Costa Rica Itinerary - Car-Free?

Feb 16th, 2009, 12:16 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Costa Rica Itinerary - Car-Free?

Hola Fodorites. My husband and I will be in Costa Rica in March for a total of six nights. We're staying in the Central Valley the first night, then going to Arenal for three nights, then ending up in Monteverde for two nights.

We'd been planning to rent a 4x4, but the more I read about driving in CR, the more leery I get. We don't want to hire a driver. So tell me -- how much of a hassle are buses? Will we be happier with our own car?

Thanks for any advice.
SZ is offline  
Feb 16th, 2009, 12:28 PM
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Buses are fine or even more comfortable is Interbus. I've taken Interbus several times and always had good experiences.
hipvirgochick is offline  
Feb 16th, 2009, 12:41 PM
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I would say, you could look at mixing and matching you transportation.

If you want to use the public bus, it works well on the San Jose Arenal and Monteverde San Jose legs. Interbus is good for those too as HIPvirgochick says. However, for Arenal Monteverde, I would say look at jeep boat jeep or taxi boat taxi, or Interbus (if they do that route- I can't get into their site) or a driver or transfer company recommended by your hotel.

For the buses, it is good to get your ticket ahead of time to ensure a seat. They are not bad at all. Hoever always check the schedules ahead of time as those on line are aways subject to change.

good luck
raquel_z is offline  
Feb 16th, 2009, 01:08 PM
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Get a 4x4 and go!Even the drive to Monteverde is not all that bad.Granted it all depends on your comfort level and of course the weather,but at the time you are going it should be fine.I personally find that having my own vehicle adds greatly to my trip.Crazy drivers,huge potholes,and creaky bridges are to be expected,but it all adds to the overall experience-I think its a blast!
artiejay is offline  
Feb 16th, 2009, 01:49 PM
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If you're at all leery about driving, I would do the Jeep Boat Jeep from Arenal to Monteverde. We used Desafio, and it was only about $25 per person. It saves you an hour of travel time, and you get to ride across the lake which is quite pretty. The roads in CR are not that bad, but the one to Monteverde is pretty rough, unpaved, some big potholes, twisty, and high without guard rails. Some people love it, but we would have been stressed out making that drive. The roads we were on in the Central Valley and Arenal were in good shape. You can either drive or take Interbus, whichever you prefer. If you drive yourselves, remember never to leave anything in your car unattended.
volcanogirl is offline  
Feb 16th, 2009, 02:14 PM
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Thank you, thank you, thank you! We're gonna ditch the car. I think the jeep-boat-jeep suggestion decided it for me -- that sounds so much nicer than a four-hour drive on scary roads.

Our first hotel will arrange for a taxi from the airport ($25) and a transfer to Arenal ($100). From there, we will do the jeep-boat-jeep to Monteverde, and I guess an Interbus from there to SJO. (Interbus DOES go from Monteverde to the airport, yes? Their web site is confusing and/or not working properly at the moment.)

I'm guessing we can get cabs, local buses, etc. in the touristed areas of La Fortuna and Monteverde -- is this correct?
SZ is offline  
Feb 16th, 2009, 03:10 PM
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Yep, you can use cabs in Monteverde and Arenal. Just ask your hotel to call one for you, and they'll come pretty quickly. We had a free shuttle at our hotel and used cabs for everything else. They're easy to get. Most of the tours we did came and picked us up at our hotel and dropped us off, so it was all pretty easy.
volcanogirl is offline  
Feb 16th, 2009, 03:35 PM
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Is there an Interbus schedule somewhere?
atravelynn is offline  
Feb 16th, 2009, 04:27 PM
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I don't think there's a schedule per se. You just have to plug in your departure and arrival cities and the times come up, then you choose your hotels. For most places there is one pick up in the morning. However, there are a few locations that have 2 pick-up's per day.
hipvirgochick is offline  
Feb 16th, 2009, 04:29 PM
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Interbus doesn't go to the airport from Monteverde, but you can get dropped off at Garden Court Hotel and take a taxi to SJO from there, about 5 min.
hipvirgochick is offline  
Feb 16th, 2009, 04:42 PM
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FYI the Garden Court is now the Holiday Inn Express. There is also a free shuttle that goes back and forth from the 2 hotels in that parking lot HI and Hampton (and Denny's)

Most Public buses (haven't personally tried it from Monteverde) will actually stop and let people off on the road right in front of the airport.

Good luck
pura vida
raquel_z is offline  
Feb 18th, 2009, 11:51 AM
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Having your own vehicle in Arenal is a big help--cab fares are expensive since it's a long drive between any given hotel and any major attraction--Hanging Bridges and the lava side of the volcano are on the exact opposite side from town and most lodging.

You don't need a car while in Monteverde. So, maybe drive to Arenal (nice drive) and then drop it off there for transport to Monteverde.
RAC is offline  
Feb 18th, 2009, 04:05 PM
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I like RAC's suggestion. 3 different modes. Car to Arenal, Jeep-Boat-Jeep to Monteverde, Interbus (or public) to airport. Cool!

Definitely agree that a car is a big bonus at Arenal and the getting there is simple and smooth.
shillmac is offline  
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