Getting to Nosara:
Flying to Nosara
Driving to Nosara
Bus/Ferry to Nosara
Renting a Vehicle Save 10%
Insurance for Rental Cars
When the cops pull you over
Flying to Nosara:
There are two domestic airlines in Costa Rica, Sansa and Nature air. Sansa flights depart from SJO, Juan Santamaria International Airport, San Jose. Nature Air flights depart from SYQ, Tobias Bolaños Airport, Pavas San Jose. Both have there advantages and disadvantages.
**********************************Updated August 2009
Sansa leaves from the same airport that your international flight arrived at if you came through San Jose and not Liberia. To get to the Sansa departure terminal, after collecting your bags and clearing customs, go up stairs, go outside and turn left and walk down the ramp. At the bottom turn left and walk 25 meters to where there is a manned gate for the terminal. If this seems like a Hassel because you have mucho luggage, hire the services of a porter after clearing customs.
Biggest problem with Sansa is that they sometimes cancel a flight with out reason or notice. Another issue is the departure area/ticket check in. It is often very crowded with few places to sit. Some how they manage to make it work. Sansa’s flight schedule to Nosara is as follows:
Reservation can be made by going to: www.flysansa.com
or in CR call (506) 2290-4100, USA: 1-877-767-2672
to make a reservation.
Nature air flights depart from SYQ, Tobias Bolaños Airport, Pavas San Jose. (This is not the international airport you arrived Costa Rica if you came via San Jose).This is a 20 to 30 minute taxei ride depending on traffic from the international airport in SJO. While the transfer to another airport may seem like a hassle it really is not. Once at the small terminal things happen smoothly as there is no other activity.
Reservation on Nature Air can be made by going to: www.natureair.com
Bus and Ferry schedule
For a complete, uptodate schedule for the National bus, train and ferry systems in English of Costa Rice go to:
Driving to Nosara:
San Jose>Nicoya: ( 3.5 hours) If you are driving from San Jose to Nosara, you will take the main Interamerican Highway (Carretera Interamericana) west out of San Jose (past the large international Juan Santamaria airport). This highway travels west and descends down from the central plateau toward the port of Puntarenas where the road turns north. Keep a look out for the signs pointing to the Puente de Amistad (the new bridge over the Tempisque River). This will be a left turn, but the signs are on the right side out on the main Interamerican Highway. There is a shell station and makes for a good rest stop as they sell cold drinks and snacks. (In just about all of costa Rica, US dollars are excepted but change is usually returned in Colonies.)
After you cross the new bridge at the river Tempisque, you will be on the Nicoya Peninsula. Keep following the paved highway to the City of Nicoya (large town). When you are almost to Nicoya, you will come to an intersection with a 4-way red flashing light - there will be signs there that indicate a left turn into the town of Nicoya. Turn left and proceed straight through the middle of town.
Liberia>Nicoya: (1 hour) Exiting the international airport turn right and follow the signs to Santa Cruz. Approaching Santa Cruz follow the road on as it is now sign posted to Nicoya. Approaching Nicoya there is a huge 4 way stop, turn right and drive straight through town and over the small bridge and continue on to Nosara.
Please read before driving from Nicoya>Nosara. The road between Nicoya and Nosara is not a problem as long as you slow down. For the first 30 minutes the road is paved but seldom straight. In the small towns along the way there are some very pronounced speed bumps that that seem to come out of nowhere. Hit one at full speed and your front end will jump up in front of you followed by the back end. When you start to come up on dwellings, slow down. That is where they hide these road hazards.
There is a law in Costa Rica that there must be a school with in a certain distance of every school aged child in the country. As a result there are schools out in the middle of nowhere with one teacher and one child, just to comply with this law and there is a school about every 10 Kilometers. Many of these schools span both sides of the highway and when they mean slow down they mean it. 25 KPH max! Get used to it. There are schools all over the place.
It is not advised to drive the Nicoya-Nosara route at night if you have never driven it before. Many of the locals refrain from driving this route at night. One of the reasons for this are several spots where the road goes from one lane in each direction down to only one lane due to the culverts being washed out. You can see them better in the day time. You will need to remember where they are at night. The only good thing about driving this route at night is there are few if any other cars on the road. The down side to this is that if anything happens while in route…………………..
There is one thing about driving in this type of terrain to be very careful of. Bridges, they are extremely dangerous. When they design a road it typically contours the terrain. Should the route need to cross over a stream or river, the road typically descends, then turns 90 degrees so as to have the bridge cross at a 90 degree angle to the terrain. These bridges are one lane only and the rule of the road is that the first one to the bridge has the right of way. (There are yield signs. One side of the bridge should have one. Never assume anything while driving in Costa Rica.) As you approach the bridge you see no one else, proceed, only to have someone come around the bend into view on the other side and he gets to the bridge before you. Where are you going to go. It is always down hill, sometimes gravel or wet or both and the only way out has a ravine to the left and right of it and a car in the middle. Luckily there are usually signs that look like this )( alerting you to the fact that there is a one lane bridge ahead. Costa Rica is full of them. Be careful. Slow down.
The route to Nosara crosses many rivers and streams and luckily there are no fiords to cross. By that I mean driving through the water to get across, just like in the movies. In the dry season this is a common feat on routes where a bridge does not exist. Be careful as the rainy season approaches as these rivers swell up fast. Most auto insurance coverage will not cover water mishaps. If in doubt wait for a local. Note the relationship between his wheel size and yours and watch him cross. If the water will not touch your car body then you will probably be ok, just follow his exact route across. If the route lacks locals in any abundance you can have your wife wade across and check out the water level as she does. My wife did this once and only once. Should have been there.
Nicoya>Nosara: (1 hour) Drive straight through the town of Nicoya on the "main road", no turns. Drive slowly, as there are a lot of pedestrians in this bustling town. You will eventually be out of town on the other side. You will continue southward on pavement approximately 30km, some twists and turns, but just stay on the obviously main paved highway. Eventually you will see a large Gas Station on your left. There is also a hardware store and little "soda" cafe for snacks and drinks. Stop here and get gas - last chance on the way to Nosara. There are no gas stations in Nosara.
Right after you leave the gas station, the concrete road makes a curve to the left. At the apex of that curve, you will notice a small dirt road turning off to the right, downhill. That is the road to Nosara. Be careful especially this first 500 meters as it is downhill and steep. This dirt road is about 25KM, but it take 45 minutes to drive. There are, once again, some turns and twists, but stay on the road. There are signs that tell you how many kilometers you still have to go as you pass through many small towns and villages. There is a T-intersection at a small village called Barco Quebrada, turn right. (there should be signs there, and the road should be obvious).
The people along the way are very friendly, so if you aren't positive that you are still on the main road to Nosara, just stop and ask someone "Donde es Nosara". Most people will at least be able to point in the right direction. When you get into Nosara things happen fast. The main road is the only artery for getting from one section to the next. The result is a mix of four wheelers, golf carts, bicycles, semi-trucks, delivery trucks, pedestrians and the suffer walking down the middle that has yet to master that last 10% of life. Pedestrians have the right of way, as it should be.
In the dry season with all of this traffic there is a real problem with dust. They have come up with a very innovative plan whereby they spay a mixture of molasses and hot water on the road and it does keep the dust down. Interesting thing however, the whole town smells like pancakes! Welcome to Nosara. This is the expatriate section of Nosara more commonly referred to by the two beaches, Playas Guiones and Pelada. If you want to go to the actual town of Nosara, continue on through some twists and turns, about another 5 km, and you will come to a split in the road bare right, but bare left at the next Y intersection. Soon you will come upon Nosara Centro, the business district, where you will find grocery stores, medical care, city services and shopping in this very Tico town.
Renting a vehicle in Costa Rica and saving a fortune at the same time:
There are many car rental firms in CR. However, National is the only one with cars available in Nosara. If you rent from National and have a problem in Nosara they will replace it in about the time it takes to drive it to your front door. We have a contract with them if you go to www.natcar.com and type in “Memphis” in the field for Promotional Code you will get 10% off the lowest price. Read more here to save a small fortune:
The Costa Rica Rental Car Rip Off, and how to beat it.
Let me begin with the fact that I have been spending almost $5000 a year for the last eight years renting vehicles every time I am in costa Rica to look after the two houses I own in Nosara, Costa Rica. I have tried all of the rental car companies. They have played every scam on me you can imagine. I have not always won, but I have always learned and here it is.
Never forget rule number one in life; Never play another man’s game, and that is exactly what you are doing when you rent a vehicle in Costa, Rica. You are no longer in North America or Europe. Leave just about everything you have come to expect/enjoy from renting a vehicle back where you came from. With that said we are going on a journey that in the end will save you anywhere from $100 to $500 a week in rental expenses.
- Pick Your Poison wisely. If you can’t beat them at their own game in their own country, join them. After about five years, I settled into a corporate agreement with National Car Rental in San Jose, Costa Rica for a number of reasons. First and foremost is that I got to deal direct with the franchise owner and totally get around the USA main office. With my contract rate, you and I start off by saving almost 20%. This is just a start and there are more ways explained below to add greatly to this savings.
- Book as far in advance as humanly possible, especially in the high season, December-March. The daily/weekly rate varies greatly.
- HOW TO BOOK A RENTAL VEHICLE LOCALLY: Always use the local National Costa, Rica website, www.natcar.com Never use the US site.
RESERVE ONLINE NOW! is the opening page and from the start big
mistakes can be made that could end up costing you.
- Select Pick Up Location: In San Jose you will have a choice. The obvious choice for people arriving via the international airport is National’s airport location but beware there is a 20% airport tax added to the rental fee. This is not the case if the vehicle is picked up at say the Paseo Colon location. (Actually an Alamo Office that is a National office as well) or any other off airport location. If you are like most people and arrive SJO and have to overnight, you might just find that there is another National location closer to you. National has five other locations in San Jose besides the airport. Best of all you can return your vehicle at the National airport location with no additional airport fee.
- For those of you arriving into CR via the Liberia international airport there is no airport facilities surcharge/Tax like there is in SJO.
- Be carful and bare down on when you want to return your vehicle. If your flight leaves in the morning then returning it the night before make loads of since. The National airport location is good about having their shuttle take you back to your hotel.
- DO YOU HAVE A PROMOTIONAL CODE? OK if you have read this far you deserve another 10% off the already discounted corporate rate. Simply type in “Memphis” in the promotional field.
- EMERALD Club? Makes no difference. National CR does not participate in this program. Why do they have it on the website????????????????
- The next page of the website is where you will choose what vehicle you want. REMEMBER THAT MOST VEHICLES COME IN MANUAL AND AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSIONS. If you are driving to Nosara or some other out of the way location you will need a SUV. When renting a SUV it is best to rent the biggest set of tires you can afford as they offer the smoothest ride. Most others will be happy with a normal sedan, but always check and make sure that there is a paved road the whole way. Otherwise, go the SUV route especially in the rainy/Green season.
- The third page is where the vultures come to roost. In the section where it says, Additional Charges, beware. This small portion of the website can literally double the cost of renting a vehicle. The big snake here is called “LDW-Loss Of Damage Waiver”. By using a major US/Canadian/European credit you will more than likely be covered for collision insurance just by simply charging the rental fee on the card itself. Be sure and contact your credit card company to confirm this is you are unsure.
The problem here is that the LDW is already checked and you are unable to un-check the LDW. No so fast. Go down below and check the SLC-Supplemental Liability Coverage. Only after doing so can you now un-click the dreaded LDW. SLC is basically liability insurance, it is mandatory and they were going to make you buy it anyway but it is the LDW that they were trying to rope you in on. Section G. of this article will without a doubt save you close to $200.
- Other Issues to stay away from; GPS: is an expensive gadget that is rarely needed. Once outside of San Jose the few roads are easy to follow. Additional drivers: This is some thing few people sign up for. Also never request a surfboard rack for a SUV, almost all of the time they already have one, but request one and $$$$$$$$$
As stated above the roads in Costa Rica are horrific. When it comes to renting a vehicle, decide on what type of driving you will be doing. Anything outside San Jose in the rainy season will require an SUV. You can get by with a standard car if you plan to stay on the main roads but if you are driving anywhere else, get an SUV. Bare in mind that not all SUVs are the same and some are better suited for the Costa Rican roads than others. There is a great abundance of small SUV’s like Suzuki Jimmy and the Daihatsu Terios and it is not recommended that you rent one of these if you are going to be driving on anything other than pavement or if you are over six feet tall. Find the biggest SUV you can afford. Bigger tires, better ride! Check the spare!
Insurance for rental cars: In Costa Rica renting is easy but there are a few things to watch out for. There is mandatory liability insurance in Costa Rica and this will cost an additional $11-$20 a day. If you have liability coverage, bring a letter from your carrier stating so with the statement” …this coverage is valid for Costa Rica…” Letters that only listing the countries excluded will not be accepted. Most people have collision damage insurance for their automobiles in the US but the coverage is often void outside the US. Check to make sure your carrier allows coverage outside the US and covers you on an “unimproved surface”, like a dirt road in an SUV.
A good back up for this to charge your rental on a major credit card like Visa or MasterCard and then decline the CDW at the time of rental. Visa coverage is primary not secondary. Some credit cards have this and some do not. When calling your credit card company be sure and ask if the coverage is secondary and in the absence of any primary coverage, will they cover you? It is also a good time to inform your credit card company that you will be in CR so they will not turn your card off when they suddenly see activity outside the US.
Here comes the Fuzz: The police in Costa Rica are some of the most corrupt individuals in Central America. You will find these men in blue in the middle of the road standing in the shade holding a radar detector. The locals know where they hang out and they know when to slow down. This is a trap for gringos, YOU. It will be a long open stretch of road where it is easy to pass the guy whose bumper you been looking at for the last hour. Don’t pass. Everyone has slowed down and you can’t resist passing all these big trucks and that is exactly what the fuzz wants you to do.
If you get pulled over they will ask for your papers, ask where are you from, when did you get here, is this your first time. (To drive in Costa Rica you will need to have in your possession, a valid driver’s license, proof of insurance, passport and the rental agreement or registration papers for the car) They are sizing you up. Try your Spanish if you want but they all speak real good English. For them it pays to speak English. Next comes the lecture, in perfect English. Then comes the fine. $100 US dollars payable on the spot. Don’t pay it.
Costa Rica police are not allowed to collect fines nor are they allowed to keep any of your papers or passport. Just tell the officer to write you up. Do not pay any attention to what he says you will have to do to pay the fine. Your rental company is required to pay all of your fines for you.