Costa Rica Bus Service
Costa Rica has an extensive public bus system that allows people to travel literally anywhere in the country for as little as $.50 to maybe $2.00.
Most terminals are downtown for out-of San José travel, but of course you can catch one of these buses on just about any well traveled road in the country.
Buses are the favorite form of travel for most Ticos who do not own a car or who simply do not want to travel by car because of the traffic, or cannot afford to drive because of the high cost of gasoline in Costa Rica and insurance.
Buses generally are kept in good repair and are an extremely good (and cheap) option for getting somewhere fast.Buses are not for large persons, however! Seats are closely placed and if you happen to be tall (or...ummm... wide), you will find them a bit cramped. Ticos, though, tend to be a smaller group and can handle this with no problem. A Tico idiosyncrasy is the willingness (desire) to close all windows at the first hint of rain. This drives me crazy as the heat and humidly inside build up quite fast and can be very uncomfortable. Saying that, I recommend that everyone ride one of these babies at least once during their visit. Some are the old "Bluebird" school buses converted for public use. Yes, they are still yellow!
For longer trips around the country, there are bus services such as Grayline, Interbus or EasyRide. These may have more comfortable seating and air conditioning but are more expensive than the incredibly low fares of the public system Some have bathrooms. All prohibit smoking. A trip from San José to the Northwest beaches of Guanacaste is maybe $25.00 to $30.00 with far less stops. For me, the air conditioning would seal the deal as Guanacaste can easily reach over 90 degrees at any time of the year, and I do not enjoy travel in that heat. Grayline offers discounts for seniors (10%) and children (50%).
Bus terminals in Costa Rica can be VERY dangerous places. Most infamous is the "Coca Cola" terminal named after the bottling plant that once occupied that space. Go there and you will see people sitting on their luggage... and for good reason. Most other terminals such as the Terminal Caribe (buses to Puerto Limon and the Caribbean are safer, but never let down your guard while traveling through these locations.Private Buses/Vans in Costa Rica
Warning: When you visit the web sites of some private bus companies, the photos of the vehicles on their web pages is not necessarily what you are going to get!
If you are traveling with a group of people... 5-6 or more... consider renting your own private van with driver. We just did this in June 2008 for a trip to Monteverde.
A trip from San José to Playa Flamingo is about $140.00 or so for six persons. For 8, $156.00 or about $20.00 each. Consider this if you don't want to drive but still want to be able to relax and stop along the way for photos or shopping.
Bring beer and munchies!
Drinking and driving is permitted in Costa Rica.
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