Bus from San Jose to Tamarindo

Last week we traveled from Grecia to Tamarindo by bus.  We heard from our friends about this direct bus from San Jose to Tamarindo called “Empresa Alfaro“.
Empresa’s station in San Jose is in the Coca Cola area, just one block from the Grecia Bus Station:
tamarindo station sj

To Tamarindo there are two departure times:  11:30 which we took, that goes through Liberia first, and 3:30 with goes “straight” to Tamarindo.  We wanted to get there as early in the day as possible, so we took the 11:30 (note:  these prices are out of date):
Screen Shot 2015-06-27 at 2.52.34 PM

Our bus day adventure went like this:

  • 8:50 am – caught bus from our house in El Cajón de Grecia to Grecia (₡460 per person)
  • 9:40 am – caught bus from Grecia to San Jose (₡1,110 per person)
  • 10:50 am – got to Grecia Bus Station in San Jose, walked to the Empresa Alfarro Station and got in line for a ticket (₡5,830 per person)

We were assigned seats 43 and 44, which turned out to be the 2nd to the last row of the bus.  So, this is where it comes in handy that I did this before you – I recommend you get there more than 30 minutes ahead of your scheduled bus time to purchase tickets, as the bus will fill up fast.  On their website, they had an option to reserve tickets – but it didn’t work.
IMG_7680At 11:25 am they called over the speaker for us to line up (how did I know this?  I caught the words “Tamarindo” and “Puerta Uno” in the garbled Charlie Brown teacher sounding broadcast):
IMG_7678We went through a door (Puerta 1), and there was a guy who took our ticket and wrote something down on a clipboard.  If you have luggage to store underneath the bus, at this point you can give to another guy and they give you a little ticket stub and put it underneath the bus with you watching.  Then we got on the bus:
IMG_7683Inside…  I was impressed.  Greg had a bit more leg room than he does on the normal buses we usually take (in Grecia, and also from Grecia to San Jose).  Also, there was air conditioning!  I wasn’t expecting this, so it was a pleasant surprise, even though the closer we got to the coast, the less cool it was.

We departed promptly at 11:31 am, and I was happy to see this would indeed be a “direct” ride, as all the seats were filled with assigned ticket holders.  However, I soon was proven wrong, as we stopped a few times going out of the city and picked up people.  Not sure what kind of ticket they had, or if they paid when they got on, but these people actually STOOD for the whole ride.  Guess they really wanted to get to Tamarindo.

We stopped at 1:15 pm for a 20 minute break.  There were free restrooms (ladies –  remember the toilet paper is outside the restroom, be sure to grab some before entering) and snacks for purchase.  We bought some fruit, chips and a Fresca to share.  After 20 minutes, the driver beeped a few times, and that was all the warning we had, soon we were off again.  I was astonished that no one had missed getting back on.

By 1:40 pm we were back on the road and rolling.  After the break it took a while to cool the bus down, so we were a bit warm, but it wasn’t unbearable.  Interestingly we stopped in several little towns – sometimes people got off, but also I saw lots of packages being delivered.  If you visit their website, you’ll see that you can send packages this way.  It seemed the closer we got to Tamarindo, the more stops we made (so… not so “direct” after all).

We finally reached Tamarindo at 5:45 pm.  Total time – 6 hours and 15 minutes.  I thought the bus was clean, pretty cool (with the AC), and the drivers were safe.

NOTE:  When we came back from Tamarindo to San Jose, we did not take the Liberia route, but the “more direct” one which left at 5:30 am.  I was not as impressed with this bus – it was not as new looking, there were no pockets in front of you to store stuff, and the AC did not work very well at all.  That being said, it was a bit shorter overall (total time was 5 hours and 45 minutes).  (Oddly we were randomly assigned the same seats, 43 and 44, again!)

That’s all for now! — Jen

PS – Stay tuned for my post on Tamarindo!
PPS – Looking for my book – click here!
PPPS – Looking for my Arm Candy – click here!



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17 Responses to Bus from San Jose to Tamarindo

  1. Jen,
    I love that you are “roughing it” so well in Costa Rica. Did you ever imagine, during your life in Dallas, that you’d ever be taking a bus in a foreign country, not speaking the language and literally learning as you go? I certainly can’t, especially at my advanced age (69).
    But, you do it with such aplomb and with literal excitement in your voice! And, sharing the snack and the Fresca must have tasted so good! You made a 6 hour 15 minute bus trip seem like such an adventure!
    Thanks for sharing your Costa Rican life with us. I am really looking forward to my own adventure in CR. Plan to move down in about 2 years. You are a pioneer for me, and sure appreciate you blazing the trail for me!

    • Wow – Fred, you are too kind! That Fresca certainly did taste good – it was cold and I was hot and thirsty! And no, not in my wildest imagination would I have ever thought I’d be doing the things I do today in Costa Rica. It helps to have comments like yours – you keep me going and wanting to try new things, so thanks. 🙂 And good luck to you in 2 years – I admire you for being in your 70’s when you do this – now that takes guts!! Cheers! — Jen

  2. Reading and commenting from Chicago where we have spectacular
    4th of July weather..thanks for the detailed trip description! Never used that bus to Tamarindo but may one day
    When I feel adventurous. Looking forward to
    Your take on Tamarindo…I was last there maybe ten years ago.
    Nice beach town then; I’m sure it’s more crowded now but loved the beach

  3. Jen,
    Really loved this blog post since just last night I was researching buses from Grecia to Tamarindo. I found your blog a few months ago since we were planning to go to Costa Rica to check it out, someday. Well that some day will be on tuesday, 7/7. Everything you write has helped us to select our first stop in our exploratory voyage to CR. It is because of your posts that I selected Grecia to be our first stop. We are staying in the El Cajon area for a month and surely hope we can actually meet you both.

    Cannot wait for your post on your Tamarindo trip.

  4. Jen, We’ll be there in August (in Grecia) and admittedly, the buses and knowing which one to get on intimidates us a bit. How long did it take you to figure the buses out?

    • It did not take long at all. Check out this Facebook group by my pal, Rob – if you go to photo albums, there’s all the schedules under “Grecia, Alajuela”.

          • You let me know when you get to Grecia, I can meet you in town and show you the 2 bus stations and what is what. There’s the “old bus station” that has just buses within Grecia. The “new bus station” goes to further away places (San Jose, Alajuela, Sarchi, Naranjo & Tacares). All schedules are posted at both of the bus stations.

            • That would be awesome, Jen! We’re planning to fly into CR on August 13th around noon. We’ll have to figure out the bus to at least get to Grecia! We can do that, I think! We’ll let you know when it gets closer to the exact time and where we can meet you. Thank you very much for all your help!! Dan & Cindy Gaskell

  5. You really are adventurous and courageous too, I might add. It’s really wonderful to read of your and Greg’s travels. I think your advance research is so helpful! It helps you make the best and most informed choices based on what you know. I enjoyed the virtual bus ride to Tamarindo and look forward to your blog post tomorrow. Have a wonderful Sunday.

    • Thanks so much Irma… even with planning, I get worried about things – like what if the bus station wasn’t where it said it was on the map? Or the times had changed from the web page? But all was good… I relaxed more after we got there ok to the station and purchased our tickets. It all worked out well. 🙂 Tamarindo post tomorrow – get ready! 🙂

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