Getting to Punta Mona is exciting and an adventure in itself. We are located in the middle of the jungle and there are no roads to get here but the trip is very exciting and beautiful. The farm is located on Southern Caribbean Coast about 7 km south of the town of Manzanillo or 10 km north of the small town of Gandoca. Enjoy the journey!
Arriving to Costa Rica:
Make sure to buy your ticket to San Jose, Costa Rica, airport code SJO.
When you arrive to San Jose you should keep in mind that Punta Mona is still a half-day journey away. Depending on what time you get in, you may want to stay the night in San Jose, some suggested places are Pangea Hostel, Back Packers Hostel, or Hotel/ Hostel Aranjuez...
Once in San Jose, take a cab to the Caribenos Bus Station (Grand Terminal Caribe) and take the bus to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca (there are 2 Puerto Viejos-so be sure it is Talamanca).
Here is the link to the bus schedule...
Please keep in mind, it is a four-hour bus ride to the Caribbean, the cost for the bus is about $11.
*There are buses from San Jose to Puerto Viejo at 6 AM, 10 AM, 12PM, 2 PM and 4 PM.
here is a link to the schedule... http://www.greencoast.com/area-information/getting-here
At the Gran Terminal del Caribe there are several windows to buy tickets. You want the window that says SIXAOLA (even though there is a window that says Puerto Viejo). At the window, ask for a ticket to Puerto Viejo. Outside of the station the "tracks" are labeled with where the buses are going. Remember, you are looking for the bus to Sixaola – don’t be afraid to ask around if you are confused. Be sure to be waiting for your bus at least fifteen minutes before it leaves so you don’t miss boarding.
The bus ride is about 4 1/2 hours. You will be going through Braullio Carillio National Park - a gorgeous cloud forest so don’t sleep through this part! The bus will make a 15 to 20 minute pit stop in Limon. You can use the bathroom and buy snacks here but keep an eye on your carry-on bags. Before its final destination in Puerto Viejo the bus stops at one other town along the way called Cahuita – another nice place to stay the night. From Cahuita, it is about 20 more minutes until Puerto Viejo.
There is an awesome website with super detailed information that can be very helpful as well!! The website Puerto Viejo Satellite has complete information on getting to and from the area and getting around while you're here. You can also see the location of Punta Mona on their satellite map.
For those looking for less adventure, Gecko Trail provides an awesome service, they will pick you up at the airport, take you to the bus station and have your pre-purchased bus ticket ready, cost for the service is $38 per person.
About Puerto Viejo:
Puerto Viejo is a super cool Caribbean town, which you may want to take a day to explore.
There are great places to eat and good music to hear in the area. This is also a great opportunity to do a little personal shopping for things you may want while on the farm. You can shop in the Old Harbor grocery store or at La Botanica Organica, an all organic, local food store and internet cafe serving organic delights in Playa Chiquita, right down the street from C & J’s hostel.
Getting to Manzanillo:
Manzanillo is the last town on the road on the way to Punta Mona. Manzanillo is an Afro-Caribbean fishing town with a gorgeous beach and a great restaurant, the famous Maxi’s.
You will want to take the bus from Puerto Viejo, catch a cab or hitch a ride. The bus is $1 and the best deal, it will stop in the other beach towns (Cocles, Playa Chiquita, Punta Uva), you just have to go out to the road and flag it down during the time when it is heading to Manzanillo from Puerto Viejo. Hitch hiking is totally acceptable, safe and common practice. If you are comfortable with this, by all means do so, it is a fun way to meet new people! A cab is $15 from Puerto Viejo and great to share!
For those of you who want a boat it is best for at least five and no more than 10 people to take it to the farm. Our boat is a minimum of $50, meaning if you are the only one on the boat it is $50, if there are 5 or more it is $10 per person.
Boats in Manzanillo
Getting from Manzanillo to Punta Mona:
You have two options for getting to the farm from Manzanillo. You can either take the boat or hike.
As the time approaches for your visit I will be in touch with all visitors to coordinate the boat ride.
You can also hike to the farm with or with out a guide. The hike is 8km and really nice, though there is a chance for the trail to be quite muddy. It is not good to do it in flip flops. Best are sneakers, boots or hiking sandals. If you hike with a guide you will see an abundance of wild life as well as get your introductory lesson to the Caribbean jungle ecosystem and environmental issues affecting our area.
Here are the directions for the hike if you want to do it alone:
The hike is 8km, about 2-2.5 hours with a pack.
Walk south along the road in Manzanillo and walk straight across the river and there is a trail head. Once you get on that trail for the first part you'll be along the beach, take a direct right into the jungle then an immediate left up a hill. Once you’re on that trail if there is ever a choice on the trail stay as straight as possible, or slightly to the right. Never take any more hard rights, and never go to the left, that will take you to the beach. Please note that you will not be by the beach for the trail, you'll be inland which is the quickest way. About halfway you'll come a clearing, a blue farm house, you'll know you’re getting there! Keep on going straight, when you come up to another fence turn right at the end of the fence. From there you are about 20 minutes away, you'll come upon our rainwater catchment system, go around that, then there is a steep hill you can go to the left and wind down there, and follow the clear trails in to Punta Mona!!
Coming from Panama
As Punta Mona is on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica, the easiest way to get here is through Guabito (on the Panamanian side) and Sixaola (on the Costa Rican side). The border is open from 8AM to 6PM in Panama and 7AM to 5PM in Costa Rica (Panama is one hour ahead of Costa Rica). Make sure you get there with enough time to spare because both sides close for lunch at about 1PM and you may have to wait for a while to be processed. Before crossing the bridge, stop at migracion (506-754-2044) Costa Rica to get your paperwork processed.
You can get to Punta Mona from Sixaola through either Puerto Viejo or Gandoca.
Through Puerto Viejo:
Take a bus to either Limon or San Jose – the key here is to make sure that the bus goes through Puerto Viejo. See directions above once you get to Puerto Viejo.
After arriving in Sixaola take a taxi to Gandoca. The cost will vary depending on the cab. From Gandoca, Punta Mona is approximately a 40 to 50 minute walk along the beach to the north, depending on how quickly you walk. You can also walk on the jungle path a few feet into the jungle. You will know you’re at Punta Mona when you see Monkey Point, a little island a couple hundred feet off the shore, and our beautiful jungle houses…
Alternate Travel Options:
Take a guided trip on horse back through the Gandoca- Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge!
Horseback riding in this areas is a rare privilege. It’s unlike any other riding grounds do to variety of landscapes and the exceptional ability of our horses to change from one environment to the next with grace and style. The Costa Rican “Criollos” are strong, tough and sure footed. They can take you through thick mud, up and down wet hills inside the jungle, jump logs and difficult obstacles as well as canter or gallop on some of the most wonderful white sand beaches in the world. In some of our tours they will swim side by side with you in the dream like turquoise waters of theCaribbean and in the evening take you turtle watching.
Travel Tips –
1. A good identifier of a legitimate cab is a red car with a yellow triangle on the side.
2. Be careful while at the bus station and make sure you are always holding your bags securely. If you put them down, put the strap around your leg or arm.
3. Have your money, passport and plane ticket securely stowed away. Keep a wallet in your pocket with the money you need for traveling and food.
4. Puerto Viejo and Sixaola are the last towns before getting to Punta Mona with an ATM/bank. ***Interns need to pay cash upon arrival for their internship, DOLLARS are preferred***
5. Costa Rica is a very safe and friendly country – but there are people who try and take advantage of tourists. Be especially careful when leaving the airport and getting off busses for people who may approach you offering to help. It is very easy to find food and lodging (cabinas) on your own all through Costa Rica – so firmly tell them no and be on your way.