Driving Costa Rica in June
Replies: 9 - Last Post: Nov 30, 2012 8:42 PM Last Post By: surfersanta
Nov 28, 2012 11:50 AM
Driving Costa Rica in JuneHey all,
I will be travelling north to Guadalajara, Mexico from Panama City this summer. I have done a fair bit of travelling in the past but never in this region (with the exception of Mexico). I have heard Costa Rica is pretty touristy so I thought I might change up my trip a bit and drive through the country myself (with my boyfriend, who has also done quite a bit of travelling). However, we have never rented a car and driven ourselves around before. For those who have travelled this area, did you drive yourself? How was it? We will be getting there early June and I am aware this is the green season, how did you find driving during this time?
Thanks for the info.
Nov 28, 2012 12:07 PM
1if you are just planning on driving through, not a big deal. you can just follow the main roads north into nicaragua.
keep in mind - you cannot take a rental car across the border.
there are also international buses that will take you from panama to nicaragua and points north. check the ticabus website for more information.
as for driving in costa rica -- the main highways are good and all paved. the highways are two-lane, however, and often narrow with no shoulder and you will be sharing the road with pedestrians, bicycles, slow motorbikes, little trucks loaded down with pineapples, tractor trailers and sometimes a tractor or cow. so you will need to slow down and be ever watchful.
for distances and travel times http://www.your travelmap.com
plan on driving only during daylight hours which, in general, are 5:30 am to 6 pm.
in many areas in june, you will experience late afternoon showers or fog or both (typically at higher elevations) so best to plan on stopping early at these points.
Nov 28, 2012 1:15 PM
2Driving is not an issue. June in rainy season is not an issue. Renting a car is not an issue. The issues are, dont drive at night, dont leave anything in the car unattended, and you cant take rentals across borders.
As far as touristy, well, compared to what? Gringos and Tourist are all over the region, you cant swing a toucan without hitting them in Bocas Del Toro Panama, SanJuan Del Sur and Granada Nicaragua, Utila and Roatan Honduras, and Antigua, Atitlan and Tikal Guatemala. Much of Costa Rica is not touristy, and much if it you need even need a car, the highlights are Costa Rica, are Tortuguero canals, no cars, boats only, and Corcovado/Drake bay. If you you avoid the big 3, Arenal, Monteverde and Manual Antonio, in June you will have the country to yourselves, as its slower than July/August...
I would not base a trip to the region, or Costa Rica, on whether its touristy in a area, base it on your interest, period. You not going to Rome or Paris because its touristy?
You dont want to see tourist, get off the beaten path, allow 4-5 weeks for a country, to get to the more remote and lesser visited venues. Oddly, you are a tourist too, so people are avoiding you too...
Nov 28, 2012 2:41 PM
3To elaborate, I had heard that Costa Rica was more visited by tourists in comparison to other Central American countries. I am not out to avoid other tourists. In fact, I love meeting other travellers. However, I don't like to spend every day with them (yes, I realize I am a tourist too). This is why I like the idea of renting a car and being a little more independent while in Costa Rica, to escape the crowds. And if I wanted to see a city, regardless of the amount of tourists, I would go with no hesitation. But I generally try to plan my trips so that it feels like I have left North America.
Thanks a lot for the info to both of you.
Nov 28, 2012 2:47 PM
4The majority of tourist go to Arenal Volcano (not active at present but a popular place with a lot to do from hot springs to hikes), Monteverde Cloudforest, which has ziplines and cloud bridges/walks, and Manual Antonio, a honeymoon/couples/family and close to SJ area and a easy park to hike. The popular beach towns to avoid, are Jaco, Manual Antonio, Papagayo, Tamarindo.
Everything else is pretty low key and depends on your interests.
Nov 28, 2012 3:18 PM
5It looks like we'll be picking the car up in Quepos early June and I was thinking maybe drive up the Pacific Coast a bit before heading to Turrialba. I'm not sure how accessible it will be to get to Tortuguero during this time so I'll have to check that out. Basically, we are pretty low key mainly interested in adventure travel (diving, hiking, climbing, or something new). We have a little money to play with but for the most part we'll have to stick to a budget. I like to travel a little slowly and am trying to improve my spanish so meeting locals is a must. As for Arenal Volcano, would you recommend it? There are quite a few volcanos in the region so I am not worried about missing out unless it's really spectacular.
Nov 28, 2012 3:25 PM
6the volcano is pretty impressive, although not spewing any lava currently. the main attraction is the whole list of "things to do" in the area along with some good day trips to places like the tenorio national park or cano negro. it's also possible to visit an indigenous village at nearby guatuso. lake arenal provides all kinds of activities including boating, fishing, diving, etc take a look here for more information: http://www.arenal.net there are lots of volcanoes in costa rica but they are not all readily accessible. some others that are popular with visitors include poas, irazu, tenorio, miravalles, santa maria and rincon de la vieja. turrialba volcano is also quite interesting.
Nov 28, 2012 6:29 PM
Nov 28, 2012 6:41 PM
Nov 30, 2012 8:42 PM
9Renting a car in Costa Rica is a pain. Rental cars are thief magnets. You can't leave anything in them even if locked. You also miss scenery if you are paying attention to your driving and you better pay attention. They are expensive. Even if you get the extra insurance you will still end up paying if someone scratches the car. I was hit once by a drunk local on a motorcycle and the cops (in Pt Jimenez) wouldn't even take a report. If you must drive try to avoid San Jose. It is a mess.
If you want to avoid tourists take the bus. You'll meet the locals. It is cheap. It can be crowded but probably not in June.
If time is an issue, I usually take NatureAir or SANSA and then use taxis if I need to go further than I can walk or bike.
Definitely book your Tortuguero and Pacuare tours at your hotel in San Jose. Both were great when I did them.
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