The Basics

Accommodation: Hotel La Costa de Papito

  • From $79 USD/night, the Hotel La Costa de Papito offers individual wooden bungalows with canopy beds and large outdoor showers. The hotel is situated amongst an oasis of plants and trees, and is removed from any roadside noise. Conveniently located just minutes from the beach and a ten minute bike ride from town, it’s a great choice for those looking for a quiet, peaceful retreat.

Food: Take your pick from local Afro-Caribbean joints to comida tipica to more Western fare. Highlights include: chicken casada at Soda Isma , mojitos at Madre Tierra and fresh fruit juices from just about any roadside stall. Other recommendations include:

  • Soda Riquisimo– Hole in the wall spot with Carribbean fare. Averages $4-6/plate.
  • Lazlo’s fresh catch of the day- Family run restaurant serving excellent seafood. We recommend the fresh tuna steaks!


City Bus $10/person via Auto Transportes Mepe.
Terminal San Carlos (aka Atlantico Norte) Calle 12 between Avenidas 7 and 9 in Barrio Mexico in San Jose

  • Puerto Viejo to San Jose: $9.50; 7:30 a.m., 9:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m., 4:00 p.m.; 4.5 hours. Departs from main bus station, located across from Playa Chino. Auto Transportes MEPE, (506) 2750-0023.
  • San Jose to Puerto Viejo: $9.50; 6:00 a.m., 10:00 a.m., 12:00 p.m., 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m.; 4.5 hours, daily. Departs Transportes Mepe in the San Carlos Terminal, located on Avenida 9 and Calle 12. Tel: (506) 2257-8129
  • Purchasing: Can only be bought at terminal & sometimes sell-out. Except the 6 a.m.departure, you can call the Transportes Mepe office in San José to reserve a ticket the day before or the day of but note they only speak Spanish. No credit card number or deposit is required but you must show up at the ticket office at least 30 minutes prior to departure.
  • Schedule/Info:
  • Interbus
    Greyhound and Interbus offer private, air-conditioned shuttles for hotel-to-hotel/airport transport. Tel. 4031-0888
  • San Jose to Puerto Viejo, $49; Departs 7:50 a.m.; 4.5 hours.

What to do: Relax! We didn’t plan much for this portion of our stay, and enjoyed relaxing on the beach, walking along the quiet streets of Puerto Viejo and biking around the surrounding towns. Besides beach bumming and hammock swinging, you can:


Food: Rice and beans are the staple bases of all Costa Rican meals (and on the Caribbean side, they’ll often be cooked in coconut milk), and beef is very common as well.  At breakfast ($5) you’ll get as gallo pinto, served with either eggs, seafood, or steak. In the afternoon ($7-15) you’ll have casado, with either chicken, seafood, or beef, and fried plantains and cabbage.  Appetizers (or bocas) are often served with drinks and are sometimes free.  Ticos love snacking, so you’ll find plenty of options in local cafes (sodas): look for tamales, gallos, empanades, patacones, and the like.  If you like seafood, try the Sea Bass (corvina – note: cheap restaurants are known to shark meat as sea bass), red snapper (pargo), tuna, or mahi mahi (dorado).

Transportation: There are many options for transportation around Costa Rica, but sticking to buses or shared vans are probably your best and cheapest option.  Vehicle rentals are extremely cheap, but make sure to get something with clearance and all-wheel drive, as many roads are in bad condition.  Be aware as well that you must buy liability insurance regardless of your coverage back home.  For domestic flights, check Sansa or Natureair.  If grabbing a taxi, make sure to get a red one, as these are the only legal taxis.

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