In this blog post, we’ll outline how we got from Boquette in Panama, navigate and cross the land boarder to Costa Rica, then finally make our way to to Uvita, Costa Rica! Spoiler alert: there is a tourist bus that runs along the main highway that costs $25 USD each to San Jose… there is no discount for a shorter trip. Of course, when we realized this was the case, we just enjoued the journey and made the travel day a bit of a fly by the seat of our pants adventure!
Our day started with the planned departure from our hostel in Boquete on the 6:35am commuter bus to David. The commuter collectivo runs regularly all morning and for $1.75USD each, we made our way down to David that took around an hour, all downhill from the highlands. Our fist photo is at the bus starting point where we’re on an nearly empty bus, but with numerous stops along the way to collect and discharge passengers – it was standing room only by the time we got to David. There is a tourist shuttle as well, but it’s a fair bit more expensive, and definitely not as interesting. At the bus station in David, there are around 40-50 regular busses in the hub here – we used our best Spanish, and found out how to get to the boarder town of Paso Canoas, on the bus labelled “Frontera”. The 55km trip was $2.10USD via local bus – picking up and dropping off folks along the way again.
At Paso Canoas, there is a small outpost on the Panama side, and we paused for a local Panama coffee and pastry at an outdoor bakery before we started to walk across the land border. Exiting Panama was relatively simple: line up, get bags checked with a brief inspection, and then stamped out… off you go in the Costa Rica direction into Paso Canoas. And keep walking. Hmmm, where is the border checkpoint? We’re in the middle of town. Keep walking and waving our passports to the locals, they keep pointing forward. So after about a half kilometer into town (passing many side streets), we get to the Costa Rica immigration office. Lining up, we pay the entrance fee, and get our stamps for our official arrival. Awesome, and off we go walking some more to find the next bus station. After another kilometer we are leaving town… and we double back – past immigration office and locals keep point us towards Panama: and we find the bus station! Hopping onto the local bus there, we pay the $0.80USD for the 20km journey to the next large town of Neily and the next bus station. Feeling very local now with zero tourists on this ride!
This station had a lot of buses arriving and departing, and with a bit of Spanish we determined our bus may be arriving in 45 minutes… and we pay the $3USD each for a ticket each for the 120km ride and await the arrival of our next transport. The bus station is very local, with very few tourists – and alot of character! We stocked up on plantain chips and some sliced melon tarts for the journey from a local food stall. Hopping onto our bus, we’re once again the only tourists, and this drew attention. A few folks were curious what we were doing, and did practice a bit of English on us. Tracking the journey on GPSr, I could tell when we were finally getting close. We also got some help from some university aged locals. They asked where we were staying, and encouraged us not to get off in central Uvita, as our hostel was up the road a bit, near a bank and supermarket. Trusting them fully, we stayed on a bit longer, and after 2-3 more stops, we were told to hop off here at the side of the hwy, and walk up the next road 100m to our place. The directions were awesome, as we were at the hostel in a flash with these helpful directions.
Arriving at Hostel Toucan in Uvita, we managed to make arrangements to stay in the Tree House suite at the front of the hostel itself. It was an awesome setup: private balcony and a great overlook on the whole hillside. The interior itself was also very unique- with living tree trunks running through the main room and closet. There was power (lights), and the banos was shared in the main building, and the common kitchen that also had a shared fridge where we could store our cold beverages. He lodge itself was very open, relaxing and chill!
Chatting with the hostel host, we got some great advice on how to cool off in the afternoon – walk up the road for a km, turn left, and keep going uphill into the jungle to a lodge that has an entrance for a path to a waterfall on Rio Uvita! Sounds fun, and off we strolled. The country side was very rural, and we had a great time at the nearly empty site. The large waterfall pool was fantastic – and in theory we could slide down on the smooth stones in a natural waterslide. We passed on that, and after a swim, may have cracked open a cool beverage, and we explored the rest of the pools.
Heading back to the hostel, we came across some of the rural sights, including a herd of curious cows greeting us from their fields as we headed back to the hostel. We took it easy, and had dinner locally, which turned out to be a fairly popular restaurant itself! A great first day in Uvita, Costa Rica.