In Central America, Costa Rica is one of the favorite destinations for nature lovers. The territory counts several national parks where it is good to hike sometimes at the feet of majestic volcanoes, sometimes in the middle of a luxuriant and protected jungle which represents a quarter of the country’s surface.
The biodiversity is simply incredible. You can also spend some time on beautiful beaches, whether you decide to go to the Caribbean coast or the Pacific coast.
The authorities and the inhabitants are keen to protect these riches. The country has become a world reference in the field of ecotourism. And then, there are the cities and villages where life is in full swing and where you can learn more about local history and traditions. Costa Rica is a perfect country for road trip enthusiasts. Here are all the good reasons to make it your next vacation and discovery destination.
Why choose to rent a car in Costa Rica?
Costa Rica is one of the smallest countries in Central America, with an area of 51,100 km². It measures around 250 km from east to west, for about 450 km in the northwest/southeast diagonal.
This specificity makes it a destination of choice for the amateurs of road trips who wish to benefit from a maximum of things during their trip. Without seeing its sumptuous landscapes denatured by large volumes of highways, the country has however national roads that are very well practiced. These main roads, which allow you to criss-cross the territory on both sides, can be travelled in peace aboard a 4X2, an all-terrain vehicle equipped with two-wheel drive. We are then perfectly at ease to drive a few hours, to pass from a territory to another and to enjoy the landscapes which are offered to us.
Why opt for a road trip in Costa Rica? Not only because the size of the country lends itself to it, but also because this way of traveling offers an incredible freedom.
The adventurers move at their own pace, on the schedules that suit them. It is up to them to program their journey, to follow it as they wish or to change the plans if they want to enjoy a part of the country a little longer than planned. Once the rental is made on the Internet, the only requirement is to pick up the vehicle at the agency and bring it back at the end of the stay at the agreed time. Note that it is possible to pick up a car at the Juan Santamaría International Airport in Alajuela, in San José or at the Daniel Oduber Airport in Liberia.
In order to enjoy good weather during your trip, it is recommended to leave during the dry season, from December to April. This is the best time to go hiking and find shade in the nature, but also to spend time on the sand under a radiant sun while the winter has settled over Europe.
Costa Rica, a road trip that reveals a thousand splendors
Once the car is in hand, it’s time for a road trip to the most beautiful places in the country. Once arrived in San José, the capital, we take the opportunity to stroll in its old districts and discover the soul of the city. Direction for that Soledad, Otoya and Amon. We join a little later the Museum of the pre-Columbian gold to admire superb artifacts and to be interested in the history of the country.
Gourmet in the soul, the Mercado Central remains a passage impossible to circumvent to taste Costa Rican culinary specialities. You should not miss an evening at the National Theater, a cultural symbol, and a moment in La Sabana Park, the first contact with nature.
The road trip is launched and leads the travelers towards the Osa Peninsula and the Corcovado National Park. We enter then in the heart of the subject by going to meet the howler monkeys, the toucans and other capuchins in a vast tropical rain forest. Along the Pacific, we enjoy the dense vegetation that borders beautiful beaches, before settling on board a boat and joining the island of Caño, a small lost paradise where the water is warm and translucent. Later, after having gone up a little in the direction of the north, we find again this atmosphere of luxuriant vegetation and relaxing beaches by sinking in the national park Manuel Antonio.
The continuation of the road trip takes place in the northwest of San José, in the region of La Fortuna. Of course, we take the time to go through the city, but once again, it is the call of the great spaces that will be the strongest. The Arenal Volcano National Park offers beautiful hikes during which you can enjoy incredible views of this jewel of nature. The most athletic will be able to tackle the ascent of its little brother, Cerro Chato. But let everyone be reassured, there is also a way to relax the knotted muscles in the area, with the presence of several hot springs. And because this part of Costa Rica does not stop revealing splendors, we do not miss to go to admire the imposing waterfall of Fortuna, and the blue color sparkling of the Rio Celeste, star of the Tenorio National Park.
We continue with a few days in the province of Guanacaste and the Nicoya Peninsula. A seaside region par excellence, there are dry deciduous forests where it is good to ride horses, but also many sunny beaches where you can choose between lazing around and diving. The presence of horsemen and rodeos are an integral part of the atmosphere of the peninsula. A good way to finish the visit of this part of western Costa Rica is to stop in the village of Montezuma. There is a bohemian atmosphere, a positive and relaxed mentality. The fruit stands, the bars where you can listen to reggae, you feel good and you discover a whole art of living, far from the tumult of the big cities.
The east of Costa Rica is the penultimate stage of the road trip. Many surprises await the visitors on this front of the country. We begin by approaching the village of Tortuguero, shortly after leaving the rental car in La Pavona and taking the boat to reach the town. If the observation of the turtles that come to lay their eggs is done between June and September, a museum dedicated to them allows to know more about this species. Tortuguero also has canals that can be explored by boat, and a national park where monkeys, sloths, countless birds and jaguars have made their home. Not to mention the village with its colorful streets where the inhabitants live from fishing and ecotourism.
Further south, Puerto Viejo de Talamanca is another fishing village where you can enjoy a Caribbean atmosphere. There are beaches suitable for snorkeling, while the evenings are spent in the bars, with calypso music in a very lounge atmosphere.
Before reaching San José and returning the rental car, a last stop takes place in the Poás Volcano National Park, land of fumaroles, geysers and hot springs. The crater is the largest open volcano in the world. Being able to observe it up close leaves indelible memories