Getting Around Costa Rica
Costa Rica’s rugged natural landscape, abundance of rural roads, and seasonal torrential downpours can make traveling around a whole new kind of fun. However, with some determination and some know how, you can get from place to place fairly easily.
Traveling by car can be a challenge in a country where less-than stellar roads, rural areas and changeable weather are abundant. However, it is one of the best ways to see the country on your own terms and your own timetable, and any challenges can be chalked up to part of the adventure.
In Costa Rica, out-of-country driver’s licenses and International Driving Permits will be accepted for up to 90 days, after which time you’ll need to get a Costa Rican license. While pricey, renting a car is one of the most common and convenient ways to travel by car. Keep in mind that most rental cars are manual transmission, and that 4-wheel drive options are highly recommended, even if you don’t plan to go far.
To rent a car, you’ll need to be at least 21, and you’ll need to present a valid driver’s license, a major credit card and a passport. While rentals from major, well-known companies are available in Costa Rica, renting from a local agency is typically cheaper.
Taxis are also available, and are a good option in more rural areas that lack a comprehensive public transport system. In general, shorter trips are metered, whereas a pre-negotiated flat fee is common for longer trips. Fares in bad weather and across poor road conditions can be higher than usual.
Local buses run frequently, they can be found almost anywhere, and they’re an inexpensive way to travel. They’re also a common method of transportation for Costa Ricans, so you’ll have the chance to meet lots of locals and learn a little about their culture. You won’t get around quickly by bus in Costa Rica, but the slow pace does allow for some leisurely sightseeing.
Buses stop on rural and city roads, at marked and unmarked stops. Drivers almost never say no to a potential passenger, so buses are typically pretty packed, but they’ll always find a way to fit one more in. Costa Rica has two types of bus service: the directo, which makes fewer stops but costs more, and the colectivo, which goes more slowly and stops more often, but costs less.
Traveling Costa Rica by air allows you to see more of the country and get the most out of your trip. The country has two domestic airlines: NatureAir, which operates out of Tobias Bolanos Airport in Pavas and Sansa, which operates out of Juan Santamaria Airport in San Jose. Both traverse the country, and both utilize small passenger planes.
The size of the planes is significant when it comes to your travel plans. Baggage weight is limited to 12 kg (or 26 pounds) per passenger, and on full flights your larger items may cost you extra, or in some cases not be allowed on at all. Small planes and bad weather are not a good mix, so delays and flight schedule changes are common. For this reason, it’s important to book domestic flights into the airport well in advance of any connecting international flight.
Charter flights are another option; they’re relatively affordable, and they can take you anywhere you want to go. Know that baggage and passenger capacity on charter flights is very limited.
However you choose to fly, make all reservations in advance, include a time buffer, and have a backup plan in case of delays.
When staying with HRG vacations at Los Sunos Resort and Marina, the accommodating staff at HRG can easily arrange all your transportation needs.