Barranca is a great shortcut for travellers, particularly if you are headed to the Nicaragua border from Santa Teresa/Mal Pais or Montezuma. Drivers are accustomed to dropping people off here and employees for connecting busses (TransNica, Transportes Deldu) will likely be waiting for you to take your money and get you on their bus.
From Santa Teresa or Montezuma to Nicaragua:
If you are on the direct bus from Santa Teresa or Montezuma, the bus will drop you on one side of the road and all you need to do is cross to the other side of the highway to the covered bus stop in front of the little store. It is pretty likely that an employee for TransNica will be right there before you even get your bags! More detail about this route can be found here. Santa Teresa to San Juan del Sur.
TransNica vs Deldu
So how do you chose which bus you want to take if you are going to the border? If you are only going to San Juan del Sur you may not want to take the TransNica since you must pay full fare all the way to Managua even if you get off before Managua. At the time of writing this (2016) the price was about 15000₡. Buses with Transportes Deldu will also pass here and cost about 4000₡. That is quite a big fare difference, but you do get a little extra for that money and depending on what time you arrive in Barranca you may have to wait a couple of hours for a non TransNica bus.
Although I always try to go the most budget route possible, I prefer to spend the extra money for this trip. I will explain why: The TransNica Bus is with you all the way through the border and they even get your passport stamped into Nicaragua for you (for an extra $4 fee). I travel with a surfboard and having the bus carry it for me and give me a short break from lugging it everywhere, is worth an extra few bucks! You actually have to walk a decent distance through the border crossing from where you are dropped off on the Costa Rica side to where you pick up busses on the Nicaragua side (1Km+). In addition to this, the TransNica is the first bus to pass by and collect you from Barranca and so that means you are the first at the border to get your stamps and get through. This last trip through the border with TransNica took just less than 1 hour – which really is super fast! Overall you will feel like you are prioritized and fast-tracked.
Overall you will likely pay about $22 more in total when choosing TransNica, but you will save a bit of time and likely be able to get to San Juan del Sur before 5pm. You will also get to watch a movie in a/c comfort – but the other bus option is also very nice even if you don’t get a movie and a/c.
Barranca to San Juan del Sur
San Juan del Sur isn’t too far from the border. Whether you ride with TransNica or the local buses just ask the driver to drop you in La Virgin – or just say you want to go to San Juan del Sur and he will know where to let you off. Have a look at the San Juan del Sur page to see what it looks like and where to go. This is another highway stop for which bus drivers are accustomed to picking up and dropping of travellers and locals.
To the border but not via Barranca
Don’t like the idea of going through Barranca to get to the border? There is another way. Go to the Station in Puntarenas and get on the bus to Liberia. From Liberia continue to Peñas Blancas. This route may add an extra hour or two to your journey, but there is no waiting on the side of the highway for the bus.
Help your fellow traveller
If you have taken any of the buses on this page, please drop us a comment below about how the trip went, what time you left, how long it took and what it cost. And, definitely let us know if we have anything wrong.
Lets help each other in our travels!