Starting to throw together a trip itinerary and any info I can find (via the internet and my sister) for next month so any additional info/comments/travel tips will be appreciated. I’ve never been to Central America and also I’ll be making this trip solo so if anyone has any general advice on traveling alone that would also be helpful.
1. Panama City
2. Panama City
Bus to Almirante in Panama terminal 20$ (8.5 hours)
Marine taxi to Bocas 4$ (Does not run on Sundays)
3. Bocas Del Toro
4. Bocas Del Toro
5. Bocas Del Toro
6. Bocas Del Toro
7. Bocas Del Toro
Flight to San Jose 160$
Bus ride to Limon or Puerto Viejo and then to San Jose 50$
8. San Jose
Bus to Jaco 25$
Bus back to San Jose 25$
13. San Jose
14. San Jose
Okay so I have some suggestions for you - places to go and may save you some money. While in Bocas goto Playa Wizzard, it's on Isla Bastimentos. If you go there, group up with some other backpackers and it will only cost each of you about $1-$2 eachway for the 15 minute boatride there. Then a nice 20 minute walk to the other side of the island and then you've got the most amazing deserted beach. Also Playa Red Frog is just south of the Playa Wizzard and that is part of a National Park, truly breathtaking.
There are tons of beaches worth a look on the main island but I'd suggest the aforementioned. Playa Starfish on the main island is on the NW part of the isle and is cool, tons of starfish there, (obviously).
After you leave Bocas - DON'T fly to san Jose, it's just not worth it. Leave early from Bocas and when you get to Almirante you can get a bus to the border (Sixaola.) I don't know the cost of this but not more then $10, cause it's only 45 minutes from Almirante to the border. Once you get to the border it's another 30 minutes to Puerto Viejo (stay at Rocking J's!!). This bus ride would only cost you $5 or the equivalent in Colones. If you decide to take this route you save the airfare of $160 and the bus ride to and fro Limon and Puerto Viejo. It's worth it, trust me here. Going from airport to bus station in San Jose will just be a pain in your ass. And nothing in San Jose is really that interesting if you ask me. Sounds like you want beach time and this route is the way to go.
As far as going to Jaco, fuhget about it. Not worth it, it's waaay hot, humid and Americanized. If you like that, go for it. If I were you I would go take some surf lessons at Playa Dominical on the Pacific, or head to Manuel Antonio National Park. Manuel Antonio is AMAZING. Don't leave CR without stopping there!!! Yes it is a touristy place but the beach and park make up for it 10 fold.
Anyways, that's what I can recommend for you. Hope it helps, post some pics of your trip. I truly miss Boca and Puerto Viejo more then words can describe. Have a blast and drink a couple Imperial's for me!!
Thanks for all the advice man. You hit the nail on the head I’m pretty much looking to spend most my time at the beach surfing/snorkeling/whatever during the day and a little drinking some of the nights.; other than that mixing in a few zip lines or some sort of an eco tour here and there. Going to make some adjustments to my plans, thanks again. One more thing would you recommend booking hostels and other things ahead of time because I’d rather not do that in case I feel like digressing from my original plan.
Just a quick correction. The bus from Almirante is 1.25 and it goes to Changinols and then you have to take another bus or a taxi 1-2 dollars a person to the boarder which is guabito or frontera. Sixola is on the other side in Costa Rica. The buses leave every hour or so and they takes about 2 1/2 hours to puerto Viejo.
Hmmm...I do agree you have to go from Almirante to Changuinola, I apologize for not making that clear. The border itself is called Guabito(Panama)/Sixaola(Costa Rica). You really could call it either because they are the same place, just divided by an imaginary line, (and a river actually). (Frontera is spanish for border). I never actually took the buses since I had my own private vehicle, but I can't imagine it taking 2.5 hours from the border to PV.
Its true. You were probably having such a good time that the time just flew by. Of course your private vehicle will go a little faster but not that much. Bri Bri, which is about half way is at least 1 hour from Sixaola. Limon, north of puerto Viejo is a good 3 hours from Sixaola. It is not a problem, just make sure you leave Bocas by afternoon if you want to get to PV early AND make sure you leave before 4 because the Boarder does close around 5 or 6.
I might be trying to squeeze too much into two weeks here and I know you and some other people aren’t too high on Jaco (I have a buddy a buddy there to visit) but here’s my plan.
1. Panama City (3/4, Arrive at 2:20 am)
Bus to Almirante in Panama terminal $20 (Departs 8pm, 8.5 hour trip)
Marine taxi to Bocas $4 (Does not run on Sundays)
Playa Wizard, Starfish and Red Frog all worth seeing
2. Bocas Del Toro (Arrive approximately 6am)
Hostel Heike, Gran Kahuna, Bocas Bound
3. Bocas Del Toro
4. Bocas Del Toro
5. Bocas Del Toro
Bus to Sixaola $10 (via Changuinola), bus to Puerto Viejo $5
6. Puerto Viejo (Rockin J’s)
Bus to Jaco $25
7. Puerto Viejo
8. Puerto Viejo
Bus to San Jose- Express buses leave Puerto Viejo for San José daily at 7:30, 9, and 11am, and 4pm
9. San Jose
Bus to Jaco- Transportes Jacó express buses (tel. 2223-1109 or 2643-3135) leave San José daily every 2 hours between 5am and 7pm from the Coca-Cola bus terminal at Calle 16 between avenidas 1 and 3. The trip takes between 2.5 and 3 hours; the fare is $2.50.
Bus to San Jose $3
13. San Jose
14. San Jose (3/17, Flight leaves at 12:34 pm)
Again thanks for all the advice guys, I'm starting to get pretty excited.
Not sure where you are getting that 10 dollars for the bus from Almirante to the boarder, maybe you are thinking of a taxi. The water taxis do run on Sundays for sure, in fact there are three different taxi companies and they all run. Not sure how budget bound you are but.... Water taxi to Bastimentos (the town where youwalk to Wizard) is 3 dollars each way (5 for red frog beach). The bus to Boca Del Drago (where starfish beach is) on the other side of Isla Colon is 5 dollars round trip and leaves from the central park in town. Keep in mind that most everybody's plans change when they hit Bocas. You could get rained out or end up staying for 2 weeks, you never know.
Don’t really remember where I got the $10 from either but I didn’t make it up saw it on some forum or blog, anyways it’s not that big a deal. If anything I’d rather overestimate the cost of things than underestimate. Appreciate the heads up on the Sunday thing I definitely remember reading somewhere they did not run on Sundays. Also I understand that my plans more than likely will change, I just wanted to have some sort of gameplan and knowledge of getting around going into this thing.
my girlfriend and I are planning to do the same kind of trip. I was wondering if there a reason why you're starting your trip in Panama city instead of San Jose? We'll have a week more (around 20 days), I was wondering if we should take more time to go from San Jose to Panama City, or we should make a little loop in the north of San jose? I am very open to any comments or suggestions. Thanks!
20 days in CR?
I would fly to San Jose, take a bus to Puerto Viejo, stay there for 7 days before taking a bus to Bocas del toro, spend a week there, fly back to San Jose and goto Manuel Antonio for a few days before heading home.
This is obviously for max beach and snorkel time (and national park time), snorkeling is five star and it's very laid back.
The only reason I started in Panama City rather than San Jose was because it was a little cheaper that way. I don’t really think it matters where you start. Id agree with Avilla as far as taking a bus from San Jose to Puerto Viejo and then on to Bocas, all of the trips are relatively short and both places are pretty cool. Not sure where you are flying from but Spirit has really cheap flights in and out of Panama City.
Thanks for all the advice man the trip went great wouldn’t have really changed a thing. After going to Jaco Id have to agree with you, Bocas and Puerto Viejo were definitely a lot more fun than Jaco.
My trip would be like yours but in the opposite way.
So, from what i understand, i should go to the Parc Manuel Antonio instead of Jaco.
I would add some destinations like Arenal Volcanoe and Boquete on the road.
I was planning to this all in bus? Am I realistic?
Thanks alot! Got some pics?
Congratulations on making it over here to Costa Rica and Panama! Such a great place to visit and it looks like you are on target with visiting Bocas and Panama City.
As far as Costa Rica goes.... Jaco is going to disappoint you. I would try our further north and go to Playa Tamarindo or Conchal/Flamingo. Up there you will find beautiful beaches and more activities like surfing!, Tamarindo Sports Fishing, volcano tours, ATV trips, fabulous Catamarans, etc etc.
If you are really big into fishing tho you should check out this article Fishing Seasons of Costa Rica. I know all my friends that have come down here have had a great time, but sports fishing has always been a fun activity that everyone loves!