10 Vital Suggestions (Plus Errors To Keep away from)


Driving in Costa Rica
Suggestions for Driving in Costa Rica
Costa Rica Driving Information

Prepared for an epic highway journey driving in Costa Rica? Renting a automotive 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, at all times preferring to hire a automotive.

Renting a automotive 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, seashore, and nationwide park alongside the best way.

Listed below are some essential 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.

Matthew Karsten

Hello, I’m Matthew Karsten

I’ve been touring the world for 10+ years as an expert photographer & author. I hope you get pleasure from my Costa Rica driving suggestions! In the event you discover them helpful, utilizing my affiliate hyperlinks will give me a small fee, at no additional value to you. Thanks!

Driving In Costa Rica Information (2024)

1. Ought to You Drive In Costa Rica?

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

Hey, should you love these huge group bus excursions, by all means, go e-book one. It’s an honest strategy to see Costa Rica should you don’t have a whole lot of time.

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

However should 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 type of traveler you might be, renting a automotive 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 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 strategy to get across the nation.

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

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

2. The place To Lease Your Automotive In Costa Rica

Driving Tips for Costa Rica
Driving in Costa Rica

Some frequent automotive rental firms in Costa Rica embody Enterprise, Sixt, Hertz, a neighborhood one referred to as Adobe Lease-a-Automotive, and plenty of extra.

However one of the best website to e-book your automotive is Uncover Vehicles. They search each native and worldwide automotive rental firms that can assist you discover the very best value. That is the best strategy to hire a automotive in Costa Rica.

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

San Jose Airport: Plan to choose up your automotive 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 automotive and catching a shuttle again to the airport can take as much as half-hour.

Liberia Airport: Plan to choose up your automotive 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

Lease A Automotive In Costa Rica

Search each native and worldwide automotive rental firms that can assist you discover a whole lot.

3. Automotive Rental Insurance coverage In Costa Rica

Among 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.

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

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

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

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

In the event you get in a wreck driving in Costa Rica, declined full protection, and also you all of a sudden study your bank card doesn’t really cowl the injury — you’re screwed. I can’t inform you 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 you then gained’t have to fret about accidents in any respect!

4. How A lot Does In Price To Lease A Automotive In Costa Rica?

Renting a automotive in Costa Rica goes to value you round $25-$40 USD a day, relying on the kind of automotive 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 automotive with an precise trunk (no hatchbacks) to cover your baggage from prying eyes. It helps to forestall break-ins if thieves can’t see your stuff.

Gasoline Costs

At present, fuel prices about $4.75 USD per gallon ($1.25 per liter) in Costa Rica. Diesel vehicles 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 Guide

Computerized vehicles are dearer to hire than handbook vehicles (however manuals are extra frequent in Costa Rica), and you will need to specify what kind you need when reserving. In the event you’ve by no means pushed a handbook automotive earlier than, don’t begin in Costa Rica! It’s safer to get an computerized.

One-Means Leases

There’s a further payment for one-way automotive leases in Costa Rica, which may range by firm. For instance, if you wish to drop off the automotive in a distinct metropolis than the place you began from. However as a result of the nation is so small, you most likely 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 outdated, relying on the corporate you e-book a automotive with. Additionally they would possibly cost a further payment (normally $10 a day) should you’re beneath 25 years outdated.

6. Issues To Keep 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. Nevertheless native drivers don’t at all times observe them. For instance, drivers could not use flip indicators or will run purple lights in the event that they suppose they’ll get away with it.

Velocity Limits In Costa Rica

Velocity limits in Costa Rica are quoted in kilometers per hour. The utmost pace 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).

In the event you occur to get a dashing ticket, please let your automotive rental firm know immediately, as you’ll need to pay for it whenever you drop off the automotive 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 just like US highway indicators, simply in Spanish. You possibly can browse some frequent Costa Rican highway indicators right here.

Highway Circumstances

Costa Rica’s highways are paved and in good situation, nevertheless the nation can be coated in again roads. Plenty of grime roads, and plenty of will not be in nice form. Muddy, potholes, and so forth. In the event you plan on driving off the overwhelmed path in Costa Rica, I extremely suggest renting a four-wheel drive SUV. Some bridges are solely single lane, requiring one automotive 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 cross by means of rivers. Particularly throughout the moist/wet season, and within the Nicoya Peninsula, Drake Bay and Osa Peninsula areas. In the event you’ve by no means crossed a river earlier than, please watch another person go first!

Put your car into 4X4 mode, go gradual, 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 on account 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 automotive there. Simply deliver 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 Automotive & Driving In Costa Rica

  • Lock your doorways whereas driving in Costa Rica, and by no means go away valuables seen in your automotive.
  • Pedestrians don’t actually have right-of-way in Costa Rica. That means should you politely cease within the highway to let somebody cross, they’ll be confused, and the automotive behind you gained’t count on it — which may trigger an accident! That is comparable in Mexico and different elements of Central America.
  • Don’t e-book a automotive with out studying the corporate critiques. You’ll discover loads of dangerous critiques for each firm (folks like to complain on-line), however attempt to choose one with the LEAST dangerous critiques.
  • It’s possible you’ll not at all times get the make/mannequin/kind of automotive you booked. If they provide you a smaller automotive, or a handbook whenever you requested for an computerized, be pushy and ask for an improve.
  • Examine your automotive totally and file video in your smartphone declaring injury earlier than you allow. This can be a backup in the event that they try and cost you for injury that was already there. This can be a frequent automotive rental rip-off in Costa Rica….
  • Take note of in case your Costa Rica rental automotive takes common fuel or diesel gasoline, so that you replenish with the proper 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 automotive mount and a good worldwide cellular phone plan.

9. Accident & Breakdown Data

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

Nevertheless in case your automotive merely breaks down, and nobody is injured, its most likely higher to name your Costa Rican automotive 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 automotive was undoubtedly the proper alternative for us.

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

Rental Cars

Lease A Automotive In Costa Rica

Search each native and worldwide automotive rental firms that can assist you discover a whole lot.


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

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