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Depart Montezuma & make 1:30pm flight out of San Jose?

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Madison, WI
posts: 8
Depart Montezuma & make 1:30pm flight out of San Jose?

Hello! Is it possible to leave Montezuma in the morning and get to San Jose in time for a 1:30 pm flight? I know it's cutting it close, but would it be possible using the water taxi option? How early do you need to arrive at the airport?

Also, how long does it take to process through the airport/customs upon arrival? I'm looking at a 12:35 pm arrival time, hoping to catch the 2pm bus.

Thank you for any help you can provide!

Costa Rica
posts: 20,255
reviews: 23
1. Re: Depart Montezuma & make 1:30pm flight out of San Jose?

For arrival: Figure 45 minutes to one hour to get through all the "formalities." Then, it's about 30 minutes by taxi from the airport to the bus station in San Jose. (The airport is not actually in San Jose but in Alajuela.) It will be close.

If you bring carryon only and sit in the front of the plane, that would help. But you just never know if a flight is going to be late or if there will be a traffic problem between the airport and San Jose.

Another option is to go to the bus station in Alajuela known as La Radial. It's about 5 minutes from the airport and buses going north from San Jose will stop here. You will have a some choices since you could also get any bus going to Puntarenas and then taxi over to the ferry and in Paquera, pick up another bus.

You should really plan on being at the airport 3 hours ahead of time -- NO LESS than 2.5 hours. So that means arriving around 10:30 am. The water taxi option may not work because of the timing.

It's really kind of foolish to take a chance on traveling that far to get to the airport by 10:30 am. Too many things can happen. Your best bet is to head for Alajuela the afternoon before and spend your last night in Alajuela. Have a leisurely breakfast, do some shopping or banking and head for the airport with no stress.

Madison, WI
posts: 8
2. Re: Depart Montezuma & make 1:30pm flight out of San Jose?

Thank you for your response! That's kinda what I was thinking, it might be possible but it would be REALLY close and that would just be stressful. There's a flight that leaves San Jose at 2:07 am (seems strange); is it safe to hang out at the airport/San Jose that late at night? I was thinking we could take the afternoon bus trip from Montezuma to San Jose, have dinner whatever and then just wait for our flight.

Costa Rica
posts: 20,255
reviews: 23
3. Re: Depart Montezuma & make 1:30pm flight out of San Jose?

The 2 am flight would work. You could take the 2:30 pm bus which would put you in San Jose around 10 pm.

You really don't want to go all the way to San Jose -- you pass right by the airport. Just tell the driver you want to stop at the airport -- all the buses from the north will make a stop there if someone asks. (Remind him once you are pretty close. ) Bus drivers will usually call out "Aeropuerto!!??" and this is your cue to say "Si!"

If all goes well, you should arrive around 9:30-10:00 or so. You could check in early and then grab a taxi to get something to eat nearby.

Dearborn, Michigan
posts: 468
reviews: 9
4. Re: Depart Montezuma & make 1:30pm flight out of San Jose?

That's cutting it too close, probably both ways. I know a few others mentioned it, but the San Jose Airport is not in San Jose, it's in Alajuela (which is west of San Jose). Some people have taxied it to the ferry on arrival and then caught the bus from Paquera to Montezuma, look around the forums for details.

My experience is the directo from Montezuma is when they put your luggage under the bus (usually in Cobano) asks "Aeropuerto?" and marks the luggage and then knows to stop.

I'd consider the Airport very safe to hang out. I've done the 2am flights but (in my experience) they don't even open the counter until a few hours before (Spirit two times specifically; but I've had others not check me in extra early during the day even when the counter was open).

The check-in area is BORING and if you can't check in way early you're trapped there. If you bring anything that needs to be plugged in (for entertainment) bring an extension cord with a splitter, the plugs are in bad spots and if someone else is using the plug, the splitter will get them to share since they can stay plugged in(!).

Montezuma Expeditions does some shuttle rides with a Alajuela hotel combo (including taxi) to or from the Airport, that would work for you either way, but probably more useful on the way in. I've used them MANY times.

Personally, I usually go back the day before (on a late bus/shuttle) and stay in Alajuela (at "Casa Tago" hotel/B&B 5-10 min from airport, they'll hold your luggage after check out until you go to airport). If you're spending most of the time in Montezuma, I think it's worth checking out San Jose or Alajuela for an afternoon. Alajuela has a little downtown area but it's a metropolis compared to Montezuma. Or I'd head over to San Jose for part of the day (there is a cheap directo bus from Alajuela to SJ near the shopping/downtown area every 30 minutes or so).

This probably does not fit into your timings, but if you don't have too much luggage, there is a small mall a 5 minute taxi ride away ("International mall" I think). They have a movie theater, but I'm not sure if they're dubbed or subtitled (I'd guess the non-children films are probably in English with Spanish subtitles, but can't say for sure) so check if you decide to do that.

Gary

Madison, WI
posts: 8
5. Re: Depart Montezuma & make 1:30pm flight out of San Jose?

Thank you for all of your insight. I've been researching Montezuma a lot and these forums have been so helpful. We decided to stay in Alajuela and then fly out the next day. The thought of riding a bus for five hours and then a plane for seven and then driving home from Chicago sounds horrible! Plus we'll get to see another part of Costa Rica.

Gary, if we only had carry on luggage, you don't think we could make the 2pm bus with a 12:35 pm arrival time? I guess if the plane was even a little late, we could easily miss it. Crap. Worst case scenario, we'd have to take a taxi I guess. I'm so excited for Montezuma, but I'm a little nervous about getting there and back.

Dearborn, Michigan
posts: 468
reviews: 9
6. Re: Depart Montezuma & make 1:30pm flight out of San Jose?

It's going to take you 30-35 minutes to get from the airport to the bus station (longer if there is bad traffic); remember the bus stop for the Directo is in San Jose, the airport is not. Factor in luggage and customs, it's not going to happen or if it could, you can't count on it.

You could spend the night in Alajuela and be on a shuttle van first thing in the morning (getting over to the San Jose bus station at 6am would be a hassle and it's way out of way 30 minutes east and then 30 minutes west as you head back). Or take a taxi to the ferry and catch the bus on the other side.

I'd definitely do the Montezuma Expeditions shuttle pack on the way to, then decide what you want on the way back. Pay them the few extra bucks and stay at Casa Tago, it's the nicest of where they have put me.

Gary

Costa Rica
posts: 20,255
reviews: 23
7. Re: Depart Montezuma & make 1:30pm flight out of San Jose?

Keep in mind that the last ferry from Puntarenas where you can get a bus from Paquera is at 5 pm. It's 2.5-3 hours from San Jose to Puntarenas. If you miss the 2 pm bus, you can take a bus from La Radial in Alajuela (where the airport is located) to Puntarenas, taxi to the ferry and on the other side, get a taxi to Montezuma. (But that's expensive)

The Montezuma Expeditions pack as mentioned by Gary (which leaves in the morning but includes a hotel for your first night) is a good alternative.

If you decide to try for the 2 pm bus, be sure to have a "Plan B."

8. Re: Depart Montezuma & make 1:30pm flight out of San Jose?

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