Renting a Car in CR?

Jan 30th, 2000, 08:25 PM
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Renting a Car in CR?

Hi all. We're going to CR in June for our Honeymoon. I would like to rent a car but I'm concerned about all this liability insurance stuff. Is there any reason other than poor roads why we might not want to rent a car. Poor roads don't really concern us (we're offroad junkies) although, how poor is poor? Any info from you veteran CR travelers would help... Thanks - Scott
Jan 31st, 2000, 07:24 AM
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Any reason other than poor roads why you might not want to rent a car:

1. Expense. Best rental deal we found was a 4x4 Daihatsu Terio at $53/day through Dollar ( -- $50 per day plus $3 for additional authorized driver) including tax & unlimited mileage. Obviously this adds up quickly and if you're not really going to be using the car that much every day it may make more sense to fly or hire a driver and/or take taxis, depending on where you're going. Flights within CR are pretty cheap, as are buses, and you can hire a driver to drive you virtually anywhere in the country for around $80 or so, depending, so take that into consideration also. In Quepos taxis are very cheap and plentiful so we didn't miss not having a rental car there at all. Ditto for the area around Jaco. If you are planning on staying any time in San Jose you probably won't want a rental car there either. In other parts of the country you may want one. We skipped the rental car for the San Jose-Jaco-Quepos-Osa Peninsula-San Jose part of our trip (used drivers for San Jose-Jaco-Quepos, then flew to Osa and flew back to San Jose) and rented a car only for the four days we spent at the end going from San Jose to Arenal and back.

2. If you're going to be going anywhere where you'll have all your luggage and stuff in your car and will be having to leave everything locked in your car unattended for a while, you may want to rethink that -- theft from cars is very common. Rental cars with trunks do not have 4wd, so anything you rent with 4wd will allow anything you leave locked in your car to be visible and therefore stolen. Park only in guarded lots if you go the rental car route.

3. Hassle/time. If you don't want the hassle of driving on unmarked roads and trying to figure out where you're going, or if you don't want to spend all day getting someplace. Distances are short in CR but driving times are long. Our 50-minute flight to Puerto Jimenez would have taken us 10-12 hours driving and might have even been impossible due to major flooding just before our arrival in November of last year, so consider flying depending on what regions of the country you'll be visiting. Not only are roads not great in CR, but they're not well-marked either. If you do rent a car, invest in a great map. Even then it doesn't always help because roads veer off with no warning and nothing telling you what road it is or where it goes. Even the Pan American Highway isn't well marked in places. If you don't speak Spanish that can be an added problem because at some point I promise you you will need to ask for directions, and not everyone speaks English.

In general though, we found the roads in CR to be better than we had expected. Mostly they were paved, at least between San Jose-Jaco-Quepos and San Jose-Arenal. Some potholes and gravelly portions and steep/sharp turns. Roads in Osa were absolutely terrible and I would not drive there if you paid me. Have heard roads in Monteverde are very bad as well.

If you do decide to rent a car, I will say that we found the folks at Dollar to be very reliable and they kept their word on everything, including delivering the car to us at Pavas airport at the appointed hour (the airport for TravelAir flights within CR). They were easy to deal with and we made all our arrangements via e-mail which was convenient. I would rent with them again.

If you decide to hire a driver, your hotel(s) can recommend someone reliable. That's what we did and it worked out well so we had no worries.

Here is the TravelAir website for flights within CR if you decide to go that route: The other airline, Sansa, is reportedly somewhat less dependable although it is less expensive. We had no problems with our Travel Air flights other than slight delays -- nothing major.

Good luck and have a great time in CR.
Jan 31st, 2000, 10:45 AM
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Hi Scott, we rented a car when we were in Costa Rica and traveled through out the country with no major problems. The only road that we found to be really bad was the road going up to the Arenal Lodge, and we made it with no problem in our four wheel drive. If you have an american express or a gold card visa your insurance is covered and if you don't have one check with your regular insurance company, there's a good chance that you may be covered. Also we rented from avis and got a really good deal. When checking out rental you may want to use the entertainment book it really helps bring down you rates. We personally were really glad that we had a car as we saw everything and stopped when ever we wanted. You don't have to prebook your hotels either, because more often than not you can get a better deal by bargaining when your down there. Have Fun, we loved Costa Rica!!!!!!!!
Feb 3rd, 2000, 05:05 AM
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I'm curious about the credit card coverage for 4x4 rentals in Costa Rica. I checked with our credit card company and was told there would be no coverage on a 4x4 except that we paid for. We have a gold card which gives us coverage on a sedan...but evidently not on a 4x4. Have folks had different experience?
Carol L
Feb 3rd, 2000, 07:48 AM
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I too supposedly had insurance coverage abroad through my platinum card, but there was an exception for SUVs/4x4s. But Dollar's $50/day rate included insurance (at least in the rainy season).
Feb 3rd, 2000, 10:51 PM
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We used American Express and we were covered.
Feb 19th, 2000, 07:28 PM
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Hi , i arrive from Costa Rica one week ago . I rent a car for 2 days and the only thing that i didn't like from it was the deductible from the insurances , they are high . If you hit this car it could cost there close to $750 and if the car was stolen it could cost close to $2000 .But if you are going to stay is San Jose the best deal there are the taxis , them are inexpensive .If you plan to drive outside San Jose then is nice to rent a car because the people outside San Jose drives better . Anyway , have fun in Costa Rica , that's a nice place and feel free to e-mail me with any question about places in Costa Rica.
Apr 9th, 2000, 12:06 PM
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We drove around Costa Rica for a month in March and were very happy that we did. Our most important recommendation is to rent a good 4-wheel drive. We rented from Alamo near the San Jose Airport and were very pleased. Their comment to us about safety was, "If you don't have trouble in the first 10 minutes (in the area around the airport), you will not have problems." They were absolutely correct as far as we were concerned. We felt very safe and found the Costa Rican people extremely friendly and helpful. They really went out of their way to help us with directions. The roads really are quite bad in places, but with a good 4wd you should be OK. We traveled from San Jose to Puntarenas where we took the ferry to the Nicoya Peninsula. We stayed 35 minutes from the airport the 1st night (El Cafetal Inn - Very highly recommended B&B). The 2nd night at Tango Mar (near Tambor on the S coast) - Very nice and right on the beach. 3rd & 4th nights at El Ocotal - Good, but we would stay elsewhere if we go again. 5th night at a small place near Tabacon Resort & Aranal volcano. 6th night at Monteverde Lodge - Excellent and good location to see Cloud Forest, etc. We returned to San Jose to stay near the airport and then took a tour by plane to Tortuguero Lodge on the Caribbean. It rained the whole time, but we had a fabulous stay, and saw lots of interesting animals. Hope your trip is as much fun as ours was. We would love to return again some day.

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