Costa Rica Rent a Car & Driving Information Print e-mail this info
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Articles on the confusing subjects of rental insurance, addresses and navigation, and the Tico "code of the road" help with the decision whether to drive or not.

Driving a rental car in Costa Rica has distinct advantages and disadvantages, but if you do get behind the wheel you'll be happier and safer if you heed the driving tips below.


Driving Tips

  • Slow down and be careful.  You are in an unfamiliar environment, and the unexpected is the rule rather than the exception.
  • Driving at night is not recommended—It is dangerous because of the high percentage of other drivers who have been drinking, the inability to see potholes in the dark, precipitous drop-offs without guardrails, and because you will miss all of the scenery. Another danger entered the scene in 2004, car-jacking or robacarros and bajonazos who strike almost exclusively after dark.
  • Cones & Flares—The Tico version of orange cones and highway flares is a branch or pile of sticks in the road.  Slow down, there is probably a dangerous situation ahead.
  • Do not leave anything of value in your car, ever—Not only is it likely that it will be stolen, but you may be responsible for the damage the thieves do getting it out.
  • Tickets—Modern traffic enforcement exists in Costa Rica and you can expect to face radar guns Some countries in Central America have well established cultures of “tipping” and bribery; Costa Rica is not one of them. There are no circumstances when it is appropriate to pay your “fine” on the roadside.
    You can have your rental agency pay the fine for you when you turn the car in.
  • Stay off the area just above high tide line—Driving is allowed on some Costa Rican beaches, but please avoid the sand between the high tide mark and the trees because this is where the sea turtles make their nests.
  • Don't count on road signs for navigation—Although the situation is slowly improving there are very few.

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