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Things to Consider When Renting a Car in Costa Rica

 In Car Rental

woman sitting on hatchback of rental car in Costa RicaWhat you need to know about choosing the right rental car, van, or SUV, and add-ons, for getting around comfortably in Costa Rica.

There are a number of things to consider when choosing the right rental car and complementary equipment for your Costa Rica travels.

For example, rumor has it that Costa Rica has bad roads and you’ve got to rent a good off-road, 4×4 SUV for your Costa Rica vacation. What if we were to tell you: not necessarily! Depending on the time of year and your vacation plans during your stay in Costa Rica, you could do just fine with a regular rental car.

Then again, there is a little more to consider than the condition of the roads.

Here are a few things to consider when traveling Costa Rica via rental car:

What is the size and nature of your Costa Rica travel group?

Let’s face it: few have a good understanding of what it really means to “pack light;” and, when traveling with kids, there is no such thing.

If you’re on your own or it’s just the two of you, you probably don’t need a whole lot of space. But, if it’s the entire gang, it’s important to keep in mind that not only do you need room for everyone to ride comfortably and buckle up, but you need space for luggage too.

If you’re traveling with children, you’ll also need space for car seats, in addition to all the gear you’ve got to drag along when it comes to traveling with the Littles. Remember, children are required to use a car seat or booster until the age of 12-years old in Costa Rica.

There are dozens of options to choose from when it comes to renting the right ride for your group. If you’ll be getting off the beaten path, but it’s only the two of you, you can consider an intermediate, 4×4 SUV; if you’re a small group, a premium or full-size SUV might be a better choice.

With an SUV or min-van, roof racks are available and there is, of course, space in the boot for all of your luggage.

What parts of Costa Rica are you planning to visit?

If you’re staying in the city or nearby beaches, and you’re fewer than four, a sedan might suit you fine.

For larger groups, mini- vans are available, as are SUVs.

Though the rumor does indeed claim that the roads are just terrible in Costa Rica, that rumor stems from years past and things are much better in 2019. While it is true that some roads in more rural towns and further outside the city can be a little rough, you should do just fine with a standard sedan, unless you plan to venture further out.

  • San Jose and surrounding areas like La Paz
  • Central Paciific beach towns like Jaco, Manuel Antonio, and Dominical; reaching as far down as Uvita.
  • Arenal and La Fortuna
  • Limon, Puerto Viejo and further south
  • Guanacaste beaches


However, if you and the gang are feeling more adventurous, you’ll probably need a 4×4. Here are a few areas where the journey will require a more robust vehicle”

  • Monteverde
  • Nosara
  • Samara
  • Mal Pais and Santa Teresa
  • Osa – further south than Uvita

What else will you need during your Costa Rica travels?

Are you traveling with kids? How much luggage will you bring along? How about communication, accommodations, and finding your way? When you book your rental car, be sure to ask about additional equipment that we can provide for a small fee, such as cell phones, GPS devices, roof racks, child seating, ice chests, and extra car keys.


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