rent a car or hire drivers in Costa Rica

Old May 13th, 2019, 06:52 PM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2019
Posts: 4
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
rent a car or hire drivers in Costa Rica

I thought I had this all planned out... we have reserved a 4x4 all wheel drive to go from SJO to Manuel Antonio for 4 days, then to Dominical for 3 nights, back up to Punta Leona for a night, then return car at airport and head up to Alajuela for a night. I know some roads and signs are iffy and am planning on using Waze and a real paper map - yes, paper! Anyway, after reading some other blogs, I've been learning about tire scams, accidents that can keep you in the country, thefts, giant potholes that can break your car, etc. Now I don't know if we should rent, or should we just hire drivers and cabs when not using the transportation included in optional tours? Have you had experience with both options or have a strong opinion on using one over the other? Am I just being paranoid? If these roads and drivers are like Jamaica, then I won't drive. Thanks for any insights.
indyjules is offline  
Old May 14th, 2019, 10:00 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 24,319
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Plenty of people rent cars without any problems. I would not leave anything in my car unattended though. We tend to use private drivers just because we like the ease of it, but having your own car definitely gives you more freedom.
volcanogirl is offline  
Old May 14th, 2019, 11:15 AM
  #3  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2019
Posts: 4
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
thank you!
indyjules is offline  
Old May 14th, 2019, 05:34 PM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 13,223
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
We've rented cars on both our trips to CR and are happy that we did. Vamos is a very good company to deal with and by renting from a reputable company, you can avoid some of the issues that people experience when renting cars in CR.

To address your specific concerns:

Tire scams - This is a scam that seems to have come and gone, or at least is not nearly as common anymore. If someone does pop your tire, just keep driving to the nearest gas station or other populated place, then stop and check. If you end up driving on the rim and damage the rim, then you damage the rim - that's what insurance is for. Tire scams aren't going to happen on the open road where you are traveling at speed - it's just too dangerous to try to come up and pop someone's tire - if it happens, you won't be far from help and won't have to drive very far.

Accidents that keep people in the country - This happens when people aren't properly insured. They have some sort of 3rd party insurance that requires the insured to pay up front and then be reimbursed later, but the insured doesn't have the ability to pay for damages up front. The Costa Rican authorities don't want to let the person leave the country because once they are gone, it is hard to collect on the insurance claim. The easy way to avoid this risk is to buy full insurance from your rental car company - with full insurance, if something happens, you pay the deductible (if there is one) and walk away - it's the rental company's problem, not yours.

Thefts - Yes, this is a big problem, so don't leave anything in view in your car when the car is unattended. If you have a trunk, make sure everything is in the trunk. If you have an SUV with an open cargo area, just don't leave anything at all attractive - it's probably ok to leave a couple towels and swim suits laying out to dry in the car, but no bags or anything visible. Note that I'd give you the same advice for traveling in much of California as I would for CR.

Giant pot holes - Yes, there are those. So keep your eyes peeled when driving, don't speed, and limit night time driving except locally where you are somewhat familiar with the roads and aren't far from help should you get a flat tire. You'd have to hit a pot hole really darned hard to actually break your car though. But if you did, that's what insurance is for, just like any other type of accident.
november_moon is offline  
Old May 15th, 2019, 01:30 AM
  #5  
 
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 24,319
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
The roads around SJO and Manuel Antonio are in pretty good shape. When we first started going over ten years ago they were terrible, but a lot of that has recently been repaved. Be sure to stop at the Rio Tarcoles to see the huge crocs down below. There's a parking area where you can pull in.
volcanogirl is offline  
Old May 15th, 2019, 06:19 AM
  #6  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2019
Posts: 4
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thank you for your details and insights!
indyjules is offline  
Old May 19th, 2019, 02:31 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 19,849
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I would only drive if I wasn't planning on making stops along the way. E.g. if you can drive to the lodging, drop bags and then head out for day trips. I would avoid leaving the car for a short time with anything in it. Even to see the crocs.

Perhaps preplotting your route in Google Maps would help. I know GPS is not very good.. I tried following someone with GPS and they got more lost than I did (I had to ask to be let onto the main highway from a caretaker at one of the coffee plants, after a lecture in Spanish).. You've probably read about how directions are given, and that houses don't have addresses (eg..turn right at the blue house and left at the green gate and hope that they haven't been painted). A tip if you lose your way around San Jose/Alajuela is to pay a taxi driver and follow him. If you're just going on major roads it isn't too bad. Definiitely avoid night driving and speeding.
mlgb is offline  
Old Jun 1st, 2019, 08:17 AM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Jun 2019
Posts: 3
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I have been to Costa Rica and I can tell you renting a jeep and hiring a driver is the absolute best way to go! This will allow you to get an adventure of a lifetime. Your vacation will essentially be an adventure with the right driver/tour guide. It has been a while since I went to Costa Rica, however I would recommend speaking to the Hotel employees during breakfast or dinner and have them recommend someone--let them know what you are looking for. Once you've settled that you want to hire someone, MAKE SURE YOU ADVISE THE HOTEL/RESORT OF WHO YOU WILL HIRE! I literally had my driver/tour guide go in the office with me to give them a copy of his driver's license. In case anything happens at least everyone knows who you are/were with. I will say you then need to be gracious and feed your driver and if you are taking him/her out of their area you will need to provide a hotel room (not necessarily) your hotel, you can ask them to find a cheaper hotel for themselves or whatever. But I highly recommend you hire someone--when I was there it was not expensive at all and well worth the money. I traveled with my 2 small children at the time (3 and 7) and our guide was wonderful--he carried our bags negotiated pricing was very attentive in ensuring our saftery, etc. etc. I can't say enough about the benefits. But I would rely on your own rental car though in case you want to venture alone.
Adventuregal is offline  
Old Jun 2nd, 2019, 04:10 AM
  #9  
 
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 24,319
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
When we book our private drivers, we usually just reserve them through our hotels when we book them, easy to do. I've never heard of someone booking a hotel for a driver. It would be uncommon to have the same driver for an entire trip; they usually just drive you from one town to the next.
volcanogirl is offline  
Old Jun 2nd, 2019, 08:08 AM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 144
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
It takes the worry out of your trip. When we stopped for lunch or to see the crocodiles our driver knew who to talk to so our things were safe, or he could guard the car. Insurance, scams, laws, no worry. We also took taxis and busses as needed.

Many people are enthusiastic about driving oneself, but for me it is more relaxing not to.
emmajm is online now  
Old Jun 2nd, 2019, 08:33 AM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Jun 2019
Posts: 3
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Originally Posted by volcanogirl View Post
When we book our private drivers, we usually just reserve them through our hotels when we book them, easy to do. I've never heard of someone booking a hotel for a driver. It would be uncommon to have the same driver for an entire trip; they usually just drive you from one town to the next.
Volcanogirl please read my text carefully.
i can only speak to my experience. While at my resort, I spoke to the waiters and asked if they had references for a driver for hire for the week I was there and they said yes and said they would ask if he was available for the entire week and he was and we hired him. As a measure of precaution, we informed the resort front desk that we would be with said driver for the week as our hired driver.

though you can book a driver through the hotel/resort, it is more expensive. That was my experience and it worked out extremely well because our driver was awesome and we experienced Costa Rica as locals.
Adventuregal is offline  
Old Jun 2nd, 2019, 01:07 PM
  #12  
 
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 24,319
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Yes, I did read your post carefully. My comment was that it's uncommon.
volcanogirl is offline  
Related Topics
Thread
Original Poster
Forum
Replies
Last Post
cd
Mexico & Central America
6
Nov 14th, 2017 01:00 PM
Osa
Mexico & Central America
5
Dec 21st, 2011 05:50 PM
lcontr
Mexico & Central America
6
Nov 4th, 2011 05:06 PM
Cindyyout
United States
7
Mar 30th, 2011 10:21 AM
kittyss
Mexico & Central America
12
Aug 14th, 2007 03:44 PM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell My Personal Information


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 09:14 PM.