Getting to Monteverde, Costa Rica from the Nicaraguan Border – The Budget Way

As it’s not so straightforward to do this journey, we thought we would give a little how-to descriptions…

Now, to begin with we almost missed our stop. Like, we were so close to missing it and probably going straight to San Jose. That’s not where we wanted to go.

And thus, our first lived-lesson on the difference between Nicaragua and Costa Rica: in Nicaragua the bus driver/conductor/cash collector will tell you when to get off the bus. In Costa Rica, ain’t nobody helping you so you better hope you preloaded the Google Map onto your phone and that your GPS is working. Otherwise, I have no idea how you’re supposed to know.

And now, our second lesson: Costa Rican buses are less chaotic than Nicaraguan buses, and you will most likely get an assigned seat for your journey in Costa Rica. 

And now for lesson number 3: In Nicaragua, you can ride on a bus for ages before you have to pay someone. That someone you pay walks around the bus and collects money from people (you don’t pay the driver). In Costa Rica, you either buy a ticket beforehand, or pay the driver directly — there is no bus conductor making sure that little old ladies carrying baby chickens get a seat. 

Are you still with me? 

Ready for lesson four, then? In Costa Rica the bus prices are posted, whether it’s in the bus or in the station, so you know that you’re paying the same price as everyone else. In Nicaragua, it’s a crap shoot – I never knew how much buses were supposed to cost. Once we were told that our bus was going to cost about 50 cordobas (just about $2USD) each and it ended up costing us around 28 cordobas (about $1 USD) for the two of us (I can’t remember the exact price but it was WAY cheaper than we were told it would be). On the way home (same route) it was even cheaper.

I swear this is the last lesson for this post. It’s lesson number five: Buses in Costa Rica are much more expensive than Nicaragua. But they’re still really quite cheap, especially compared to Canada. 

The journey by public bus from the Nica/Tica border (Peñas Blancas) cost us $9USD a person. So $18USD total.

There was not a great deal of indication as to how to go from the border to Monteverde so we asked around and were quickly directed to the public bus ticket office and bought a ticket to “Cruce Sardinal”. We had doubts this was where we needed to go yet paid up and waited.

Our first stop was in the middle of the road, in the middle of nowheresville…obviously, there was no discernable identification that that was in fact where we were supposed to get off, cross the road, and get on a different bus at 2:30pm going a different direction.

Luckily, we asked the driver at about the right time where we needed to change to go to Monteverde. He stopped about a minute later and said “aqui”. And then directed us across the road.

We waited at the stop. And waited. And waited as people just ended up hitch hiking. We waited so long that I got a bit of a tan.

Finally at 3:30pm a bus came WOOWHOO! [note: this the last bus of the day from this junction called “La Irma” so make sure you get there before 3:30].

And it was going to Monteverde!

It was our bus — yeehaw! It really did exist. We paid the driver and then took what was the most beautiful public bus ride we’d ever taken.


So, there you go, public bus from the border to Monteverde is possible, is relatively inexpensive and took around 5 hours with waiting time. Plus, it ends up with a stunning bus ride from La Irma to Santa Elena/Monteverde.
  — Cyn

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