Let’s just pretend that I am coming from the past and I need to tell you how people used to travel in Costa Rica.
Well, they used to travel with a Costa Rica handbook guide trying to figure out bus schedules. They didn’t have Facebook groups or travel blogs, so they often ended up just getting lost.
People used to see only backpackers using the public buses to go to tourist destinations.
But traveling by bus in Costa Rica is becoming more common as part of the adventure.
We see a lot of travelers coming through San Ramon as a connection point to travel from one tourist spot like Arenal Volcano to another travel destination.
During my time as a volunteer coordinator, I had to learn how to explain our public bus system quite often.
In those days, for example, I was in charge of buying the bus tickets, and there was no option to do it online. (Well, things haven’t changed much – there are still not many options to buy tickets online).
So I had to go all the way to San Jose get the ticket to Guanacaste. Then I had to tell the guy at the bus station in San Jose that a “gringo” would be waiting in San Ramon. I would get the driver’s phone number if was possible to make sure that the volunteer would get to the turtle conservation project in Guanacaste.
Yes, as many volunteers can tell you, it’s a real story.
Easy? For a local, maybe, but add the language barrier to the equation and coordinating bus travel gets more difficult. Information on the internet wasn’t available as much as these days. Now things can be a little easier but still confusing for some travelers.
What are the advantages to staying in San Ramon?
There was a time also where most people stayed in San Jose during their first night in Costa Rica.
Then the population in San Jose got bigger, the traffic got crazier and travelers started looking for options to stay outside of the city. Places like Alajuela, Grecia or San Ramon started to become more tourist-friendly for those who wanted to avoid the chaos of the city.
So here are some of the advantages to take in consideration:
- Distance. San Ramon is located 40 minutes away from the airport.
- Location. The location of the town is on the way to most of the tourist destinations.
- Easy to take buses for tourist destinations.
About the Bus Stops:
There are 3 main bus stops in San Ramon:
1. Parada Municipal (In front of Central Market):
The buses to La Fortuna (Arenal) leave from here daily
This is the main bus stop where people take the buses to the areas around San Ramon like: San Juan, San Pedro, Los Angeles, Rio Jesus, Palmarés and Naranjo.
It looks very disorganized and full of people. There are small restaurants to eat while you wait for the bus.
2. Empresarios Unidos (also known “Parada de Puntarenas”):
This bus stop is one block away from “Parada Municipal.” The main services from here are San Jose and Puntarenas.
They have a small cafeteria and restrooms.
3. La Pista” Bus Stop:
This bus stop is more on the side of the main highway.
The only infrastructure here is a small bus stop, but this is where buses stop that are coming from San Jose and go to routes like: Monteverde and Guanacaste
Routes and schedules from San Ramon:
San Ramon to Fortuna:
The buses runs daily from “Parada Municipal” Bus Stop.
The company name is “Compañia Carbachez.”
Schedule from San Ramon: 5:30 AM, 9:00 AM, 12:30 PM, 4:00 PM, 5:30 PM.
Schedule from La Fortuna: 4:30 AM, 5:30 AM, 9:00 AM, 1:00 PM, 4:00 PM.
More precisely, the bus leaves from in front of the restaurant area in the middle of the bus stop.
The cost of the ticket is 2350 (Around $5).
The distance is around 71 km (44 miles) and the ride can take approx. 2 hours.
San Ramon to San Jose/ Airport:
Empresarios Unidos is a local company that runs buses daily from San Jose to San Ramon and Puntarenas and vice-versa.
This bus stop is pretty close to “Parada Municipal” – less than a block away.
You purchase the ticket in their window and say if you are going to San Jose or Puntarenas.
The price of the ticket to San Jose is around $3, and to Puntarenas around $4.
They have a direct and an indirect service:
– Direct Service: This bus will only stop at the authorized bus stops.
Let’s say that you are going to the airport you buy the ticket in San Ramon and they will drop you off.
The schedule for the direct bus will be every 45 minutes or as soon as the bus gets full.
-Indirect: This one works better for people who are coming from Alajuela or the airport.
The bus leaves from San Jose, picks up people along the way and drops off in San Ramon, but continues all the way to Puntarenas.
San Ramon to Puntarenas:
The buses to Puntarenas are in the same bus stop that we mentioned above.
There is not “technically” a direct bus from San Ramon to Puntarenas because all of the buses are coming from San Jose and come through San Ramon.
However, they managed a daily schedule that you can see here:
The bus ticket cost …
Check their website for the most accurate information:
San Ramon to Monteverde:
This service the bus doesn’t enter downtown, it just stops at “La Pista” bus stop.
The original route is San José – Monteverde, but the bus company Transmonteverde stops in San Ramon.
This is one of the few bus companies that lets you buy the ticket onl (unfortunately it has a lot of glitches).
There are only two buses per day. You have to add around one hour from San Jose to estimate the time you will be passing through San Ramon.
Schedule from San Jose: 6:30 am (7:30 am in SR approx), 2:30 pm (3:30 pm in SR approx)
Schedule from Monteverde: 5:30 am (7:30 am in SR approx), 2:30 pm (4:30 pm in SR approx)
The cost of the bus ticket is around $6.
San Ramon to Guanacaste:
Not all the buses that leave San Jose will pass through San Ramon.
You have to make sure when you buy the ticket that the bus will stop in San Ramon or when you check online it doesn’t say “Directo.”
- To Liberia – Pulmitan Bus Company: If you are going to Playas del Coco, Tamarindo or Liberia Airport, you will have to use this company that leaves daily from San Jose.
Phone number 2222-0610 or WhatsApp 60342578.
The bus schedule is almost every hour.
It takes about 3-4 hours to get to Liberia.
There is a bus that goes directly to Playas El Coco
The price is around $7.
- To Santa Cruz – Alfaro Bus Company: Use this company if you are going to Samara, Nosara, Ostional or Nicoya.
The bus schedule to go to Santa Cruz is this one:
We hope this information we’ve compiled will be useful for those who are passing through San Ramon or staying here in our hometown.
In Costa Rica, it is hard to have buses schedules updated because they always change or they will run “Tico Time” but don´t trust that much because I have lost the buses when I think the bus driver will run Tico Time every day.
However, we have found resources like this Facebook Group where people ask and someone who has recently traveled that route might answer with the more precise information.
So why not explore Costa Rica by bus?
If you have a funny story about traveling by bus in Costa Rica, we would love to hear it. Please leave us a comment!