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Penas Blancas, Guanacaste

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Along Costa Rica’s border with Nicaragua in the Guanacaste Province, Peñas Blancas is often mistaken for a border town, but this is not the case. In reality, Peñas Blancas is just a border post. There are no places to stay here. However, a number of food shops and stalls are found around the place, as well as quite a few money exchange facilities.

A busy border crossing that remains open from 6 am to 8 pm daily, the border posts of Peñas Blancas sit one kilometer apart. If you get here early in the morning, you can enter into Nicaragua for free. However, from 6 am till noon the border crossing fee is USD $7, after which a USD $9 fee is charged. If you are diving yourself across the border, you have to pay a US$ 22 fee for your car. If you are coming to Costa Rica from Nicaragua via this crossing, expect to pay a USD $2 fee for leaving the country.

There are plenty of money changers on either side of the border, along with hordes of ‘tour guides’ that offer to lead you through the crossing, as well as carry your luggage for a small fee. You can additionally find a duty-free shop on the Nicaraguan side that sells plenty of liquor as well as some nice expensive cosmetics. But do be careful out here, as there are plenty of con men around.

Travel tips

If you are traveling from Nicaragua into Costa Rica, make sure to plan accordingly to avoid holidays and busy points in the day. The best time to travel through here is during early evening, when wait times are typically less than an hour. During the holiday season, especially a week before and after Christmas and Easter, wait times can be anywhere between one and ten hours.

To reach Peñas Blancas just drive as far north as you can go on the Inter-Americana.