Getting around in Costa Rica

San Jose is the main transportation hub, and there are buses from here to most parts of the country.

The system can sometimes be a bit chaotic and buses are not that comfortable, but fares are generally cheap.

Taxis (pictured) are considered a viable form of public transportation for long journeys, and can be hired by the day, half-day or hour. Cars and motorbikes can also be rented in San Jose.

Taking the Bus
This is by far the most economical way to get around Costa Rica. Buses are inexpensive and relatively well maintained, and they go nearly everywhere. There are two types: Local buses are the cheapest and slowest; they stop frequently and are generally a bit dilapidated. Express buses run between San Jose and most beach towns and major cities; these tend to be newer units and more comfortable, although very few are so new or modern as to have bathroom facilities, and they sometimes operate only on weekends and holidays.

Two companies run regular, fixed schedule departures in passenger vans and small buses to most of the major tourist destinations in the country. Gray Line (tel. 220-2126; www.graylinecostarica.com), run by Fantasy Tours, charges between $21 and $38, depending on your final destination.

They have about 10 departures leaving San Jose each morning and heading or connecting to Jacó, Manuel Antonio, Liberia, Playa Hermosa, La Fortuna, Tamarindo, and playas Conchal and Flamingo. There are return trips to San Jose every day from these destinations and a variety of interconnecting routes.

A similar service, Interbus (tel. 283-5573; www.costaricapass.com), runs a sliding scale according to destination, with fares between $17 and $38, but with a slightly more extensive route map and more connections.

Beware: Both of these companies offer pickup and drop-off at a wide range of hotels. This means that if you are the first picked up or last dropped off, you might have to sit through a long period of subsequent stops before finally hitting the road or reaching your destination. Moreover, I've heard some horror stories about both lines, concerning missed or severely delayed connections and rude drivers.

Using the FerryThree different ferries operate across the Gulf of Nicoya. Two are car ferries: one from Puntarenas to Playa Naranjo, and one from Puntarenas to Paquera. The third is a passenger ferry that runs between Puntarenas and Paquera.

Source: Frommer's Travel Guide to Costa Rica