Travelling around Costa Rica? Try renting a car!

Costa Rica receives millions of visitors annually, making it one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations. Because there’s plenty to see and do here, checking the sites and going around to interesting places can be more convenient when guests drive their own vehicles.

Fortunately, Costa Rica has numerous car rental services that suit any traveller’s budget. Whether you’re on a budget or you want high-end luxury cars, you are bound to find a car rental service for you.

Which service is best for you?

Most flight and hotel bookings to Costa Rica include a car rental service option. As soon as you arrive at the airport, the rental car should already be waiting for you. Getting your vacation off to a good start allows you to relax and truly enjoy your trip.

Tourists might also consider choosing a 4×4 vehicle to drive around Costa Rica. This gives you more options to cover areas that a regular car can’t take you to. Remember that Costa Rica has rough terrain and the roads can be muddy or full of potholes. A 4×4 vehicle would save you from the hassle of busting a tire or getting stuck in the mud.

Most companies rent out manual transmission vehicles but if you’re used to automatic transmissions, there are available vehicles too. The only difference is that automatics are usually a little more expensive.

Things to remember

Rental companies will issue cars to travellers provided they meet the following requirements:

  • You must be at least 21 years old. Some companies, though, rent out cars only to those who are above 25 years old.
  • You must have a valid driver’s license.
  • Credit card is required, and they may require a large deposit of $1000-$2000 to cover the car, so make sure you have space on the card.  They won’t always warn you about this until after you’re there
  • Use of a foreign driver’s license should be valid for three months.

Just like purchasing plane tickets, booking a car months in advance may be a lot cheaper. If you’re on a budget, make sure you contact a car rental service in advance to save money.

May through October, car rental companies offer discounts as these months are considered off-peak season. Insurance charges are mandatory in Costa Rica so make sure you know all the charges involved when booking a car. This also saves you a lot of headache and avoids unforeseen charges. You should also inquire from the car rental company, in advance, about other coverage theft or collision insurance, especially about what’s mandatory. Many good deals advertised on the internet don’t include a lot of high mandatory charges that you won’t learn about until you arrive.

Raving to go? A few more reminders

Check the car well before leaving the rental agency since some rental shops perform spotty maintenance on their vehicles. It’s very helpful if you or any of your companions know a little bit of car troubleshooting to check if the car is in tiptop shape.

Take note of every little thing that may be liable to you, like the car radio, and note down scratches or dings to the staff.

You don’t need your passport with you all the time when driving the rental car.  You can bring a color copy instead and lock your passport in your car.  Also, take note that the speed limit in most of Costa Rica’s highway is between 60 to 90kph.  The fines for traffic violations are now extremely high… they can be $400+ for a speeding ticket.  There used to be almost no bribing of police offers because the ticket amounts were so low until 2010, and now with the new rates, many are tempted to offer a bribe to avoid the high charge.  Better to just keep your speed down.

Use of seatbelts is mandatory. Remember that as in any country, there can be reckless drivers, which may put your life in danger.

Your Costa Rica adventure should be the vacation of a lifetime and renting a car could be just what you might need to achieve this goal.

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