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Costa Rica -- Car rentals

I just bought a ticket to costa rica for next for a 3 week trip.
I have heard its expensive to rent a car there so looking for recommendations and any do's and dont's that I should be aware.
im starting my research and planning tomorrow so should have a rough itinerary in a few days
ill take any hostels , restaurants and tours recommendations as well if you have time


Posted by
3387 posts

If you are going out to the coast or into the mountains make sure to get a vehicle that can handle dirt roads with potholes - don't get an economy car.
In Manuel Antonio eat, or just have a drink, at El Avion...stunning views and unique atmosphere.
Great little beach town is Playa Hermosa de Jaco.

Posted by
65 posts

We didn’t rent a car there and I was glad we didn’t. We just paid for private transfers and it was not that much more expensive than renting.

Posted by
54 posts

We rented one and it wasn't as expensive as we thought it would be. You do have to pay for a mandatory insurance though. One of the insurance options should be covered by your credit card. We used Vamos and they were great to work with. We were very happy to have the car as we stayed in places that were not within the town center. The Arenal area is quite large and we were able to easily get to all the sites. Vamos provided us with a cell phone so we could use Waze to navigate.

No issues with driving and we were so happy to have a car and would rent one again if we go back.

We used Airbnb-there were so many options. We landed in Liberia, got our car and drove to Playa Hermosa, then to La Fortuna and explored the Arenal area, then to Monteverde, Samara and flew out of Liberia. Easy driving, the scenery is beautiful and we loved being able to get out and take pictures at scenic points. Keep in mind the distances don't seem too long, but because the roads are very windy with sharp turns, you don't go very fast. Don't drive at night.

Posted by
84 posts

thanks everyone for taking time to reply .
good reminders and insight for me

if anyone reads this , ill still take any input you have


Posted by
331 posts

We hired a private transfer from Liberia airport to our hotel in Arenal and used a local outfitter for all of our activities while in that area. We picked up a car when leaving Arenal to drive to Playa Hermosa. We had no problems driving, but as mentioned above, I would not recommend driving at night. The only time we did was a straight 1/2 mile or so drive to dinner from our hotel in Playa Hermosa.

Posted by
6823 posts

I suggest that you look at other newsboards, like Trip Advisor, for more information. But posts specifically about car rental aren't that frequent. Despite Costa Rica's relative prosperity, you need to consider the road and social aspects of a less-developed country. For that reason, insurances and vehicle service and replacement would be important to me, not just the lowest possible price. Many destinations can benefit from four-wheel drive, I get the idea. But those would often require very slow speeds, too.

No personal experience. We hired a car and driver for one day, and all our roads were modern and better paved than tax-starved American cities!

Posted by
78 posts

We went last year to Costa Rica. We did not rent a car. CRS tours US 1-800-454-8434 planned our trip after we told them what we wanted to do. I would not want to drive there. They definitely do NOT recommend driving between destinations after dark as the roads really aren't the best. CRS had excellent drivers for transfers between the places we went and for our activities. I was so thankful for the drivers we had. I am not sure some of the places we went to we would have found on our own very easily if we didn't have a driver. We also used taxis a couple of times to go to dinner at restaurants not close to our hotels. Enjoy.

Posted by
234 posts

We rented a car for two weeks. It had four wheel drive and had no issues getting around. We went to the mountains and beaches in it. Even drove through some rivers- it was pretty crazy.