In Costa Rica almost all travel options begin in the San Jose area. The
international airport, Juan Santamaria, is located ten miles north of
the capital city and a half a mile from Alajuela. At the airport are a
number of car rental agencies, Sansa the inter-Costa Rican air service,
taxi service and bus service to both Alajuela and downtown San Jose.
There is also an international airport in Liberia and there are more and
more flights a day for those wishing to skip San Jose all together.
Traveling around the country is normally done in one of three ways: air,
car or bus. Air travel in Costa Rica is both cheap and fast as long as
you are going to one of the eight or nine places they fly. Fares on
Sansa range between $60 and $90 and the longest flight takes about 50
minutes. There is another carrier, Nature Air, that flies to 12
destinations. It is a little more expensive than Sansa, between $75 and
$100, but they tend to have a better on-time rate.
If you are traveling by rental car it is a good idea to get a 4x4 no
matter what the time of year or where you plan to go. The roads, even
the major highways, have potholes that tend to eat little rental cars.
The average cost per day for a 4x4 is $80 or about $450 a week,
unlimited mileage. We recommend U-Haul Rental Cars because they have
good prices and are very helpful. Be very careful to check out the
condition of the car completely before you sign any of the papers. Most
rental companies require that drivers put up to a $1500 deposit on their
credit card. When you return the car they will check it out for damage
and if they don't find any they will take the hold off of the credit
The cheapest and maybe the easiest way to travel is by bus. From the
Coca-Cola bus station (see Crimes and How to Prevent them) and the
surrounding companies you can reach just about every part of Costa Rica
for $9 or less. It is always recommended that you take the direct bus.
It costs a little more but the buses are much nicer and you get there in
half the time. Because of the lack of road signs, road conditions and
the general free wheeling attitude of most drivers, traveling by bus may
be the best of all possibilities.
Hitchhiking in Costa Rica is very unusual and most drivers refuse to
pick people up. Never hitchhike at night and never do it alone. Just
use common sense.