Arrival in Costa Rica is the first step! Travel in country to camp is the next! There are many ways you can make your way to camp, leisurely exploring as you make your way south, or just taking a day or two at the beach or waterfall nearby. It is our STRONG recommendation to, if at all possible, arrive a few days in advance of camp to acclimate to climate, energies of Costa Rica, and relieve any travel fatigue. This is so you are fresh and fully present for camp to begin!
If you would like to talk to someone who knows the area well, there will be a New Culture welcome team (or person) available to support you in thinking through where to go and how to get there so you can have a wonderful pre and post camp experience in this beautiful land.
This page details our general advice about arriving in the country, ways to get from San Jose to places near camp, recommendations for where to stay, and lastly, how to find your way to camp.
Arriving in Country:
The best way to get to Costa Rica is by air. Juan Santamaria Airport (SJO) is the biggest international airport of Costa Rica and the one that is closest to camp. The airport is located in the small city of Alajuela, about an hour from the capital city of San Jose. Flights are available from most US cities. Keep in mind that if you fly with a connecting flight in another central american country you will likely have to go through immigration, customs, and baggage claim during the connection.
MONEY and LANGUAGE
The Costa Rica currency is the colon (plural colones). We recommend taking money out of the ATM at the airport so you have some cash. Dollars are also widely accepted at restaurants, supermarkets and taxis, though you may not get the best rate this way. There are no ATMS at camp.
International currency rates fluctuate. At the time of writing, the colon is low which gives more buying power for those coming with dollars. The current exchange rate is 622 colones/dollar (not long ago it was 550). Price estimates for transportation and travel around the country, included here, are based on the current exchange rate and so may vary slightly.
As for language, Costa Rica is a Spanish speaking country. There is a booming tourist industry and large foreign community so many people do speak at least some (if not excellent) English; that said, not everyone does so it might be good to prepare a few phrases for transportation-related purposes in Spanish!
Almost everyone in Costa Rica uses an internet based application called Whatsapp for phone calls and messages. For placing local calls to friends and taxi drivers you can use this app while in a place that has wifi. Pretty much all restaurants have wifi, as do all hostels, hotels, and our camp.
You may also choose to purchase a prepaid sim card for your phone at the airport. At the baggage claim, look for the green and blue colored Kolbi telecommunications stand.
Travel in Costa Rica:
After arriving in San Jose Airport, participants will need to make their way to one of the towns close to the venue. This can be done by air or land. Camp is located in between the beach town of Dominical and the city of San Isidro del General. It is, though, a bit closer to Dominical.
If you would like to save a little time you can fly on a small commuter plane and enjoy breathtaking aerial views of the coastline! Both Sansa and Nature Air have several daily regional flights from San Jose to Quepos that take only 20 to 25 minutes. If you are considering a regional flight, please keep in mind the baggage limits differ from those of international airlines.
From Quepos, camp is a little over an hour away via taxi (which costs about $60). Or you can stop by the smaller beach town of Dominical on your way to camp via bus ($2) or taxi ($35).
Traveling via car or shared shuttle from the airport will take about 4 hours. While a bus will take 4 to 6 hours depending on the route you choose.
If you will be traveling before or after camp and would like to have greater ease of destination (and time), and have the additional funds, you can rent a car at the San Jose airport. There is also car rental available in Dominical, Quepos, and most large towns. 4 x 4 is HIGHLY recommended. All major US car rental companies have a presence at the airport car rental terminal..
For GPS, google maps will work for major roads but to find places in rural areas (such as camp) most people use an app called Waze. Here are the directions to Dominical from the airport: take the toll road #27 west (via Orotina) and exit on the Costanera Sur (#34, also called; Carretera Pacífica Fernández Oreamuno); you will pass Jaco, Parrita and Quepos before you arrive in Dominical.
In Costa Rica, while all taxis do have meters it’s better to pre-negotiate taxi price before beginning the ride. Meters can become a lot higher.
The easiest and most comfortable way to travel from the airport is via taxi (either solo or with a group of campers). This is especially true if you are arriving at night when buses and shared shuttles are not available.
The cost from San Jose to Dominical should be approximately $150-$200 total. Sharing taxis is an option if there are other campers on your flight!
A cheaper alternative is going by shared shuttle services. Shared shuttles leave the airport at a specified time. Generally their policy is to leave the airport at the scheduled time or whatever time the latest schedule passenger will be getting out of the airport after that. Shuttle drivers are generally very relaxed and accommodating; this will take a little longer since it will pick-up and drop-off people along the way. If the minivan gets full, it can get quiet tight and somewhat less comfortable. But in general it is okay. The trip from San Jose to Dominical via shared shuttle will be around $50 per person and lasts 3.5 – 4 hours.
-Shared shuttle services can be found at:
- Monkey Shuttle (Organizer Recommended)
- Super Shuttle (Organizer Recommended)
- Easy Ride
- Costa Rica Shuttle
- Everywhere Costa Rica
Getting to Dominical is fairly easy to visit by means of public transportation, but it is the most time consuming of options. It will take around 3.5 hours to get to San Isidro del General by bus and 5 hours to get to Dominical — both from San Jose. To get to San Jose from the airport via taxi will take up to an hour and cost about $30. Buses are in good shape and because they are usually not that full (unless you are traveling on a weekend), it is also quite comfortable. However, you must be a somewhat ‘off the beaten track traveler’ to use this option.
The quickest bus option is to take the MUSOC bus from San Jose to San Isidro del General. Buses leave for San Isidro every hour. Schedules and station addresses can be found at: http://musoccr.com
There is also Tracopa Bus which can get you to Dominical in 5 hours The buses are a bright pink. Schedules and station information can be found at: http://tracopacr.com/es/index_es.aspx. That said, this option doesn’t make much sense unless you’re already traveling and in San Jose because the shuttles from the airport are easier and of similar price once you taxi into San Jose. (For the most savvy traveler and not feint of heart, if you really want to go to Dominical by bus without having to make the extra trip to San Jose, you can take a couple minute cab ride from the airport to a bus stop on the busy highway…and then look for and hail the bright pink bus going to Uvita. Ask to get off at Dominical! .
You can also use buses that go first to Quepos, if visiting the tourist sites near there is of interest.
We recommend these options ONLY if you have plenty of time, seek adventures and the local spirit and might want to stop along the way and sightsee or explore before or after camp. For a more comfortable ride consider a taxi, sharing a taxi, or riding on a shared shuttle.
Getting to Cascada Elysiana:
The final step in arriving at camp is travelling from one of the nearby towns to the venue itself. Remember that if you plan to arrive before the 19th arrangements must be made with the camp organizers beforehand. We recommend that everyone arrive before nightfall on the 19th.
If you’re coming from Dominical, you’ll turn left at the 1st bus stop in Platanillo. If coming from San Isidro, you’ll turn right at the first rocked road past the church, the Super Liquorería and the Parada Turistica.
You’ll see a big dirt lot with our friend Tabaco’s mechanic shop and lots of signs, including Eco Chontales, Rancho los Compayres and Cascada Elysiana. This is the San Juán de Diós road. If all else fails, ask any local to point you toward San Juán de Diós.
Follow the San Juán de Diós road for about 5 km. You will see signs for Casada Elysiana with the last sign point to the entrance of the driveway, on the lefthand side of the road.
-Once in Dominical, ask anyone to point you to the bus stop.
-Take the bus going towards San Isidro and get off in Platanillo. This bus leaves from dominical between 12:30 – 1pm as well as between 4:40 – 5pm.
– From Platanillo, you can follow our signs and hitchhike the 5kms down the San Juan de Dios road or we can taxi you for 3000 colones ($7) base rate + 1000 colones for each additional passenger. Let us know your arrival time and we will pick you up from the Platanillo Bus Stop (1o mins). You’ll see a big dirt lot with mechanic’s shop and lots of signs, including La Ceiba, Eco Chontales, Rancho los Compayres, La Rana Roja and Cascada Elysiana.
From San Isidro:
– Take the bus to Dominical from Terminal Transportes Blanco. – Take the bus for Dominical but get off the bus in Platanillo. Here is the bus schedule from San Isidro to Dominical.
– From Platanillo, you can follow our signs and hitchhike the 5kms down the San Juan de Dios road or we can taxi you for 3000 colones ($7) base rate + 1000 colones for each additional passenger. Let us know your arrival time and we will pick you up from the Platanillo Bus Stop (10 mins). You’ll see a big dirt lot with mechanic’s shop and lots of signs, including La Ceiba, Eco Chontales, Rancho los Compayres, La Rana Roja and Cascada Elysiana.