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can't decide if I should rent a car or arrange a driver

can't decide if I should rent a car or arrange a driver

Old Nov 6th, 2005, 04:52 AM
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can't decide if I should rent a car or arrange a driver

I am having a terrible time trying to decide if I should rent a SUV or arrange
private transportation for my family of 5.
The more I read the more confused I get!
We are traveling from San Jose to Manuel
Antonio, Manueal Antonia to Arenal
and Arenal to San Jose Airport. This is all the week before X-Mas.
-the cost on the surface seems comparable, though I suppose if you had a car, you could do many of the excursions cheaper, such as driving to the Fortuna Falls, Rainmaker, Hanging Bridges, Sky trek etc by yourself and simply paying the entrance fee-not the full $50-75/person the tours would cost as well as find your own restaurants.
-We speak no Spanish
-Are the roads that bad?
-What would the estimated driving time be
betweem the places?

I see that you can fly Nature Air from
Manuel Antonio to Arenal, if I was to arrange private transportation, that might make at least one leg of the trip interesting/exciting.


PedNeuro11, Jax
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Old Nov 6th, 2005, 09:01 AM
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Hello, for visit the parque and to relax on the beach you need no car in Manuel Antonio. Most is in walking distance. In Arenal area I won´t miss a car to make the differnt tours.
costaklaus - www.costaricaweb.de
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Old Nov 7th, 2005, 10:03 AM
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I usually advise renting a car if you are staying a week or longer; in your case, with so many bodies, you should consider it for at least part of your trip. Driving in CR is no problem, thousands of other tourists are out there with you; the roads are mostly paved, just not to our standards. Don't be in a hurry and don't drive at night. Please don't ever leave your car loaded with gear out of your sight. All three legs of your trip are fairly lengthy but on well-travelled routes; plan on at least 1/2 day each with pit stops. Try to leave early each time. A good guide book and Spanish phrase book (like from Lonely Planet) will enhance your visit a lot. Good luck and have fun!
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Old Nov 7th, 2005, 11:25 AM
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I have to say that I disagree with the first response. Many and most of the hotels in Manuel Antonio are quite far from the park where the beach is, so even if you don't have your own car you'll likely need a cab or some kind of transport. Ditto for Arenal. You can have tour companies come and pick you up, but you certainly can't walk from place to place.

I enjoy vacations more if I don't have to drive and figure out how to get there, where to park, etc. Some of the roads are horrible, and please do not even think about driving after dark (around 6:00pm). But others think that's part of the fun, so it really depends on you. I also enjoy practicing my Spanish with the drivers...

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Old Nov 8th, 2005, 08:01 AM
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We just got back from 7 days in Jaco/Manuel Antonio and we had a mini SUV. I would highly recommend renting a car. You have to manage your expectations when it comes to road conditions. That said, we were pleasantly surprised that 80% of the roads were in excellent conditions between San Jose and MA. The last 20 miles or so near MA are pretty bad with tiny bridges and big potholes. It depends on your driving style too--we weren't deterred by the winding mountain roads but if you are timid, then fly to MA and get a car to go exploring with. I wouldn't walk anywhere because there are no shoulders on the roads. We found so many great restaurants that were up on hilltops or down terrible rocky roads that i think a car is a must. We noticed another couple every single night waiting for cabs in our hotel lobby--what a waste of time! Cabs are not common enough that you can hail one on the road and it sounds like you would need 2 cabs to co anywhere as they are just small sedans. All of our tours provided transportation and lunch. The bus ride is actually part of the tour where the guide is showing you stuff on the ride. Drive time from MA to the airport was 2.5 hours on Sunday morning. Everyone says that it takes 3 hours and we allowed 5 just in case there were landslides in the road. I hope this helps--enjoy your trip!
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Old Nov 8th, 2005, 03:15 PM
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We love the driving. All of the routes you have mentioned are easy ones.
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Old Nov 10th, 2005, 07:46 AM
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Driving in Costa Rica can be challenging. When traveling to the Pacific or Atlantic costs you will encounter many curves and mountains that will make your driving difficult, you need to stay relax, these are a two-way roads most of the time, even if you see other vehicles passing do NOT attempt to do the same. Many people are killed on these hazardous roads. You may get stock behind an 18 wheeler but take this good advise, pass only in designated areas. You will get there soon or later if you do NOT listen to good advise you and your car occupants may get killed on your way to paradise. I hope I did not scare you to death... but I just want to make sure you are save.

SAFETY AND SECURITY: On both the Caribbean and Pacific coasts, currents are swift and dangerous, and there are no lifeguards or signs warning of dangerous beaches. Several American citizens drown in Costa Rica each year.
Read more information here: http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_p.../cis_1093.html

With that said… An 4x4 will be a good vehicle to get, not only can take the rough roads but also will provide a bit more protection in case of an accident. The speeds in Costa Rica are in Kilometers and those roads are probably 60 KM/H – This is not much but the roads are small.
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Old Nov 10th, 2005, 08:29 AM
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Aaguilar, are you the same person who thinks that they may die from the fluoride in their tooth paste?

Basically just use common sense, if you are on a blind curve on a windy mountain road than passing via the on coming lane is not the best idea.

The driving was actually a lot more sedate than most roads I have driven in mexico, guatemala, belize and even some parts of texas.

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Old Nov 10th, 2005, 09:41 AM
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I just wanted to note that I was not flaming anyone, it was an attempt at humor
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Old Nov 10th, 2005, 09:44 AM
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Funny guy !!!! lol , I actually searched his threads to read this info. !!! DUH , me !!
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Old Jan 29th, 2006, 04:18 PM
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what did you decide? we have a similar itinerary. We've been told a 20 minute flight from san jose to ma that might be worth it? What tours did you do?
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Old Jan 30th, 2006, 10:45 AM
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es - if you chose to use a driver. We used Leo Rodriguez out of San Jose. He has many, many positive posts on this site, www.frommers.com and www.tripadvisor.com. He is a college grad, speaks fluent English and is a safe driver. Everyone adores him and he is so knowledgeable about his country. His e-mail address in case you just have some questions for him is [email protected]
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