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