11 agosto 2010

Monte de la Cruz

In San Rafael de Heredia (reachable by bus from Heredia downtown), there is a very nice place to spend a sunny day: Monte de la Cruz

There you can find places for a pic-nic, barbecue... also there're soccer and basketball courts, children playground some trails in the middle of the nature and a very nice view of Heredia and part of San Jose!

How to get there: bus "San Rafael - Monte de la Cruz" (leaves from Parque El Carmen). Stop at the end of the line and walk to the park

They charge an entrance fee of 600 colones

12 julio 2010

Bocas del Toro

Imagine an archipelago in the Caribbean sea
Imagine blockhouses and a population with strong indigenous roots
Imagine that all transport is by boats
Imagine a lot of mangrove, crabs and mosquitos
Imagine the sensation of being in the water all the time
Imagine a sea of clear water and pleasant temperatures
Imagine friendly people that like foreigners

Did you imagine?

So... that's Bocas del Toro, a group of islands in Panama, very near Costa Rica's borders...

Wanna go there? Check the tips here:

* How to get there (from San Jose):
- option # 1: take a bus from San Jose to Changuinola (in Panama) [US$ 12]. Bus departs everyday at 9am from Cocorí Hotel in San Jose downtown.
From there you can take a regular bus to Almirante
[US$ 1,50] or you can negotiate with the tourists vans so that they take you by lower price (they started from US$ 10 and we managed to pay US$ 2,50, as we knew there was a regular bus much cheaper)

- option # 2: take a bus from San Jose to Sixaola (the border)
[aprox US$ 10]. Bus departs from Caribeños Bus Terminal (the first one goes at 6am daily).
From the
border there should be a bus to Changuinola for US$ 1. I took a shared taxi and paid US$ 1,20. From Changuinola, just repeat what I said before.
There's also the option of a tourist van from the border directly to Almirante (we took one that started from US$ 10 and we paid US$ 5)

From Almirante, take the boat [US$ 4] to Isla Colón in Bocas del Toro (and to cross to Isla Carenero, where our hostel was, we paid US$ 1)


* Where to sleep:
- Aqualounge: dorms US$ 10 / hammock US$ 5
The hostel is like a deck on the water, with outdoor tables, hammocks and a natural swimming pool! Very nice!
They also have nice parties (saturday and wednesday they have ladies night, with free drinks for girls)... just be aware that on those nights you may find it difficult to sleep due to the noise

- Cayo Zapatilla Hotel (a small simple hotel in front of the main square in Isla Colón, on the top of the chinese supermarket (this is like tico's addresses, right? :P). US$ 15 the room for 2 people and US$ 20 for 3 people (with private bathroom and hot water!)
We changed to this hotel on the party night, so we went to the party but after it we also could sleep!

* What to do:
- Boat tour + beach + snorkel: US$ 15 (normal price) / US$ 10 (discount price for groups) / US$ 6 (price I paid because I'm beautiful, brazilian and I made friends with locals... haha).
There's a tourism cooperative in front of the place where the boats from Almirante arrive. They have all types of tours... also to see dolphins, to surf, to have diving lessons, go to deserted islands, etc). The locals that work there are very nice and if you become their friends you can always bargain!

- Rent a bike and discover Isla Colón. Talk to the old man that sits on the corner of the main street and the street that goes to the boats' place. People there says he has the best bikes
[US$ 10 (normal price) / US$ 6 (what we paid)]

- Starfish beach: you can get there by boat, by bike or by bus (bus costs US$ 2,50 each way). There you can see starfishes, touch them, take pictures with them. And the beach is really beautiful!

- Isla Carenero: the island where the hostel (Aqualounge) is also has a small beach where you can swim. And walking around the island is also beautiful!

* Do not forget: your passport (you're crossing the border)! your return ticket from Costa Rica to your country (they may ask at the border and if you don't have you may have to pay a fine)

* To have in mind: if you go there in the low season [may-sept] (as we did), prices are lower but you have rain almost everyday! (of course you can still enjoy it... but it will rain!)
And if you go on high season, all prices mentioned here can be higher.
Ah, this can be a good trip if you have to do your visa-run (exit Costa Rica beause your visa time here is expiring)... that's why I went there! ;)

Hope you enjoy your trip!

05 julio 2010

Puerto Viejo

This weekend 4 of us went to Puerto Viejo, to enjoy a bit of sun and beach!

Barbara (Brazil), Anne (Canada), Isaac (Costa Rica), Laura (Mexico) and Pablo (Colombia)

Puerto Viejo is a nice beach in the Caribbean Coast, about 60km south from Puerto Limón, in the province of Limón.

Transparent water, chilled atmosphere, nice beaches for swimming, some good spots for snorkleing and also nice some nice places for surfing... we do recommend this place! :)

Useful information:
* How to get there (from San Jose):
Take the bus from Caribe Terminal (calle central, av. 15). The direct bus departs at 6:00, 10:00, 14:00 and 16:00 and costs 4.500 colones. The trip takes 4h30.
If you are taking the first bus in the morning, we advice you to arrive very early (5h30) to make sure you can get a ticket!

To come back, you can buy the ticket when you arrive to Puerto Viejo (to guarantee you'll have a seat back home). The last bus to come back departs at 4pm (and you get to San Jose at 8h30pm).

* Where to stay:
We stayed at Rocking J's hostel. It's a nice place, beachfront. We paid 3.800 colones for a tent (with mattress, pillow and bedsheets), but you can also pay 3.100 for a hammock or around 5.000 for a dorm!

* What to do:
You can rent a bike and go for a bike tour to the beaches of Cocles (good for surfing), Punta Uva (good for swimming) and Manzanillo (we didn't get there!).
At the hostel you can rent a bike for US$ 5 per day. And very close to the hostel there's a place you can rent for US$ 3 for half day.

(just take care as locals told us there're many thiefs in the area, so you have to be careful while biking or walking around)

* Where to eat:
Eating there is expensive! To avoid very turistic prices, you can try the "sodas" near the Megasuper. We had traditional "rice and beans" with chicken for 2.400 colones ;)

Itinerario de Buses / Bus Routes

Aqui encontrás los horarios y terminales de buses para todas las ciudades de Costa Rica (y tambien los buses a otros países de Centroamerica)


Here you can find the time schedule and the bus terminals to go to all cities in Costa Rica (and also the buses to other Central America countries)