It is our first visit to Costa Rica and despite reading up on travel blogs and talking to our friends who live there now, we still were surprised by some things when we arrived. When it comes to getting around the country and transportation, there are a few ways you can go. We’re glad that we found the way that best suites us. Rather than rent a car or take the public bus system, here’s what we did and why.
Online you find all these great deals for car rentals and they seem cheap and most of the time you don’t have to pay anything till you arrive at the rental car counter. We booked a car this way, but when I got the confirmation email I read further down in the fine print and saw that the rental car company requires a $1,500 deposit on your credit card when you arrive and for the duration of your rental. And that’s the price only if you get a medium level of their insurance (your American insurance doesn’t really count down here). Some companies charge even a $5,000 deposit. That pings against your account so make sure you have it available on the card.
So we learned that it’s a law in Costa Rica that rental car companies have to charge at least a basic level of insurance. Why? Because the roads here are not the greatest in many areas and, most importantly, the traffic is pretty crazy and dangerous. Ok, so I understand that. My mom is from the Dominican Republic and once we arrived here, it reminds me a lot of there – especially regarding the traffic. It’s just downright dangerous if you’re not used to that kind of driving.
Our recommendation – don’t drive here! We are so happy that we found online a company called Caribe Shuttle. They have nice comfortable vans that take you to a vast array of different areas of Costa Rica. For their Pacific Coast destinations, they seem to partner with and contract Interbus. That’s what they arranged for us. And the service they provided for those arrangements was fantastic!
When all was said and done, we got to our hotel after arriving in San Jose, and visiting the car rental place, around 9:30pm. By the time I contacted and submitted a reservation online with Caribe Shuttle, it was close to midnight. Yet first thing in the morning, just after 6am, they had emailed me back that they received our information and were working hard to confirm if we could get on the 2:30pm shuttle that day to take us the 5-6 hours from San Jose to Tamarindo on the Pacific Coast. Kelsha was the representative emailing with me and she was so helpful! We are truly grateful for how professional and responsive she was.
The price was the best online, $10 cheaper than any other route I found online with other shuttle companies, and we only had to go close-by to one of the bigger hotels in our area called Santa Ana to be picked up by the shuttle, rather than returning further away to the airport or getting into the city center of San Jose.
Our driver Jose was friendly and very helpful. The van was comfortable with the perfect level of air-conditioning and controls in the back where we sat to adjust as we desired. Eric and I are traveling with quite a bit of luggage since we are still working while traveling and have video and photography gear with us. Yet we only had to pay $15 for each additional bag after being allowed 1 suitcase and 1 carry-on each. Jose also drove very well and we felt safe the whole time. Throughout the trip he pointed out interesting local sites, like one of the largest rivers in Costa Rica that we cross (sorry, but the name escapes me now) and pineapple plantations that we passed by. When we stopped at a great restaurant for a break and snacks, he took us to the trees surrounding it to point out the Howler Monkeys and the Macaw Birds. It was beautiful.
Most of all, it was so relaxing. We didn’t have to pay for gas (which is very expensive in Costa Rica) or insurance. All said and done we got a one-way trip for the two of us for just over $100. Completely well worth it!
The only thing I’m sorry for is that I didn’t take pictures of us with Jose or of our ride. But stay tuned and we will be getting some fun videos up and images from Eric (he has the way nicer camera). We’ll also be filling you in on other great stories and tips about visiting Costa Rica while we’re here. Till then, dream about what your Pura Vida looks like!
This article is no way written as promotional material for Caribe Shuttle or Interbus. It is purely our opinions and shared experiences, honestly represented here. We were not asked to write this review and are sharing of our own choosing and desire.