The main airport in Costa Rica is Juan Santamaria International Airport, and it is located in Alajuela, just outside the capital of San Jose (airport code SJO). It is a very modern airport. Most major airlines fly out of there. After your arrival, it will take approximately one hour to clear immigration and customs.
The Wikipedia page on the airport has some valuable information regarding the specific airlines that fly into Costa Rica and where their hubs are.
When planning your trip, please keep in mind you need a valid passport that will expire no sooner than 90 days from your departure date. As a tourist, you are permitted to stay in Costa Rica no longer than 90 days, and they don’t want your passport expiring while you are here. This pertains to US residents. For residents of other countries, please check your requirements at this site.
You have basically two options for getting to our farm. We can arrange transport with someone locally to pick you up (they will be waiting for you at the main airport exit with your name on a sign), or you can take the bus. Arranged transport from the airport to the farm is $100. For the driver it is an all-day project, as it is a 2-3 hour trip to the airport, the wait for you, and another 2-3 hours back. Gasoline in Costa Rica is around $6.60 per gallon. Considering the time and expense involved, it’s not a bad deal!
The other option is by bus. Costa Rica has an extensive and inexpensive public transportation system. It’s a three bus trip plus a brief taxi ride. Providing you are not overwhelmed with luggage, this is an economical and adventurous way to go. It will take a bit longer with the time between buses. Basic Spanish will be helpful for asking directions and times between one stop and the next. The entire trip will cost less than $15 per person. Make sure to have some local currency (colones) for the trip. There are ATM’s in the airport where you can withdraw colones. There is also a currency exchange in the airport, but their exchange rate is not good – you are much better off with an ATM.
Getting to our farm by bus:
1) Go to the frontage road of the airport. Take the bus to San Jose.
2) From there, take a taxi to the bus stop for Cartago (Lumaca).
3) Take the bus from San Jose to Cartago.
4) From Cartago, take the bus to Tucurrique – this will take you all the way to the farm. We are 3-1/2 km past the center (soccer field) of Tucurrique.
When you get past Tucurrique, ask the bus driver to let you off at “la finca de gringa Patri en Las Vueltas, a la esquina para San Juaquin.” Also, ask some of the passengers sitting near you to tell you when you are nearing that destination. Here are printable directions.
If you have Google Maps on your phone, you can search for ‘Planet Costa Rica‘ and you can track your progress as you near the farm.
Here is a printable bus schedule which includes the Cartago to Tucurrique route. It includes detailed information on how to get to the farm (locations, times, etc.). The bus departure times are deemed accurate but are subject to change. It is always wise to verify bus departure times independently.
If arriving late in the day, we recommend you stay your first night near the airport in Alajuela. We receive our work/stay guests no later than 7 pm. The trip can be difficult to navigate after dark, and the mountain range you need to cross is best left to daylight hours. There are a number of very inexpensive but clean hostels within a 10-15 minute cab ride. Orange taxis are located directly outside of the airport exit, but you prepay your ride at the taxi booth before you exit the airport. They will accept dollars and euros in addition to the local currency (the colon). There are also buses that run from the airport exit (you must walk out to the main road – not terribly far) that will take you downtown Alajuela. From the main square (park) of Alajuela, the hostels are just a few blocks away.
If you are coming from other points within the country, you can get an idea of the different buses required here. The information is deemed accurate, but we recommend you verify this information independently (contact the bus lines directly).
Let us know well in advance if you would like transport arranged. We can pick you up at the airport or at your hostel.