How to travel around Costa Rica

Rent a vehicle

Go at your own speed and create your own adventure by driving yourself. Discover jungle-green and sky-blue vistas around every curve, stop for a photo or to smell the wild flowers. Your valid drivers license is all you need. For your convenience, and no cost to you, our knowledgeable bilingual constantly stay abreast of the rates of several of the most reputable car rental agencies. We will make all your arrangements to rent a reliable car or 4X4 and have it picked up and dropped off for free at Adventure Inn. What we quote you is all you ever need to pay, guaranteed!

Be careful renting vehicles online with the big multinationals as many try to hide the high costs of insurance and taxes (saying in fine print they may or may not be included. Believe me, they are not included!). When you can't talk to a real person, and receive a final guaranteed total price, beware, your credit card is like a blank check! Unfortunately some of our guests have fallen victim to these unscrupulous multinationals and have been forced to pay nearly double what they expected, after it was too late to cancel, which is why we stepped in.

Pros: Cost-effective if you will be driving a lot, complete freedom
Cons: Risk of getting lost, requires a credit card deposit

Arrange a car rental »

2WD vs 4WD vehicles

For most places in Costa Rica, a 2WD vehicle is good enough. Most of the main Costa Rican roads are paved, however when you start to move more off the beaten path, or to more remote areas, roads are paved less and less. In some places, it may even involve driving through rivers if the government has not put up a bridge. Fording rivers in the rainy season becomes substantially more difficult with a 2WD vehicle due to the increased flow of water. Other remote places, such as Monteverde and the Osa Peninsula, require a 4WD vehicle year-round. If you are going to a remote area, the best bet is to talk with the hotel you will be staying at and ask them. If you do not have a concrete plan of where you will be staying and you are the adventurous type, it wouldn't be a bad idea to err on the side of caution and rent a 4WD vehicle.

To help you further decide what vehicle type to rent, see our blog.

Privately-operated shuttles

Private shuttles are one of the most reliable and worry-free ways to travel around Costa Rica. Never worry about getting lost again. We deal with several of the most reliable and cheapest shuttle companies in Costa Rica. We can arrange for you to get picked up right at our front door any day of the year in a private, air-conditioned shuttle and they will drop you off right at the front door of your hotel in virtually any area of Costa Rica.

Pros: No risk of getting lost, relatively cheap, you can relax and enjoy the trip
Cons: Set schedule, not much freedom

Private shuttles vary between $39 and $59 per adult and children are half price. Prices are slightly more for the Osa Peninsula. Just contact us and let us know where you are going and we will make all the arrangements for you.

Domestic flights

Costa Rica has two major domestic airlines, Sansa that flies out of the International (SJO) Airport, and NatureAir that flies out of the Tobias Bolaños or Pavas Airport. On a clear day the views are spectacular, and a several hour road trip can be accomplished in a matter of minutes. However, you are going to miss so much, and more importantly, studies show you are 120 times more likely to crash per mile flown with a little domestic carrier than with a major US carrier. If you are not on a very tight schedule, we recommend you experience the authentic Costa Rica by land or sea.

Pros: By far the fastest way to travel
Cons: Most expensive, set schedule, limited destinations, more dangerous than commercial airlines, you still need to get from the airport to your destination, further adding to the price

Have a group? Get a private driver

For groups of 4 or more adults, hiring a private driver might be another great option if you do not want to drive yourselves or if you do not plan on driving around much during your stay. Quite often, it is even cheaper to hire a private driver than it is to take a shuttle since private drivers charge set price for the trip and not per person. Private drivers have all of the advantages of the private shuttles with the added bonus of being able to leave at whatever time you wish and stop along the way when you want. Prices typically start at around $120 per direction for the group. Just contact us and let us know where you are going and we will make all the arrangements for you.

Pros: Cheaper than private shuttles, allows you to enjoy the trip, you have a guide to explain the country to you
Cons: Only a viable option for groups, more expensive than renting a car

View our prices for private drivers »

About Costa Rica travel

Costa Rica is a Central American nation bordered by both the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea to the south and Nicaragua to the north. The country's total area is 51,100 sq km. It is known for its munificent biodiversity and rich eco-system which draws thousands of eco-tourists every year. This tiny, environmentally gorgeous hub is as known for its lush rainforests and mountain ranges as it is for its balmy beaches and nature parks. It's much like an ecologically sumptuous buffet spread of landscapes that has something for everyone.

One of the most striking aspects about Costa Rica is its unrelenting efforts of creating a harmonious relationship between tourism, development and environment. Its sustainable development models and energy renewal systems have been as much hailed all over the planet as its animal conservation and volunteer based programs. Costa Rica believes in tourism with a conscience and a deep commitment to the local community.

Since this charming nation is happily juxtaposed between two continents, it is privy to several microclimates, a thriving ecology and multiple landscapes, which is hard to find in country of its size. Often referred to as the Switzerland of Central America, Costa Rica has survived without a military force for over six decades. A peaceful democracy, spectacular natural beauty and a laidback lifestyle make this one of the most alluring vacation options for tourists.

Gushing waterfalls, deserted coasts, quaint community settlements, and misty mountain volcanoes - Costa Rica has all this and more for a complete sensory feast. The beaches are great for surfing, quad biking, scuba diving, snorkeling or horseback riding. Wildlife enthusiasts will have a field day spotting some of the most intriguing and rare creatures here. Howler monkeys, toucans, iguanas, coati, anteaters, unusual cats and other spices can be widely spotted. There are several eco lodges and nature inns that offer a firsthand natural living experience in the middle of densely wooded forests. Most of them also conduct adventure water sports activities and tours around the region such as canopy tours, night safaris, bird watching expeditions and mountain hiking trails.

A few recommended travel resources

Anamaya Resort - The Anamaya Resort website is a beautiful showcase of everything this picturesque health and wellness resort has to offer. You will find a list of all the amenities provided by the resort, in addition to detailed information about their yoga retreats and teacher training programs. The site also lists detailed information about a whole bunch of attractions and activities such as horse riding, island tours, canopy tours, beach excursions and more that guests can enjoy in the vicinity. There is a nicely laid out section devoted to all the beaches nearby. This website goes far beyond the regular sales copy of a resort to include more value added information for travelers in the area, which shows how passionate the owners are about their region. It is not only extremely comprehensive and detailed about the services offered, but also treats readers to an array of attractive visuals chronicling the happenings at the resort through images. The website has a walk through exploration tour that takes you along some of the best spots in the resort. - Costa Rica Journeys is a cumulative effort and labor of love of professional travel writers who are passionate about Costa Rica. Writers and travelers are encouraged to offer their inputs and feedback and given credits for the same. The site offers an exhaustive platter of everything that one would like to know about the charming land of Costa Rica. It features in depth, well constructed and informative articles about everything from Costa Rica's unusual wildlife species to the local art and culture to detailed reviews of eco lodges and comprehensive lowdown about the best places to go surfing. Adventure sports buffs can browse through a section that details leisure and action packed adventure activities that can be undertaken here. Health and Wellness aficionados will discover the best yoga retreats and relaxing spas in the well researched pages of costaricajourneys. Everything is divided into lucid categories to make navigation user friendly and coherent. The design is simple yet eye catching and though the site is so detailed, it doesn't overwhelm the reader thanks to the striking visuals and logical presentation of information. Festivals, popular local events, the most suitable travel choices - the site has all this and more to fill you up on everything there is to know about visiting Costa Rica. If travelling Costa Rica is on your bucket list, this site will act as a dependable companion to ensure you savor the best that region has to offer. - This is a niche site that focuses on everything that surfing enthusiasts visiting Costa Rica need to know about the sport. It lists the best surf spots in the country, reviews surfing camps and schools and acquaints readers with the surfing conditions at various spots. Surfing buffs looking to buy surf gear will find an entire section dedicated to surf gear shops in different regions. There are regional surf guides that give readers a lowdown on surfing condition in different regions to help them determine the best surfing spots according to their interests and level. There are helpful guides that list down the basics of surfing and surfing vocabulary for the uninitiated. There are tips for beginners and an insight into the history of surfing. That's not all. Costa Rica surfing also profiles some of the most sought after celebrity surfers in the region along with a list of some daring stunt ideas for experienced surfers. A list of helpful pointers like surf forecast and a pre surf warm up session is also listed for the benefit of ‘surfers'. All in all, this is one stop resource for anyone wanting to know more about surfing in Costa Rica. - Malpais is a comprehensive travel guide specific to the Santa Teresa and Malpais beach area of Costa Rica. It lists everything from the best activities for families/kids in the Malpias area to the best accommodation options to the best places to enjoy scrumptious local and international delicacies. Since it focuses on a particular region, the site offers a treasure trove of interesting insider information and hidden gems which are otherwise not known to tourists in general. So whether it's finding the best private chef for your honeymoon or taking a sneak peak at the most secluded and private beaches in the area- it's all here. Readers are offered tips on the best spots to go surfing or the best places to practice their yoga asanas. The site is put together by locals who know the place inside out and that's lends it a more personal and narrative touch versus the numerous staccato like travel information sites. The information is presented in a pleasant, lucid and easy to follow layout. Even though there is a ton of information out there, categories are clearly marked and information follows in a coherent pattern. Readers are also treated to a visual bonanza of some of the most spectacular images speaking volumes about the beauty and simplicity of the Malpais/Santa Teresa area. - Another brilliant site focusing on a particular region, Montezuma beach is all about the best things you can do in the limited time you have here. Whether it is exploring virtually cast away beaches or undertaking a wildlife watching tour, you'll known everything there is to know about this coastally stunning region here. Readers will be privy to little known nuggets of information such as where to find aerial silk classes or an organic food café. It is charming insider information like this presented in a friendly, warm and easy to understand tone that makes this site stand out. Wildlife enthusiasts have at their fingertips comprehensive informational write-ups about their favorite animals in the region. You can find their Spanish names, their status in the wild, tips on the best places and time to spot them and more. Local classes and events are also listed here to help travelers bite into a slice of the native experience. - As the name suggests, this is a site for sailors and sailing enthusiasts. It lists everything from the best cruises suitable for travelers with varying interests to specialized fishing tours and shuttle transportation services to commute within the area. In addition to well elucidated information about sailing in the region, Costa Rica sailing also offers a complete lowdown on several adventure sport activities such as scuba diving, snorkeling, kayaking, surfing, paddle boarding and sport fishing. Sailing fanatics will get all the information they need about boat charters and premium yacht clubs. Readers will get a firsthand account of how it is to sail in different waters around the region and the conditions prevalent in each. The site follows readers an easy to navigate layout featuring the best sailing adventures across different regions such as the Caribbean, Guanacaste, Arenal, Manuel Antonio and more. - This one's for all the diving enthusiasts looking to try their favorite sport in the clear, cerulean Costa Rican waters. The site offers information about the best scuba diving retreat packages in Costa Rica, wreck dives for the more adventure bitten, a lowdown on diving certifications, the best spots to dive and much more. In a more personal tone, you will have divers sharing their diving stories with readers. Readers will discover the little known yet fantastic surfing spots and witness some of the most beautiful visual imagery of the region's marine life. Information about the Costa Rica's oceanic wildlife treasures is extensively listed to help readers acquaint themselves with the creatures they are most likely to spot during their deep sea expeditions. And if you're not yet sure where to put up, worry not, Costa Rica scuba offers you recommendations of some of the most diver friendly resorts and stays in different regions. Other than being rewarded with an intriguing glimpse of Costa Rica's marine life, the site also features an easy to follow surfing spots map that marks the best places to surf in the country. All in all, if you're thinking Costa Rica and surfing, this one's hard to overlook.

Tropisphere - Tropisphere is a real estate company that concentrates on offering specially created nature conservation and eco friendly properties in Costa Rica. All those looking to invest in real estate in this fast growing eco and medical/wellness tourist destination will find the site listing hundreds of properties up for sale in the region extremely useful. Costa Rica is one of the fastest rising real estate market owing to its splendid tropical vegetation, steadfast green conscience and wellness/alternate treatments. The near perfect weather and still affordable prices only add to the allure of owing a property here. Tropisphere not only lists lots and ready to move in homes built to suit all budgets but also a comprehensive buyers' checklist that includes everything you need to know before making that all important financial commitment. The site lists hotels, lumbers, luxury homes, beachfront properties, farms, commercial spaces and much more to cater to all pocket sizes. You may just bag the perfect deal here at rates you never imagined. Listings are very meticulously categorized according to property types and prices. There is section devoted to the newest listings so readers can keep themselves in the loop about the latest real estate trends in Costa Rica. - This is your one stop Costa Rica yoga information stop. Everything you wanted to know about yoga and Costa Rica will most likely be on the pages of this hugely informative website. Yoga Studio reviews for the uninitiated traveler, the most happening yoga retreats in town, the best shops to purchase yoga gear, the most yoga friendly resorts -you'll find this and much more here. You'll get a lowdown of the yoga centers categorized by regions and the facilities offered by them. There are also helpful links to other web Costa Rica yoga resources that can offer additional information on specific topics. The site also gives a region wise break up map that can help readers get acquainted with the geographic landscape and plan their yoga tours accordingly. You want to practice a particular style of yoga? You are looking for specialized and unique yoga retreats? You want a resort that offers specific yoga related facilities? Fret not, Costa Rica Yoga Retreats has it all covered. - Hotel directory