10 Essential Ideas (Plus Errors To Keep away from)

Driving 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 one of the best ways to expertise this lovely nation. However there are some things it’s best to 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 grime roads and occasional river crossings, so my first time driving there was fairly an journey! Since then, I’ve visited the nation many instances, all the time preferring to lease a automobile.

Renting a automobile and self-driving Costa Rica by yourself is one of the best ways to expertise this beautiful nation, because it really provides you the liberty to cease at each waterfall, volcano, seaside, and nationwide park alongside the way in which.

Listed here are some necessary suggestions I realized 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.

Driving In Costa Rica Information (2023)

1. Ought to You Drive In Costa Rica?

Renting a Car in Costa Rica
Get Off the Crushed Path!

Hey, when you love these massive group bus excursions, by all means, go e-book one. It’s a good approach to see Costa Rica when you don’t have plenty of time.

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

However when you’re like me, you like 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 way in which.

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

Sure, there’s a public bus system in Costa Rica too, but it surely’s actually solely good for getting from one massive city to a different, and infrequently the bus stops are positioned 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 approach to get across the nation.

Simply understand that a number of the again roads in Costa Rica may be very tough & muddy, and a few native drivers don’t observe their very own legal guidelines. With some observe although, you’ll acquire confidence driving right here!

One other good factor we loved about having a automobile was the power to retailer issues within the trunk, stopping off in Costa Rican cities with small journey backpacks relatively than hauling baggage in all places.

2. The place To Hire Your Automobile In Costa Rica

Driving Tips for Costa Rica
Driving in Costa Rica

Some frequent automobile rental corporations in Costa Rica embrace Enterprise, Sixt, Hertz, a neighborhood one known as Adobe Hire-a-Automobile, and lots of extra.

However the very best website to e-book your automobile is Uncover Vehicles. They search each native and worldwide automobile rental corporations that will help you discover the absolute best worth. That is the best approach to lease a automobile in Costa Rica.

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

San Jose Airport: Plan to choose up your automobile about 60 minutes after your flight arrives. When departing, attempt to be on the airport no less than 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 choose up your automobile about half-hour after your flight arrives. When departing, attempt to be on the airport no less than 2 1/2 hours earlier than your flight leaves. Once more, due to the shuttle.

Rental Cars

Hire A Automobile In Costa Rica

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

3. Automobile 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 suggestions for coping with them under.

Because of this I extremely advocate getting full insurance coverage protection.

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

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

When you can typically lower your expenses reserving your automobile with a good journey bank card that features automobile rental insurance coverage, you REALLY should learn the advantageous 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 study your bank card doesn’t really cowl the injury — you’re screwed. I can’t let you know what number of journey horror tales I’ve heard like this…

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

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

Renting a automobile in Costa Rica goes to value 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 value you extra like $40-$70 USD per day.

A 4X4 campervan, or truck with a tent connected, goes to value over $100 USD per day (nevertheless you possibly can 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.

Gasoline Costs

Presently, 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 gas prices about $4.20 per gallon. It’s rather more costly than within the fuel in the US!

Automated vs Handbook

Automated automobiles are costlier to lease than guide automobiles (however manuals are extra frequent in Costa Rica), and you will need to 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 may differ 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 received’t want to do that.

5. Age Necessities For Renting A Automobile

The minimal age for driving in Costa Rica is between 21-25 years previous, relying on the corporate you e-book a automobile with. Additionally they may cost an extra charge (often $10 a day) when you’re underneath 25 years previous.

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

Crossing a River in Costa Rica
River Crossing

Driving legal guidelines in Costa Rica are just like driving legal guidelines in every other nation. Nonetheless native drivers don’t all the time observe them. For instance, drivers might not use flip alerts or will run pink lights in the event that they assume they’ll 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 often 60km/h (37 miles per hour), and round cities & cities it’s 40km/h (25 miles per hour).

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

Highway Indicators In Costa Rica

The highway indicators in Costa Rica must be fairly self-explanatory, as they appear just like US highway indicators, simply in Spanish. You possibly can browse some frequent Costa Rican highway indicators right here.

Highway Situations

Costa Rica’s highways are paved and in good situation, nevertheless the nation can be coated in again roads. A lot of grime roads, and lots of usually are not in nice form. Muddy, potholes, and so on. 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 go via rivers. Particularly through 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 sluggish, and take note of the route. Some rivers aren’t crossed straight, however require you to drive up or down stream earlier than exiting. This may be attributable to hidden obstacles, depth, or just the very 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 lease a automobile there. Simply carry your passport, bank card, and your driver’s license from your private home nation. So sure, you possibly can drive in Costa Rica with a US driver’s license.

8. Additional Recommendation For Renting A Automobile & 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 when you politely cease within the highway to let somebody cross, they’ll be confused, and the automobile behind you received’t anticipate it — which may trigger an accident! That is related in Mexico and different elements of Central America.
  • Don’t e-book a automobile with out studying the corporate critiques. You’ll discover loads of dangerous critiques for each firm (individuals like to complain on-line), however attempt to decide one with the LEAST dangerous critiques.
  • 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 whenever you requested for an computerized, be pushy and ask for an improve.
  • Examine your automobile completely and file video in your smartphone stating injury earlier than you permit. It is a backup in the event that they try and cost you for injury that was already there. It is a frequent automobile rental rip-off in Costa Rica….
  • Take note of in case your Costa Rica rental automobile takes common fuel or diesel gas, so that you refill with the right kind at fuel stations.
  • Use Google Maps in your smartphone for instructions as an alternative of renting a GPS system. Merely use your individual hands-free automobile mount and a good worldwide cellphone plan.

9. Accident & Breakdown Data

In an emergency, you possibly can dial the Costa Rican Emergency Telephone Quantity which is 911, identical to in the US. They’ve an English talking line too.

Nonetheless 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 positioned 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 mean you can get off the overwhelmed observe to see issues most individuals miss! ★

Rental Cars

Hire A Automobile In Costa Rica

Search each native and worldwide automobile rental corporations 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 a couple of extra wanderlust-inducing articles that I like to recommend you learn subsequent:

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

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