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charmcitymom Nov 22nd, 2005 09:06 PM

Rent a car or hire a driver?
We -- 2 adults and a 6 year old child -- are visiting CR during Christmas break. We are staying at Villa Lapas the first night and at the Marriott Los Suenos (on points!)the remaining days. My husband insists on renting a 4x4 and driving from SJ airport and keeping the car the entire time. He arranged a deal months ago for $499 for the week we are there. I want to hire a driver to take us from the airport to and from our hotel(s) on the coast (I've been quoted $100 each way) and then rely on taxis and hotel tours. I am concerned about a car rental for two reasons: 1) will we become frustrated with a difficult drive across country or is it actually pretty straightforward? 2) do we even really need a rental car once we get to Villa Lapas and Playa Herradura area? Some guide books suggest that one relies on taxis to go back and forth to Jaco/Quepos/MA for beaches, restaurants. Any insights and recommendations are very much appreciated -- this transport issue has become a real bone of contention between us!

Earthtraveler Nov 22nd, 2005 10:30 PM

The wife and I prefer to drive ourselves in most areas of CR. The places you mentioned should not be very difficult to find.
It may be true a 4WD isn't necesary to the hotels you are headed but your guy insists so I say let him have his way and he'll be happier for it. The 4wd is nice for better vision on the road and clearance through potholes and if he wants to explore more adventurous roads he'll be able with more ease. I say let him blow the bucks and bless the guy with the 4wd he's planned for.
Peace in the house is worth a whole lot more.

charmcitymom Nov 23rd, 2005 05:53 AM

Earthtraveler -- My husband agrees with you 100%! :-) Thanks for the input. Charmcitymom

dncee11 Nov 23rd, 2005 11:45 AM

For just a week and only two destinations the car is not totally necessary but you will appreciate the freedom it gives you. The 4WD is not really necessary either as most paved roads are easily passible with a regular sedan. The driving is pretty easy; the roads are not to our standards but no real problem if you just take it easy and don't be in a hurry. When parked, please don't leave anything in the car. Good luck and have fun!

charmcitymom Nov 23rd, 2005 07:09 PM

DNC11, Thanks for responding. Would a sedan be adequate for traveling the roads south of MA to the beaches beyond Dominical? CCM

dncee11 Nov 23rd, 2005 08:40 PM

Interestingly the road south of MA to Dominical is still washboard gravel and suffered some washouts from recent rains. It was passable with regular cars but I would check locally at this point in time. It would not be any faster or more comfortable in 4WD; its always been a lousy road and I don't understand why. You go by miles of palm oil plantations and pass multiple side roads to empty beaches. The road south from Dominical appears to be newly paved and beautiful.

Earthtraveler Nov 23rd, 2005 10:39 PM

I could add we usually rent an automatic Corolla and have been able to venture on some nasty roads off the beaten track during the dry season. The one time we went to Monteverde we rented an automatic Rav4 and loved the ride it gave but the $$$ was more than we care to pay. We drove the awful road between MA and Dominical 3 times in a Carolla last year. Bumpity bump bump for an hour and forty five mins. each time. That was a bit nerve racking but no problem finding our way. We drove to Ballena Nat Pk beach south of Domincal no problem. Definately a wonderful beauty beach area. Some south of there I was wary of venturing down to in the sedan and warning signs of rip offs.

dfarmer Nov 24th, 2005 05:40 AM

4X4 a must for the road south of Quepos to Dominical. During the recent floodings a bridge washed away, however the river could be crossed in a 4X4. This information is at least a week old. So do check on this before attempting in a regular car.

We always rent a 4X4 while in CR.

charmcitymom Nov 24th, 2005 03:28 PM

earthtraveler, dncee11 & dfarmer, what wonderful info and advice you all have -- I am SO glad I asked about driving south of MA and SO grateful you all took the time to answer! I feel we have a much clearer picture of our overall driving scene, thanks to you! CCM

stevejk Nov 27th, 2005 07:47 PM

Don't know if this does not make me a "real man", but we are going for to CR for the first time, for 2.5 weeks (12/19-1/6) with our two kids (10 and 5) to Tambor (Barcelo all inclusive), Monteverde (Finca Terra Viva), and then to Puerto Viejo (Casa Verde and Villas Del Caribe) - we are flying to Tambor but going to hire drivers, bus, whatever the rest of the way.

We did something similar a couple of years ago with the kids (spent a month in Thailand), and found that through a mix of taxi/public transport, we met all sort of interesting people along the way - hopefully that will not be too much of an impediment on our flexibility - but hey, I figure I can always get a car somewhere if I ever need it.

Any suggestions you have on the trip - travelling with the kids, excursions, etc. would be most appreciated. Thanks.

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