What US travellers need to know about driving Costa Rica

A car rental in Costa Rica can take you on an incredible adventure! This beautiful Central American nation is small enough that you can see the majority of it in a couple of weeks, but only if you have your own set of wheels. From bustling and exciting cities to crater lakes, waterfalls and desolate beaches, it is a land of contrast and variety. 

Why Costa Rica?

While certain areas within Central and South America have been somewhat unstable politically, Costa Rica has bucked this trend and is a well-established democracy. It abolished its army in the 1940s and is consistently among the top Latin American countries in the Human Development Index. 
Flights from major US cities to Costa Rica can be as short as three hours, so it is easy to get to, while retaining the excitement of an overseas holiday. No visas are required for US citizens for stays of less than 90 days - just an onward ticket to prove you are not planning to move in.

Who would love it?

Costa Rica is renowned for eco-tourism and is the perfect destination for nature lovers. The country covers only 0.03% of the world’s land mass but boasts 5% of its biodiversity. It also has a great system of national parks protecting more than 20% of the land area. With a convenient car hire, you can experience untouched rainforest, incredible coastlines, endless unique flora and fauna and much more at your own pace.

Car rental in Costa Rica



San Jose’s Juan Santamaria Airport is the biggest international airport, and you are likely to fly in there to begin your travels. There are five major car rental brands with offices at the terminal and more smaller and local companies with off-airport depots reached by shuttle. You will be spoilt for choice! In the north, the Daniel Oduber International Airport is another possible pick-up location. The gateway to the “Golden Coast” region, it also offers both on-airport and shuttle-to-depot options for car rental. 
Car rental in Costa Rica, the logical choice
A car hire in Costa Rica is the best way to see as much of the country as possible. An eco paradise, some of the most incredible vistas are down the side roads and away from primary tour bus routes. Go where you want to, when you want to, and take control of your own Costa Rica experience.

Which vehicle? 

You will find the full range of car hire options in Costa Rica, from economy runabouts to minivans and all that’s in-between. If you are sticking to the main routes, choose a sedan or small car which will fit you, your fellow travellers and your luggage. However, if you are planning to get a little adventurous, a 4X4 is ideal - and in some places, necessary. If you are heading to one of these areas, strongly consider a 4-wheel drive: The Nicoya Peninsula, La Paz Waterfall, South Pacific coast, Osa Peninsula, Monteverde and much of the Caribbean coast.

Tips for US drivers in Costa Rica

  • The roads are not as well-maintained as at home, and this is why a 4x4 is often the best proposition. Drive slowly and carefully where there are potholes and uneven surfaces.
  • Get a GPS. It will cost extra but is absolutely worth it! Also, keep the sound up - hearing instructions without taking your eyes off the road will be invaluable.
  • If you are pulled over, don’t give a bribe to police, even when asked! It is illegal, just as it is in the States.
  • Your driver’s license is fine for a Costa Rica car rental- you don’t need an international license or Costa Rican license.

Find the right rental

Airport Rentals are quite simply the best option when planning your Costa Rica car rental adventure. The simple search engine means you can see options from a range of different companies and make comparisons to decide on the perfect set of wheels. Filters allow the list to be narrowed down to the best options, and all of the necessary information is visible right in the results page, from pictures to reviews to vehicle features. The price is right too, as Airport Rentals has a team working hard on keeping their rates low. International buying power means they can get the best deals from suppliers everywhere and pass them on to you!

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Mar 7, 2015 by PHIL PHILLIPS

the deposit is something most people don't expect but unless things have changed they will ding your card for 800 to 1000 dollars plus estimated rental fee upfront. Just ask before you go. Also I lived in Costa Rica for two years and I would never rent anything but a 4x4.