Air Travel You are responsible for purchasing your own airfare as well as your transportation to Manzanillo, Costa Rica. You can check out various travel websites, many times www.kayak.com will have good deals. You will need to fly into San Jose, the capitol of Costa Rica. If you fly in and need to stay the night in San Jose we love Costa Rica Backpackers, or Hotel Aranjuez, as well as Costa Rica Guesthouse. Costa Rica Backpackers is an inexpensive hostel type environment, pretty young crowd. Hotel Aranjuez is gorgeous, in expensive private hotel rooms, amazing buffet breakfast outdoors under a mango tree, but their reservation process can sometimes be tricky, check their website for more details. Costa Rica Guesthouse is directly across the street from Costa Rica Backpackers, it has clean nice private rooms, and reservations online are simple.
** Please note that if you are from the United States upon entering Costa Rica you do not need a special visa if you are coming from the US, however you need proof of exit (a plane ticket, bus ticket etc you have pre purchased and printed) within three months of the date you enter. Do not forget to print your return ticket and keep it with you. You also need a valid US passport.
**Please also note that the travel time and bus schedule between San Jose, the capitol where you fly in, and Manzanillo the town where we will meet is about 5 hours. Some trips include private shuttle some it is optional, please contact us if you have questions about booking flights. Generally do not plan to fly out of San Jose and travel to and from to Manzanillo the same day, unless otherwise noted. We can help suggest places to stay, or you can stay in San Jose. The same issue goes for the way back, you must go to San Jose the day before you choose to fly out to allow yourself enough time. Contact us with questions!
**For trips that do not include private shuttle service (check your trip page) If a minimum of 5 participants would like to charter a private van for direct transportation from San Jose down to Manzanillo we are happy to arrange this, please note this when you register. This will cost an additional $50, we will take care of the logistics.
Coming from the San José Airport
Money - There is a counter to change money at the airport just before you exit the building on the left. You should change at least $80 into colones when you land for traveling. Please note Puerto Viejo is the closes town to Manzanillo with an ATM, so do not plan on waiting until arriving in Manzanillo to exchange money. There is also an ATM at the bus station in San Jose you go to to get here. . Nearly all businesses in Costa Rica accept dollars but it’s always best to have local currency. The exchange rate fluctuates and is between 490-510 colones to the dollar - so roughly when you're thinking about it in your head about 500 colones to a dollar.
Food - We serve an abundance of beautiful Caribbean and Latin inspired foods during this trip which includes lots of salads, fruits, veggies, some meats, seafoods, beans and rice. Meals tend to be pretty heavy, but in case you need extra snacks there are several small farmers markets in town.
Water - We do not recommend drinking local water once you are in Manzanillo, you will need to purchase water at the local shops in town, it is available in several gallon bottles and you can use these to refill your water bottles. We will provide filtered water at your meals. Tap water in San Jose is safe to drink though we do not recommend drinking the water in the Caribbean.
Some trips include private shuttles, other do not, the info below is helpful if you want to organize your own transportation.
To get to Manzanillo you will need to take buses from San Jose through Limon all the way down the coast to Manzanillo. Take a cab from the airport or your hotel to San Carlos bus stop. Renting a car is unnecesssary. Public buses are fantastic and reliable and cost about $14-$15 US, however you can also check out Interbus which is a smaller tourist bus and that runs about $40 US. If you choose to get a private taxi please contact us and we can give you a good recommendation. This costs between $200 and $300.
From San Jose to Puerto Viejo - *There are buses from San Carlos Bus Station in San Jose to Puerto Viejo at 6 AM, 10 AM, 12PM, 2 PM and 4 PM. (Please note the 12 noon bus will bring you directly to Manzanillo the others you'll need to get off in Puerto Viejo and either take a taxi or wait for a later bus)
Here is a link to the schedule... http://www.greencoast.com/area-information/getting-here
At the San Carlos Bus Station there are several windows to buy tickets. You want the window that says SIXAOLA/Puerto Viejo/Manzanillo. At the window, ask for a ticket to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca. Outside of the station the "tracks" are labeled with where the buses are going. Remember, you are looking for the bus to Sixaola (Puerto Viejo de Talamanca)– don’t be afraid to ask around if you are confused. Be sure to be waiting for your bus at least fifteen minutes before it leaves so you don’t miss boarding.
The bus ride is about 4 1/2 hours. You will be going through Braulio Carillio National Park - a gorgeous cloud forest so don’t sleep through this part! The bus will make a 15 minute pit stop in Limon. You can use the bathroom and buy snacks here but keep an eye on your carry-on bags. Before its final destination in Puerto Viejo the bus stops quickly at one other town along the way called Cahuita – do not get off the bus. From Cahuita, it is about 20 more minutes until Puerto Viejo. If you get down to Costa Rica early Cahuita is a really nice place to check out and stay!
There is an awesome website with super detailed information that can be very helpful as well!! The website Puerto Viejo Satellite has complete information on getting to and from the area and getting around while you're here. You can also see the location of Manzanillo on their satellite map.
From Puerto Viejo to Manzanillo *There are buses from Puerto Viejo to Manzanillo at 7:15 AM, 11:45 AM, 4:15 PM, and 7:15 PM.
The bus ride is about 30 minutes. Taxis from Puerto Viejo are usually 7.000 colones and take about 20 minutes.
Please call and let us know what bus you're taking so we can be sure to meet you at the bus stop in Manzanillo and bring you to Cabinas Bucus (pronounced boo-kuuus) . don't hesitate to call, we'll be happy to come help you find your way in Manzanillo.
Weather/What to Bring/Communication While There Most people when they talk about the rainy season it actually refers to the pacific side, which has a very distinct rainy season, 6 months dry, 6 months wet. We will be on the Caribbean side, and while yes it rains, it is more evenly balanced through out the year. That doesn't mean it won't rain, because it certainly can and possibly will. We'll just have to do our best for the tour and respect nature - we'll need to be flexible. As far as clothes, bring light weight stuff that dries easily, it is HUMID! Bring a good pair of shoes to hike with that you dont mind getting muddy, and flip flops, and whatever else you'd like to have with you. Cotton tshirts and shorts are great, a rain jacket, bathing suit, towel, are all great. Yoga mat if you'd like. Bring natural bug spray if you're into that because you can't get that down there, however natural/organic shampoos/soaps/lotions are available. Bring any regular medications/supplements you use. Bring SUNSCREEN! A hat. Sunglasses. Waterbottle (we will provide potable water as you all shouldn't drink out of the taps there). As far as a laptop - there is internet in town so you're welcome to bring it, just depends how connected you'd like to be! It's another thing to travel with and to be conscious of while you're on buses etc. But it can be convenient, so that is totally your decision. Outlets there are the same as the US, no converter is needed, and you have a few options for making phone calls. You can purchase a cell phone at the airport, not exactly sure how much those cost but I know they are available. The other very simple options is to use the phone cards there, they sell them at most convenient stores ("supers" or "pulperias") and they are in increments of about 2000 or 5000 colones (about $10) . 5000 colones buys you about 18 minutes of talk time to the US, its great to have for quick conversations, and these can be used from any public or private phone in Costa Rica. If you do bring a laptop then you can use that to Skype or GoogleCall to the states as well, MUCH better rates.
General Health- Malaria, while common in parts of the tropics, is really not issues in Talamanca. Dengue is a very rare issue, but as it is more prevelent in highly populated areas - and there is no prevention besides mosquito protection.
We do ask that you bring a basic first aid kit for yourself, as well any basic immunity support from natural health aids, including vitamin c, iburprofen, tea tree oil, lavender oil, grapefruit seed extract, charcoal tablets, acidophilus or other probiotic supplements, EFA's, and homeopathic remedies for bites, stings, sunburns, and digestive issues. Certain vaccines are required when traveling from certain countries, please check before booking your travel to make sure you are able to comply with all requirements.
Health Insurance: You can check out http://www.worldnomads.com/ travel insurance for independent and adventurous travellers, available to residents from over 150 countries.
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