Here at For Rent Costa Rica, we frequently get asked for advice about trip planning and various locations throughout the country. Many visitors plan to visit multiple locations on a first trip to Costa Rica.
We highly encourage visitors to do just that. There is so much to see!
That said, just because Costa Rica is the size of West Virginia (familiar to our North American friends), that does not mean you can cross it that way.
Those red lines with blue shields are interstates built big enough for airplanes to use as runways. You won’t find those in Costa Rica.
Actually, you won’t find many traffic lights either (outside of San Jose).
Drive Times Are Different Down Here
Costa Rica is crossed by the Panamerican Highway, which connects Panama with the United States eventually if you keep going. Sounds like an important road, huh? Well, it’s mostly a two lane road with no on or off ramps nor does it have traffic signals for the most part.
The toll road between Escazu and Orotina was built with some nice passing lanes here and there, but it too is mostly a two lane road.
Outside of the Avenues of the Central Valley, two lane roads are the norm and traffic signals are not.
What Crosses a Two Lane Road in Costa Rica? Well…Everything
Keep in mind that everyone uses the main articles of transportation.
In the banana plantations along both coasts, you will find local farmers driving their tractors right down the highway.
In the cattle country of Guanacaste, you will find cowboys chasing their herds right through traffic.
In the Central Valley and places like Liberia, you will find street vendors plying their wares anywhere traffic slows down.
These are all planned events, but keep in mind the unplanned as well.
Semis turn over, heavy rains wash plant debris and rocks into the road, wild animals cross, people stop to talk on their cell phones where there is good reception and more.
On top of that, main thoroughfares can be extremely winding up in the mountains. Drive the Aguacate or the Cerro de La Muerte if you want a harrowing driving experience. Passing on blind curves next to cliffs is common!
For all of these reasons, add about 75% more to your drive times than you would anticipate just from looking at a map.
The Jungle-Beach-Airport Triangle
A split jungle and beach itinerary is very popular whether flying to Liberia or San Jose. Guest typically head either directly to the mountains or directly to the beach, then hit the the other spot, and then return on the final leg of the triangle to the airport.
Just factor in that one leg of the triangle will take you the whole morning or afternoon and you will leave yourself plenty of time.
Check back soon for more info on the Jungle-Beach-Airport Triangle for either San Jose or Liberia arrivals.