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Arenal to MA with Son - Drive, Fly or Hire a Driver?

Detroit
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125 posts
5 reviews
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Arenal to MA with Son - Drive, Fly or Hire a Driver?

Hi,

I'm driving myself crazy trying to figure out whether my husband, 4-year-old son and I should drive, fly or hire a driver to get from Arenal to MA.

Typically while on vacation, we like the flexibility of having a car to do what we want to do on our schedule, get to restaurants, etc. However, I'm a bit scared off by all of the references to bad roads, lack of signage (although we could get a GPS and I speak Spanish), bad drivers and luggage theft at stops along the route.

If my son weren't along, we might hire a driver and then make do with taxis and shuttles. However, I really want my son in his car seat,which would work best with a car rental.

I've seen comments like "you don't want/need" a car in MA, but how do people get around - taxis? What about in the Arenal area? My impression is that it's more spread out.

Any suggestions or input as to what others have done while traveling with kids of car seat age would be appreciated.

Thanks!

Grecia, Costa Rica
Destination Expert
for Province of Alajuela
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7,879 posts
43 reviews
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1. Re: Arenal to MA with Son - Drive, Fly or Hire a Driver?

If you speak spanish and would have a rental with GPS then I say go for it. Self drive is the best way to visit IMO. You dance to your own tune and will get a lot more out of the trip. Not many signs here but it's pretty easy to navigate. Roads where you are going are in good shape.

You do not necessarily need a car in Manuel Antonio but you could also do a day trip down to Dominical/Uvita if you had one. Arenal you will wish you had one, nothing is close there.

IMO get the rental.

Manuel Antonio...
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520 posts
15 reviews
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2. Re: Arenal to MA with Son - Drive, Fly or Hire a Driver?

Arenal is more spread out, so having a rental car can be nice. In Manuel Antonio it is not really needed because there is a public bus that runs every 1/2 hour and plenty of taxis. I recently flew from Arenal to Quepos and it was great because it only took 30 mins versus 5 hours. The GPS works pretty well in Costa Rica, but the routes are not always clearly marked on the actual roads. I think if I were you, I would rent a car only in Arenal, fly to Manuel Antonio, and use public transportation once in Manuel Antonio. If it's too expensive for the whole family to fly, you can opt to hire a driver.

JENSEN BEACH
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10,804 posts
51 reviews
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3. Re: Arenal to MA with Son - Drive, Fly or Hire a Driver?

We had a similar "dilemma" for our upcoming 16 days in Dec. Vamos Rental Car helped! We are renting a 4x4. Day 1 they will deliver to our hotel AND a Driver will take us to our first stop, La Fortuna/Arenal. A very reasonable $35 for up to 9 hours. We'll buy his lunch along the way and he will drive us in our rental. Stop anywhere we ask etc. Then he takes the bus back to Alajuela. Kind of a compromise if you will. This way we will have the car to explore Arenal area and to drive over to the Pacific. We'll turn the car in the day before we leave and then just take a shuttle to SJO which means we won't have the hassle of driving or returning the vehicle the day we leave! Problem solved, no stress getting used to the roads and having to "concentrate" on driving our first full day and no hassle the day we leave!

Edited: 08 November 2013, 22:16
Detroit
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125 posts
5 reviews
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4. Re: Arenal to MA with Son - Drive, Fly or Hire a Driver?

Thank you all for the replies. It really helps to hear others' perspectives.

5. Re: Arenal to MA with Son - Drive, Fly or Hire a Driver?

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