Traveling through Costa Rica with an SUV rental can be quite spectacular. No matter what route of travel you chose to take, the background of nature is breathtaking. The vivid colors of the vegetation of the jungle and the wildlife ensure a leisurely drive through the country is always memorable.
Unlike some third world destinations, Costa Rica is safe in the sense that travelers do not have to stay confined to guarded all inclusive resorts. The country thrives on tourism, and it is safe to travel off the beaten path while using normal cautionary measures and street smarts.
Here are some simple tips that can make your travel through Costa Rica all the more pleasurable.
- Don’t leave valuables in your rental! Thieves are always on the look out for something easily accessible, which can be as simple as busting a window to grab your smartphone, camera, or passport. If possible, make a copy of your passport, keep your passport in the safe of your accommodation, and carry a copy.
- Accidents can happen when you least expect it. If you happen to get in even a minor fender bender or accident driving of any type ( running into something) you must always get a police report! Can insurance companies need a written report of the accident for them to repair any damages; otherwise, the contract is void. Sometimes it takes some time to find the policia, but don’t give up, you will be glad you got the report.
- The bump roads are fun to drive on. Sometimes they go from smooth paved to bumpy without notice. Slow down when going over rough terrain. Some rocks on the roads are very sharp and can easily puncture holes in tires. Don’t fear if you happen to get a flat. Drive slow to the nearest car garage. In Costa Rica you can find them even in the most remote towns. A typical patch up job for a flat will cost you 2,000-4,000 Colones ($4-6 USD)
- If you park your car in a local beach town at night, make sure you park where there is plenty of foot traffic and park under a street light if possible. It is the safest option for both you and the SUV rental. If you are not sure about the area and if it is safe to park, go to a local hotel or store and ask their opinion. Some towns such as Puntarenas, you will want to have your rental parked at a secure location at night.
- When driving through Central America use caution to what’s going on around you. If you think you are being followed, pull over at a safe spot such as a gas station. If an egg is thrown at the windshield, do not use the wipers to immediately wipe it. The heat will cook the egg, smearing it across the windshield, causing you to want to pull over, which could result in a quick robbery. Drive to a public place to clean it.
- Always expect the unexpected. Be aware of your surroundings. Some high roads through the mountains do not have guard rails. Roads can turn muddy and impassable without warning in rainy season. Random obstacles such as herds of cattle, 4 wheelers, and aggressive drivers passing three cars at a time can come without warning. Drive the speed limit and always use street smarts.
- Enjoy the road trip! Take time to take pictures, try local restaurants, and explore new routes to your destination because getting there is half the fun! Pura Vida