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Costa Rica

Has anyone driven in Costa Rica? I hear that the roads are bad. If so, how bad are they? I have a rental car and plan to drive in the Guenacaste area.

Posted by
21666 posts

I guess bad is a relative term. We were there two years ago. On a scale of 1 to 10, they are probably a four. The asphalt highways tend to be narrow, poorly marked, with pot holes poorly repaired. if at all. But the unpaved side roads are awful. Sometimes well graveled, sometime rutted, and often washboardy. You should allow plenty of time for travel since speeds are not high on the roads and it is easy to get caught behind very slow moving traffic.

We found Costa Rice to be very laid back, no rush for anything, time has little meaning. It took a couple of days to adjust to the flow but once we did it was very relaxing. An example - we took an organized half day trip to a national park that included lunch. Suppose to leave at eight. Van didn't show till around nine, then we needed gas, driver got a phone call to pick up more passengers so we circled back. Now it is after ten, nowhere near the park and wondering how we will get a half day tour. No one was in a hurry, finally had lunch around 2, and back to the hotel around 4pm. But a really great tour. Son and DIL went on a full day tour. Didn't get back to the hotel until 11 pm. Very similar experience. No concept of time or pace. Love it in the end.

Posted by
920 posts

I agree with Frank. The roads are not well maintained and can be tricky if it rains. There are areas where the roads have partially washed out and they just leave them as one lane roads with signs saying who has the right of way. Count on taking twice as long (or longer) to get where you want to go.

Posted by
39 posts

I lived there for three years, there are lots of pot holes. lots and lots of them. But, locals always know where they are. If you ever see the car in front of you kind of swerving around to avoid something, you be sure to swerve the same way he just did!

But really, driving there is not so bad. Once you get the hang of a 3-lane wide rotunda (roundabout), it's an adrenaline rush!

Of all the parts of Costa Rica, it rains least in Guanacaste, and so the roads are relatively nicer.