Although I was rather enjoying myself in Quepos I was due to begin my week of bliss and yoga in Montezuma. If you search for transportation option between the two there will be numerous results for the speed boat taxi from Jaco, but there likely won’t be much about alternatives. Clearly this speed boat was designed for tourists so I knew there had to be another option, after all people live here and not EVERYONE owns a car. It’s funny though how complacent people can be, relying solely on what’s advertised. After arriving in Montezuma I spoke to a traveler who said, “I didn’t know there was another option” while another traveler I met in Jaco told me he took the shuttle from Monteverde because “there’s no public transportation here”. I don’t know what it is, maybe the travelers in Costa Rica are just lazier, but I haven’t seen many on my public transportation journeys, and these two, who just couldn’t seem to figure it out. I digress, back to the story, instead of paying the $45 for a taxi I chose the bus, ferry, bus option and while it does take a lot longer it’s also 1/8th of the price.
The trip took a total of about five and a half hours, although I did save myself an hour and a half by moving from Quepos to Jaco one night early. From Jaco you have to catch a bus to Puntarenas, which was roughly an hour and a half ride. From there you transfer to a ferry which lasts just over an hour and will drop you in Paquera. The last leg of the journey is one more bus, a local ride through villages and small towns, finally leaving you in Montezuma, or you can get off in Cubano if you’re looking to head to Santa Teresa and Mal Pais.
I knew I was in for a long day so I decided to get it started early and caught the 7 am bus from Jaco. Definitely the most interesting part of the morning was my walk to the bus stop, the entire city smelled like a dirty college dorm room, odors of stale beer and maybe vomit seeped through the morning breeze. There were a few small crowds scattered in the streets, beers in hand, clearly still stumbling from their previous night's activity. I recalled the few nights I’d done this in Korea, but was oh so thankful I was on the other end of it this time. There’s no real bus station in Jaco, rather you stand at the stop outside the convenience store / Mussomani bakery and wait for a bus to arrive. The ones heading for Puntarenas are actually coming from Quepos, but it seems there’s always a majority of people departing in Jaco so there should be open seats. There’s no ticket to buy beforehand simply just pay the driver when he arrives, toss your bag underneath and chose your seat. This bus will make multiple stops along the way as it’s a “collectivo” so don’t expect a speedy, smooth ride. I was impressed though, both this bus and the one I took from Quepos to Jaco had WiFi on board, kind of shitty quality, but still WiFi.
Being a bit of a type A, and growing up with the mother I did, I was prepared when we arrived in Puntarenas, that and the cute boy on the bus who explained it to me in broken English. I knew we were being dropped on the exact opposite side of town from the ferry terminal which meant either shelling out for a cab ride or hustling by butt. I met a boy from Italy as we got off the bus, he appeared to have no idea where he was going or even what time the ferry was at, but I explained and we started our walk. We arrived at 8:30 so I kept a quick pace, hoping we’d make the 9 am ferry, I know it probably would have been easier to just take a taxi, but I don’t do easy. As we got closer we heard the blow of a ferry horn, looked at each other with an “oh crap” expression and immediately started to run. Doing so with a double backpack, 10kg outfit was not so much fun, thankfully it was only 9 am and the was not quite scorching. We ran up to the gate only to be told to turn back and get our tickets. After two more quick jogs and a few stares from those watching, we made it, probably the last two passengers to board the ship, but we made it. Actually reflecting on this moment I feel like I could be telling a story from a scene of the Amazing Race, I always did want to be on that show.
The ferry was packed with people, of course all the good seats were taken, you know by those people who showed up ‘on time’. There were only a few open seats outside, but those were in the beating sun, so we opted for the row in front of the aircon inside, not a bad compromise. The boat was actually pretty nice, full cafe and restaurant area, bathrooms, TV's, outlets to charge things and plenty of seating area. Amazingly enough on this whole boat that probably held a few hundred people I only saw a handful of tourists, I guess the rest were on the speed boats.
An hour(ish) after departure we were docked in Paquera and while I thought we might have a little trouble finding our next bus I was completely wrong. It was waiting for us directly after the exit, well after the crowd of taxi drivers trying to get our business anyways. The bus was not as nice as our first, being a local bus the seats were uncomfortable, definitely no WiFi on board, and it was packed to the gills. Thankfully I grabbed one of the last few open seats, settled in and tried to enjoy the ride. We made numerous stops along the way, dropping people off and picking others up, and while it was a lot slower than a taxi would have been, it was entertaining and of course cheaper.
Although my new Italian buddy could only speak limited English we agreed that this was definitely the smarter travel alternative. We saved loads of money and had a way more interesting experience. Sure it took nearly six hours rather than the one I would have been on the speed boat, but I enjoyed every part of it, and so did my wallet.
Packed with Adventure and Adrenaline, a diverse landscape from mountains to cloudforests, oceans, beaches and waterfalls. It's known for being touristy, safe and expensive, but was for me, a great introduction to Central America.