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Need some recommendations for overnight stay and best routes

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Rancho Cucamonga...
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Need some recommendations for overnight stay and best routes

Hi,

We're having a cousins get-together during the Thanksgiving week in November and have rented a house in Playa Flamingo. We're (me, my wife & our 2 yr kid) flying into SJO on Saturday around 4pm and will rent a car for the week. I'm guessing by the time, we clear customs/immigration and pick up the car it will probably be 5.30pm. So that leaves us with 2 options for the overnight stay since we're definitely not planning to drive to Flamingo that night..

1) Stay at a hotel close to the airport in Alajuela

2) Drive down to Caldera or Puntarenas via the toll road and stay the night at a hotel there

So just wanted some thoughts on whether option 2 is feasible or not especially since we'll be driving down in the night (sunset is around 5.11pm) and any family friendly hotel recommendations.

I also found 2 sets of directions to take to the toll road from the airport so just wondering which one is more easier in case we do end up doing the overnight stay in Caldera or Puntarenas..

a) Directly from the airport @ http://www.vistapacifico.com/JacoMap.html

b) Exit from 1 abt 10 kms west @ http://www.costaricariver.com/getting-here/

b) seems to be the most popular one based on the search results I have found..

One last question is if we take the Amistad bridge route on our way to Flamingo via Nicoya and Santa Cruz, do we need a 4x4 car or a regular one is fine?

Thx,

Neville

Costa Rica
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1. Re: Need some recommendations for overnight stay and best routes

1. You don't need a 4x4

2. I would spend your first night somewhere near the airport. It's a lot easier to find lodging there than Caldera and Puntarenas isn't all that pleasant.

Slovenia
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for Costa Rica
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2. Re: Need some recommendations for overnight stay and best routes

You should stay first night near airport. The Caldera Hwy (road 27) is not so easy to find, and driving on poorly lit streets after sunset is not safe. I have taken the route a) on my way back from Pacific side, midday, and believe me, if not following the GPS as a blind man I would have hard time to reach the airport. There is much more then shown on that map!!

Cincinnati, Ohio
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3. Re: Need some recommendations for overnight stay and best routes

Its an easy drive to Flamingo Beach. You could drive there that night. I would either stay at the airport or drive the entire way. The road down from SJO to Highway 1 is a good road. It will be night soon after you leave the airport. There is a good restaurant about 30 minutes on the left. Looks like a windmill. We have eaten there and the food is good. You will be hungry. The worst thing about the road is that there are trucks and buses. It is hilly, but your going down hill. Not treacherous and paved the entire way. Once you get to Highway 1 you will follow the signs to Liberia. This is also a good paved road and it is flat the entire way to Liberia. We have driven this route late at night in the pouring rain and it has been fine. If you are renting an suv and need to put luggage on top I suggest you bring a rope and plastic bags to wrap your luggage in case it rains.

Rancho Cucamonga...
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4. Re: Need some recommendations for overnight stay and best routes

Thanks for all yr feedback guys.. a contrasting opinion posted by TravelGuru about driving down all the way and most of you are recommending the overnight stay in Alajuela. Is there anybody else who thinks that we can make the drive to Flamingo at night from SJO with just GPS and road signs to guide us? Keep in mind, we will have started out around 5.30am Costa Rica time that morning to make the flight.

Costa Rica
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5. Re: Need some recommendations for overnight stay and best routes

For those of us with a lot of experience driving at night in Costa Rica, the recommendation is to spend your first night somewhere near the airport.

Do you really want to face a 5-hour drive, in the dark, in a foreign country after a long day of flights and TSA, etc? Really?

It's not like you can just turn on your cruise control and sit back. The highways are two-lane and often narrow with no shoulder. You will be sharing the road with pedestrians, people on bicycles, slow motorbikes, big trucks and the odd cow. It may be raining or foggy. You will need to be alert and attentive all the time.

Here's the scenario: You are driving along in the dark when you suddenly see someone riding a bicycle in the highway with no reflectors and wearing dark clothes. You will need to go into the other lane to pass them. Coming towards you in the other lane is a large truck and you are not sure how fast it is going because of the dark. What do you do?

This is the kind of scenario that we hope you can avoid by getting used to driving in Costa Rica before you do any night driving - except around the local area where you are staying, of course.

GPS or no GPS doesn't matter. It's not hard to find Flamingo. It's the getting there that can be a problem at night.

Donegal;PA
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6. Re: Need some recommendations for overnight stay and best routes

I would not recommend making the drive at night. I have been to Costa Rica 6 times and I still try to avoid night driving unless it is a route that I am already familiar with. Hattie and xeles are giving you excellent advice as always!

Canada
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7. Re: Need some recommendations for overnight stay and best routes

Listen to the sensible posters. "thavelguru" is giving you some bad advice . I have only been to CR maybe 30 times and would not do that.drive myself after a long travel day - let alone with a 2year old!

Rancho Cucamonga...
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8. Re: Need some recommendations for overnight stay and best routes

Guys, sorry I got a little distracted by TravelGuru and thx for confirming my initial thoughts of not driving in the night.. so we will collect the rental car that Sat evening and most probably we will end up staying either at the Hampton Inn or Holiday Inn Express close to the airport and start out around 6.30am and hopefully reach Flamingo by 11 via the Amistad bridge-Nicoya-Santa Cruz route.

One last question is where to catch the toll road (Autopista del Sol) from Alajuela.. I see 2 options listed

a) Directly from the airport @ http://www.vistapacifico.com/JacoMap.html

b) Exit from 1 abt 10 kms west of Alajuela (Exit “Atenas” and “La Garrita.”) @ http://www.costaricariver.com/getting-here/

b) seems to be the most popular one based on the search results I have found so should we stick to that?

San Jose, Costa Rica
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9. Re: Need some recommendations for overnight stay and best routes

I will take the advice from people thatcreally know the road...and stay around SJOO...Then next day drive to Guanacaste....I drive for living here in my country....and my advice...if you are not familiar with our roads...please do not take the chance to drive at dark...

By the way you do not need a 4x4 at least in your case...

It will be about 4 hours by Amistad Bridge...and a little more by Liberia...

The road all the way in good shape...if you drive by Santa Cruz sa short section under construction....not big deal....just slow dow....I just come from Conchal a few hourz ago...

Roadadvisor

San Jose, Costa Rica
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46,036 posts
32 reviews
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10. Re: Need some recommendations for overnight stay and best routes

I will take the advice from people thatcreally know the road...and stay around SJOO...Then next day drive to Guanacaste....I drive for living here in my country....and my advice...if you are not familiar with our roads...please do not take the chance to drive at dark...

By the way you do not need a 4x4 at least in your case...

It will be about 4 hours by Amistad Bridge...and a little more by Liberia...

The road all the way in good shape...if you drive by Santa Cruz sa short section under construction....not big deal....just slow dow....I just come from Conchal a few hourz ago...

Roadadvisor