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Covid-19 Updates: The situation is changing fast for Costa Rica as are the requirements for visitors. For updates specific to the South Caribbean please check below. For updates applicable to all of Costa Rica we recommend checking the latest info on the The Tico Times.
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Getting Covid tests for travel in Puerto Viejo is now easier. There are now two labs offering the tests and both offer both the antigen and PCR tests.
Laboratorio Bioclinic and Clínica de Especialidades Médicas San Gabriel both offer antigen tests for about $75 and PCR tests for about $140. Contact them for additional details and make sure you research the type of test and timeframe needed for your destination.
At this time, non-vaccinated travelers going to Panama will be required to present a negative COVID-19 PCR or antigen test taken no more than 72 hours prior to their arrival time in Panama. Additional requirements apply to those who have been in high risk countries in the last 15 days.
The Daily Beast has profiled the local ATEC organization and area history in an article on Puerto Viejo and sustainable tourism. It's an interesting read which I'm sure will get people talking locally.
Costa Rica has delayed the vaccine mandate from Dec 1 until Jan 8. Though businesses may choose to implement it Dec 1 in order to get rid of capacity restrictions. Those that wait until Jan 8 will be subject to 50% capacity restrictions.
The requirements will apply both to tourists and residents though the paperwork required to prove vaccination will be different.
Vaccination will be required to access non-essential services such as hotels, restaurants, bars, casinos, shops, museums, art and dance academies, gyms, spas and adventure tourism. There has been no plan announced to make vaccination a requirement of entry (currently unvaccinated people have to buy approved travel insurance which vaccinated travelers do not).
Correction: an earlier version of this article stated that unvaccinated people have to be tested prior to entry to Costa Rica which vaccinated people do not. That is not correct, a test is not required to enter Costa Rica. However unvaccinated people need to buy approved travel insurance whereas this requirement does not apply to fully vaccinated travelers.
Tourists planning a trip to Costa Rica should know that as of December 1, proof of vaccination will be required for many activities including restaurants and hotels.
Vaccinated tourists already have an easier time entering Costa Rica (a negative test is not required) but after this change it really won't be feasible to come to Costa Rica as a tourist without being vaccinated. The timeframe of the announcement gives people ample time to get their vaccinations.
Panamá appears to have withdrawn their plan to quarantine visitors from Costa Rica who were not fully vaccinated. Sources crossing at the border at Sixaola daily say there has been no change in the regimen at the border. Visitors who are not fully vaccinated will be required to present a negative Covid test (PCR or antigen) taken in the 72 hours prior. Fully vaccinated visitors do NOT need a test.
Parece que Panamá ha retirado su plan de poner en cuarentena a los visitantes de Costa Rica que no son totalmente vacunados. Fuentes que cruzan diariamente la frontera a Sixaola afirman que no ha habido ningún cambio en el régimen en la frontera. A los visitantes que no estén totalmente vacunados se les exigirá que presenten una prueba Covid negativa (PCR o antígeno) tomada en las 72 horas anteriores. Los visitantes totalmente vacunados NO necesitan una prueba.
UPDATE: Panamá withdraws plan to quarantine visitors from Costa Rica
Panama now requires travelers who are not fully vaccinated and are traveling from high risk countries, including Costa Rica, to quarantine for 72 hours. This will be at the traveler's expense at an approved hotel. As before, all travelers must also provide a PCR or antigen test taken in the 72 hours before arriving. Travelers from Puerto Viejo to Bocas del Toro will need to keep this new requirement in mind.
INFORME: Panamá ha retirado su plan de poner en cuarentena a los visitantes de Costa Rica que no son totalmente vacunados
Panamá exige ahora que los viajeros que no estén totalmente vacunados y que viajen desde países de alto riesgo, incluido Costa Rica, estén en cuarentena durante 72 horas. Esto correrá a cargo del viajero en un hotel autorizado. Al igual que antes, todos los viajeros deben presentar una prueba de PCR o de antígeno realizada en las 72 horas anteriores a su llegada. Los viajeros de Puerto Viejo a Bocas del Toro deberán tener en cuenta este nuevo requisito.
The bridge over the La Estrella river at Penshurt has reopened today for vehicle traffic meaning traffic can now flow again between the South Caribbean and the rest of Costa Rica.
Se abré el paso entre el Caribe Sur y Limón y el resto de Costa Rica. El puente de río La Estrella está listo.
MEPE is operating buses to and from the closure where you walk across the closed area and pickup another bus. Caribe Shuttle and Interbus are also operating shuttles in this manner. An alternate route does exist for driving as well for 4WD vehicles. And the temporary bridge is coming soon; it isn't ready today but should be within the next 48 hours.
!Sí hay paso al Caribe Sur!
A pesar del derrumbe ocurrido en el puente de Penshurt, el cual conecta al país con el Caribe Sur. El paso no está completamente cerrado, existen algunas alternativas para poder viajar al Caribe Sur, entre la cuales están:
1. Transporte público de buses: La empresa MEPE, realiza recorridos de Limón al puente de Penshurt, de ahí las personas deben cruzar a pie el puente y tomar otro bus hacia el Caribe Sur. Interbus y Caribe Shuttle también.
2. Ruta alterna: Existe una ruta alterna por la comunidad de San Clemente que conecta con Pandora en el Valle de la Estrella, evitando el paso por el puente de Penshurt. Para trasladarse por esa ruta se les pide a las personas que la transiten solo en vehículos 4x4 ya que la carretera no se encuentra en buenas condiciones.
3. Vuelos: La empresa SANSA tiene vuelos de San José a Limón, en donde pueden tomar luego el bus de MEPE y hacer transbordo o tomar un servicio privado de busetas.
4. Busetas privadas: Hay servicios privados de busetas como Caribe Shuttle que trasladan a las personas de San José o de Limón hacia el puente de Penshurt, para luego hacer transbordo hacia cualquier parte del Caribe Sur.
**El gobierno ya está trabajando en la instalación de un puente bailey para rehabilitar la paso por el puente de Penshurt, el cual se espera que esté listo en las próximas 48 horas**
MEPE has announced their schedule of buses for Sunday July 25 given the bridge out at Penhurst. Until a temporary vehicle crossing is installed, hopefully Monday, riders will need to exit the bus, walk across and take another on the other side.
A temporary bridge to cross the Rio Estrella near Penshurt is expected to be in service on Monday, reconnecting the South Caribbean with the rest of Costa Rica.
In the meantime, travelers who need to go to or from the South Caribbean zone have to get transport to the failed bridge and can then walk across where they will need to have onward transport arranged.
Interbus has announced that they will run a shuttle tomorrow, Sunday, using this method with one of their shuttles meeting travelers on each side of the bridge. MEPE, the bus company, also started running buses to and from Penshurt to Limon and Manzanillo to Penshurt this afternoon. Check with them for the schedule.
The shuttles to Bocas del Toro in Panama have also been suspended due to flooding in Sixaola, at the border to Panama.
The accompanying photo shows how much mud is flowing into the sea down the overburdened rivers, turning the ocean a muddy brown. Photo credit Manuel Pinto from yesterday.
Heavy rains that have pummelled Costa Rica in recent days today took out the bridge in Penshurt, shutting highway 36 and cutting off the South Caribbean coast from the rest of Costa Rica.
Hopefully a temporary crossing will be arranged as is usually done in order to provide another way to access the area. The rains have done a lot of damage in other places as well with the worst hit area around Turrialba. Route 32 through Braulio Carrillo is also closed until further notice.
Costa Rica will stop requiring a health insurance policy for minors and for adults who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19, the Tourism Board (ICT) announced Friday.
The measure takes effect starting August 1, 2021. As of that date, minors under 18 years old and adults who are fully vaccinated can visit Costa Rica without purchasing a health insurance policy.
Costa Rica no va a requerir el seguro para los viajeros vacunados a partir del 1 de agosto.
Panama has been making it more difficult for perpetual tourists doing their border runs from Costa Rica. People heading to Panama for a quick visit in order to get another 90 days on their Costa Rican entry need to be prepared that the Panamanian authorities have been requiring:
- Negative Covid Test (Panamá now accepts either a PCR or antigen test) - $500 USD in cash
- Minimum 2-day, prepaid hotel reservation
- Return ticket to Costa Rica (bus or plane)
Super fun video showing off Puerto Viejo and the whole Caribbean Coast. Great work Jasper from Oby Vision!
Laboratorio Bioclinic in Puerto Viejo is now offering PCR testing 7 days a week. The tests are offered Monday to Friday from 9 am to 3 pm, Saturday 8-9:30 am and Sunday 5 - 6pm. You must make an appointment and they can get busy so don't wait until the last minute. Test results are delivered within 48 hours by email.
The tests are ₡80,000+iva or $140 USD. Note they only do PCR tests. The nearest place to get an antigen test is in Limón or there are many places in San José. All countries allow PCR tests for travel but only some will allow an antigen test so although the antigen test is a little cheaper you want to verify that first. If you're traveling to Panama a PCR test is required.
Make sure you are using an accredited laboratory or you will have problems at the airport or border. The Costa Rican tourism institute (ICT) maintains a list of accredited testing locations here.
You can get more information on testing and travel requirements from the official Visit Costa Rica website here.
Panama has now clarified its border requirements and so Caribe Shuttle announced today that they are resuming daily shuttles in both directions between Puerto Viejo or San Jose and Bocas del Toro in Panama. Entry requirements each direction vary so you will need to plan in advance.
For entry into Panama you will need a negative PCR test taken no more than 48 hours before travel. That can be done in Puerto Viejo or San Jose or ask Caribe Shuttle as they have the info for clinic locations and numbers to get that done. Other requirements are the same as pre-Covid: proof of your flight from latin america back home etc.
The requirements for entering Costa Rica is having insurance and filling out the online health form within 24 hours of travel. You should have the QR code on their phone for the border officials when entering CR. But no negative test is required.
Panamá ha aclarado ahora sus requisitos fronterizos, por lo que Caribe Shuttle ha anunciado hoy que reanudan los traslados diarios en ambas direcciones entre Puerto Viejo o San José y Bocas del Toro en Panamá. Los requisitos de entrada en cada dirección varían, por lo que tendrá que planificar con anticipación.
Para entrar en Panamá necesitará una prueba de PCR negativa tomada no más de 48 horas antes del viaje. Esto se puede hacer en Puerto Viejo o San José o pregunte a Caribe Shuttle, ya que ellos tienen la información de las clínicas y los números para hacerlo. Los demás requisitos son los mismos que antes de la llegada de la pandemia: prueba del vuelo de regreso desde América Latina, etc.
Los requisitos para entrar en Costa Rica son tener seguro y rellenar el formulario de salud online en las 24 horas antes de viajar. Debe tener el código QR en su teléfono para los agentes fronterizos al entrar en CR. Pero no se requiere una prueba negativa.
With the reopening of the land border for tourism from Panama to Costa Rica there has been some confusion about the entry requirements. While Costa Rica does not require a negative Covid test to enter, Panama does. The test must be done within 48 hours of your entry to Panama. So for travelers who want to go onto Bocas del Toro from Puerto Viejo they'll likely need to get their test in Puerto Viejo. Laboratorio Bioclinic offers those tests in Puerto Viejo. The test must be booked in advance. Shuttle companies are not yet operating this route as Panama has not clarified all the rules on whether tourists are even permitted though there have been reported of some tourists successfully making the crossing independently.
Para viajar desde Costa Rica a Panamá, incluso en las fronteras terrestres, se requiere una prueba de PCR negativa en las 48 horas anteriores. Para viajeros que quiere viajar de Puerto Viejo a Bocas del Toro, se puede hacer la prueba en Laboratorio Bioclinic en Puerto Viejo. Tiene que reservar una cita para su prueba en adelante. Los shuttles ya no están operando porque el gobierno de Panamá no está claro si la frontera terrestre está abierto por turismo o no. Pero hemos escuchado de unos viajeros independientes que han hecho el viaje.
Now this is a sunset not to be forgotten soon! At Cahuita National Park. See more of the work of the Kamuk Collective on their facebook page.
Un atardecer inolvidable en Parque Nacional Cahuita. Ver más del trabajo de Colectivo Kamuk / Kamuk Collective en su página facebook.
This means that the tourist route between between Puerto Viejo and Bocas del Toro will be shortly be possible again. The rules that apply to tourists flying into the country will also apply at the land borders: proof of insurance primarily. But like air arrivals no quarantine or negative Covid test will be required.
Costa Rica anuncia apertura de fronteras terrestres para turistas a partir del 5 de abril.
Entonces hay posibilidad de viajar entre Puerto Viejo y Bocas del Toro otra vez. Habrá las mismas reglas que aplican a los turistas llegando por avión : comprobante de seguro y llenar el formulario en línea antes de llegar. Pero ni cuarentena ni prueba negativa para Covid será requerido.
The Tico Times has published a very useful and complete summary of what are the entry and insurance requirements and what you should expect when you get here.
The Costa Rica government has extended the closure of the land borders to non-essential travel through the end of March. So tourist travel from Panama to Costa Rica will continue to be impossible. And another extension is very possible.
El gobierno ha anunciado que la frontera quedará cerrado hasta el fin de marzo. Entonces viajes turísticos de Panamá a Costa Rica siguen imposible. Y hay una buen posibilidad de otra extensión de la fecha.
Some medical labs in Costa Rica are now offering rapid antigen Covid tests. These tests meet the entry requirements for some countries but not others. At this time they are accepted for entry to the USA and UK but not for Canada for example.
For example, the antigen test at Clinica Biblica costs 30,000 colones (about $50), and the hospital is promising results within two hours. At this time it is not known if anyone is administering these tests on the Caribbean Coast.
Panama has reopened its land border to tourists. So does that mean we can travel from Puerto Viejo to Bocas del Toro now?
Unfortunately Costa Rica has not done the same so that means one could theoretically travel to Panama but not return to Costa Rica. It also means that the transportation providers such as Caribe Shuttle who provide shuttle service cannot operate yet either so even if one wanted to do the trip one way (and say fly back to one's home country from Panama) the usual transport options would not be available.
Panamá ha reabierto la frontera a touristas de Costa Rica. Pero Costa Rica no ha hecho el mismo entonces se puede viajar solo una dirección. También los operadores de transporte turistico no pueden opera sin la frontera abierta en ambas direcciones.
Uber has announced they have begun operating in Limón Province. While they haven't announced details presumably this includes Puerto Viejo and area.
A quick check of the app today indicates no available cars yet except in Limón center. However pricing is live for Puerto Viejo destinations and at least for now is significantly cheaper than the taxis have been charging. But whether any drivers will offer rides at those prices is yet to be seen.
Caribe Shuttle has restarted their shuttle service between the Caribbean Coast and Arenal. Bookings can be made on the shuttle page.
The US has announced they will require a negative Covid test within 72 hours before boarding a plane back to the USA, joining many other countries with this policy. Good thing we've found you can get now get tested in the South Caribbean so there's no need to return to San José days early.
Laboratorio Bioclinic will now perform this test. The cost is 80,000 colones + tax and the results will be available in 48 hours. You must make an appointment at firstname.lastname@example.org or whatsapp +506 8950 9101.
Canada is the latest country to require visitors to require a negative PCR test before returning to Canada. But how does one get such a test while on vacation?
Unfortunately our inquiries with local medical providers have indicated that testing is not available in the South Caribbean zone. Several people recommended Clínica Biblia in San José which provides results in 24 hours at a cost of 53000 colones. Make an appointment before you go.
With the land borders still closed to tourists is there any way to travel between Puerto Viejo and Bocas del Toro? The short answer is no.
Both land and sea crossings (which were never commercially available anyway) are closed to tourism. Residents can cross to their country of residence but are subject to quarantine requirements. The linked Tico Times article has details. Tourists may not cross at all. And flights from San José and Limón to Bocas have not yet resumed either. So, short of flying to Panama City, this popular route remains closed. When we hear otherwise we'll let you know.
La Casa del Mango in Cahuita invites you to come and celebrate Xmas with a special offer of 350$ per night tax incl (minimum 3 nights). This offer is valid between December 22nd and December 27th. This beach house is located less than 1 minute from playa Negra, can accommodate up to 8 persons with full kitchen to prepare a great Christmas dinner. It is the perfect place for those who want to relax with friends or family for Xmas, enjoy the pool or the hammock but also those who want to surf or enjoy a day at the beach. Pura Vida y Felíz Navidad!
As of October 26, a negative Covid test will no longer be required. And flights will be permitted from all countries effective Nov 1. Travel insurance matching Costa Rica's requirements and a health questionnaire continue to be required. The remaining scenarios where a quarantine is required will also be eliminated from Oct 26.