Airport Arrival; First of all it is important you have a valid passport with less than 6 months before the expiry date. 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.
Private Airport Pick Up & Drop Off
Airports and transportation can be a bit daunting these days. For people that want the least hassle, We have been using a local tour company for years. They check flight arrival times and will meet you at the exit gate with your name on a sign. Cost is $32 up to 3 persons. For more information about this service and to book 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 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). Make sure you confirm the rate before trip commencement.
Yes, San Jose has Uber. It can be a reliable source of transportation to and from the airport. I find it best to walk out to the main road (by the public bus stop) in front of the airport and catch my Uber there. Getting pick-up be Uber inside airport property can be problematic as there is so much traffic and nowhere for the driver to stop.
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 many good hotels in San Jose that appeal to all budgets, amenities and locations. Please contact our travel assistance company to discuss your needs.
There are up to 3 flights a day now Offered by Sansa Airlines. Flights land in Limón and it is a 50 minute shuttle ride (book here) to Puerto Viejo. You can transfer at SJO airport and avoid staying overnight in San Jose if your arrival time works with flights. Please contact our travel assistance company to best advise you.
Public Bus to Puerto Viejo
Take a taxi to Atlántico Norte Station in Barrio Mexico, near downtown San José. The bus company is called MEPE, which most taxi drivers know. Note there are 3 main terminals in San José and it is very important you go to the Atlántico 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 Sarapiqui and you do not want that bus. Ticket cost is approx $12.There are 7 buses a day (6:00 am, 8:00 am, 10:00 am, 12 noon, 2:00 pm, 4:00 pm and 6:00 pm).
There is one rest stop just outside of Limón 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.
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 $6 (3,000 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). All drivers know where Banana Azul is located.
These are small air-conditioned tourist shuttles and cost about $50 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.
Most rental cars will arrange to pick you up at airport or have a shuttle bus for the bigger companies. Best free GPS app is Waze on your smartphone. It is quite accurate and works very well in Costa Rica.
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 15 locations throughout Costa Rica.
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 Limón. 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 see if there are any delays.
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 Rancho Roberto's 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 Limón 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 Limón. This is not the correct Puerto Viejo. You have to reach Limón and drive down coast.
When you hit Limón, 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 potholes).
After about 1 hour of driving, you will come to the little town of Hone Creek. At that point you’re about 5 kilometers from the turnoff to Banana Azul .You will drive past a hardware store called San Francisco. At that point you will see a large sign for Banana Azul, (next left). At the bus stop take a left and follow along beach.
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