Costa Rica and Nicaragua Border Crossings
This is a short guide to give you an idea on what is involved in making border crossings from Costa Rica to Nicaragua and back to Costa Rica.
I chose to go by Bus and used the Tica Bus Company. It pays to book in advance as sometimes the bus gets fully booked out in advance. The bus leaves from San Jose with a stop in Puntarenas. Be aware that the stop in Puntarenas is actually about 5 Km out of the town at a Petrol Station on the side of the highway. It also pays to get there early as the bus does not wait and can be early (the bus I took arrived at the Puntarenas stop 5 minutes early).
The trip to the border took about 5 hours from San Jose and another 2 hours to Granada which was where I got off. The bus continues to Managua which is the Capital of Nicaragua. Be aware that not all of the Tica buses stop at Granada so if you are going to Granada make sure you are on the afternoon bus not the morning bus.
At the border the bus first stops at the Costa Rica Customs. You will need to get off the bus and go into the customs office to hand a Declaration form and get your passport stamped. This process takes around forty Minutes. Be aware of the money changers! They will offer good rates of exchange but will try to short change you. My suggestion is leave them alone if you have US Dollars as US Dollars are accepted almost everywhere in Granada and you can change money easily in Granada. When you get back on the bus you will hand your Passport and $15.00 to the Bus Driver who will handle everything at the Nicaragua Customs.
At the Nicaragua customs you will need to collect your luggage and exit out of the bus and present it for inspection by custom officials. This takes around 40 minutes. There is several duty free shops available to shop at with items at ok prices.
Once inspection is finished you board to bus and finish your trip to whatever destination you are going to. The trip back over the border is the same in reverse except for one very important point, the Costa Rica boarder customs will ask if you have a ticket out of the country as this is a requirement to receiving a visa for three months.
I hope this gives you a practical idea of what is involved in border crossings from Costa Rica to Nicaragua and returning. Overall, it was a smooth trip but was sure good to get back to Posada Jaco Hotel.