We recently travelled from Montezuma, Costa Rica to Granada in Nicaragua for a few days. Here is how to do it.
Take the local bus from Montezuma, to the Ferry (1500 CRC). Don't take the San Jose Direct bus because it will cost you 7000 CRC as you have to pay for the full trip.
Take the ferry across to Puntarenas (810 CRC)
When you get off the ferry, you can either take a taxi to the Barranca bus stop (11000 CRC), or walk down the main road until you see a local bus drive past and pay about 400 CRC to take you to the bus stop.
Google Maps link from Puntarenas to Barranca HERE.
Once you get to Barranca, there is a guy there who will sell you a a ticket on the TransNica bus to Nicaragua. The bus goes across the border and all the way to Managua, but you can get off in Granada. The ticket costs about $28 (15000 CRC). You can also take a local bus to Liberia, and then another one to the border - not sure those costs but then you need to do all the border stuff yourself and find another local bus on the other side of the border etc.
The TransNica bus is awesome - AC, WIFI (didn't work on our bus), toilet, tv, and seats that can go back further than in an airplane.
They stopped at a restaurant for 20min to get something to eat.
Once you get closer to the border, the guy on the bus comes around to get your passport details and gives you the exit and entry forms into Nicaragua. You need to pay a $14 fee to exit Costa Rica which you give to him. They only accept USD.
When you get to the border, everyone gets off the bus and walks to the building to pay the tourist tax (4500 CRC). After that, you go to a different building to get the stamp to check out of Costa Rica. Just follow everyone from the bus. There is an ATM there and you can draw that $14 for the bus driver.
When you get back on the bus, the guy collects everyones passports. The busy company handles the entry into Nicaragua and you'll get your passport back later.
Back on the bus, you drive to the entry into Nicaragua side of the border.
You get off the bus here, and take your luggage out from under the bus. Then you wait to get the contents of your bag checked at their ‘customs’ table. Which is really, just a long table where the guy opens your bag, looks under the first thing in it, and closes it again.
You can put your bag back in the bus and wait for them to finish the passport process. There are lots of people selling food, cool drink, sim cards and offering cash exchange here. I've read people say they harass you here - those people have obviously not been to India before - it's really not that bad!
The bus usually then moves about 100m away and you can just wait around near the bus.
Once they are finished with the passports, the driver stand by the bus door and reads out the names on the passport and gives it back to the person.
The total border crossing (Exit and Entry) time took us 1h45. It was a very busy time of the year though as we crossed during the easter break.
Back on the bus, its about a 2hr drive or so to Granada.
The bus stop is about a 1km walk from the town centre where all the hostels and hotels are. You can either walk or take a taxi which charged 4 of us $2 each.
Google Maps link from the bus stop (more or less) to the street where hotels,hostels and restaurants are HERE.
For a Hostel I'd really recommend Hostel De Boca en Boca. (Google Maps Link) Really chilled vibe. Free Coffee all day. Breakfast included. Clean dorms. Hammocks bar, kitchen and WIFI. Close to everything.
For tours in and around Granada I'd recommend Tierra Tours. Really friendly and knowledgable guides.
Going back to Costa Rica is relatively the same process - just remember when you enter Costa Rica, you need proof of exit again. See this blog post for how to do that without needing to buy proof of exit.
Here is the total Cost Breakdown
- Local Bus to Ferry - 1500 CRC
- Ferry - 810 CRC
- Local Bus to Baranca - 400 CRC or Taxi to Barranca 11000 CRC(you could also share a taxi with someone : this is the total cost of the taxi)
- TransNica Bus to Granada 15000 CRC (Alt option would be local bus to Liberia, Local bus to Border)
- Lunch on the way (+-2500 CRC)
- Exit Visa Cost $14 (7400 CRC)
- Tourist Tax 4500 CRC
- Taxi from Granada to Town Centre $8 (4200 CRC) or walk 2km for free.
Best option : 32000 CRC ($60USD)