Traveling Throughout Costa Rica
Costa Rica is a magical place full of adventure, rich culture and incredible food and beverages. Trips of a lifetime are made in Costa Rica every year, and there are just so many things to do that it’s incredible. Getting around, though, requires knowledge of how the transportation systems work as well as car rental and ride hiring company availability. Without further ado, let’s dive into the details of how the Costa Rican transportation infrastructure operates.
One of the single most fascinating aspects of getting around in Costa Rica is that even though Uber in Costa Rica is not technically legal, everyone does it: both locals and tourists. We always advise verifying that your ride is in fact a legitimate Uber in Costa Rica by asking the driver what your name is, and asking what their name is since this will be listed on the app and only a true Uber driver would know this information. Taxis in Costa Rica are certainly a viable option, too, but Uber is usually a cheaper and more comfortable option. Taxis in Costa Rica also have a bad reputation of being pushy toward tourists, so perhaps stay away from them.
Note: when you take a taxi in Costa Rica, always tell them to turn on the meter. If they don’t, you’ll get an arbitrary price and they will rip you off!
Tell them “Pon la maria, por favor.”
(Point to it. It’s always mounted in the center of the console.) If they tell you it’s broken, just get out. There are many shady taxi drivers that will judge you if they even sniff that you aren’t local, so make sure to do this every time. Even when I lived there and spoke the local Tico slang, they still tried to rip me off. It’s their culture.
It’s for this reason, and cost reasons, that I prefer Uber. I will note that Uber is very popular in San Jose, but less abundant in areas on the coast, even in booming Liberia.
The availability of rental cars is another consideration altogether, as the risk of pushy taxi drivers and fake Uber drivers is eliminated altogether.
The availability of rental cars in Costa Rica is usually high, with companies like Avis and Adobe leading the pack for rentals. Though availability may be high, costs can be ridiculously expensive and not worth it.
Check the prices before renting, because some companies don’t actually accept credit cards that don’t have raised numbers which can be slid with an old-fashioned carbon copy machine. 95% of Costa Rica is accessible by cars without 4 wheel drive, and if you do take a rental vehicle 4 wheel driving then your warranty is completely void.
For this reason, I urge you to check out Discover Cars. You’ll find them to be the best third party agency which can help you find the best rates.
Suggested Reading: Is it Safe to Rent a Car in Costa Rica?
For the reason of high costs, buses in Costa Rica are an excellent option as well. Buses in Costa Rica are great because they run to every major and minor city, and can be much more cost effective than cars ever could. Plus, they offer a more authentic way to travel like a local in many cases. All buses provide information about their destinations, where they’re departing from, the name of the company, how frequently they’re serviced, travel time and total distance (km), and ferry or boat schedules which may be included. A huge part of enjoying vacation is in not having to work or think, and just being able to enjoy the scenery. For this reason and for their affordability, buses are a great way to explore the country without the risk and high cost associated with going private.
Shared shuttles are an excellent in between option for those who want a little more privacy than a public bus, yet don’t want to spend high dollars on cars or Ubers. They’re air conditioned and usually go in between every major hotel in every major city. From there, you can take a cheap Uber to your actual destinations and the total cost will be much lower than if you rented a car. We highly recommend shared shuttles.