Liberia serves primarily as the gateway to the Nicoya Peninsula (photos). It’s not a very big town but Costa Rica made the investment to build an international airport on the west side of Liberia along the road that leads to Nicoya. The Pacific side of the peninsula is lined with beautiful beaches, many with very good surfing opportunities. Playa Del Coco, a popular beach destination, is only about 30km from Liberia.
We spent 3 nights in Liberia getting our bearings and planning our next moves in Costa Rica. We stayed at a small but pleasant Hostel that is conveniently located near the bus station, the mercado and a supermarket, Maxi Bodega, which I believe is part of the Walmart empire. Our hosts, two young men, one a native of Costa Rica (Jesus), the other a transplant from Indianapolis (Shawn), made us feel very welcome and comfortable. Jesus is an artist and some of his paintings are hanging in the rooms of the hostel. The day after our arrival, they were heading to Playa del Coco for a half day to enjoy the beach and invited us to go along so that we could check it out and see if we wanted to spend a few days there. While there, we checked out some of the accommodations and booked a room for a subsequent visit. Continue reading
We were ready to leave San Juan del Sur and move on to Costa Rica. We boarded a bus in SJDS headed for Rivas, although we weren’t going all the way to Rivas. We asked to be dropped at La Virgen, which is simply the intersection where the road to SJDS meets the Panamericana Highway. From there we would flag down pretty much any southbound bus that would get us to the border city of Penas Blancas.
After waiting for a few minutes on the side of the road, a “collectivo” taxi stopped that had 2 seats available. These taxis will collect passengers until they have a full load and give everybody a break by sharing the fare. He offered to get us to the border for a little less than $5.00 so we took it. Penas Blancas seems to exist only to serve the “needs” of those crossing the border with Costa Rica. It’s more than a tad seedy, very busy and confusing. When we exited the taxi, we were immediately handed 2 immigration forms and asked to pay $1 each which I think is a fee levied by Penas Blancas. We then had to clear a checkpoint where our passport and immigration form were glanced at and asked to pay another $1 each for exit from Nicaragua. As an aside, I would also mention that there were long lines of semi-trucks with trailers waiting on both sides of the border. Apparently, the process for them to clear is quite time consuming.