Exploring Costa Rica by Car

Exploring Costa Rica by Car

Costa Rica

Costa Rica is located in Central America with the Pacific Ocean to the West and the Caribbean Sea to the East. It has a population of about 4.5 million people. Around 1 million of them live in the capital San José. Costa Rica offers a large variety of nature and wildlife and has many national parks and protected areas to explore.

Currency Costa-Rica-Colón
$ US-Dollar is also accepted (usually you get Colones back and be aware that sometimes you get a bad exchange rate, e.g. at gas stations or in local tourist shops)

Best time to visit

When is a good time to visit Costa Rica? Costa Rica has two distinct seasons:

  1. Dry season from December to April
  2. Rainy season from May to November

Usually during dry season, most areas see little to no rain and are therefore best to explore. It is also the best time to visit some attractions like volcanoes that tend to be covered in fog/clouds during rainy season more often. In addition, it works that way if you are afraid of rain ruining your vacation. However, keep in mind that it can get extremely hot sometimes. In certain parts of the country it gets less tropical (air is drier).

In addition, rainy season has its advantages. Bad months are September and October because they are the wettest months. Good travel times are May to August because rainy season just started and December because it already gets drier. During these months, temperature will not be that high and therefore more enjoyable. It has less tourists so you get cheaper prices. Although it is rainy season, it seldom rains all day long. Often it rains for 2-3 hours and then the sun comes out or it is partly cloudy.

Our route

Costa Rica Route
Costa Rica Route



Speed limits:

  • 25 k.p.h (kilometer per hour) in school zones – sometimes just when scholars are present (“con escolares presente”)
  • 40 k.p.h. within towns
  • 60 k.p.h. on single carriageways
  • 80-90 k.p.h. on expressways/motorways

This sounds really slow right? Yes, it is true. Nevertheless, the quality of Costa Rican highways varies from high quality multiple lane expressways all the way to gravel and dirt roads that almost make it impossible to drive safe at the respective speed limit. In addition, you should consider getting a 4-wheel drive. Although most streets are paved, there are some unpaved roads with gravel or even dirt (e.g. La Fortuna to Monteverde). To be on the safe side, get a 4-wheel drive, especially during rainy season.

There are warnings that speeding ticket can cost you more than $600. However, if you drive at speed limit, every Tico overtakes you. In our case, even the police…

In case you have an accident, do not move your car because that will be seen as admission of guilt! So do not move, although everybody is honking at you.

While travelling through the country we detected a big influence from the U.S., for example when it comes to trucks, road signage or in big cities are even KFC, Burger King and McDonalds present. In most areas you can speak Spanish or English.

Tierra Verde Open Voucher Program

Tierra Verde is a Costa Rican travel agent and tour operator. We booked a “Wheels & Voucher FLEX”-package in combination with a tour to Tortuguero. Our holidays were organized perfectly by them!

The Open Voucher program includes a car (I recommend car with AWD, see above) and for each day of your holidays you get a voucher for one of the 150 (ECONOMY) or 200+ (PLUS) hotels. This is great if you have a plan in mind, but you want to keep the flexibility to adapt so you can stay shorter or longer at some places and even visit places you never have thought of before your vacation. As Dwight D. Eisenhower said: “Plans are nothing; planning is everything. “ I recommend the Flex-Program especially during rainy season when the weather is unstable.

Do you have any questions? Have you already explored Costa Rica by yourself? Which places did you see and why? Any recommendations? Let me know.

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