Fly or Private Driver

Apr 8th, 2007, 07:58 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 1
Fly or Private Driver

This will be our (me & husband) first trip to CR. It's a 10 day trip. My question: It looks like a private driver and a flight are about the same price -- which would you choose? I've read that driving is great b/c of the scenery and the knowledge you get from your driver. However for nearly the same price, we could fly and save so much time... What to do?

We are flying into SJ @ 8:30pm. Next day MA - Arenal - Peace Lodge (hopefully) - San Jose

This is what I'm thinking:

From: SJ to Manuel Antonio (express bus, 3 hrs)
From: MA to Arenal (fly or private driver)
If we get a room @ Peace Lodge, then shuttle or bus to Peace Lodge.
If no room @ Peace Lodge, then Private Driver to SJ area.

I'd love to hear thoughts, experiences, tips... thanks everyone!
cjanelo is offline  
Apr 8th, 2007, 09:17 AM
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 407
Hi cjanelo,

To me, of the routes in CR where you can fly, Quepos Arenal is one that does not really make that much sense.

Natureair will take you there, but it involves taking 2 flights (or else a stop) - Quepos to San Jose and then San Jose to Arenal. The schedule shows a 1hour 15 min journey. But I would say that given the times at each en to and from airports the whole thing will probably end up taking you in the 3 hour vicinity - and that is if everything is on time. Not that the airports are that far but you still have to allow time for the whole thing Plus the flight leave at 10.45 and arrives at noon. So basically at the Quepos end, you will just have time to eat breakfast, check out of your hotel. At the other end, by the time you get settled, it will probably be close to 2 PM.

With a private driver, you will have the ability to schedule it yourself. You may be able to make better use of the time. its door to door service. Then there are the advantages you have already mentioned - the information and the sights.

Another option is Interbus (or like service) for $29 per person. Not as flexible as private driver (2.00 PM departure - 4.5 hours ) but again door to door.
That is just my opinion though. You might enjoy taking one of the little planes as part of the whole experience of the trip.

Pura vida,
raquel_z is offline  
Apr 8th, 2007, 09:53 AM
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 346
Don't forget, there is also amazing scenery to be seen while flying!

Driving from MA to Arenal is a 6 hour while it's a fun & beautiful drive, it also eats up a full day.

IF you want to see CR from the air AND land, I'd do it the way you have listed like this, just from a pure seeing the most standpoint:

Hire a private driver to pick you up in SJ early in the morning (or just stay at Las Orquideas - and arrange to have one of the Wady Tours drivers take you, I recommend Luis. He is fantastic. -

With a driver like Luis, he will tell you the history and details about every town you pass through on the way to MA. Then you can stop at Rio Tarcoles and watch the crocodiles for a bit on your way down.

I have never flown to Arenal, but like I said this will give you the SPECACULAR views from the air, as opposed to driving...where you have seen some of the sights on the drive already. Besides, you will see a lot of the Central Valley on your drive back from Arenal to SJ.

Remember, half the fun is geeting'll enjoy it whichever way you decide!
airwayvz is offline  
Apr 9th, 2007, 07:41 PM
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 78
Well..less than adventurous? My wife and I, even on our first trip to CR, rented our own car. The experience was excellent and we had zero trouble. This gave us freedom and we loved the side trips off the (sic) highways! Food for thought.....

PS - The Orquideas is always our arrival and go home prior nights lodging! Excellent. We have used their driver suggestions for a day trip to Sarchi and Grecia when we wanted to learn more and have insider info.
hansboomer is offline  
Apr 11th, 2007, 10:29 AM
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 1
I just returned from 10 days in Costa Rica with my girlfriend. We didn't want to "rough it" so we hired a personal driver that was recommended to us. Luis Chinchilla, probably the same Luis I see posted elsewhere. Very knowledgeable of the country, a native, speaks English, very reliable. We had a great time. His number is 011-506-387-8428.

kjhrich is offline  
May 9th, 2007, 06:24 AM
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 2,224
Anyone remember the usual rate for the drive between Manuel Antonio and Arenal?
fishee is offline  
May 9th, 2007, 11:20 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 2,441
I recently asked for a quote for a relative on the Arenal-Manuel Antonio route. is asking $175 for that trip for up to 6 people. The trip will probably take between 5-6 hrs. They say 5hrs. This would be door to door.

Nature Air will cost you $234 (low season) with taxes, airport fees, and gas surcharges. It will take about 3 hrs including a stop at the Pavas airport. Keep in mind that if you fly with one of the Costa Rican airlines like Nature Air you will have to be careful about your luggage weight. You will also have a small taxi fee to your hotel.

We have done a lot of flying and it really gives you a whole different perspective on the lay of the land. I enjoy the scenery flying and driving.

Another option would be the shuttle buses which are running about $29pp between those two points. This could, depending on where you are staying, be door to door to/from your hotels.
Suzie2 is offline  
May 10th, 2007, 07:04 AM
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 141
I've gotten rates varying from $170-220 for a private driver. I think we will be taking that route also.
lutherkins is offline  
May 14th, 2007, 09:45 PM
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 7
hi cjanelo,

our family used a private and would do the same again. it is so worth the ease ... you get to look out and enjoy the scenery. if you are with the right driver they will stop when you want and really provide you with much knowledge that would be hard to get otherwise. our family used oscar chavarria [email protected] he pointed out many things and is open discussing all topics, our children even enjoyed what he had to say regarding dialy life, culture, agriculture etc ...

good luck and you will enjoy no matter what you decide!
familytravelsanjose is offline  
May 15th, 2007, 07:18 AM
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 23,878
We used private drivers and were very happy with our experience. Most of the hotels will arrange for drivers for you, so it's pretty easy to do. They'll pick you up at your hotel and deliver you to your next spot - all the while answering your questions and narrating the highpoints of the drive. Ours stopped at a lot of neat little spots like the Rio Tarcoles to see the big crocs. I'm really glad we did it that way because we got to see so much of CR.
volcanogirl is offline  
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