The (SJO) Juan Santamaria International Airport is located just over 20 minutes East from the city of Grecia and the B&B Grecia. One great misconception is that the (SJO) Juan Santamaria International Airport is located within the city of San Jose Costa Rica. It is not. The SJO airport is in the province of Alajuela and it is anywhere from 20 minutes to over 1 hour away from the city of San Jose depending on the insane traffic jams. I do not lie! I had some returning guests, K & J that drove back from the Dominical today and returned the San Isidro way thru San Jose and it took them well over an hour just to get to the SJO airport because of traffic delays. From the airport to Grecia, Alajuela took them just under 30 minutes in rush hour traffic. Not bad! If you are arriving at the SJO airport and plan to travel to the Pacific coast, La Fortuna – Arenal, Monteverde, Manuel Antonio and west coast areas, it makes more sense to travel west directly and not stay in San Jose your first night. It can save you an hour plus in travel time.
Besides having crazy traffic, San Jose can be very intimidating and dangerous. It is a very large city with Large city problems. Other cities that are close to the (SJO) Juan Santamaria International Airport such as Heredia and Alajuela have similar problems. The city of Grecia is a small, clean safe city that is well on your way to any Costa Rican destination that is west of San Jose. Grecia is close to such attractions as The World of Snakes, the Volcano Poas, La Paz Watergardens, Canopy tours, Coffee Plantations and Waterfalls. All are under an hour away from Grecia.
Most of the car rental agencies in the San Jose area are located within 5 minutes of the (SJO) Juan Santamaria International Airport and have shuttles to and from the airport.
What to expect when arriving at SJO airport at the beginning of your trip:
You will exit the plane and walk between 5 to 10 minutes to the customs area. Just follow the crowd from your plane. There are some signs but Costa Rica isn’t know for having good signage. When you get to the customs counter you will give them your passport and they don’t usually say too much. Once they swipe it and check it out and stamp it, proceed to the baggage carrousel area which is not far from the customs area. When you have your bags proceed to the security area and put all your baggage on the conveyor / x-ray machine. If they don’t stop you, that’s it you are done! If they do stop you (as I usually do because I am usually bringing in car parts or other weird things). They may ask to see the item in question and will ask you if they are new or used, how old they are and how much they are worth. I have brought in a used 19″ widescreen lcd TV and they made me show them it. I told them it was 2 yrs old and worth maybe $200 so they let me thru… Recently I brought some shocks in for my Jeep. Again the stopped me and asked about them and asked if I lived here. I told them they were new and told them they were $175. They then asked “Each”? I told them the $175 was for all 4 shocks and showed them the receipt so they waved me thru! Once finished with security, you just exit the building where you will be greeted by 30 taxi drivers trying to get a fare. Look for your party picking you up, your auto rental agency guy with a sign, your hotel person with a sign OR if you made the wise decision to stay at the #1 rated bed and breakfast in Grecia, I will be standing there with a sign or my good friend Wilson or Alex will be there ready to provide an informative, stress free 20 minute ride the the B&B Grecia! If you are taking a taxi anywhere ask them to use the meter. They call it the “Maria”. If they don’t turn it on, you can be sure you are going to be charged more for your trip and besides they made it law back in March 2010 that they are supposed to use it.
What to expect at the SJO airport at the end of your trip:
When your vacation is coming to an end and you arrive at the airport, it is very important to pay your Exit Taxes PRIOR to entering the line up at your airline. The counter for paying your exit taxes is located just inside the terminal to the right of the right hand doors when entering the departure floor on the second level of the terminal. Once you have paid your $26 either by USD, Colones or Visa, then go to your airline lineup. Once in line, fill out the form the exit tax people gave you so it is ready to present to the people at your airline desk.
Once your bags are checked and you have your boarding passes, proceed to the Security Area. It is located to the far left of the terminal on the departure level (level 2). If you are a smoker and have time, you might want to go outside for a last “coffin nail” prior to entering the security area.
Going through Security is fairly pain free. For me, I find it best to remove ANY metal from my pockets and put them in my carry on bag prior to getting to the x-ray machines. I put my cell phone change, keys, Ipod, and anything that might have the slightest itsy bitsy metal in it in my carry on bag. I Keep cash and my wallet in my pocket and I don’t remove it and have never been asked to. You also have to remove your shoes, belt and laptop and put it in the grey trays to go thru the x-ray machines. Remember to check any liquids that exceed 3 ounces, pocket knives, lighters etc or they will confiscate them.
Once you are past security, find your gate and then if you have time, check out the duty free shops. If you need coffee to take back you can get Britt brand coffee packs to take back. If you stayed with me at the B&B Grecia for a night or two, I probably told you of another brand of equivalent flavor and taste for much cheaper that you can get in the local grocery stores and you already have them stuffed in your checked bags….
If your into saving a bit of money while at the airport, another tip for your airport experience is to take an empty bottle of water in your carry on bag and just fill it up at a water fountain once you are thru security and are near your gate. A bottle of water costs like $3 at the airport. This is a way to save a bit of $$$. Food is very pricey too. It is a good idea to get snacks and have a full belly prior to getting to the airport. If you stayed at the B&B Grecia you will most likely be stuffed full of breakfast and will be okay!!
Well enough about the (SJO) Juan Santamaria International Airport Information for now!! I hope it was informative for you. If you have any other questions, feel free to email us, stop by or stay with us!!