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San Jose is the heartbeat of Costa Rica and should not be missed, however, it is no longer the best jumping off point for enjoying Costa Rica. Improved highways and inexpensive domestic air travel make it convenient and affordable to make the beach your home base and branch out from there. Quepos and nearby Manuel Antonio National Park offer outdoor recreational opportunities a large city simply cannot match. The village lifestyle allows you to mingle with locals in a more intimate environment. With Quepos as your home base you can take modern buses or inexpensive flights as needed for exploring other Costa Rican highlights.
Flights and Airport Transfers
International flights usually arrive at the Juan Santamaria International Airport located 14 miles from downtown San Jose. The Best Western Hotel in downtown San Jose offers an airport shuttle. For approximately $5 U.S. dollars a driver will greet you at the arrivals area holding a sign with your name, help you with your luggage, and transport you to the Best Western Hotel. Your return shuttle from the hotel to the airport is free. Otherwise, the fare is approximately $12 each way in an official airport taxi. City buses are often crowded but charge less than $1 for the trip. It presently costs about $18 in departure taxes to leave the country, and this tax is generally not included in your international airline tickets.
Within Costa Rica
Domestic SANSA flights use their own terminal adjacent to the international terminal. SANSA flights to Quepos last about 20 minutes and are approximately $49 each way. Costa Rica is easy to navigate and locals are happy to help with directions. Roads have improved over the past few years and driving a rental car is no longer quite the adventure it once was. Still, many of the roads are bumpy, narrow and mountainous. It is still unsafe to drive after dark. It is a leisurely 3 1/2 hour ride to Quepos overland and the many points of interest along the way make having a rental car a flexible and fun option. You can take a modern and comfortable direct bus for about $6 U.S. dollars from the Coca Cola bus terminal in downtown San Jose.
U.S. dollars are widely accepted and easy to convert to Costa Rican colones after you arrive, as long as your dollar bills are not worn, torn or marked. Bills larger than a U.S. 20 dollar note can be difficult to change. Currencies other than U.S. dollars or Costa Rican colones are not recommended at all. Visa and MasterCard are widely accepted, though Visa appears to be the preferred credit card, especially in Quepos. ATM's are the easiest way to get cash. Larger villages and towns like Quepos have ATM machines connected to the Star, Plus and Cirrus systems and dispense local currency. Your withdrawal gets deducted from your home account at the prevailing bank rate.
You can get Current Exchange Rates here.
Money can be sent to Costa Rica via Western Union on the Web or from any Western Union Office. There is a Western Union office in Quepos, as well as many other locations throughout the country. Western Union's Quepos office is located at Remasas Quepos Del Oeste, 100 Meters West and 50 Meters North of the Banco National, phone (506) 777-1628. They will dispense funds in the local currency, Colones.
December to March is the dry season and the Costa Rican summer. Schools are out on holiday, prices are higher and advanced bookings are recommended during this time. April to November is the wet or "green" season. Short rains in the late afternoon or early evening during this time are just enough to cool things off, though storms can sometimes linger. Temperatures in the extreme highlands can be quite cold while both the Pacific and Caribbean coasts are balmy year-round. The ocean temperatures on both sides average about 81º F (27º C). At 1,170 meters, San Jose claims to have the most perfect climate of any major city in the world, with a mean temperature of 69º F (21º C). See Current Weather Information for Quepos.
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