HomeTravel Photography10 Essential Ideas (Plus Errors To Keep away from)

10 Essential Ideas (Plus Errors To Keep away from)

Driving in Costa RicaDriving in Costa Rica
Ideas for Driving in Costa Rica
Costa Rica Driving Information

Prepared for an epic highway journey driving in Costa Rica? Renting a automobile is the easiest way to expertise this lovely nation. However there are some things you must know earlier than you go.

So that you’ve been wanting to go to for years, and are lastly planning your individual epic highway journey to drive round Costa Rica!

For such a small nation, Costa Rica is surprisingly mountainous with winding dust roads and occasional river crossings, so my first time driving there was fairly an journey! Since then, I’ve visited the nation many occasions, all the time preferring to hire a automobile.

Renting a automobile and self-driving Costa Rica by yourself is the easiest way to expertise this beautiful nation, because it really offers you the liberty to cease at each waterfall, volcano, seashore, and nationwide park alongside the best way.

Listed here are some vital ideas I discovered about driving Costa Rica, so that you’re able to hit the highway and discover the Wealthy Coast on a trip you’ll always remember.

Matthew KarstenMatthew Karsten

Hello, I’m Matthew Karsten

I’ve been touring the world for 10+ years as knowledgeable photographer & author. I hope you take pleasure in my Costa Rica driving ideas! When you discover them helpful, utilizing my affiliate hyperlinks will give me a small fee, at no further price to you. Thanks!

Driving In Costa Rica Information (2024)

1. Ought to You Drive In Costa Rica?

Renting a Car in Costa RicaRenting a Car in Costa Rica
Get Off the Overwhelmed Path!

Hey, in case you love these huge group bus excursions, by all means, go guide one. It’s a good technique to see Costa Rica in case you don’t have lots of time.

No planning, no driving, simply sit again and let another person do all of the work!

However in case you’re like me, you favor the journey of unbiased journey.

No set schedule or timetable — driving round Costa Rica with the liberty to cease anyplace cool you discover alongside the best way.

If that’s the form of traveler you might be, renting a automobile in Costa Rica is the best way to go!

Sure, there’s a public bus system in Costa Rica too, nevertheless it’s actually solely good for getting from one huge city to a different, and sometimes the bus stops are situated simply outdoors of city, so that you’ll additionally find yourself having to take a taxi. To not point out that touring by public bus is only a slower technique to get across the nation.

Simply needless to say among the again roads in Costa Rica might be very tough & muddy, and a few native drivers don’t comply with their very own legal guidelines. With some apply although, you’ll acquire confidence driving right here!

One other good factor we loved about having a automobile was the flexibility to retailer issues within the trunk, stopping off in Costa Rican cities with small journey backpacks somewhat than hauling baggage in every single place.

2. The place To Hire Your Automotive In Costa Rica

Driving Tips for Costa RicaDriving Tips for Costa Rica
Driving in Costa Rica

Some widespread automobile rental firms in Costa Rica embody Enterprise, Sixt, Hertz, an area one known as Adobe Hire-a-Automotive, and lots of extra.

However one of the best website to guide your automobile is Uncover Vehicles. They search each native and worldwide automobile rental firms that will help you discover the very best worth. That is the best technique to hire a automobile in Costa Rica.

We rented our automobile from San Jose Airport in Alajuela, and commenced our Costa Rican highway journey from there.

San Jose Airport: Plan to select up your automobile about 60 minutes after your flight arrives. When departing, attempt to be on the airport at the least 3 1/2 hours earlier than your flight leaves. As a result of returning your rental automobile and catching a shuttle again to the airport can take as much as half-hour.

Liberia Airport: Plan to select up your automobile about half-hour after your flight arrives. When departing, attempt to be on the airport at the least 2 1/2 hours earlier than your flight leaves. Once more, due to the shuttle.

Rental CarsRental Cars

Hire A Automotive In Costa Rica

Search each native and worldwide automobile rental firms that will help you discover a whole lot.

3. Automotive Rental Insurance coverage In Costa Rica

A number of the rumors about driving in Costa Rica are true, and the roads are VERY tough in some areas. Particularly the again roads outdoors Costa Rica’s smaller cities. Don’t fear, I’ll share some ideas for coping with them under.

For this reason I extremely advocate getting full insurance coverage protection.

Sometimes, rental automobiles in Costa Rica include a primary Collision Injury Waiver (CDW), however this isn’t precisely insurance coverage, and solely covers the automobile for as much as $1000-3000 USD price of injury.

That is the quantity they maintain in your bank card till you come the automobile in a single piece. CDW usually doesn’t embody tire, cracked windshield, or undercarriage harm both.

Whilst you can typically get monetary savings reserving your automobile with a good journey bank card that features automobile rental insurance coverage, you REALLY should learn the high-quality print, as a result of many individuals wrongly assume their card covers them in Costa Rica.

When you get in a wreck driving in Costa Rica, declined full protection, and also you instantly be taught your bank card doesn’t really cowl the harm — you’re screwed. I can’t let you know what number of journey horror tales I’ve heard like this…

It’s why I normally pre-book full protection on-line. It’s cheaper than on the counter — and then you definitely gained’t have to fret about accidents in any respect!

4. How A lot Does In Value To Hire A Automotive In Costa Rica?

Renting a automobile in Costa Rica goes to price you round $25-$40 USD a day, relying on the kind of automobile you get. Our 4-door sedan was about $25 per day. A four-wheel drive SUV will price you extra like $40-$70 USD per day.

A 4X4 campervan, or truck with a tent connected, goes to price over $100 USD per day (nonetheless you may sleep in it too!)

I like to recommend renting a automobile with an precise trunk (no hatchbacks) to cover your baggage from prying eyes. It helps to stop break-ins if thieves can’t see your stuff.

Fuel Costs

At present, fuel prices about $4.75 USD per gallon ($1.25 per liter) in Costa Rica. Diesel automobiles will typically prevent some cash on fuel, and diesel gasoline prices about $4.20 per gallon. It’s way more costly than within the fuel in america!

Computerized vs Handbook

Computerized automobiles are costlier to hire than guide automobiles (however manuals are extra widespread in Costa Rica), and you could specify what kind you need when reserving. When you’ve by no means pushed a guide automobile earlier than, don’t begin in Costa Rica! It’s safer to get an computerized.

One-Means Leases

There’s an extra charge for one-way automobile leases in Costa Rica, which might fluctuate by firm. For instance, if you wish to drop off the automobile in a unique metropolis than the place you began from. However as a result of the nation is so small, you in all probability gained’t want to do that.

5. Age Necessities For Renting A Automotive

The minimal age for driving in Costa Rica is between 21-25 years previous, relying on the corporate you guide a automobile with. In addition they may cost an extra charge (normally $10 a day) in case you’re underneath 25 years previous.

6. Issues To Keep in mind Whereas Driving In Costa Rica

Crossing a River in Costa RicaCrossing a River in Costa Rica
River Crossing

Driving legal guidelines in Costa Rica are much like driving legal guidelines in another nation. Nevertheless native drivers don’t all the time comply with them. For instance, drivers could not use flip indicators or will run pink lights in the event that they assume they will get away with it.

Velocity Limits In Costa Rica

Velocity limits in Costa Rica are quoted in kilometers per hour. The utmost velocity on most highways is 120 km/h (about 74 miles per hour). On secondary roads, the restrict is normally 60km/h (37 miles per hour), and round cities & cities it’s 40km/h (25 miles per hour).

When you occur to get a rushing ticket, please let your automobile rental firm know straight away, as you’ll should pay for it if you drop off the automobile on the finish of your journey.

Highway Indicators In Costa Rica

The highway indicators in Costa Rica needs to be fairly self-explanatory, as they give the impression of being much like US highway indicators, simply in Spanish. You possibly can browse some widespread Costa Rican highway indicators right here.

Highway Situations

Costa Rica’s highways are paved and in good situation, nonetheless the nation can be lined in again roads. Plenty of dust roads, and lots of should not in nice form. Muddy, potholes, and so forth. When you plan on driving off the overwhelmed path in Costa Rica, I extremely advocate renting a four-wheel drive SUV. Some bridges are solely single lane, requiring one automobile to attend for the opposite to cross earlier than continuing.

River Crossings

You possibly can highway journey round Costa Rica with out ever having to cross a river, however there are additionally some again roads that move by rivers. Particularly throughout the moist/wet season, and within the Nicoya Peninsula, Drake Bay and Osa Peninsula areas. When you’ve by no means crossed a river earlier than, please watch another person go first!

Put your automobile into 4X4 mode, go gradual, and take note of the route. Some rivers aren’t crossed immediately, however require you to drive up or down stream earlier than exiting. This may be because of hidden obstacles, depth, or just one of the best entry/exit factors.

7. Worldwide Driver’s License

No, you don’t want an worldwide driver’s license to drive in Costa Rica or hire a automobile there. Simply deliver your passport, bank card, and your driver’s license from your house nation. So sure, you may drive in Costa Rica with a US driver’s license.

8. Additional Recommendation For Renting A Automotive & Driving In Costa Rica

  • Lock your doorways whereas driving in Costa Rica, and by no means depart valuables seen in your automobile.
  • Pedestrians don’t actually have right-of-way in Costa Rica. That means in case you politely cease within the highway to let somebody cross, they’ll be confused, and the automobile behind you gained’t count on it — which may trigger an accident! That is related in Mexico and different elements of Central America.
  • Don’t guide a automobile with out studying the corporate opinions. You’ll discover loads of unhealthy opinions for each firm (folks like to complain on-line), however attempt to decide one with the LEAST unhealthy opinions.
  • Chances are you’ll not all the time get the make/mannequin/kind of automobile you booked. If they offer you a smaller automobile, or a guide if you requested for an computerized, be pushy and ask for an improve.
  • Examine your automobile completely and file video in your smartphone mentioning harm earlier than you permit. This can be a backup in the event that they try and cost you for harm that was already there. This can be a widespread automobile rental rip-off in Costa Rica….
  • Take note of in case your Costa Rica rental automobile takes common fuel or diesel gasoline, so that you replenish with the right kind at fuel stations.
  • Use Google Maps in your smartphone for instructions as a substitute of renting a GPS system. Merely use your individual hands-free automobile mount and a good worldwide cellphone plan.

9. Accident & Breakdown Info

In an emergency, you may dial the Costa Rican Emergency Cellphone Quantity which is 911, similar to in america. They’ve an English talking line too.

Nevertheless in case your automobile merely breaks down, and nobody is injured, its in all probability higher to name your Costa Rican automobile rental firm’s personal emergency roadside help quantity situated on the rental settlement.

Take pleasure in Your Costa Rica Highway Journey!

Exploring the small villages, pristine seashores, jungle mountains, and nationwide parks of Costa Rica in a rental automobile was undoubtedly the fitting selection for us.

Self-drive highway journeys can help you get off the overwhelmed monitor to see issues most individuals miss! ★

Rental CarsRental Cars

Hire A Automotive In Costa Rica

Search each native and worldwide automobile rental firms that will help you discover a whole lot.


I hope you loved my information for driving in Costa Rica! Hopefully you discovered it helpful. Listed here are just a few extra wanderlust-inducing articles that I like to recommend you learn subsequent:

Have any questions on driving by Costa Rica? What about different recommendations? Be a part of the dialog on Fb, Instagram, or Twitter to share!