Getting To Banana Azul
Airport Arrival; First of all it is important you have a valid passport. You do not need a Visa to enter Costa Rica from most countries. If you are unsure, please contact the Costa Rica consulate or check here for an overview.
Staying overnight in San José
Private Airport Pick Up & Drop Off
When I come and go from the airport, I hire my own private driver. I find it easier traveling with someone I know. It is approximately the same price. I have been using Manuel Acuna for years. He has a newer Toyota Camry and can arrange a van if needed. He checks flight arrival times and will meet you at exit gate with your name on a sign. Cost is $32 up to 3 persons. Service is 24 hours. For more information about this service, check here.
Costa Rica airport has no indoor public areas. All people waiting for arrivals and all taxis and tour operators have to wait outside the main exit door. When you get out of the secured area, there will no doubt be people trying to sell you a ride to your hotel or anywhere else in Costa Rica. These are usually unauthorized people and unless you are used to negotiating with these people, we do not recommend you travel with them. Chances are it will be no cheaper than using one of the Orange Airport Taxis (approx. $30).
For adventurous and more seasoned travelers, I recommend the public bus. Just ignore all the taxis and walk out on to street right in front of airport terminal. You will see a public transit stand. Almost every bus there is heading to downtown San Jose. Make sure you ask the driver. The cost is about 75 cents. If you have no colones yet, give them 1 US dollar. Tell the bus driver where you are going and “hopefully” he will drop you off at the closest spot. Then get in a taxi (they are usually red) and get local taxi to take you to your hotel or bus station. Make sure the meter is on, which in Costa Rica is referred to as “Maria”. The absolute most it should be for anywhere in downtown is $5.
San Jose Hotel
Most people that come to Costa Rica always do at least one night in San Jose – Either upon arrival or when exiting the country. Many people ask for a hotel recommendation.
There are other hotels listed here that we deal with that might appeal to you depending on your needs.
San José to Puerto Viejo
Public transport or private driver
Nature Air now offers daily flights from San Jose to Puerto Viejo. This is a great option to get to the Caribbean fast! Click on the image or here for schedule, prices and other details.
Bus Ticket Service
We have a service that offers pick up from the airport with your bus ticket already purchased, which guarantees a seat on the bus. After being met at the airport you will be brought to your bus terminal in San Jose. The driver will make sure you get on the bus without any problems.
We can arrange a private driver pick you up at airport. He will be standing there with a sign with your name on it. They come in vans and the drivers speak English well. The cost is $245 and can be up to 6 persons. This is ideal for more than 2 persons and as they will have a lot of luggage.
Public Bus to Puerto Viejo
Take a taxi to Atlantico Norte Station in Barrio Mexico, near downtown San Jose. The bus company is called MEPE, which most taxi drivers know. Note there are 3 main terminals in San Jose and it is very important you go to the Atlantico Norte Station. At the station, you go to ticket counter behind all food outlets. You ask then for ticket to Puerto Viejo Talamanca. Please note there is another Puerto Viejo in Siquerres and you do not want that bus. Ticket cost is approx $9.There are 5 buses a day (6:00 am, 10:00 am, 12 noon, 2:00 pm & 4:00 pm).
There is one rest stop just outside of Limon for a bathroom and drink break). Count on needing at least two hours from plane arrival to go through customs and get a taxi from airport to bus station. For example; If your plane arrives at 12:30 in the day time, you will have to look at catching 4:00 pm bus.
There is full bus schedules (including local buses for Talamanca region) for the whole area located at this link.
Take bus right into town of Puerto Viejo (final stop), there will be taxis waiting to offer you a ride. The maximum cost should be $5 (2500 Colones) to Banana Azul and Casa Las Brisas. It is a light 20-30 minute walk if you can manage your luggage ok. (note; negotiate cab rate before getting in as all cars here have no meters). Just give them instructions as above.
These are small air-conditioned tourist shuttles and cost about $45 per person each way. They will pick you up (hotel/airport) and drop you off at your door. They can be really great when you are tight for airport times. Our in house tour company, Caribe Fun Tours can arrange Shuttles for you. For a complete list of prices, departure times, and destinations please check here.
Renting a car
Most rental cars will arrange to pick you up at airport or have a shuttle bus for the bigger companies. NOTE – most guests swear by the added expense of GPS! If you get lost in San Jose, best to pay a Taxi to lead you to the Highway to Limon.
If people are interested in renting cars our customers have great experience with Adobe in Puerto Viejo. They have no problem dropping off and picking up car at Banana Azul. Car rentals with Adobe can be arranged here. So, if there is a problem with the car, it is easy to change. You can also pick up or drop off a car at the airport or other locations.
Your car rental company will give you a map and there are signs on how to get to downtown San Jose. Driving to Puerto Viejo is really easy. You will have to find the highway to Limon. It has easy access from downtown and once you are on that highway, it is almost impossible to get lost. It is always a good idea to check the current road conditions to make sure Ruta 32 is open.
It is important that you know that you will encounter multiple radar speed traps. If you do not want to be pulled over, you need to watch all the speed limit signs. If you get pulled over, just agree to pay the fine. The rental car company will add it to your bill. It is common for police to try and scare you into paying them money by telling you they will take the vehicle or plates. Just stick to your guns and tell them to write you the ticket. If you are really good at it, you can many times talk your way out of it.
Please note: If you have not left San Jose by 2:00pm in afternoon, you will be driving part of the way at night. We do not recommend this for first time travelers in driving in Costa Rica. Some roads do not have lines. Rain can be bad and there are potholes and people walking/cycling that you can not see very well.
You will first go through the mountains and will be very high up. It is likely that you will encounter fog (clouds) and rain. Please drive with your lights on. Most of the local drivers do not.
The drive through the mountains is beautiful. You will see many vistas and real rain forest jungle. As you are about to exit mountains into flat land (just after a bunch of ugly billboards) there is a restaurant on your right (usually with many trucks out front). It is called El Yugo. It is okay for a roadside stop, but my absolute favorite is Roberto’s Rancho just a little further down on the left at the corner of Route 32 & #4. Sit down service, great Costa Rican Food & Very secure parking.It is also a good break after about 1.5 hours into the trip.
The road from there to Limon (approx 2 hrs) is practically straight with no hills. It is small towns and banana plantations. Please note there are many trucks as Limon is a port city and this is the truck route. Also note, you will see a sign or two for Puerto Viejo on the way to Limon. This is not the correct Puerto Viejo. You have to reach Limon and drive down coast. (also note on this stretch, there are many speed traps and local cops love foreigners as it can mean a free lunch at a better restaurant)
When you hit Limon, just before you enter city centre you will see a sign (at the Colono gas Station) where you turn right to go to Puerto Viejo. From that sign you just follow the coast all the way down (approx 1 hour). The drive is beautiful (but mind the pot holes).
After about 1 hour of driving, you will come to the little town of Hone Creek. At that point your about 5 kilometers from the turn off to Banana Azul .You will drive past a hardware store called San Francisco. A few hundred meters past the hardware store is a bus stop with a roof on it, (right across the street from corner store Pulperia Violetta). At the bus stop take a left and follow along beach. If you passed the Point Bar & Grill, you just missed the turn off.
And to get to Banana Azul you just proceed along beach until you come to La Perla Negra Hotel. Banana Azul is 200 meters past Perla Negra Hotel and has a wooden gate with a sign.
I am sorry if all this seems a bit much, but I just wanted to try and give people as much info as possible. Many people seem to have much anxiety about getting here. Just relax. It’s easy.
Colin and Banana Azul Staff