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Driving at night from San Jose Airport to Tarcoles?

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San Francisco, CA
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Driving at night from San Jose Airport to Tarcoles?

We have three kids, landing in SJ, 4pm. Renting a car. Is it a safe drive from the airport to Tarcoles which I assume we will arrive after nightfall? Our vacation rental manager suggested that the car rental place has drivers that will take you there, but this sounds a bit much for us. We do have kids to think about... Thanks for the inpute. Alison

Jaco, Costa Rica
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1. Re: Driving at night from San Jose Airport to Tarcoles?

With the new highway and lighting on the part of the road from Orotina to Jaco, you will not have a problem. And this is coming from someone who refused to drive back from SJ anymore at night when only the old route was available.

Costa Rica
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2. Re: Driving at night from San Jose Airport to Tarcoles?

I will give you three words: Don't do it.

The new highway is nice but it is difficult to get to from the airport. Not much signage and twisty roads. Also, the new highway is not perfect and there are problems here and there. It also changes from two lane to four lane and back again at various places and can be confusing, especially at night. If you were to have a problem, you are stuck on this highway in the dark with your kids.

Save yourself some worry and aggravation and spend the night in the Alajuela area and start out the next day. It will be better for you and much better for your kids. I'm sure they will be happier to have a night of "not traveling" after the flight/s. Lots of nice places to stay near Alajuela.

One that you can pick is La Rosa de America. It is about 15 minutes from the airport and you can head right for Tarcoles the next morning without getting involved with any of the Alajuela traffic. It is just off the highway that you will take to get to the Caldera Highway for Tarcoles and so no need to hunt for the way to get there. Very family friendly and quiet.

Atenas, Costa Rica
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3. Re: Driving at night from San Jose Airport to Tarcoles?

I would say that it would be risky.

Read through this forum about driving in Costa Rica. It is very different than in the States.

I really recommend renting or buying a GPS too.

Houston, USA
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4. Re: Driving at night from San Jose Airport to Tarcoles?

Just came from CR last week and like to share my thought...

I was driving a SUV from San Jose...Arenal...Manuel Antonio with a 2YrOld in a carseat.

Have to agree with the last 2 posts. The highway from Alajuela to Jaco is very new and wide, similar to some of the best highways in US. However, there are still numerous occasions you have to switch roads or merge with other traffic. To me it is ten times more confusing in the dark (remember we are talking about CR signage, not here in States). The entire route is pretty scenic that you go across one tropical rainforest mountain after another till meeting the pacific ocean; it can be enjoyable with the whole family in the daytime.

Remember to have a GPS there. Usually there are much less roadsigns than in the States. If there is one, the size would be much smaller and placed in a less obvious spot.

Overall, driving CR is one of the best parts of our trip!! Plan to allow extra time to enjoy the scenery—as well as the traffic, for example, if a huge slow-moving truck or bus is ahead of you in the one-lane mountain road (happened to us pretty often).

San Jose, Costa Rica
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5. Re: Driving at night from San Jose Airport to Tarcoles?

If you drive during daylight at road 27 is a great ride...just common sense...observe speed limit and driving distances...at night most of the road has some lights...

If you leave San Jose by 4PM...you will be by Tarcoles around 5:30PM...just when starts getting dark...

If you feel better hire a private driver and pick up the car in Jaco next day...or have the driver take you to you rent a car the same day!


Dayton, Ohio
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for Dayton
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6. Re: Driving at night from San Jose Airport to Tarcoles?

We just did this same trip about 2 weeks ago. I would agree to wait until the next day-especially with kids. It gets dark around 5-6, not much signage and the GPS did not get us to the highway. Wait until the next day, get a hotel, swim in the pool and start out early.

Playa Guiones...
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for Nosara
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7. Re: Driving at night from San Jose Airport to Tarcoles?

Since you are not arriving until 4:00pm, I will agree that spending the night in Alajuela is best, unless you hire a driver to take you to Jaco. I would imagine the kids will be tired and maybe hungry too!

Toronto, Canada
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8. Re: Driving at night from San Jose Airport to Tarcoles?

We just got back from Costa Rica and you don't want to drive. By the time you get your luggage, etc. and the sun sets around 6ish, you will be in the dark before you even leave the airport. There are tons of very nice hotels that are inexpensive and include breakfast in the Alajuela area. You can find one of these locally run places, 10 minutes from the airport, quite easily. We stayed at the Adventure Inn.

Edited: 13 December 2010, 19:53
9. Re: Driving at night from San Jose Airport to Tarcoles?

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