There are several international bus lines available between Nicaragua and Costa Rica: TicaBus and Transnica are the most popular. They basically offer the same services and quality. On this occasion, we traveled with Transnica.
We jumped on the 6 a.m. TransNica bus in Granada, Nicaragua. They asked us to be there at 5:15 a.m. which we did (lots of people up and about at that hour so we felt quite safe sitting on the sidewalk steps outside the TransNica terminal).
By 7:30 a.m. we were at the Nicaraguan border (Peñas Blancas). On the bus, you give your travel documents (passport) to the bus agent, as they take care of the immigration movements. Nicaraguans don’t pay any fees. However, Nicaraguan residents pay a $1 Rivas tax fee. All other foreigners pay $3, which includes the $1 Rivas tax fee and other fees.
By 9:45 a.m. we were done and on our way to Liberia, Costa Rica (our final destination), arriving at around 11:00 a.m. Our ticket was good all the way to San José but our destination was Tamarindo Beach, so we asked the driver to leave us in Liberia, close to the Food Mall (with Burger King, Pollo Tropical, and Papa John’s).
Liberia is a good stopping point for all the beaches in the Guanacaste region of Costa Rica. It also has an up-and-coming international airport – Daniel Oduber Airport (LIB) – which has become a popular arrival and departure for tourists and residents of Nicaragua alike.
TransNica tickets can be purchased from many travel agencies in Nicaragua. One-way passage costs $29/round trip $58. The buses are comfortable with A/C and a bathroom on board.