TRAVELING IN COSTA RICA
Can you get here by bus? Yes. Is it convenient and user friendly if you don’t know Costa Rica? No. Can you hire taxis? Yes. Are they expensive? Yes. Are they hard to schedule? Yes. Costa Rica does have a great bus system, but we strongly recommend renting a car, and more specifically a 4x4.
Outside San Jose, things are spread out. Walking to things can involve hills and stretches along the highway. A 4x4 gives you the freedom to explore when you want and where you want. You can get to Eden’s Nest in any regular car, but you will want to go places that do require a 4x4.
We can help you arrange your Car Rental or Shuttle Service from the Airport in San Jose at the time of booking. There is a Private Shuttle Service available for those who seek comfort and personal service.
Solo Travelers are advised to be vigilant when making use of the local bus systems and we highly recommend making use of the Shuttles that can collect you directly from the airport. We do not recommend hitch hiking alone or in general. Please make arrangements with us before you decide on traveling alone.
RENTING A CAR
Another option for getting around in Costa Rica is to rent a car. There are some places that the public buses can’t get to, that a rental can. Also, if you rent a car, you are able to travel on your own schedule, without worrying about being left behind by the public buses. You can see more on your trip if you rent a car since you’ll be able to cover more ground, including those places that have limited buses. If you do rent a car, be very cautious driving at night. If you are on mountain roads it can be very hazardous, and you need to be cautious about sharing the small road with large trucks. Avoid driving at night if you can, since there are too many blind corners and someone that isn’t familiar with the area could easily be intimated.
TIPS FOR DRIVING IN COSTA RICA
Whether you’re renting a car or you just got your own, it’s important to understand the Costa Rican driving mentality before you get on the road.
Driving in Costa Rica isn’t as difficult as say, India but it it would be better if you keep in mind the next tips for driving in Costa Rica so you have a great and safe time.
There’s no such thing as a 4 or 3 way stop. All the stops (“Alto” in Spanish) are normal as in you have to stop and then you can go.
Costa Rican drivers aren’t as kind as most of the drivers in North America. If you’re on the highway and you’re going to change lanes, your blinker will mean almost nothing to other drivers. Make sure to look 3 times before you do.
Road conditions aren’t the best but they’re good enough to drive from point A to point B. Just be aware you might encounter some pretty bad potholes. If you see the car in front of you slowing down and driving around something, there’s a good indication there’s a big hole.
Some roads don’t have painted lines. If you are in a situation like this assume there are cars coming on the other side of the road. I have seen accidents happen because of this.
Some Costa Rican drivers think that they’re ready to go to Nascar so if you see a guy tailgating, just let them pass. Usually they are not smart and going slow or speeding up will not do anything to back them off.
People are not used to cars to stop for them when crossing the road, so don’t be scared if you see a pedestrian getting too close to your car, they are just trying to cross the road (try to give the space so the other drivers will watch and hopefully learn).
If you stop to let pedestrians cross the road, be aware of the cars behind you. They might not know that someone is crossing so they could pass you and hit the pedestrian. Flash your emergency lights to let them know.
When parking you will notice that Costa Ricans get very close. Just be aware when you park and choose a wide space. I always try to leave half a car distance so no other car will park in front and to have space to move away.
If you’re driving in the city at rush hour or in a traffic jam, be very careful at interactions or the merge areas. Other drivers will completely ignore you and just try to jam themselves in front of you without using their blinker or checking.
MORE FREE TIPS:
Assume that every car/bus/bike/person is going to walk out in front of your car without looking.
Pay attention to the car in front of you and take note of whether their brake lights are working or not.
Always check your mirrors before pulling out, its not unusual for someone to be overtaking 4-5 cars at once.
Check oil and water levels at least once per week.
Best “GPS” app for Costa Rica is WAZE and Google Maps.
Make sure you have an emergency kit in the car which includes enough food & water for 2 people for 48 hours.
ARRIVING BY AIR
1. From San Jose International Airport (SJO)
Most travelers fly to San Jose with direct connections with leading airlines from around the USA, Canada and Europe.
There are two main routes from San Jose, but we recommend the new toll highway (Hwy 27) & coastal road (Hwy 34) which takes 3.5 to 4 hour from San Jose International Airport traveling for a distance of 228 kilometers.
It is a scenic drive with photo opportunities and lunch stops all along the way. A popular stop enroute is the bridge at Rio Tarcoles to watch the Crocodiles!
It’s a nice place to stop, stretch your legs and see some huge crocs on the way to Jaco or Manuel Antonio. At the entrance of the bridge, you will see a restaurant, a hotel and several souvenir shops taking advantage of people stopping. It is quite the sight to see with so many crocodiles congregated in one area!
Keep in mind that you would want to arrive in Ojochal before sunset and getting dark. It can be dangerous and daunting driving here at night and easy to get lost with little or no road signs to rely on. So if you arrive on a late flight and still need to get your rental car you must try to get here before 6:30pm.
2. From Palmar Sur
Palmar Sur is a 25 minute drive from Ojochal. Connecting flights are available with SANSA from San Jose International and cost around $75-$100/person one way.
Visit their website for pricing and availability. http://flysansa.com/en/
3. From Quepos
Quepos is a 45-60 minute drive from Ojochal. Connecting flights to Quepos are currently unavailable due to improvements done at the Quepos Airport. Flights are operated by Nature Air.
Visit their website for prices and availability. http://www.natureair.com/
USING THE BUS
The South Pacific paradise of Costa Rica is one of the most beautiful places in the country and can be reached by public transportation companies that offer bus services. If traveling to the Peninsula of Osa, Golfito, Dominical, Uvita, Palmar or Sierpe, click here to download the Tracopa Bus Schedule.
Visit the Tracopa website for more info: http://tracopacr.com/en/index_en.aspx