Rent a car and have the freedom to roam wherever you please. A 4x4 is recommended, just in case you get the urge to explore a few more rugged roads during your trip. All current drivers licenses are accepted.
A few driving tips to keep in mind:
- We suggest renting a GPS with your rental car. Although the Ticos are very friendly and more than willing to help you with directions, nobody really likes to stop and ask for them anyways.
- If you’re looking for an easier way to navigate Costa Rica, we suggest downloading the the app Waze to your smartphone. With an international data plan, it’ll give you directions and help you navigate around traffic.
- Due to various road conditions it might take a bit longer to drive some places. Plan accordingly.
- This advice applies to any country you’re not familiar with: Avoid driving at night. Always lock your car and don't leave valuables in it. And in large cities try to park in a secured parking lot with an attendant. In short, just use good common sense.
- In case of an emergency, call the National Insurance Institute (INS) at 800/800-8000 or the Transit Police at 2222-9330 or 2222-9245. You can also call 911 to be redirected to any agency you need.
A directory of Costa Rica car rental services can be found here.
Shuttles & Private Transportation
If you don’t want to bother driving yourself, try reserving a shuttle or private transportation. That leaves more time for you to appreciate the landscape and see the abundant wildlife of Costa Rica while your driver worries about the road.
Interested in a faster way to travel the country? Domestic flights are available with SANSA and Nature Air to and from downtown San José, Alajuela-SJO, Arenal, Manuel Antonio, Tamarindo, Liberia, Samara, Tortuguero, Drake Bay, Puerto Jiménez, Golfito, Palmar Norte, Barra del Colorado and Tambor.
The Northern and Southern Regions of the Nicoya Peninsula can be easily accessed by a ferry from Puntarenas. Head to the tip of Puntarenas, drive your car on the ferry and park. Then enjoy the 65 minute boat ride across the Gulf of Nicoya. It’s a scenic and relaxing trip with great views of the peninsula. Info can be found here.
Public buses are the least expensive means of transportation in Costa Rica. They connect to nearly every city, town and village. They may take a little longer, but that just gives you more time to enjoy the beautiful scenery.
Bus Itineraries can be found here.