Costa Rica – Getting Around

Shoreline in Tambor
Shoreline in Tambor

Whether you’re fluent in Spanish or speak none, whether you love hiking or laying on the beach, whether you’ve traveled extensively or not at all, Costa Rica absolutely deserves a spot on your “must-experience” list. We will discuss in much greater detail in a future post what Costa Rica has to offer, but for now, here are the essentials:

  • Beaches: warm water and smooth sand
  • Food: locally and organically grown, a wide variety of fresh local fruit, the freshest possible fish
  • Wildlife: monkeys, toucans, macaws, sloths, jaguars, parakeets, iguanas, and so much more
  • Activities: hiking through jungles and volcanoes, snorkeling, zip-lining, rappelling down waterfalls, bird watching, horseback riding, and exploring national parks
purpledawn / Pixabay – Arenal Volcano

Costa Rica may only be the (approximate) size of West Virginia, but it can be divided into multiple diverse regions, each with unique appeal. Ideally, your transfers between these regions would allow you to maximize your time in each destination. Booking this transportation is reason enough to call a travel agent: without proper research, you could spend your entire day getting from one region to another.

onestopmap / Pixabay

A word on getting around Costa Rica:


But really, the infrastructure leaves much to be desired. We will not go into public transportation here, as this option in Costa Rica is consistently the slowest and least reliable. Here are your options for travel around Costa Rica:

  • Renting a car. For the traveler who does not mind driving or paying for parking at resorts, this is the best option. It saves money in terms of one’s ability to leave the resort for meals and activities. That said, the possibilities for getting scammed or lost are endless, particularly for people not fluent in Spanish.
    • How we can help: having a travel agent handle your rental car reservation and insurance can greatly reduce your risk of getting scammed, and/or of being disappointed in your rental.
  • Arranging transfers. We recommend this option, particularly for first-time visitors. One of our agents, Anna, recently traveled to Costa Rica, and out of her five transfers, she did three ground transfers. It took just over an hour to get from Liberia Airport to her hotel in Tamarindo, about 5-6 hours from the Tamarindo hotel to Manuel Antonio, and 6 hours from Manuel Antonio to Arenal. She described the vehicles as comfortable and spacious, and there was free WiFi that worked in each of the vans. Anna says of her experience, “We stopped halfway through each transfer for a short break. Additionally, our driver from Tamarindo to Manuel Antonio stopped just before a big bridge so we could look at the 12-foot-long crocodiles in the water. Our driver to Arenal stopped so we could see howler monkeys playing on the telephone wires.” The pros of ground transfers: you can sleep, utilize the free WiFi, take pictures of the scenery, and rely on the fact that your driver is experienced in navigating these roads. The cons for transfers: you operate on someone else’s schedule, you pick up and drop off other travelers (unless you’re willing to pay for private transfers), and you have to walk or take a taxi to leave a resort.
    • How we can help: a travel agent can get you quotes and travel times from various ground transfer services, saving you time and stress.
  • Flying. There are lots of small airports around the country, making this a very feasible transportation option. People fly Nature Air and Sansa within the country (and to Panama and Nicaragua). Pros for flights: you save hours on the road, and they’re often cheaper than or the same price as transfers. Cons for flights: the planes are quite small, and so there is a fair amount of turbulence; also, depending on where you are going, there might not be a nonstop flight from your origin to your destination. Granted, the flight times can be as short as fifteen minutes, and so this is usually the fastest option between destinations.
    • How we can help: a travel agent can advise you on prices, flight times, and the best itineraries. With our experience, both firsthand and in sending clients to that destination, you can trust that you have optimized your time and budget in planning your journey.
Nature Air Plane
Anna’s Nature Air Experience

Hopefully you found this article to be helpful. What else about Costa Rica would you like us to discuss? Please leave a comment, send us a message, or give us a call!