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Stay in San Jose or Alajuela before heading to Montezuma?

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Madison, WI
posts: 8
Stay in San Jose or Alajuela before heading to Montezuma?

Hello! It looks like we'll be spending the night near the airport before heading to Montezuma and probably before our flight on the way back too. Should we stay in San Jose or Alajuela? I've heard that the direct bus to Montezuma stops in Alajuela outside of the airport, but I've also heard it sometimes does not stop. Does anyone know for sure? Does the bus sometimes fill up in San Jose, potentially leaving no room, even if it did stop in Alajuela? It would be nice to avoid the trip to San Jose unless we have to. Thank you in advance for any insight you can offer!

Costa Rica
posts: 21,694
reviews: 26
1. Re: Stay in San Jose or Alajuela before heading to Montezuma?

You can stay in Alajuela and you have several choices.

There is a bus station in Alajuela known as "La Radial" where buses going north stop after leaving San Jose. The direct bus for Montezuma should stop here.

Otherwise, you can get one of the frequent buses to the town of Puntarenas and once in Puntarenas, take a taxi to the ferry. On the other side, get the bus for Montezuma.

www.thebusschedule.com/cr/

Look for buses leaving San Jose and they will arrive at La Radial about 1/2 an hour later.

Dearborn, Michigan
posts: 481
reviews: 9
2. Re: Stay in San Jose or Alajuela before heading to Montezuma?

Hattie,

So to get to La Radial, could you just take a cab from Alajuela to that bus stop and the taxi would know where to drop you?

Gary

Costa Rica
posts: 21,694
reviews: 26
3. Re: Stay in San Jose or Alajuela before heading to Montezuma?

Yes, Gary. It's about 5-10 minutes from the airport depending on traffic and all taxi drivers know it. If you are familiar with the boulevard that runs between Alajuela centro and the airport, it's about 3/4 of the way up that boulevard from the airport, just below the KFC and just above the Mall Internacional. (It's on the right hand side going from the airport to Alajuela.)

Madison, WI
posts: 8
4. Re: Stay in San Jose or Alajuela before heading to Montezuma?

But then, what if the bus is full? I've seen this mentioned in the forums. If we missed the early bus, I'd be so disappointed. I don't think I can take the chance. Ah, so many decisions!

Costa Rica
posts: 21,694
reviews: 26
5. Re: Stay in San Jose or Alajuela before heading to Montezuma?

Why would you be "so disappointed" if you miss the "early bus?" You kind of ignored the alternative I proposed of just going to Puntarenas, get the ferry and get on another bus.

But if you want to be really really really sure of getting the "early bus," then go from the airport to San Jose, buy your ticket for the next day and then stay in San Jose. It's kind of OCD, but it will work.

Otherwise, book a shared van shuttle and you will have no worries about bus times, tickets, "full" or anything.

Dearborn, Michigan
posts: 481
reviews: 9
6. Re: Stay in San Jose or Alajuela before heading to Montezuma?

I've been to the mall multiple times.

So it's Airport, international mall, bus stop, KFC and then Alajuela?

Is this the place?!? http://goo.gl/maps/2Qzsx Multicentro La Estacion

It sure seems like it from your description, but I don't really remember going there after leaving SJ (but it'd be the 6am bus so I was tired). And it stops there on the way out but not on the way back?

Gary

(and if not, is this the KFC http://goo.gl/maps/MhYrv (100 mts E. de la Shell Radial Alajuela))

Edited: 11:15 pm, June 22, 2013
Santa Teresa, Costa...
Destination Expert
for Mal Pais, Santa Teresa
posts: 1,466
reviews: 10
7. Re: Stay in San Jose or Alajuela before heading to Montezuma?

Wait a minute!

TaraSJM asked about the Direct Bus, not the regular bus.

Now, I hope I can get this straight without confusing everyone more than they already are.....

The Direct Bus leaves the San Carlos (Atlantic) Station in San Jose at 6 AM and 2 PM. It has been known to stop at a spot west of the airport, but I think you have to call the bus phone number and arrange that, unless you want to take the chance and flag the bus down before it passes. If you can get anyone to answer any of the phones in the first place, then have your Spanish ready because the person you reach will likely not speak English.

This site has contact numbers and other bus alternatives to the direct bus:

www.nicoyapeninsula.com/general/busses.php

As Hattie mentioned, there is always the regular bus that leaves Alajuela and deposits you in Puntarenas where you will have to take a cab to the ferry terminal then catch another bus from the Paquera side on the Nicoya Peninsula in order to carry on to Montezuma.

Which ever route and bus you take, please have contact with your bags at all times (unless you take the direct bus where they stow your bags below and give you a corresponding ticket to collect your bags at your destination). Always keep your valuables with you (passports, laptops, cameras etc). Do not set your bags under your seat or up in the shelf above you...things disappear in a flash!.

On your return from Montezuma, the Direct Bus stops at the airport where you can disembark and grab a cab to an accommodation of your choice that is nearby the airport, so you don't have to stay in downtown San Jose.

If you cannot get the Direct Bus to pick you up on way to Montezuma and you don't want to spend the cab fare to the Atlantic station why not catch a shuttle? (by the time you spend the cab fare and get on the bus, you may as well have paid for the more expensive shuttle and not have to worry about missing buses etc) and the shuttles leave from Alajuela every morning at a decent hr. rather than the 6 AM Direct Bus.

Madison, WI
posts: 8
8. Re: Stay in San Jose or Alajuela before heading to Montezuma?

You're right, the alternative you mentioned would be a backup plan. We have to spend the first night near the airport (and probably on the way back too) so I just really want to get to Montezuma as early as possible to make the most of our time.

Lol, I am so OCD! I've also never taken a trip like this and I just want to be prepared and make it as easy as possible. Thank you so much for all of your help!

Costa Rica
posts: 21,694
reviews: 26
9. Re: Stay in San Jose or Alajuela before heading to Montezuma?

Tara - if you are OCD and worried about bus connections, etc, then I would just take the shared van shuttle. They provide hotel to hotel service in a 12-passenger, air conditioned van. It's the easiest way to go although more expensive. There's one that departs at 6 am and is the quickest way to get there. You will be there by about 11:30 -- so breakfast in Alajuela....... lunch in Montezuma. anywherecostarica.com/transportation/search…

You can save by staying at one of the many hostels in Alajuela -- Trotamundos is highly recommended but there are others. Hotel Los Volcanes is very nice and inexpensive if you opt for the shared bathroom.

Edited: 12:18 pm, June 23, 2013
Dearborn, Michigan
posts: 481
reviews: 9
10. Re: Stay in San Jose or Alajuela before heading to Montezuma?

But there are differences between the Montezuma/San Jose Directo and the regular bus, right?

The directo stops less (a lot less?), has air-conditioning, you can check your luggage (which means you don't carry it on the ferry, it stays locked up) and (in my experiences) has nicer seats?

I've never taken a regular bus from Alajuela to Puntarenas so I don't know about any of the above amenities. Can someone who has done the directo confirm the above?

When I'm on vacation, I might be traveling cheap sometimes but when I've got 5+ hours on a bus ride the above are nice comforts to have.

Gary

Edited: 12:32 pm, June 23, 2013