Getting Through Costa Rica as Fast as We Can

Without exception, everyone we have met who is traveling the Pan-American Highway has said two things: 1) the overnight busses are over air conditioned and 2) we’re just trying to get through Costa Rica as fast as we can.

The air conditioning I can’t explain. People put on all of their clothes and buy blankets just to stay warm inside a bus that’s temperature has been set to 50F.

As for the “getting through as fast as we can,” I get it. This may sound odd, since Costa Rica is known for being beautiful and has been a tourist hot-spot for several years now. But that’s exactly why people are moving through it quickly.

There are 2 kind of travelers: short-term vacationers and longer-term, long-distance travelers. Costa Rica is priced for the vacationers. For those of us on the longer-term trail, we’re trying to keep our hotel costs at $20 per night. This is totally do-able in Nicaragua. But once we crossed that southern border into Costa Rica, we had a little sticker shock.

First of all, we had just taken a $10 taxi in Nicaragua to the border. Once we were on the other side, we were offered a $50 taxi to go the same distance in Costa Rica. No, thank you. We took the bus for $3 each. As for sleeping, the hotels and hostels are also pricer in Costa Rica.

For those of you who are planning some travel in the area, here is what we spent on accommodations. We’re two people sleeping in the same bed. We tried to get the least expensive places we could find that offered a private room. You can certainly spend more. And if you’re willing to bunk with others, you can pay less.


Cost Beds Breakfast Kitchen Bath Hot Water AC Vault TV
Leon $17 2 no shared private no no no shared
Matagalpa $30 1 full breakfast shared private yes no no yes
Granada $15 1 no shared private no no no shared
Ometepe $22 1 full or continental no shared yes no no no

Costa Rica

Cost Beds Breakfast Kitchen Bath Hot Water AC Vault TV
Liberia $40 2 no no private no no no yes
Nosara $40 1 no yes private no no no no
Samara $30 2 no shared private yes no yes no
San Jose $50 2 buffet no shared yes no yes yes
Puerto Viejo
$43 1 no shared private yes no yes no
Puerto Viejo
>$60 2 no yes private yes yes yes yes

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