Tourist Safety in Costa Rica
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Is it safe to rent a car in Costa Rica?

It is safe to rent a car in Costa Rica when you are prepared and drive cautiously. Road conditions are sometimes challenging. Expect steep inclines, winding roads, fog, rain, potholes, and narrow roads. We recommend drivers use WAZE or Google Maps, drive cautiously, and avoid navigating at night when possible. And remember to keep the tank full when traveling in remote areas.

We’re all excited to get back to vacationing, to explore new destinations, sample exotic foods, and hear the rhythm of foreign languages.   

For most of us in the vacation planning stages, the country we choose to visit must meet a couple of hardline requirements before it can land itself on the list of possible options. The most important requirement, of course, is SAFETY. 

Let’s face it; the world is a little topsy turvy. The last thing anyone wants is to have their long-awaited getaway interrupted by misfortune.  

Luckily, Costa Rica is considered one of the safest countries in Latin America. Ticos – local Costa Ricans – are notoriously warm and helpful people. They love their country and its natural treasures. And most ticos are eager to share them with the rest of the world. 

Nonetheless, crime and accidents can happen, and it’s best to be prepared.

Caution is the best precaution  

No matter where you visit, there’s always some degree of risk. However, doing your research, taking the proper precautions, and staying alert are the best safety measures a traveler can take. 

Choosing the right form of transportation is an important decision. Some countries have highly efficient and user-friendly public bus systems that make getting around a breeze. 

And some countries are a transportation nightmare with barely any reliable options. 

Costa Rica stands north of the two extremes. It has a modern network of roads and highways that connect most major cities and towns. There’s also an abundance of unpaved gravel roads or roads in disrepair. 

Public transportation can be tricky for foreigners. Routes and timetables are not widely publicized unless for long-distance trips. And getting from one town to another often requires switching buses and providers several times. 

So, unless you’re planning an extended trip and enjoy the challenge of doing it as the locals do, the public bus system is probably not for you.

Is it safe to rent and drive a car in Costa Rica?

Yes, renting a car in Costa Rica is actually the preferred method for getting around. Mainly because there are so many fascinating things to see and do. 

Most of Costa Rica’s attractions are natural. Over 30 percent of the country’s landmass (and a big chunk of its marine territory, too) is protected as a national park, reserve, or wildlife refuge. 

The best way to experience these national treasures is by car. What’s more, by renting a car, you’ll have total control over your trip’s itinerary. You can leave when you want, change course on a whim, and always follow your heart’s desire.

There are many car rental companies to choose from in Costa Rica. But they’re not all the same. Tripadvisor is full of accounts of travelers scammed by a car rental agency.  

Fine print hidden fees are the most common complaint. And unforeseen charges for dings and dents not identified during the preliminary review come in second. 

That’s why so many visitors choose Adobe Rent a Car. We guarantee no hidden fees and no surprises! We make sure our customers know what they are being charged for and why. We also conduct a thorough review of each car with our clients so any pre-existing damages or scratches can be identified before the rental agreement is signed. 

Adobe offices in Costa Rica

It doesn’t matter if you’re planning on flying into San Jose International Airport or Liberia International Airport. At Adobe, we have full-service offices just minutes from each. We also have 13 additional full-service Adobe offices throughout the country.

No matter where you go, an Adobe Rent a Car is always nearby. 

If you plan on combining in-country flights with driving, you can arrange to pick up the rental vehicle wherever you land. For example, say you plan to fly to the Arenal Volcano upon arrival in Costa Rica. We can arrange for your rental car to be waiting for you upon touchdown in La Fortuna. 

The same applies to most domestic airports (landing strips) nationwide. 

Tips for renting a car in Costa Rica 

If you’re planning a trip to Costa Rica, you’re in luck. It is considered safe to rent a car in Costa Rica. However, foreigners are sometimes intimidated by the aggressive driving of the locals and the overall lack of road signage. 

It’s best to scout out your route ahead of time. And make sure to ask for recommendations from your Adobe agent when you pick up the rental car. All of our employees are local Costa Ricans capable of giving professional advice about the roads and driving conditions.

We also recommend renting an Adobe Portable Wi-Fi Hotspot for your trip. Our hotspot devices are portable and can connect up to five devices simultaneously. With around-the-clock Wi-Fi service, drivers can stay connected to internet GPS services for the latest road conditions. 

The best navigation app for visiting Costa Rica is WAZE. Thousands of Costa Ricans use the application daily. Their constant input means drivers can access road conditions in real-time. 

Users just need to enter their hotel or destination’s name and they’ll have access to instant driving directions, road conditions, and traffic updates. 

What you should know about road conditions in Costa Rica

Costa Rica’s rainy season runs between November and July on the Caribbean side of the country and between May and November everywhere else. 

Overall, the weather here is wonderful. But it can be as extreme and unpredictable as the terrain. Torrential downpours and heavy fog are possible just about any time of year. Especially in the mountains and higher elevations. 

And don’t forget that Costa Rica is a tropical country, which means hot sun and rain are common no matter what time of year it is. These extremes wreak havoc on the roads causing potholes and occasional washouts. Drive defensively, take your time, and keep your eyes on the road at all times.

A list of things you should watch out for when driving in Costa Rica: 

  1. Costa Ricans can be aggressive drivers. Their world-famous friendliness doesn’t always extend to road edicate. Adopt the Pura Vida attitude and let the local drivers take the lead..
  2. Any national road or highway may narow suddenly to one lane only at bridge crossings (oncoming traffic must yield), turn into a one-way without very little notice, or abruptly end for construction without clear detour markings.
  3. Remember to fuel up frequently. Gas stations are few and far between in rural areas. You don’t want to get stranded with an empty tank. 
  4. Rental cars in Costa Rica have the same license plates as regular vehicles. However, they’re still easy targets for thieves. Never leave valuables in plain sight, always lock your doors, and park in a guarded lot whenever possible. 
  5. Road trips are the best. Just remember that Costa Rica has every type of terrain. They include steep mountains and volcanoes, marshy river valleys, foggy rain and cloud forests, dry and dusty coastlines, and lots of narrow, curvy roads with switchbacks.
  6. Make sure to rent a vehicle that best suits your itinerary. We usually recommend a 4WD SUV or similar for clients planning to visit multiple rural destinations. The added lift and power are always welcome when the going gets rough. 
  7. Try to avoid long-distance driving after dark at all costs. The conditions on Costa Rica’s roads are 100% unpredictable. Play it safe when going from one destination to another and drive during daylight hours. 
  8. It is safe to rent & drive a car around Costa Rica’s capital, San Jose. However, traffic jams, bad weather, and aggressive drivers are everywhere. Take your time, expect the unexpected, and use an excellent navigation app like WAZE. Then relax and enjoy the ride.

 Advantages of renting a car in Costa Rica

You’ll need to bring your driver’s license from your home country to drive in Costa Rica. An international license is required only if the license is in a non-Roman language like Chinese or Hebrew. 

At Adobe, we know Costa Rica and its roads like no one else. We’ll ensure you have the right vehicle and insurance coverage for your trip. 

Having the right coverage is essential and will help you feel more secure on the road. 

Third Person Liability (PLI) car rental insurance in Costa Rica is mandatory. Adobe’s version is called Liability Protection Insurance (LPI). It covers up to $20,000 in third-party damages and has a 20 percent deductible (or $250 – whichever is higher).  

Additional mandatory insurances

PLI liability insurance does not cover personal injuries or damages to the rental car. Renters must either purchase an additional Adobe coverage option or use their credit card’s collision damage waiver (CDW).

**Before opting for your card carrier’s CDW, please remember that in the event of an accident, you must pay for the damages and related fees before leaving the country. Only then can you file a claim to your card carrier for reimbursement. 

Before declining an Adobe complementary insurance package, make sure that your credit card complies with the following terms: 

  • The card belongs to one of these major credit card carriers: Mastercard or American Express.
  • The card company will provide you with a letter confirming their CDW provides coverage in Costa Rica, and for the vehicle you are renting.
  • The credit card owner is also the rental car’s driver.

Protection around the clock

It’s true; your credit card’s collision damage waiver (CDW) insurance may save you a couple of bucks on your rental bill. But it will cost you time, money, and a mountain of paperwork if you have an accident in Costa Rica.

We at Adobe want our customer’s to be safe, secure, and worry-free. In fact, most of our customers become repeat customers. 

We always recommend our clients choose Adobe Extended Protection Coverage (SPP). This custom-tailored insurance package ensures our customers have the best protection available – twenty-four hours a day, three hundred and sixty-five days a year!

With Adobe’s SPP, you’ll have:

  • Nation-wide 24/7 roadside assistance, including tow truck service.
  • ZERO deductible. We waive the PLI’s 20% deductible for third-party damages.
  • Your coverage will be extended to $2 million per event.
  • Vandalism to the car, tires, and windows are covered. 
  • We’ll provide you with a replacement vehicle if necessary. 

Do you have any driving safety questions or concerns that were not addressed? Or would you like to share a personal experience you had driving in Costa Rica?

Post your questions or comments below and an Adobe representative will respond shortly.

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