If anyone is planning a short trip to Costa Rica, maybe this post will be helpful.
We took the bus from the David terminal to the border ($2/each), and did the border crossing on foot.
If you are crossing the border, READ this POST and also review any other sources of information for recent changes. We needed a print out of our airline tickets back to the US (since we have US passports) and $500 cash.
We needed to change some money before going on to Costa Rica and the banks were closed for lunch, but a helpful snack vendor took me to a money changer. I expected this guy would want a profit but he gave me 20,000 colones for $40, which is exactly the exchange rate I found on the internet that morning. I noticed there were quite a few men around with similar shoulder bags, so I figure they are all there doing the same thing. Use them at your own risk, but we had no problem.
Costa Rica uses colones so the different currency took a bit of getting used to. Do I double it or half it?? 500 colones = $1. If it’s colones double it and take off a couple zeros. If dollars, half it and put on a couple zeros. It was disconcerting to see shoes in a shop advertised for 3500 colones! (until I realized it was really $7). You feel really rich when you get 20,000 from an ATM, until you go through it in a day. Oh also, the supermarket we shopped at in Golfito didn’t look very upscale (more like a really big Chino), but they accepted our credit cards without any problem which was convenient.
So anyway, onward with the trip. We hopped on another bus to Golfito – 2500 colones each ($5). We declined the offers from taxis at the border, but on the way back we were waiting on the sidewalk for a bus to come by. A taxi stopped and offered to take us for 4000 each ($8) so we opted to pay the extra rather than stand around on the sidewalk. We would do this again because it was much faster, no stops, just straight though in about 45 minutes, where the bus took maybe 1 1/4 hour. I also enjoyed a very nice conversation with the other passengers.
We stayed at Terra Mar (Land Sea Travel Services), the Bahia Vista and were very happy with our accommodations. We had basically a house – bedroom, bath, full living room and full kitchen for $55/night (Green season rates – it’s regularly $65/night). It was very comfortable and I appreciate the little things you don’t always find – a vegetable peeler, little packets of coffee ready to use, cleaning supplies on hand, etc. They obviously made an effort to provide everything a person would need. The grounds are beautiful and full of flowers, and the view is of the bay and the marina. There are two supermarkets within a few minutes walk, an ATM, a fish market, the ferry dock, and the tourist center close by.
On Friday we took the ferry over to Puerta Jimenez, about a 40 minute ride. If you do this be sure you find out the schedule before you plan your trip. There are some websites but none of them are listing the same times that we found, so it’s better to ask at the dock or the tourist center nearby. We got a boat out at 10AM, and caught the last boat back at 2PM.
When we arrived at Puerta Jimenez we declined the taxis and just walked. The place is small so unless you have luggage you can easily walk to wherever you want to go. We happened across a little hotel and decided to stop in, and found a delightful place with an American owner who has been there for 20+ years. He has planted tons of flowers, guests have use of the kitchen and cooking facilities, there is WiFi, and the price is right ($35 now in Green season, but $45 after the first of Dec). We have just made reservations to spend a few days there early next month.
Knowing what I know now, I would prefer to spend time at Puerta Jimenez rather than Golfito. We liked the town and the feel of the area. Corcovado National Park is nearby and though it’s an expensive plane ride or extensive hike to get there, I figure it will be very interesting to explore the nearby areas easier to reach from town. Of course there will be more news and photos from our upcoming trip back to the area.