would have to changes buses and bus stations in Limon, which may confuse them.

    Lisa Valencia

    http://www.travelexperiencecostarica.com

 

Debt Paid

Last year as a newbie I arrived at the Liberia bus station trying to get to Playa Hermosa. I thought I knew the right bus but was unsure. Meanwhile a taxi driver kept trying to entice me with better and better fares. Well when the taxi guy realized I was determined to take the bus he flagged the right bus down and helped load my luggage. It happened so fast I forgot to say thank you. Since that time I have thought of that kind service and wished I had tipped him. Well today , a year later , I was at the same bus station and met him again and gave him the tip I should have done earlier. Another item done from my todo list . Thank you Juan 8526-0352

juan

Playas del Coco Update

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.

San Ramon-San Jose-Liberia-Playa Hermosa

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.

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The seats are reserved and I think they are about $9 one way.

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.

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Lots of ubers were in the area that day around the bus station.

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.

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Nice bus but not full leaving SJ

 

 

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I was dying to ride the double decker on the left which happened this trip.  Look at those huge expanse of window upfront.  I am not sure what deal is with the front seats.  How come I seem to get my tickets early but never get 1,2,3,4 and then those seats are often unoccupied.
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We sat on the left (facing the front) a few seats behind the front window.  I was thinking the front seat looking out the window was going to be the best but I think the ones pictured above behind the stair well (7-8? – on left looking forward) has the most window space.  As you can see, it was wasted on two young kids playing video games.
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Here is what the wheel well looks like in front of the seat above.  You walk up this narrow stairs to the second level.  There is a similar set of stairs in the middle of the double decker.

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.

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So here is what you get to.  Sunset at Playas del Coco.

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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Here is another great write up on make this trip web

 

Puntarenas

Puntarenas – San Ramon – San José

Puntarenas – Playon

INVU Barranca – Puntarenas

Puntarenas – The INVU Barranca

San Miguel de Barranca – Puntarenas

Puntarenas – San Miguel de Barranca

Puntarenas – Carmen Lyra

Puntarenas – El Progreso – Juanito Mora

Puntarenas – Canyon

Puntarenas – Miramar for Costanera

 The bus stations are at the beginning of the peninsula on the right side of the map below.  I come in from San Ramon at the station closest to the water.  I think that is where the San Jose bus comes in too.  The station a little further north has the local routes listed above.

Google Map of Puntarenas

The ferry is located at the left end of the peninsula on the map below.

Ferry Schedule

Cruise Ship

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Note, Puntarenas can be a good station to get further down the the coast to places like Jaco

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Playa Hermosa, Guancaste

Overview: San Ramon-San Jose-Playa Hermosa

After much consideration, I decided the best route to the beach was to break the trip into a number of steps. The first leg of the trip was to go from my home to San Ramon on a local bus costing c205. I left at 6 a.m. and reached San Ramon at 6:30 a.m., then caught the 7:00 a.m. bus to San Jose that arrived at 8:30 a.m., where I finally caught the bus to Liberia at 9:00 a.m. I hated to take this route because I hate backtracking (going east to go west). I knew the bus to Liberia would drive by San Ramon and, in fact, by my house, but I could not guarantee it would stop for me. Furthermore, when you catch a bus mid-route, the bus might be sold out, so you have to stand, which is unacceptable for three or more hours.

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Trying to get from Point A to E

Day One (San Ramon-San Jose-Liberia)

Itinerary (about $14)

6:00 a.m. Left house
6:20 a.m. Catch local bus at El Empalme (c205, school bus)
6:35 a.m. Arrive at San Ramon local bus station
7:00 a.m. Catch long distance bus to San Jose (c1500, open windows)
8:30 a.m. Arrive in SJ at SR bus station and take an official red cab (c1000)
9:00 a.m. Catch bus at Pulmitan station to Liberia (c4000, air conditioned)
1:30 p.m. Arrived in Liberia (4.5 hours)

San Ramon to San Jose Bus

The first step for me was getting from my hometown of San Ramon to San Jose where all the buses depart. The way the bus system works is each company has a route and their own bus station. So, the challenge is to know which station you are arriving and the station you are departing. For me, the bus coming from San Ramon arrives at P12 on the map below. To catch the Pulmitan bus to Liberia, I had to get from station P12 to P13. Note, the distance is not far and the area relatively safe; still take precautions. Since I had my carry-on luggage and wanted to catch the next bus out to Liberia, I chose to pay an official red taxi 1000 colones or about $2 to take me the distance. It is amazing that I paid c1000 for that taxi ride for 2 kms and c4000 for the trip to Liberia which was much longer. Also, I will mention that Tico taxi drivers do not appear to think geographically in terms of maps but instead think in terms of landmarks. So, I had the awesome the map below which I thought made it clear I wanted to go about 10 blocks north, but what the driver really wanted to hear  “Pulmitan de Liberia” to know which station wanted. So, bring maps and printouts if you like, but make sure you know the name of the station where you are departing and the taxi driver will do the rest.

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Pulmitan de Liberia Bus Station and Bus

Bus Schedule

The schedule for buses leaving San Jose for Liberia is below. Notice some are DIRECTO which means they make fewer local stops and are supposed to be faster, but it appears the driver is flexible on mid-route stops. Also, note there are some times where the bus will continue on to Playas del Coco after stopping in Liberia. If the 8 a.m. bus to Coco is too early, no worries. Once you get to Liberia, there are plenty of options for the next leg to Coco via bus or taxi.

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Bus Station – Pulmitan de Liberia in San Jose

The Pulmitan station in San jose is small, enclosed and simple to navigate. The ticket booth is inside on the left after the parcel pickup window as you enter. I told the lady where I was going, paid her c4000 ($8), and she gave me a ticket and told me to go to “Zona 1”. Compared to stations without signage, this one was easy. I think there are only three platforms. I went directly to Zona 1, saw the bus and approached the driver who told me to sit down until they were ready. Shortly later, he said something and everyone got up and moved toward the bus. I walked to the under-bus storage area and put in my carry-on bag while the driver watched. I did not get a claim ticket for the luggage although some people insist upon never storing it underneath without a claim ticket. I keep all my valuables either on my person or in my backpack that never leaves my possession. Worst case, I lose my underwear and spare shirts if my luggage is stolen. Still, my seat was right above the storage door, so I could keep an eye on what went in and out.

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The terminal sign is clearly visible from the street.
Good selection of food if you forgot to eat beforehand. Also, the bathrooms are only 150c
I keep hoping we will get this double decker but they must reserve it for more popular times than we travel.

Here is my ticket from San Jose to Liberia for seat 12.

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Bus to Liberia

The bus to Liberia is modern, comfortable, and air conditioned. There are no toilets though. You can see from the photo below that the seat numbers are clearly marked. I also took a picture of the temperature inside the bus. The trip starts off at a comfortable 23C (73F) and will gradually decrease to 18C (64F) along the way, so some folks may get cold and need to bring a jacket.

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On the Road

Here are a few tips and observations. I put my backpack on the overhead across from my seat where it was in direct sight. Note: there are no supports or railings, so my backpack was sliding around; and second, I could not use the locking strap on the pack to secure it to a post from a snatch and grab. The traffic on and off the bus was limited so I felt secure, but I have gotten enough warnings from friends that I think, from now on, I will keep it in my seat just in case. Note, the bus seats are not like airplane seats with room for a small carry-on, under the seat in front of you so it is a little challenging putting anything on the floor in front of you but not impossible. Another difference for frequent fliers is the storage option on the back of the seat is small and inflexible, so my iPad barely fit in the space. The space was probably intended for a magazine. Finally, I use a GPS to track where I am, whether in a taxi or bus, so I know where we are and what is coming up. I store the maps offline (Google Maps) on your smart phone before leaving, and Google Maps will accurately tell me where I am as long as there is a cell tower or WiFi to triangulate from.

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My backpack on the overhead storage. The limited storage for my iPad. I use my iPhone to track our progress.

Rest Stop: El Gran Parqueo (“C” on the map)

Midway through the trip, the bus stopped at El Gran Parqueo so the passengers could get some food and go to the bathroom. Since this was my first time on this route, I was not sure what to do. I waited and thought about staying on the bus guarding my luggage and seat, but I was the only one left and it looked like the bus driver wanted me off. So, I collected my backpack, left the bus, and the driver exited too and locked the bus doors; clearly, there was some security but I liked having my backpack in my possession. The driver told me the break was for 20 min. The facility is quite clean, modern, and had plenty of eating options. There was a snack shop with fresh fruit batidos, a convenience store, and a full restaurant with a buffet, but I am not sure if you have enough time or want to wolf down a big meal. Personally, I think it is best to bring a light snack instead of chancing bus stop food. I typically bring unsalted nuts and water. Oh, the bathroom was clean and free (instead of what you typically see at the bus station–someone collecting a toll of c200 or $0.50 ).

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The bus parked and locked up. The convenience store did not have many healthy options.
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Quick food to the left, convenience store to the right, full restaurant straight ahead, and bathrooms in the back.

When all done, you take a place by the bus door waiting for the driver to return. There was a loud street preacher trying to save my soul, but since I do not know Spanish, his eloquent speech did not register.

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Station: Pulmitan de Liberia Transporte San Jose – Liberia (“D” on the map)

Think mini-San Jose. Liberia has two bus stations like most towns – one long distance (Pulmitan) and one local (Municipal). Below you can see they are a block apart, so if you need to walk from one to the other, it’s not a big deal. Since I wanted to explore Liberia, I choose to stay in a Tico hotel called Hotel Liberia for $35 a night.

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When you reach Liberia, you disembark the bus and take your luggage from under the bus. As I said, there is no claim ticket and you just reach in and take yours; so don’t sit around on the bus, but get off and claim your luggage. The main terminal is easy to find and the bathroom is a deal–only c100.

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There are plenty of seats in the terminal but not much else. I sat down to assess my options. Be aware that everyone is going to try to help you. Don’t freak out. They probably get a commission directing you to certain hotels or taxis. That is capitalism. The mistake I made was I looked for a cab and didn’t see any official red taxis, so I asked for help and ended up with a Pirata taxi, which is a private cab without a meter. I knew I was supposed to negotiate a price up front, which I did for c1500. I was pretty smug until I took an official red cab back the next day and only paid c1000. So, Piratas 1: Rob 0. There is much talk about the pirata cabs not having insurance and robbing you, and I have no way of assessing the danger, so I typically stick with the red taxis. If you prefer the red taxi, you will probably have to walk a block to the municipal station; they are all waiting for fares there. Note the rate is $1.20 a km so you can always whip out Google Maps and get an approximate idea of the cost, not counting the traffic and waiting time which are extra but so fare I have trusted the meter.

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Schedules will be posted all around but you have to look for them. The ticket booth is on the left and the information booth on the right.

City: Liberia

Hotel Liberia

I selected Hotel Liberia because it was cheap. I wanted a cheap, centrally located place and this hotel seemed to fi the bill. Also, I wanted to investigate cheap lodgings in each city which I could use when traveling whenever my bus schedule might require an overnight stay. What you get for $35 is a clean room and a fan. There is no AC or hot water. Liberia is a hot place, so one does not really need a hot water shower. I think their business plan must be to draw folks in with cheap rooms and make money off the food. I like the convenience of the hotel restaurant and ate there a few times. The food was great but not cheap.

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Hotel Liberia rooms are clean and basic. The natural courtyard is attractive and peaceful

Central Church of Liberia

I was hoping for more to see in Liberia. The central park was pleasant and the main church (below) was unique. I enjoy seeing how different towns design and build their central church since it reflects the community’s wealth, the construction time period, and the materials available.

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Museo de Guanacaste

I had high hopes for the Museo de Guanacaste since it looked so cool from the outside. I was and still am confused about the structure’s original purpose. It appears to be either an old fort, jail or administrative building. There is so much potential untapped here. I wandered around the inside and outside, but there were no plaques or displays explaining the history or future of the building. In the states, there would be a donation jar with “save the fort” by the door, but there was nothing here.

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Interesting architecture but otherwise bare

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Liberia Area Map

Weather Map

Day Two (Liberia to Play Hermosa)

Itinerary (about $5) 

08:30 a.m. Official red taxi from hotel to local bus station (1.5km, c1000)
09:32 a.m. Liberia to Panama with stop in Hermosa (34km, c1500)
10:30 a.m. Arrived in Playa Hermosa

The next day, I took a cab to the local bus station to catch a bus to Playa Hermosa. I had a printout from one of the bus schedule websites, so I knew the time the bus left but nothing else. The map below illustrates my mission, but I wasn’t sure how to recognize the correct bus since it was labeled simply “Liberia.” The bus driver called out “Panama” and I discovered that he stops at Playa Hermosa on the way. As shown on the map below, the bus leaves Liberia, stops at the airport, and travels from Guarda to Sardinal to Hermosa to Panama and eventually back to Liberia. I think I paid c1500. Note: the buses do not go to Coco (I think that route is owned by Pulmitan). You need to get to either the Y in the road between Hermosa and Coco or back to Sardinal to go back and forth between the beaches. I really cannot say what the bus does after it leaves Hermosa, since that is where I got off. It may turn around in Playa Panama and retrace the route instead of making a loop. Sometimes, you simply have to ask.

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Shout out to piratas: This is my first time waiting at this particular bus station. There are no signs, but I had a departure time. During the hour wait, a pirata offers to take me for $30 and checked back every fifteen minutes reducing the price each time.  In the mean time, I think the right bus comes in (no signage) and I ask someone if he is going to our destination and he says no, so I sit back down still thinking it is the right time, but hey, this is CR and who can count on published times?  After making his final offer of $15 and realizing I really wanted to take the bus, the pirata tells me this is the right bus, no matter what anyone else said. He grabbed our luggage and helped me get on. I only wished I had tipped him, but in all the confusion of getting on the bus before it left, I missed the opportunity; but next time through I will seek him out and make it right. I am finding the piratas and food sellers are my friends and being courteous pays back benefits.

Below is the online bus schedule for departure times from Liberia to Hermosa. I was waiting at the berth at 9:30 like the schedule below shows hoping to discern which bus to take. Notice there are two times (9:30 and 9:34) listed. I am not sure if I caught the 9:30 or 9:34 bus, but I eventually got to the beach.

Playa Panama Bus Schedule

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http://www.thebusschedule.com/cr/index.php

Terminal de Buses Municipal de Liberia

The local bus station to the beach is open and has ample seating. Looking like a gringo fresh off the plane, I got a lot of attention from vendors and piratas. I learned a valuable travel lesson from the famous travel blogger, Nomadic Matt, to be friendly to everyone since it has a way of paying you back as I mentioned above. I often take time to admire vendors’ wares and consider their offers which they appreciate. Afterward, the conversation evolves to where I am going with them giving me valuable tips on where to eat and what to see.

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Here is where the buses pulled in and the sign said they were headed.

The local station in Liberia is easy to navigate with a few souvenir and food vendors and plenty of piratas. The passengers wait in seats and the buses pull into their designated bay shown above. There is no signage indicating which bay is for which bus, so ask around. I recorded each bus that pulled in and where I though it was going above though it could change.

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Simple open seating to wait for the bus

Story about a nice taxi driver who helped us.  Debt Paid

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The bus to the beach was a typical bus with no AC. I put my luggage in the seat in front of me where I could keep an eye on it. Because there was not signage on the bus to indicate where it was going, the driver had to yell out the door as he passed each stop, “Panama” and people at the stop took the appropriate action of ignoring him or trying to jump on as he glided by. Yes, it was like a trolley in San Francisco with the bus slowing just enough to let people jump on and off. Fortunately, he came to a full stop so I could get off with all my luggage.

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The “Panama” bus that stops at Playa Hermosa in Bay #3 and the inside of the bus. Notice no under the bus or overhead storage on this one.

Play Hermosa (“E” on the map)

I got off at entrance #1 and walked to the bottom of the hill to the beach.

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The beach appears safe, and the tide is calm.

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Here is the local schedule the housekeeper wrote up for us to get around.

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I wanted to mention Eddie , the taxi driver, who I used to get from Hermosa to Coco.  He charged c6,000 ($12) each way.

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The Return Trip (Playa Hermosa to San Ramon)

We traveled by car from Playa Hermosa to Liberia to catch the bus to San Jose. The information station is on the right and the ticket booth on the left as mention above. The ticket costs c4,000 or about $8 each.

Itinerary

09:00 a.m. Left Liberia
10:50 a.m. Stopped at the same midway point above for a bathroom break and food
11:10 a.m. Left midway point (yep 20 minutes as advertised)
12:00 p.m. Arrived at San Ramon crossroads

I told the agents I was going to San Ramon, not all the way to San Jose and was told to tell the driver. Note: there is no discount for getting off early, and there are no assigned seats like on the bus from San Jose to Liberia. Oh, I gave the guy c10,000 and he did not give me change until I asked for it. The luggage goes under the bus as before. This time they separated the luggage into San Jose and getting off early luggage, which makes it a little more convenient when you get off midway.

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I wanted to mention some difference between the return bus compared to the one we took to the beach. First, the overhead storage had the supports I like to secure my luggage and the elastic rope to prevent luggage from falling when taking sharp curves. I mentioned earlier that I like to put the backpack strap around the support to make it impossible to snatch and grab it and I appreciate the elastic after my luggage nearly crowned a passenger on the first leg we took from San jose to the beach. The downside was the overhead was narrower than usual, and I had a hard time putting one of the bags up there, so I kept it with me in the seat. Unlike the first bus, the temperature in this one was normal and it never got chilly.

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My backpack visually across from me, secured be a post and elastic cord.

Getting off Mid-Route

The ticket agent told me to alert the bus driver that I needed to get off in San Ramon instead of traveling the full distance to San Jose. Not knowing how to correctly do this and having heard horror stories about how this plan can fail, I used a multi-tier approach to be semi-annoying. I Google translated a note requesting to get off at San Ramon which I hand wrote not having a printer with me, and I handed to the driver at the rest stop. I am not sure he understood my writing, so I kept saying “San Ramon” and eventually he understood or got tired and wanted me to go away. We met again in the bathroom at the rest stop and he smiled and repeated “San Ramon,” which gave me a warm fuzzy. Finally, as we approached San Ramon, I moved to the front of the bus where the driver acknowledged my presence and intention to stop and finally, I had my wife ready to ring the stop bell. Man, was I annoying this first time, but I feel better now that I can make this work next time with fewer steps. The great thing was getting off mid-way in San Ramon made the return trip only 3 hours verses the 6 hrs. I took backtracking through San Jose initially.

Here is what I google translated and wrote by hand. I am thinking the effectiveness of GT and the way I form my letters might not be as good a I think conveying my meaning.
Here is what I google translated and wrote by hand. I am thinking the effectiveness of GT and the way I form my letters might not be as good a I think conveying my meaning.

Playa Hermosa Resources

Google Map

Lonely Planet Hotels

Ginger Restaurant

Guide to Enjoying Playa Hermosa

Guide to Playa Hermosa

Playa Bonita

TripAdvisor – Liberia

How to live at the beach cheaply

ride it the times we choose.
I wanted to mention that the Pulmitan terminal in San Jose has a good selection of food in case you get hungry

File Nov 07, 2 17 16 PM

Update from second trip