We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

best way to get around Costa Rica

Maine
Level Contributor
16 posts
5 reviews
Save Topic
best way to get around Costa Rica

Hi, My family of 5 is considering a trip to Costa Rica in April 2011. We'll probably fly into San Jose and would like to visit Arenal and Manuel Antonio. We really don't want to drive ourselves around the country as I've heard it can be very difficult due to poorly marked roads and poor road conditions. I've heard people say "just rent a car with GPS" but I'm still not comfortable with that. Is there some kind of bus transportation that goes to those areas that is relatively easy and safe? Also, is it very expensive to hire a driver just for those long distances.

Costa Rica Best Trips
Boat Tours, Taxis & Shuttles, River Rafting & Tubing, Nature & Wildlife Tours, Private Tours
Guanacaste Viajes & Tours
Taxis & Shuttles, River Rafting & Tubing, Nature & Wildlife Tours, City Tours, Zipline & Aerial Adventure Parks
Maleku Tours
Taxis & Shuttles, Private Tours
Issys Tours Costa Rica
Taxis & Shuttles, River Rafting & Tubing, 4WD, ATV & Off-Road Tours, Nature & Wildlife Tours
Punta Uva, Costa...
Destination Expert
for Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
Level Contributor
6,874 posts
10 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: best way to get around Costa Rica

Just hire Tucan Limo Service to take your family around, best in the country!

Costa Rica
Level Contributor
25,654 posts
25 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: best way to get around Costa Rica

Tucan Limo Services is great. A private driver typically costs more but with a family of five, it will be about the same price as taking a shuttle ($40 each). The driver speaks English and will come and go to your schedule and stop for photos or snacks whenever you like and give you a running commentary or answer questions for you.

You can take the public bus also. There is a bus station about 5 minutes from the airport -- La Radial is the name -- and you can take a taxi there. From this station, you can get a bus to San Carlos (also known as Ciudad Quesada) and then on to La Fortuna. It's a great way to get to know the country and the people and quite an adventure for your kids. The buses are generally very clean - no chickens, goats, cats, dogs or monkeys. And very inexpensive. The trip to La Fortuna would be less than $10 a person.

Check here for times - www.thebusschedule.com Look for the bus from San Jose to Ciudad Quesada - it will stop at the bus station in Alajuela. On the front of the bus, it will say "San Carlos" (sorry). You will pay the driver in colones.

You might consider a mixture of transportation. Take the bus from Alajuela (this is where the airport is located) to La Fortuna, rent a car for your time there - things are pretty spread out - and then hire a private driver for your trip to Manuel Antonio.

Maine
Level Contributor
16 posts
5 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: best way to get around Costa Rica

Thanks for all the info, HattieCostaRica. Taking the bus to La Fortuna and renting a car while there sounds like a great idea. Do you know approx how long the bus trip is? Does it make lots of scheduled stops along the way? Is there also a bus that goes from La Fortuna to Manuel Antonio? Do you know how long a trip it is from there to M.A.? I've also been warned to make sure you rent a car from a reputable company b/c there have been some instances of unscrupulous people making key copies and taking your stuff.

Costa Rica
Level Contributor
25,654 posts
25 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: best way to get around Costa Rica

Bus trip from San Jose to San Carlos (Ciudad Quesada) is about 2.5 hours. From San Carlos, about an hour. The bus will make stops along the way to let people off and on.

Getting the bus from La Fortuna to Manuel Antonio is a bit more complicated which is why I suggested a private driver. You will have to go from La Fortuna to San Jose and then switch to a bus for Quepos and then taxi to your hotel. In San Jose, most bus stations are in a pretty undesirable area and you will have to go from one bus station to another. It can be done, sure, but with your family, I wouldn't recommend it.

Be sure to rent a car from a reputable company. You can search this forum for many posts about rental car companies and who to stay away from. The cheapest price is not always the best deal.

San Jose, Costa Rica
Level Contributor
46,651 posts
35 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: best way to get around Costa Rica

Nothing can be cheaper than public buses...but most of the time get ready for a long day...what ever take you 3 hours by rent a car ...it will be 7 hours by public bus...in a short term vacation you will spend at least 40% of your time travelling by bus...

roadadvisor

Costa Rica
Level Contributor
25,654 posts
25 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: best way to get around Costa Rica

roadadvisor - I rarely disagree with you but this is one of those times. It really depends on where you are going. For instance, from San Jose to Bijagua is 4-5 hours and you can't really drive it much less than that. Maybe an hour less if you are lucky.

Some bus routes will take longer if you have to transfer and the wait for the other bus takes quite a while.

Another example: from Canas to Liberia takes about an hour by bus and about 45 minutes by car.

For some people, it's an affordable way to get around and also lets you travel the way most Costa Ricans travel so is an immersion in the culture.

Some routes are more difficult than others and I will usually recommend a private driver or shuttle for these. I will sometimes recommend a mixture of transportation options. Ii don't see any reason to limit transportation to all one way. Of course, many people like to rent a car for the whole trip and that's fine and very flexible for them.

San Jose, Costa Rica
Level Contributor
46,651 posts
35 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: best way to get around Costa Rica

My dear amiga Hattie...I love to disagree with you...my point is that in cases where people have to make connections in a small city in middle of nowhere, some times is hard...and take times...

Of course direct buses are nice... but I do not think for example that is not a direct bus to Manuel Antonio to Arenal...that will be a hard situation for somebody with limited knowledge of our bus system and or Spanish...

Nice to have direct buses all the time to all places...but that is not the case all the time...if people get by mistake into one of those buses that stop every 2 miles...even worst!

I was trying to answer the specific question about...We'll probably fly into San Jose and would like to visit Arenal and Manuel Antonio. We really don't want to drive ourselves around the country as ...that is a hard route to do it by public bus...well if they have the time to waste...that is fine...but my humble opinion and in this specific case...to much time in a bus...worth it?

roadadvisor

Playa Conchal...
Level Contributor
2,046 posts
74 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: best way to get around Costa Rica

I would highly recommend the private driver option. Public buses can be a great way to travel and see the country, and are certainly very cheap. But they also get very full, sometimes very hot and dusty, and there's always a chance of delays or break downs. There is also the concern of the security of your possessions when traveling with large amounts of luggage and hanging around at the bus station. With a private driver you're likely to avoid a lot of stress, learn a lot more about the country you're traveling through, with the added bonus of rest stops and photo opportunities along the way.

But just to be explicit-there is a third option of shuttle buses which provide door to door transportation across the country. Many people use the services of Interbus or Grayline buses. As Hattie points out, with a family of 5 you may find this works out to be a similar cost to the private driver option, but you may like to check rates for yourself.

www.interbusonline.com

Costa Rica
Level Contributor
25,654 posts
25 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: best way to get around Costa Rica

I really don't think we are disagreeing, roadadvisor. I know there are lots of routes that are slow. But I do think taking the bus to La Fortuna is an option that is worth looking at. I never recommend taking the bus from La Fortuna to Manuel Antonio - I think it is a little complicated and does take a lot of time.

Anyway - love you, Luis.

10. Re: best way to get around Costa Rica

-:- Message from TripAdvisor staff -:-

This topic has been closed to new posts due to inactivity. We hope you'll join the conversation by posting to an open topic or starting a new one.

To review the TripAdvisor Forums Posting Guidelines, please follow this link: http://www.tripadvisor.com/pages/forums_posting_guidelines.html

We remove posts that do not follow our posting guidelines, and we reserve the right to remove any post for any reason.

Removed on: 16 June 2011, 05:23