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Renting a car in Costa Rica is the easiest way to get around the country. However, there are a few things you should know before you go! All the pictures I’ve inserted throughout this post are photos I snapped while driving along the road in Costa Rica — things I would have never been able to stop and look at if I was stuffed in a shuttle bus 😉
Is Renting a Car in Costa Rica Safe?
The number one thing I’ve been asked about renting a car in Costa Rica is safety, especially for solo female travelers. This is a very understandable concern and I’m happy to report that nothing about driving around Costa Rica felt dangerous to me. Disclaimer: I was with my husband the entire time, but would have felt 100% confident driving without him.
All the main roads are paved and marked in the same ways as American roads. The majority of Costa Rica is rural and the roads are lined with farmland (including cute cows!) with towering mountains and volcanoes in the distance. You will occasionally come across unpaved roads that are usually filled with pot holes. For this reason, some people may prefer to rent an SUV vs. a sedan, but it’s really not a big deal. The last 15 minutes or so leading to the resort we stayed at was unpaved and we just took it slowly, navigating around the potholes without a problem.
Is it Expensive to Rent a Car in Costa Rica?
If you only take away one thing from this post, let it be this section! When you start browsing car rental listings online, the prices might seem so low that they’re too good to be true. I hate to break it to you, but they are. It’s common to see car prices for just $1 per day! What these listings don’t tell you, though, is that there are mandatory insurance fees and deposits that make renting a car in Costa Rica more expensive than you might anticipate.
The country of Costa Rica has a rental car insurance requirement that can add a lot of money to your car rental fees. It’s common for these insurance costs to range from $250-750. In addition, you will be required to put down a deposit of $1,000 for the car. You will get the deposit back when you return the car, but it’s important to keep in mind that you will need a credit card with enough available credit for the deposit.
The Best Car Rental Company in Costa Rica
I recommend renting your car through Adobe, one of Costa Rica’s most highly-rated rental car companies. This is the company I used and we had a great experience all around. What makes Adobe stand out is their upfront pricing policies. When you reserve your car online, the complete costs including insurance options are quoted so you know exactly what you will be paying for. I found their prices to be very reasonable — we paid $400 for 8 days and received a four-door sedan with full coverage insurance.
When we exited the Liberia Airport, a representative from Adobe was clearly visible and drove us via shuttle to their off-site rental car office (about 10 minutes from the airport). When we arrived at the location, we were on our way with the car within about 20 minutes. It could not have been easier! The Adobe representatives spoke English and made everything very easy and understandable.
Benefits of Renting a Car
Renting a car is great because it allows you complete freedom within your trip. Because I had a car, I was able to leave the resort for the day and go swim in a waterfall, hike through a national park, and see a volcano. It was also really nice to be able to drive directly to our resort once we landed and head back to the airport at the end of the trip on our own time — we didn’t have to leave when the shuttle bus was leaving. It’s also so much more comfortable to have your own car to relax in vs. being crammed into a shuttle or van for a few hours at a time. Renting a car in Costa Rica is the way to go!