Visa Run to Peñas Blanca Nicaragua from Playas del Coco Costa Rica

Updated 2012-07-20 11:51

Quick guide to how I got a 90 day visa.  Reminder:  I may have just gotten lucky, been there at the right time/day, gotten the right immigration officer, etc.  Don't get complacent just cuz mine worked out. :)

1) Leave Playas del Coco on a bus for Liberia. Picks up on the main road landward of super compro. Drops off at the Pulmitan bus station in Liberia. Cost - 525 colones. I caught the 11 am bus.

2) Arrive Liberia at Pulmitan bus station. (Noon) Walk 200 m to the Other Pulmitan bus station ( walk out main exit, head to the left, at intersection turn right, then walk straight 100 m, bus station on left, open air). Find the bus slot for Peñas Blanca/Frontera/La Cruz (think it was third from the ticket office). Buy ticket once you're seated and on your way on the bus. Cost - 1400 colones Bus takes 1 1/2 hours.

3) If you need to you can exchange money from some guys at that station in Liberia. I got an exchange rate of 22.5 cordobas to the dollar, online it says 23.5, so not ripped off I guess. Oh and make sure you have dollars on you as well. You need them for getting into Nicaragua.

4) Arrive border (frontera). Walk forward to the Migración office and go around it to the right to the Salida (exit) side. I happened to get there in the afternoon, so there was no line. Fill out a form (you can get one from people hounding you, or get one inside from the people at the desk. Bring a pen.) Then get your exit stamp.

5) Walk to Nicaragua. Out from the CR immigration office, just walk forward down the road all the trucks are going down, about 300m I guess, 5 min or so. You'll have to stop at an exit customs desk where they check the contents of your bags. Then a passport check desk on the Nicaraguan side.

6) Keep going forward, to your right there is a large tree filled island, and on the other side of that, to the right, is Nicaraguan Migración. Go around the the right side of it, the entrance (entrada) side and get in line. First, though, start by paying 1 dollar at the booth with two ladies sitting in it to get a ticket of some sort. Then wait in one of the two long lines. Pay 12 dollars at that window to enter Nicaragua and get a 90 day stamp. Took at least half an hour.

7) Don't take a taxi, take a bus! I decided to go into Nicaragua for a night. You might try to just go in and go out, but I wasn't that brave. So I took a bus to San Juan del Sur. Leave immigration and go back to the main road with all the trucks (directly behind the entrance desks and past one other building). At the far side of the road, there is a wall of sorts. In the wall there is a gate you can exit (flash your passport) and then you are in a market area. To your right there should be an intersection with buses waiting to take people to Managua. I caught maybe the last one at 3pm to Managua, a blue school bus. If you get there earlier there may be a yellow school bus that goes direct to SJDS. If not, you have to go the long route.

8) Take the blue bus (Managua! Managua!) to Rivas 2 dollars, one hour. Hop off at the open air bus station and hop on another bus, mine was soon after I arrived, though a taxi driver was trying to tell me I'd have to wait forever (25 dollars? 20! 15 dollars!). Hopped another blueish bus to San Juan del Sur for another 15.50 cordobas. The bus drivers give you a little bus ticket in return. Arrived by 5 pm.

9) Spent the night at a hostel called Esperanza for 180 cordobas, right on the beach road, a block over from the road the bus drops off and picks up on. Big surf town, if you want to stay longer there are surf shops that take people out to the best surf locations. Good fish burrito on the main beach road at a little kiosk. Fun beach for a long beach run. 10 minute jog from one end to the other.

10) Buses leave starting at 5 am every hour to 9? then every half hour, so said the hostel lady. I caught an 8 am bus, still not direct! Had to go back to Rivas, then immediately jump on a bus pulling out for la Frontera. Got to the border by 10 am.

11) Enter back through the gate at the market, go back to the immigration office, opposite side this time (exit stamp). Buy another 1 dollar ticket, then pay 2 dollars to get the stamp after waiting in line for a while. Leave Nicaragua by walking out the way you came in, through the muddy truck check lanes, back to CR.

12) Head to the immigration office, opposite side (enter CR), and wait in lines again. Again, you can get these forms from people outside, or you can pick them up when you first come through, or get them inside at the desks. For this part: She asked for my exit ticket. I showed her a refundable flight my gf and I purchased before coming to CR and that was fine. It was scheduled for mid august (a month later), but she gave me a stamp without any days listed on it, ie 90 day visa for US I guess. She did not ask for proof of finances, which I had. I would just make sure I had both of those. I've heard you can get bus tickets good for a year, but I haven't found out where yet.

13) Got my stamp, walked out and found the bus stop up the road a bit, not very well marked, just ask around for buses to Liberia. Backtrack buses and bus stations to make your way back to Playas del Coco. Remember to change bus stations in Liberia and buy a ticket from the office at the pulmitan office in Liberia for Coco. I can't find a good schedule for buses from Liberia to Coco or vice versa. I caught a 1:15 bus. Back to Coco by 2:15.

Total Time: 27 hours 15 minutes.
Total Cost: 26 US dollars for Visas. 3850 colones for buses. 300 cordobas for hostel and buses.
All told, less than 50 dollars total. 90 day visa accomplished.

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