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driving in costa rica

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driving in costa rica

any words of wisdom about driving from san jose to liberia, safe road conditions etc.

San Francisco...
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1. Re: driving in costa rica

The roads are safe. Paved the entire way. But it is a very long drive. Better by far to fly into Liberia. If you're flying to SJO because it is will be easier for you on your return, and you haven't booked yet, check with your airline because arriving at one destination and flying out another does not usually add to the cost of the ticket.

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Liberia
Liberia
Province of Guanacaste, Costa Rica
san jose
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2. Re: driving in costa rica

it is a easy drive , but not at night , just let them pass you and give them room to cut you off , do not challange anyone , over 50% of the truck drivers do not know how to read or write , so stay out of their way ,

driving in CR is like a video game , potholes , people jaywalking , cows and horses hanging around , if you just go with the flow , you will have a great time ¡

New York City, New...
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3. Re: driving in costa rica

Honestly, the roads that i traveled were definitely paved and all that but I would NOT drive in CR. The drivers are insane. They take these hairpin turns at 70 miles an hour and they'll pass when they can't even see over the turn or hill... I don't lthink I would be able to deal with the other drivers. I;d say take interbus or grayline or hire a driver and keep your eyes closed

Tampa, FL
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for San Jose, Costa Rica
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4. Re: driving in costa rica

Jeesh, I can't believe some of these posts. There is a lot of exxageration even by those recommending driving.

The roads are paved. There are stretches where you will encounter a lot of potholes, but keep your speed down to a reasonable rate and you'll usually be able to avoid the worst of them. For the reason of being able to spot potholes, driving after dark becomes much less advisable. Just be sure to get an early start and allow a little extra time for any unexpected delays.

The only stretch with any extended period of blind turn after blind turn, which is when impatient drivers are most likely to not wait for a better place to pass, is for about an hour heading down from the central valley to the coast. On that stretch be prepared to slow down and/or scoot over and you'll most, likely have no major problems. From there to Liberia is "relatively" straight and flat and from Liberia to most of the beaches is also but speeds are slower due to rougher roads (of course you drive those any way if you fly into Liberia). Head-ons are not at all unheard of in CR, but in all my driving in CR, I haven't had more than a handful of moments that were at all that serious (ie never been actually run off the road). I've had many more where I was left shaking my head at the recklessness of others if not outright cursing, but none that I couldn't relatively easily avoid.

Many drivers do seem a bit loco, but then so do a lot of NEW YORK cabbies and drivers are no better where I learned to drive growing up in the Boston area. To say they all take blind turns at 70mph or that any significant number do that is a gross exaggeration. Truck drivers may be uneducated but that doesn't mean they are overly aggressive. In fact it is usually the truck drivers that are holding things up as they have to navigate the steep inclines even more slowly and carefully than regular vehicles. And it is the smaller cars backed up behind them and impatient to get past that cause the problems.

People often walk on the shoulders of the road and sometimes jaywalk, but they don't generally wait until there is a break in the carlessness and suddenly cross when you happen to come along nor do they normally choose to cross right at a blind turn when they can more safely do so after walking a little further down the road. Livestock and animals are a different story and one should be prepared for the chance that something might be lurking in the road around a blind turn, but one should be prepared for anything when going around blind turns. On longer stretches one can normally see animal or other road obstructions long enough ahead to easily slow down in time.

Driving in CR can be seen as being a little bit like being in a video game, but not an overly difficult one (and IMHO a game I personally like to play). The biggest danger for most tourists will be acting like tourists, paying too much attention to the wonderful scenery along the way and not enough to the road in front of them. Safety might be a factor in deciding whether or not to self drive but there are other IMHO, bigger factors vs. other forms of driving such as cost, comfort, convenience and flexibility and vs. flying whether the time saved (which is not inconsiderable) is worth the added cost of the flight.

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Liberia
Liberia
Province of Guanacaste, Costa Rica
Boston
Boston
Massachusetts
Ferndale, Michigan
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5. Re: driving in costa rica

Although we did not take your route (we did San Jose, to Quepos, to La Fortuna, to Tamarindo), we would definitely drive ourselves again. I agree with Prolijo that most in this post and others are over exaggerating.

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San Jose
San Jose
San Jose Metro, Costa Rica
Quepos
Quepos
Province of Puntarenas, Costa Rica
New York City, New...
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6. Re: driving in costa rica

Yea, I mean it definitely is all a matter of perception. Before I went, I expected unpaved back water roads and it is not like that at all. Every road I hit was paved and totally fine. But i did feel the drivers were crazy in terms of speed, passing you, passing on turns, and taking the turns too fast. My friend was so nervous and dizzy from it that she threw up in the back of Interbus. (obviously not everyone would!) All I am saying is that I personally wouldn't want to be dealing with them. But thats me, so the other posters are right, the roads aren't totally horrendous and if you don't mind dealing with the drivers than you should be fine.

Atlanta
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7. Re: driving in costa rica

Just spent a week driving in Costa Rica, from San Jose to Tamarindo to Liberia to Arenal and back to San Jose. Yes, the roads in some areas are not in the best of shape, but nothing that's not manageable. The worst problem for me was lack of signage in some areas. While most of the main roads are marked well, there are some areas where you may need to stop and ask for directions. On the drive back on 142 from Arenal to San Jose when you drive thru Navejo (i think that was the town) the route to San Jose is not marked very well. We followed where most of the other cars were going and it worked out fine. I would say be careful driving at night, or avoid it alltogether. I say this only because of one possibly fatal accident we avoided. On the road that goes around Lake Arenal, there was a large section of road near the side that had appeared to have washed away and/or collapsed. Driving during the day I barely saw it in time to swerve around. If we had been driving at night it's likely we would driven into this washout area and tumbled down the side of the hill it was own. I assume this was a recently damaged part of the road and that the locals have repaired it by now. All in all, I really think renting your own car is the best way to see Costa Rica because you can go exploring on your own and see exciting things off the beaten path. Good luck with your trip!!

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Costa Rica
Costa Rica
Central America
San Jose
San Jose
San Jose Metro, Costa Rica
Tamarindo
Tamarindo
Province of Guanacaste, Costa Rica
Liberia
Liberia
Province of Guanacaste, Costa Rica
Arenal Lodge
Arenal Lodge
901 Reviews
La Fortuna de San Carlos, Costa Rica
Lake Arenal
Lake Arenal
1,604 Reviews
La Fortuna de San Carlos, Costa Rica
Mission Viejo...
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8. Re: driving in costa rica

I know that this topic has been covered ad nauseam, but I just came across an entry by Misterjosh that seems to say it all:

"I understand not wanting to spend more time in transit after your flight, but don't think of the drive up to Arenal as a chore. So long as you're doing it in daylight, the drive is a gorgeous one and IMHO just as much a part of the trip as anything you'll be doing once you get to your destination."

This philosophy certainly applies to my experience in driving the length of CR (San Jose to Tamarindo, down to Marriott Los Suenos, then to Uvita via the coast--with a day trip to Sierpe--and back to San Jose via the Cerro de la Muerte ). Drive time each day: no more than 4 hours. Actual time in transit: whatever we wanted it to be. With stays interspersed to enjoy the various areas, it was a great way to see the country.

Relax, take your time, and enjoy the unique experience!

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San Jose
San Jose
San Jose Metro, Costa Rica
Tamarindo
Tamarindo
Province of Guanacaste, Costa Rica
Uvita
Uvita
Province of Puntarenas, Costa Rica
Swansea, MA
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9. Re: driving in costa rica

We drove for two weeks in Costa rica without a problem. Honestly, the trip would not have been as enjoyable without our own vehicle. The country is so beautiful and scenic. It is nice to be on your own schedule and free to make unplanned stops. I would not do it any other way!

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Costa Rica
Costa Rica
Central America
San Jose, Costa Rica
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10. Re: driving in costa rica

I have been driving for more than 38 years here in Costa Rica...just comun sense!! the roads today are great!! some people here exagerated the way driving is in Costa Rica.

When I am not driving a Mini Van, or a big tour bus, or a 4 door car...I drive between Puntarenas or Limon a auto carrier good for 8 cars , and you know what ??,seating there I see a lot of rent a cars that really I wonder how that people do not kill!! They stop anywhere, they drive way to slow, they slow down in curves...going up hill they drive to slow...in two words...please relax...enjoy the ride...everything is going to be OK!!

Just ...buckle up...keep your distance...do not exceed the speed limit...and if you get lost!! WELCOME to Costa Rica!!

R.A

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Costa Rica
Costa Rica
Central America