Ferry from Ometepe to San JorgeFerry from Ometepe to San Jorge San Jorge to RivasSan Jorge to Rivas Rivas to Peñas BlancasRivas to Peñas Blancas Border CrossingBorder Crossing Peñas blancas to IrmaPeñas blancas to Irma Irma to MonteverdeIrma to Monteverde
We did the following journey from Ometepe in Nicaragua, to Monteverde/Santa Elena in Costa Rica, at the end of April 2017.
Without a tour or shuttle service, it took 13 hours and cost €15 per person, including border fees.
Ferry from Ometepe to San Jorge:
Catch the first ferry leaving Moyogalpa port at 6.45am. It costs 50 cordobas per person. To make it to Monteverde the same day, it’s important to be ready and waiting for the 8.30am bus leaving San Jorge to Rivas, so taking this ferry is essential. The 6.45am ferry from Moyogalpa arrives to the mainland at 8am
Time: 1 hour
Cost: 35-50 cordobas
San Jorge to Rivas:
Departing the ferry, there should be chicken bus sitting at the dock heading towards Granada and Managua. Ask the driver if he’ll drop you at Rivas. Originally the driver told us no, just so we would give the nearby taxi men our business. The taxi men here hounded us and proceeded to tell us there were no busses to Rivas or the Costa Rica border and the only option was a taxi.
It’s all bullshit. Don’t fret and don’t fall for it. These guys are the worst of the worst, politely ignore them, persistently say no and explain you have a route planned and you don’t need a taxi. They’ll eventually leave you be. Stand your ground and hover around the parked chicken bus until it leaves.Before leaving, the driver eventually told us he’ll drop us at Rivas for 20 cordobas each. He caved and we boarded.
If you dock and there is no chicken bus already waiting, stay put as there is another bus due to leave San Jorge towards Rivas at 8.30am. You may get hassled even more by the taxi lads, but keep declining their service. Please, whatever you do, do not listen to a word they say. None of it is true, there IS transport running all day to both Rivas and the border. Feel free to check, confirm and screenshot bus the timetable here. Depending on what bus you take you should arrive to Rivas no later than 8.30am-9am.
Cost: 7 – 20cordobas (no more!)
Rivas to Peñas Blanca:
Rivas isn’t the nicest town so head straight for the Sorbeterias La Terminal bus station from where the San Jorge bus dropped you, there should be a petrol station on your right and a Jesus statue/mini roundabout on your left. Cross the road ahead and keep walking straight (you can search it in Google Maps). Walk for about 10 minutes and take the right turn after the school (it’s the first right turn on that straight road). The bus station is up on your left hand side.
Once again, ignore all taxis and take no advice from any them. All busses are signed and there will be a more sophisticated looking bus heading towards the border town of Peñas Blancas waiting. Take the next bus leaving, but know that a bus leaves every 30 minutes. We suggest either the 9.30am or the 10am.
Time: 1 hour
Cost: 50 cordobas per person.
Few important things to note at this border:
#1 You will need to pay a $1 official local tax fee
#2 You have to pay a $2 exit fee
#3 You need proof of onward travel to show you plan to leave Costa Rica.
NOTE: For our quick tips on how ways around the ‘onward proof of travel’ – click here
#4 You do not need to pay any entry fees into Costa Rica
#5 There is an ATM on both sides of the Costa Rica/Nicaragua border should you need cash.
Peñas Blancas to Irma:
After a lot of confusion, we figured out that there are busses that go straight from the border to Irma and not just to San Jose city. Irma is the junction where you will need to jump on the direct bus to Monteverde.
First things first, visit the ATM or exchange what little cordobas you have left for colones, the local currency (dollars are also accepted).
We approached the currency touts aka ‘money men’ and exchanged 250 cordobas for 4,500 colonies (April 2017, 1USD = 550col).
Passport stamped and money in hand, head straight to the ticket office belonging to the bus company called “Autrotransportes DELDU”
The Peñas Blancas to San Jose route stops in La Irma, we know there are busses leaving the border at 11.15am, 12pm and 1.30pm.
Busses cost 2,370 colonies (less than 5USD per person).
You should aim for the 1.30pm bus, at the very latest. This is to ensure you have enough time to catch the last bus from Irma to Monteverde.
If you can get the 12pm even better. But do get the earliest one available.
La Irma to Monteverde/Santa Elena:
Mention to the driver you are heading to Monteverde therefore you need to get off at La Irma junction.
The bus will drop you next to a busy main road. There is nothing here other than than a bus stop, petrol station, and a small cafe/restauarant.
The road facing the petrol station is the one that leads to Monteverde. Cross onto this road to see a small red bus stop on the right hand side.
Originally, we had aimed to catch the 4.30pm bus from Irma to Monteverde. The last bus of the day that takes this route. apparently
Thanks to us being ahead of schedule we made it for the earlier 3pm bus. Take the bus directly to Monteverde, you won’t miss the sign displayed on the front of the bus.
EDIT (June 2019): A very kind reader of the blog contacted us to inform us that there are only two buses from La Irma to Monteverde, 10am and 3pm.
Cost: 1,100 colones (2euro) pp
Time: 1hr 45minutes
There is only one bus terminal in Monteverde/Santa Elena so you don’t need to worry about where to get off. Leave the terminal and take a left to head towards the town to secure yourself a place to sleep for the night.
A successful but strenuous journey, the main factor to our smooth ride was starting the day early. It’s a long ass travel day.
Total Costs: €15 PP
Travel Time: 13 Hours
If you’ve any questions, feel free to shoot us a comment below.