Costa Rica Car Rentals

Written by Helen Glenn Court
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Although you won't find car rental agencies in every resort, Costa Rica car rentals are plentiful enough. On the inbound leg of your Costa Rica vacation, you may fly into Juan Santamaria International Airport in Alajuela. It sits some 217 kilometers (135 miles) northwest of San Jose.

A number of international agencies--Alamo, Avis, Budget, Discount, Dollar, Europcar--have offices there and in San Jose. Numerous others--Mapache, National, Poas--do as well, some of which also provide road trip and tourism services. Know that the country has only 7,896 kilometers (4,906 miles) of paved roads and 35,892 kilometers (22,300 miles) of unpaved ones. There's a good reason that two particularly successful Costa Rica car rentals are Toyota and Suzuki.

Public transportation within Costa Rican towns is very well developed, if perhaps daunting to the uninitiated. Taxis are readily available, however, and can be taken for an individual trip, or by the hour, half-day, or day. Bus travel between towns (quite cheap) generally means traveling through the capital city of San Jose. Costa Rica's railway system was badly damaged in a 1991 earthquake.

Basics of Costa Rica Car Rentals

The first and primary caution for driving in Costa Rica is to look out for potholes. If you're driving in the wet season--the middle of April through the middle of December--some roads may be impassable. The argument for renting a 4x4 might for once indeed be a practicality. The argument for the former, as always everywhere, is cost. Weekly Costa Rica car rentals range from perhaps $150 to $450, depending on model and agency.

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