Costa Rica: Car Rental


Everyone advises against getting a car. “You won’t need it,” they say, “All of your things will be stolen!” they say, as if the country is crawling with crime. The internet at large tells discouraging tales of cars run off the road, slow trucks, roving pedestrians, broken axels, un-fordable rivers, tires intentionally punctured, motorists stalked and on and on and on.

So why did we rent a car in Costa Rica? Because those people are silly and we are not. Because I have a packing problem, a broken rib, all of Costa Rica’s leetle, tiny airlines have a weight restriction of 25 lbs./person and my rolling suitcase weighs 12.5 lbs. empty. Because I just got SCUBA certified and bought all the snorkel gear for my very own and I’ll be damned if I am going to go to Costa Rica and not dive (stupid rib) AND not snorkel with my very own and apparently quite heavy snorkel gear.

But mainly because those people are silly.

My physical therapist is not silly. She goes to Costa Rica every year for two weeks to surf, is a very reasonable person and gets a car every time.

The main thing to remember is, “Don’t be stupid.” Don’t get a car in the rainy season (spring – autumn) and expect to drive on small roads. Make sure you get a 4WD vehicle no matter where you’re going. And, as my grandmother says, don’t get smart and go right up to the edge of things.

We got a mid-sized SUV and it worked out great: even though we didn’t need all the space, we were glad to have the extra weight when crossing “streams.” (I put that in quotes because they were as wide as rivers, just shallow…ish.) The natives drive around in the Acme version of Camrys, but I wouldn’t recommend it. I assume they either a.) replace the struts and shocks every Thursday, or b.) have grown their own set internal to their bodies.

The main roads are in generally excellent condition. The other roads are in terrible, terrible condition, but they are all passable, with a little courage, and they are all well-marked. In fact, the roads in the middle of nowhere are better marked than anything in the cities, where there’s apparently a hate on against street signs.

If the map you bought at the halfway decent travel store (we got this one) has a road on it, there’s a road there. If it looks like a path, it might be, but you can still drive on it. The only thing inaccurate about the maps, actually, is that some of the dashed line roads (the worst designation) are in better shape than the roads marked by solid lines. Well-kept secrets, I guess.

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Categories: Costa Rica, News, Nuisance, Miscellany


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