Bocas Del Toro to Puerto Viejo - Forget the Transfer, Do it Yourself!
Bocas Del Toro is full of agencies trying to cash in on people trying to do the short journey from the BDT to PV in Costa Rica. If you speak to the people in the agency it would appear it is practically impossible to do it yourself - NOT TRUE. They are also charging between $25 and $30 to take you which is possibly one of the most expensive transfers you will find in Central America. I did it for $15 per person (traveling as 2). It may be worth taking the transfer if you are on your own but even then you will only break even and it will take longer.
This is how you do it for half the cost and 25% less time, even if you don't speak Spanish like me.
1. Get the boat from BDT to Almirante ($5 pp) - 25 mins
2. Take a taxi or minibus at the port to the Panama / Costa Rica Border. They will try to rip you off but I got mine with a bit of negotiation for $15 for the 2 of us. Basically they are prepared to drive the trip for this amount of money, so if there are more of you, I think the cost per person could be negotiated even lower. ($7.5 pp) - 45 mins.
3. Cross the border (over the bridge) by foot. This is where the big time saving comes in. To get the stamps in the passport requires standing in a slow-moving queue. Arriving on a transfer bus of 12 people means waiting for all 12 people to be stamped out and in on both sides. The border crossing will take forever with a transfer! It is so easy to figure out what to do - literally you can't go wrong. Just make sure you get the stamps on both sides. ($0 pp) - 45 mins.
4. Take a local bus to PV. These run every hour on the hour from about 8am to 6pm and the cost is 1470 colones (CR currency). Don't worry about changing money though, you can pay $3 instead but make sure you have the exact money, otherwise your change will be in colones at a bad exchange rate! The bus is actually quite comfortable - decent leg room. ($3 pp) - 1h30m.
Finding the bus at the Costa Rican boarder is easy (2 min walk).
(a) Come out of the border control and walk down the ramp on the RHS towards some shops.
(b) Turn right at the bottom of the ramp, then first left. Bus terminal is right in front of you.
....Or, just ask a local!
So there you have it - BDT to PV in <4 hours at half the cost of the transfers as long as you are with more than one person. SWEET.
Good luck with it,