Car Rental at San José Airport - Costa Rica
Why you must Rent a Car in Costa Rica ?
Costa Rica is one of the prettiest countries of Latin America, the safest, and the most environmentally friendly.
Beaches, breathtaking landscapes, wildlife, flora, waterfalls, rainforests, national parks, volcanoes, surfing, ziplines, suspended bridges, hikings, wellbeing, yoga... There’s one for everyone’s taste! Come to Costa Rica and enjoy PURA VIDA, taste Gallo Pinto and savor one of the best coffees in the world !
Even though the country is small compared to the USA or most European countries, it is filled with an incredible amount of unique activities and surprises you’ll find nowhere else!
Bus lines connect most cities but to fully enjoy and discover Costa Rica you must go all around the country, and to do so you need a car !
As you can read in travel guides, the one and only option to genuinely discover Costa Rica is doing a Road Trip. Renting a car will give you the chance to go anywhere you wish at your own pace while bringing around your belongings. Convenient if you travel with kids or a group.
Gulf of Nicoya
Which Car Model Rent in Costa Rica ?
City roads are usually in good conditions despite strong traffic during rush hours.
However, when you drive outside agglomerations roads are in much poorer conditions: potholes, unpaved roads, no light at night… Road infrastructures are poorly managed and it gets worse during rainy season with roads being flooded and closed.
To drive around the country you need a 4x4 or at least a SUV car. A 4 wheel drive is not essential but quite recommended. We recommend you check your plans and accommodation before deciding which car you need for your trip.
IMPORTANT: Remain cautious when driving outside cities and do not cross flooded roads under any circumstances.
How to find the best Car Rental deals in Costa Rica ?
It’s simple, online prices are always lower than agency prices !
To get the best deals you must make your reservation on our website as much in advance as possible. The earlier the booking, the lower the prices as rental agencies have more time to anticipate your arrival and optimize fees.
In addition, reserving your car from our website gives us immediate access to your booking and so we can make sure we meet all your requirements. Also, it reduces the amount of unnecessary intermediaries, and therefore lowers the price for you ;-)
Car Pick up at San Jose Costa Rica Airport
The best location to pick up your rental vehicle is straight from the Airport Terminal upon arrival.
Renting your car at San José’s international airport is the most convenient option:
- No need to pay for a taxi to your accommodation and to the airport on your return
- No wasting time going to a car rental agency in the middle of your vacation
- Begin your holiday immediately, time is priceless !
- No stress for catching your flight back, return the car whenever it suits you and just take the shuttle for the Terminal
Jumbo Car agency is located in the Car Rental Airport Zone, just 3 minutes away by car from the Terminal. Our team will wait for you at Terminal Exit and walk you to our shuttle bus. Once you have arrived, you will complete a vehicle state of play with an employee and sign your contract.
Return the Vehicle
Vehicle return occurs at the exact same location where you picked up your car.
To find the address on Google Maps and Waze just type “JUMBO CAR Rio Segundo”.
If you have nothing to declare you should return the vehicle at least 30 minutes prior checking opening.
Should you have anything to declare we advise at least 1 hour prior checking opening.
Take into account that traffic can be strong, particularly during rush hours.
Airlines company check-in usually opens 1-2 hours prior take-off for regional flights and 2-3 hours for international flights.
Juan Santamaria, San Jose International Airport
Juan Santamaria airport is located 20 minutes off Costa Rica’s capital (San Jose) by car. Every year, 3 million passengers travel through this airport named after its national hero Juan Santamaria who died in the battle of Rivas fighting for his country.
There are 2 options to go to San Jose Airport :
- Rent a car from our Jumbo Car Agency inside the Airport
- Public buses departing every 10 minutes to San José
Prepare your trip in Costa Rica
Move within Costa Rica
Santa Teresa Beach
To visit the country and travel around you have 2 options :
Public transports and Drivers
Buses : there are plenty of buses within cities and long distance companies to take you from one city to another. Prices are decent but destinations are limited and you must adapt to bus schedules. Not so convenient.
Taxis : there are taxis at every corner. You can easily recognize them by their red color (except for San Jose Airport where they are orange). Rides are inexpensive if you stay within cities.
Uber or Didi : the 2 main ride-hailing operators are available in San José and in the central region (GAM). Prices are decent but you need cellular connection to order a ride.
Car Rental in Costa Rica
There are car rental agencies in every city in Costa Rica, however they are scarce in towns and villages. Prices vary upon seasons and vehicles.
Car Rental in Costa Rica is the best option to discover Costa Rica and go anywhere you want at your own pace. This is also the most inexpensive solution as the more people in the car the more affordable the trip.
In San José, road traffic is prohibited for cars from 6:00am to 8:00am and 4:30pm to 7:00pm depending on days and license plates’ digits :
- Monday: cars whose plate ends with 1 or 2 are prohibited at these slots
- Tuesday: cars whose plate ends with 3 or 4 are prohibited at these slots
- Wednesday: cars whose plate ends with 5 or 6 are prohibited at these slots
- Thursday: cars whose plate ends with 7 or 8 are prohibited at these slots
- Friday: cars whose plate ends with 9 or 0 are prohibited at these slots
Luckily that law doesn’t apply to rental cars.
Our recommandations :
- Within cities : use public transports, ride-hailing drivers or taxis.
- Outside cities : rent a car.
Find your way / Drive around in Costa Rica
A GPS is strongly recommended for driving around Costa Rica.
You can either use a classic GPS or an App on your smartphone (online or offline). Google Maps and Waze work perfectly, and GPS signal is strong all around the country.
If you need the internet, we can provide you with 4G hotspots, just ask :-)
However do not rely on your GPS for estimating rides’ duration, it is often wrong. Count 1 hour of driving for every 25 miles of distance.
Driving in Costa Rica - Useful information
Driving occurs on the right in Costa Rica.
Driving at Night
It is not recommended to drive at night in Costa Rica !
Most roads outside cities are not lit and there are often no reflector stripes on the ground. Besides it is common to encounter pedestrians or cyclors alongside with no reflector cloths.
Driving at night is not only challenging, it is also dangerous.
For your information, sunset occurs around 6:00pm whole year long in Costa Rica.
Therefore we recommend you to use jet lag at your advantage and wake up around 5:00am - 6:00am with sunrise (like Costa Ricans) and benefit from whole day sunlight. Costa Rica is a lot about sightseeing, it would be a shame not to see them all during your trip !
Costa Rica driving occurs on the right.
Inside cities, maximum speed limit is 25 miles per hour (40 km/hour).
Outside sides, maximum speed limit goes up to 60 miles (80 km/hour) on highways.
Be careful, new speed cameras are added every year and speeding is severely punished.
Tickets and Fines
Costa Rica is not a corrupted country.
Police officers are well paid and don’t ask for bribes. Fines are to be paid in banks only and nowhere else. Should you receive a fine, police officers give a report with the amount due and the account to transfer the money.
If you were to receive a road ticket, inform us immediately and we will proceed with payment on your behalf.
Costa Ricans are good drivers and comply with traffic regulations. Fines are steep and quickly reach hundreds of US dollars :
- Non-use of seatbelt : US $185.00
- Speeding: US $575.00
- Use of mobile phone while driving: US $185.00
Petrol/Diesel in Costa Rica :
There are gas stations everywhere on main road axes but they get scarce on secondary roads. Be careful though, some stations are not provisioned every day so they might be out of fuel.
We recommend you refill your tank when it goes below ¼ of its capacity so you never risk going dry.
Gasoline/Diesel Price :
- Gasoline : CRC 589 - 700/ liter (roughly US $1.15)
- Diesel : CRC 525 - 580/ per liter (roughly US $1.00)
When you enter a gas station, stay in your car and turn off the engine. Open your window and ask the attendant “El lleno regular” (full tank) and mention what fuel you need. The employee will point at the gas meter to show you it begins from zero and then fill up your tanks.
Afterwards you can pay cash or with your credit/debit card without stepping out of the vehicle.
Road Accidents :
If you have an accident, do NOT move the vehicle from where it happened.
Immediately call us to let us know what happened. They will tell you what to do next and call the emergency services if needed.
Jumbo Car will deal with the police and insurance company.
This procedure must be followed whether third parties are involved or not.
You can rent a car from any car agency and drive around Costa Rica with an American, Canadian, or European driving license.
However visitors’ driving licenses are valid only for the duration of their tourist visa. Should you need to stay longer than 90 days in Costa Rica you need to contact local authorities and regularise your license, or exit the country and re-enter to get a new tourist visa.
During police control it is common for the police to request your passport in order to verify your driving documents are in order.