Whatever your tastes might be, you’re likely to find something you’ll enjoy in Costa Rica if you like the Central American vibe. Consistently ranked as one of the most developed and environmental-friendly countries in Latin America, Costa Rica has a lot to offer to adventurous tourists, including active volcanoes, well preserved national parks and breathtaking sandy beaches.
About Costa Rica
Despite its name (Spanish for “rich coast”), Costa Rica was not a rich country during the last couple of centuries. In fact, it was among the poorest colonies under the Spanish colonial rule due to its lack of natural riches such as gold and silver. The trends have been changing for the last couple of decades, though, and Costa Rica of today has a growing economy, a steadily improving standard of living, the largest percentage of protected areas and national parks in the world and the reputation as one of the world’s most popular ecotourism destinations.
The capital city of Costa Rica is San José and over a third of the country’s 4.5 million people live in its metropolitan area. The official currency of the country is the Costa Rican colón, with the exchange rate being around 530 colónes for $1 USD. Although the country has a tropical climate and most regions are warm (20 – 27 °C) all year round, some mountain areas are much colder, with a yearly average of 10 °C or even lower.
Car Rental in Costa Rica
If you happen to be among the brave and adventurous ones and decide to go for car rental in Costa Rica or for renting a car in San Jose, try to plan your trip in advance, as your plan will help you decide on the type of car you’ll want to rent. If you plan on driving along the coastline or in the rural or mountainous regions, you should seriously consider renting a four wheeler. For rides on better maintained roads such as San José highways or the main roads from San José to Arenal Volcano, Tamarindo or Jacó Beach, a smaller car will work just as well.
Having a GPS device in your car in Costa Rica is more or less a necessity if you don’t want to get lost. The same goes when you want to rent a car in Honduras. However, it’s not uncommon for different places in Costa Rica to have the same name, so don’t put all of your eggs in your GPS basket. Try to find a good map to supplement your GPS and consider asking your car rental company to mark the coordinates of your desired destinations on your GPS device, just in case.
As a rule, your domestic driving license should be good enough for driving a rented car in Costa Rica as a tourist, but if you’re not from US, UK or Canada, getting an international drivers license would be a wise precaution.
Have in mind that some car rental agencies in Costa Rica are more than ready to fine you for a number of reasons, so make sure to study the conditions under which you’re renting a car. In general, inspect your rented car for any damages before you take it for a ride and return it to the rental agency with the same amount of fuel it had when you rented it.
To avoid some of those troubles, rent a car through your travel agency or choose a well known car rental company such as Alamo, Avis, Budget or Hertz.
Driving in Costa Rica
To put it bluntly, car rental in Costa Rica is not for the faint of heart. You will get to explore the country at your own pace, but the pleasure will come with a steep price. Many of its roads are long, winding and poorly maintained, and those in the cities and mountain areas are often congested.
Lack of traffic signs – a situation you will most likely encounter more than once, especially in the rural areas – means that you’ll have to rely on your GPS or a good quality map to lead you to your destination. If all else fails and you remain lost and stuck, you can always ask the locals for directions, but that might be a problem if you don’t speak Spanish.
Costa Ricans are not known for their careful driving, so you’ll have to keep your eyes open and stay focused on both the road ahead of you and the traffic around you. In addition, car thefts are a serious issue, even more so for the fact that thieves are especially keen to identify and steal rental cars.
Once you’ve informed yourself of the conditions that await you, planned your trip accordingly and rented an adequate car, you’ll get to experience Costa Rica in a way only the more adventurous tourists get to experience it. A good choice is to go for car renting in Guyana too.
For starters, you’ll be able to explore Monteverde, the huge Cloud Forest Reserve, at your own accord. Monteverde is one of the main tourist attractions in Costa Rica, covering an area of over 50 sq miles and boasting one of the biggest Orchid collections in the world as well as impressively diversified flora and fauna.
To see an active volcano, you should visit the Arenal Volcano National Park which offers spectacular views of the Arenal volcano. If you are more interested in the beaches, Costa Rica offers many of them, with Tamarindo, Jacó, Tortuguero, Cahuita and Montezuma being some of the most famous ones.