Getting from Panama to Montezuma Costa Rica

Date of Entry:

Date of Writing:  November 3rd 2017

This is a travel entry, not of that much interest for readers at home, but for readers travelling between Panama and Costa Rica without much time to spare will hopefully find it easy.

My first step to get to Costa rica from Panama City was to take the Tica bus ( a bit more costly at 60 USD but simpler if you need to do the trip in one day).  This bus takes you all the way to San Jose, though there are a few coastal stops in the south of Costa Rica where you could hop off.

We left Panama City around midday and Arrived in San Jose at around 3:30 in the morning.  The borders were simple enough as long as you had your passport and stamp into Panama and between the two of them took just over an hour.  Tica offers food on board too further simplifying things. Luckily the Tica bus terminal was quite secure and even had some wifi alongside the attached hotel lobby so I spend an hour or so there before grabbing an uber to the nearby 7-10 bus station attached to a shopping mall where early morning buses go all the way to montezuma via punta arenas.  (you can also just get a bus to punta arenas, then take the ferry yourself and get another bus to montezuma on the other side fairly easily.)  At the bus station I buy my ticket and wait for the bus to leave around 7 am where I promptly pass out sleeping through the rising sun and only waking as we reach the ferry terminal in punta arenas, not to be confused with punta arenas in the far south of chile.

Once there I’m given a small blue ticket and told to get off the bus and walk onto the ferry, I’ll be picked up on the other side.  I’m pretty tired as I stumble on board this same ferry that took me to montezuma 13 years before on my first trip outside the US and Canada with my family.  The trip that started everything and the experiences that began this blog.  Montezuma was my favourite place we visited on that amazing 2 or so weeks driving across Costa Rica staying in hostels and cheap hotels, experiencing everything we could, and so even though I’m tired, I’m pretty damn excited as I get closer and closer to this amazing place

Onboard the ferry I head to the front, just like I did with my family all those years ago, remembering my father entertaining a crying baby by pulling on his beard.  As we cross to the Nicoya Peninsula where Montezuma sits I snap photos of the beautiful pacific ocean and focusing on waking up.  The rest of this trip is going to be a marathon at sprint speed, as I try to see everything but it will end up being well worth the energy.

There on the other side we walk off the ferry and everyone waits for a bus while looking for shade.  I buy an overpriced coconut and try to find some shade staying close to the few faces I recognize from the bus, all while realizing I’ve lost my little blue ticket.  Luckily it’s latin america and my spanish has come back for the most part so as I explain it when the bus finally arrives there’s no problem and I’m let straight on.

We drive on along the peninsula for an hour or so before changing to a smaller bus in a town a short distance from montezuma and then we’re off again.  They tend not to mention this stop, but only certain buses go all the way to Montezuma.  Oh well.  By the time I get there it’s almost 2 in the afternoon and I’m too burnt out to do much more than wander through the town, find a hostel (Montezuma backpackers where only a small simple private is available)  and pick up my favourite drink that I’ve been missing since I was 16:  Fanta Kolita.  I do manage to take a quick peak at the nearby beaches on either side of town, but then I crash and I’ll save my observations about how Montezuma has changed for the next entry.  Stay tuned, lots more central american adventures to come.  And here’s a tiny peak of Montezuma and what’s to come including a jumbo shrimp sign that will forever make me think of my Dear Departed mother.  What a time we had here as a family.  I love you mum.

So All told the trip took 4 separate buses (only two tickets), and 1 short uber ride, and just over 24 hours (about 26).  It cost between 70 and 80 usd all tolled and was well worth it because Montezuma is awesome so yeah, that’s how you go from Panama City to Montezuma Costa Rica by bus.

Step 1: 11am or so Tica bus  direct to San Jose.

Step 2 : Uber to 7-10 terminal in shopping mall with buses direct to Montezuma.

Step 3:  Take the ferry and wait for your next bus.

Step 4:  change buses again and wait for the next bus to Montezuma and board there.

Step 5:  Between 1 and 3 pm the next day Enjoy Montezuma.

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