costa rica, arriving costa rica

costa rica transporting your pet or animal to costa rica
Upon your arrival at Santamaria International Airport in San Jose, Costa Rica all passengers are directed down a flight of stairs, at which time you will be required to clear immigration. After proceeding through the immigration process, you can gather your luggage along the left side of the departure area. Afterwards, you are directed towards one of two lines, one being for passengers with two or less bags, the other for those with three or more pieces of luggage. For those with two or less, you are required to press a button which selects passengers for inspection; this selection process is random and cannot be predicted. A percentage of those passengers will be required to open their luggage for further inspection, while those not selected will be free to exit the airport. Those traveling with three or more items are directed to a different area, and will more than likely be required to confront customs inspectors; and perhaps, asked to open your luggage.

Immediately after clearing customs, you proceed up a flight of stairs towards the exit of the airport. Before reaching the staircase, on your left hand side, there are counters where tourism guides and magazines are available, in addition to representatives who will assist you with any questions.

Taxi cabs/buses are readily available at the airport's exit. Taxi's can be hired on an individual basis, however, small buses usually transport passengers which share similar destinations. Personal taxis carry the following costs:

San Jose - $10.00 US dollars
Alajuela - $7.00 US dollars
Heredia - $2.00 US dollars

while small buses transport passengers for the following prices:

San Jose - $10.00 US dollars
Heredia - $7.00 US dollars
Alajuela - $5.00 US dollars

Buses to San Jose, Heredia and Alajuela make regular stops at the bus station located directed in front of the Juan Santamaria airport. Buses to San Jose (17 km) cost 210 colones, and depart every five minutes. The bus terminal is located at the western end of San Jose, and is walking distance from the city's main public bus terminal, the "Coca Cola Bus Station". From that point, taxis are readily available, as are buses to other destinations. Buses to Heredia (9 km) cost 100 colones, and depart every fifteen minutes from the airport. Buses to Alajuela (2 km) cost 210 colones, and depart every five minutes. The bus station in any of the major cities is usually located in the center of that city.

Arriving from Bocas del Toro, Panama - (REMBEMBER - Costa Rica is one hour behind Panama)

From Bocas del Toro, or Isla Colon as it is called, to Changuinola and/or the border town of Sixaloa, one has two options.

1. You can fly from Isla Colon to Changuinola, which costs $10.50 one way per person. The flight is approximately 10 minutes long and there are two flights daily. Once in Changuinola you can take a bus directly to San Jose (see below), or take a bus or taxi to the border town of Sixaola, where you can then get a local bus to take you to San Jose (see below). From Changuinola there are public buses to the border town of Sixaola, but it's much easier taking a taxi. There are taxis that take multiple passengers, or taxis colectivos as they are known, and they only charge $1.00 per person. If you go alone they'll charge you $5.00. Once at the border you have several options. (see below)

2. For those not wanting to fly you can take a water taxi from Isla Colon to the coastal town of Almirante, which costs $3.00 per person one way. The boat ride takes approximately 25 minutes. You'll then have to take a bus or taxi to Changuinola. Taxis charge $10.00 per ride, not per person, and you'll save about 10 - 15 minutes compared to taking the public bus, which are small mini vans. The bus ride costs about $1.00 and lasts about 45 minutes, depending on traffic. If your not in a rush the bus should do you just fine. They depart Almirante about every 30 minutes. Taking the water taxi and bus to Changuinola will save you only $6.00 versus taking the flight. It all depends on your travel plans and budget. Water taxi service connecting Isla Colon and Changuinola is now available, so there is really no need to first visit Almirante. The ride from Isla Colon to Changuinola takes approximatley 1 hour and costs $5.00 one way. From the dock taxis charge $1.00 per person for transportation to the Changuinola bus terminal.

From Changuinola there are public buses to the border town of Sixaola, but it's much easier taking a taxi. There are taxis that take multiple passengers, or taxis colectivos as they are known, and they only charge $1.00 per person. If you go alone they'll charge you $5.00. Once at the border you have several options. (see below)

Buses from Changuinola to San Jose, Costa Rica

From Changuinola there is a international bus that departs everyday at 9:55 a.m. en route to San Jose, Costa Rica. It costs about $8.00 one way and stops briefly at the border in order for passengers to clear customs and immigration. It departs from the main bus terminal in Changuinola. From Changuinola to the border is approximately 15-25 by bus. From the border it is about 5 and 1/2 hours to San Jose, Costa Rica. The road from the border to Bri Bri has just been paved, so it's much quicker and more comfortable than it used to be.

When you enter Costa Rica from Panama you will most likely be asked to present a departure ticket out of Costa Rica. If you don't have one you'll have to purchase a bus ticket next door, for about $5.00, which is good from Limon to Sixaola (border).

Buses from Sixaola (Border) to San Jose, Costa Rica

These departures are for buses that go directly to San Jose:

  • 5:00 a.m.
  • 7:30 a.m.

These departures are for buses that stop at Puerto Viejo and Cahuita en route to San Jose:

  • 9:30 a.m.
  • 2:30 p.m.

These departures are for buses that travel from Sixaola to Limon, at which point you'll have to get another bus to San Jose:

  • 5:00 a.m.
  • 7:00 a.m.
  • 8:00 a.m.
  • 10:00 a.m.
  • 12:00 p.m.
  • 1:00 p.m.
  • 3:00 p.m.
  • 5:00p.m.