San José is the capital of Costa Rica, the main population center, and located in the middle of the country surrounded by mountain ranges. The main roads radiate out from San José in a web and anywhere you go it sometimes seems you must return to San José to get anywhere else.
You might assume that since planes don’t care about all the roads leading to San José air travelers would catch a break and get from place to place without visiting the capital between each. Unfortunately you’d be wrong. Mainly because of demographics (the majority of the population lives in the Central Valley) Costa Rica’s airlines suffer the limitation of a spoke system of routes.
In 2012 Tourist oriented NatureAir introduced a few direct flights from Quepos (Manuel Antonio) and Tamarindo to other outlying destinations and what looks like a new hub offering flights between Arenal Volcano and three beach destinations.
If you read the fine print you’ll see that the Arenal flights backtrack and stopover at San José.
They do offer a 20-30% discount over the cost of simply buying a ticket from Arenal to San José then another from San José to the beach.
Take a look at the map linked in the image to see what we mean. It’s a PDF so you can also download and print it for sketching in possible routes, taking notes or even (it’s current, detailed and accurate enough for 90% of trips) use it to navigate when you arrive.