Getting Around in Costa Rica
Everything you need to know about transportation in Costa Rica
Getting around in Costa Rica is pretty much the same as getting around anywhere; there are only a few things that are different. The primary difference is that there are no street addresses in Costa Rica; directions rely on landmarks such as, “turn left at the Auto Mercado and continue for 3 km, your destination will be on the right just after the gas station.”
Nevertheless, modern applications such as Waze will get you to exactly where you want to go, so you’ll want to make sure you have a data enabled smart device while traveling this beautiful country if you’re driving yourself.
Naturally, your main priority after landing at Juan Santamaría International is to get to Jacó Beach, just over an hour away.
Airport transfers to/from the airport
If you plan to use a shuttle service, there are several good transportation services. Plan to spend between US$120 – $150 one-way. That price usually covers 1 – 4 passengers. Additional charges apply to extra passengers, usually about US$10/person. Your bilingual driver will meet you at the airport and help with luggage. The trip will take about an hour and a half. Want to make it even easier on you and the gang? Contact your concierge at Croc’s Resort and arrange for airport transfers.
Uber and Taxis
You’ll have no trouble getting to and from the places you want to go with readily available Ubers and local taxi services. Taxis are often parked at Taxi stands or just driving around; don’t hesitate to flag one down and make sure they turn on the meter when you start. Alternatively, if you have a SIM card, enabled smart device, you can always order an Uber, which some consider safer and cheaper.
Renting a car in Costa Rica
The easiest and most flexible way to get to Jacó is to rent a car. Driving in Costa Rica is about like driving in the U.S. To rent a car, you need a current driver’s license and your passport. Carefully check and note any damage on the car before you drive away; make sure the agent signs off on any damage you’ve noticed. Four-wheel drive isn’t usually necessary unless you plan to visit some outlying rural areas, especially during the green season.
Driving tips & rules of the road
Make sure someone is always with the car if you stop while on the road. Always take any valuables with you and avoid leaving anything in plain view. The best practice is to pay the friendly, if unofficial, parking attendant a few dollars, even in official parking lots.
Most of the roads are paved but slides, subsidence, and potholes can appear suddenly. This can be a real hazard on winding mountain roads. In case of an accident, call the National Insurance Institute to report it (800-800-8000 or dial 911). The police may or may not appear at the scene. Document and follow any instructions you are given.
Speed limits are 30 mph (50 kph) in the city, 50 mph (80 kph) everywhere else except the highway, then it’s 55 mph (90 kph). Watch your speed because fines can be as much as US$600 for only a few miles over the speed limit. Officially, there are no on-the-spot fines; unofficially you can politely ask if it’s possible to pay any fine now with a twenty-dollar bill in view when you open your wallet. Be respectful, use good sense, and practice discretion.
Croc’s staff can help you arrange for a taxi, rental car, or airport transfer. Uber is also readily available, from the airport to the resort and for getting around town while in Jaco. You may want to use a combination of all four during your vacation. No matter what you choose, there’s always a way to get where you need to go in Costa Rica: just ask and someone will be happy to assist.