I'm the type of person that likes to REALLY LOOK AT the BIG PICTURE of situations - so I can TRULY make a more "educated decision" for what works best for ME!!! Only YOU know what works best for you (well - we THINK we do - yet how OFTEN were our friends "right"???)
To•FOR ME - I can go both ways on +s/-s (the pluses and minuses) on which is better to do - DRIVING YOURSELF - OR - TAKING A BUS - OR - HIRING A DRIVER - to show you around Costa Rica (this is geared towards longer trips).
Here are some of my thoughts on the various options:
BUSESPLUSES FOR TAKING THE BUS:
• The EASE (driving in Costa Rica is NOT a pleasant things to do and SURELY does NOT give you more EASE/Peace INSIDE - something I'm working towards achieving more and more)
• It's a great time to INTERACT with the LOCALS•meeting new people•cultures (I amaze myself at how WELL I can get by with my Viclish - especially when taking buses [a funnier version of Spanglish])
• I LOVE the DOWN TIME/break I get when taking a bus (OFTEN when doing my visa runs I pull an all-nighter the night before so I can sleep most of the way on the bus!!)
• It's a GREAT time to GO WITHIN!!! (I bring my ear plugs and a headband to act as a mask and/or my computer to listen to/watch some more "conscious messages")
• If your tummy can handle it - it's a nice time to read or listen to that BOOK you've been wanting to read
• The PLUS it brings to the ENVIRONMENT
• If you're lucky the bus has a movie to watch - sometimes in English with Spanish subtitles and sometimes in Espanol - so you get to practice your Spanish more!
• Depending on the bus - bigger/more spacious seats and lunch served to you by a host if you're on TransNica's Ejecutivo bus to Nicaragua!!).
• You can take as much as you want (depending on time of year since holidays you're often limited to 2 bags underneath). I know THIS to be true because in January 2014 I helped a friend move 9 suitcases/bags to Granada. We took TransNica's Ejecutivo bus at noon so we got to take as many things as we wanted - for NO additional fee. Most buses will only allow you to check in 2 bags for free - but you can pay for the extras and it's not real expensive. Heck - some buses even allow you to put BIG things on them - even fridges if they have the space!!! Now this pertains to buses that travel further out and international buses. ALL buses allow you to check something on to be delivered to the final destination (I'm not sure how it would work to have it delivered to a destination along the way. Check with them
• To say nothing about how MUCH CHEAPER it is*
DRIVING YOURSELFPLUSES FOR DRIVING:
• The opportunity for side exploration on impulse
• You can stop for food whenever you want
• You can stop for bathrooms which IF a bus does have a bathroom (which is RARE except for the ones going to Nicaragua or Panama) - they're bigger and hopefully cleaner
• Door-to-door service
• Control to go/return when YOU want.
NEGATIVES WITH DRIVING YOURSELF:
• There is VERY LITTLE or NO EASE in driving in Costa Rica (I've said for going on 9 years - if I had a car in Costa Rica, the first week I'd have an ulcer and kill someone - and if it was one of those INSANE motorcyclists that weaves in/out of traffic [even passing around you when YOU'RE in the Left turning lane - and YOU get blamed for it when YOU were 101% LEGAL! YES - that REGULARLY happens and has to NUMEROUS people I have PERSONALLY KNOWN!!!] - I'd have a CLEAR conscious as many of them seem to have a death wish and drive like they're saying "hit me - I want to die!!!!)
• As mentioned above - Costa Rica is NOT a peaceful place to drive - ESPECIALLY because Costa Rica LACKS BIG TIME in:
- Signs (SLOWLY a few cities [like San Jose and Escazu] are getting signs but street signs - especially Exit Signs off the highway more than right AT the exit are still lacking BIG TIME!!)
- Addresses (seriously - things are referred to as "Directions" - "it's 200 meters West and 750 meters North of the oak tree" - the same oak tree that was cut down AGES ago!!!!)
- Decent roads
- Plus I swear it feels like every UNconscious driver has come to live•drive in Costa Rica (this comment is NOT geared just towards Ticos!!!).
• If your Spanish is more limited - getting DIRECTIONS is a FRICKING NIGHTMARE in Costa Rica!!! Ask your friends!! MOST people I know will verify this - if you stop and ask 4 different people for directions, it's not unusual to get 5 DIFFERENT responses - and for ALL of them to be INcorrect!!!!
• SERIOUSLY - if you're not "ON"•FULLY Aware•Conscious 100% of the time, you CAN VERY WELL end up in an open manhole in the blink of an eye
• $$$$$ - Added to gas being nearly $7/gallon and let's not even get into the expense (and often rarity) of finding parts for your car!
• I'm not even going to get into the NIGHTMARE you WILL go through if you have an accident - whether it's your fault or not - ESPECIALLY if you're a gringo!!!
• If you're renting a car - SERIOUSLY - #1 - get a GPS and do NOT bring a software program from outside of Costa Rica as they do NOT "get" the "50 meters from the oak tree" concept and I've seen MANY be inaccurate about 40% of the time on average. Also, get the FULL FULL FULL insurance (which is NOT cheap). TOOOOO OFTEN people get screwed over from not getting full insurance and OFTEN this happens AFTER you get back (everything from being forced to pay for a bad tire, scratches, etc.) - just TRUST ME on this!
• EXTENSIVE DAMAGE driving DOES cause on the environment (the BIG PICTURE expenses and wear and tear) . . .
FLYINGPLUSES FOR FLYING:
Flying is by far the fastest and QUITE BEAUTIFUL.
NEGATIVES FOR FLYINGDEPENDING on the time of year!! You might want to at least make sure you're flying as EARLY in the day (ideally EARLY EARLY morning) because of WIND (HEAVIEST in December-March-ish) and RAIN (worst mid-July-November-ish).
HIRING A DRIVERVIC's FAV!!! - THE BEST WAY TO TRAVEL•GET AROUND COSTA RICA:
To ME - 1,001% - HIRING A DRIVER is BY FAR THE BEST way to get around Costa Rica!!! ESPECIALLY if you're visiting and actually want to ENJOY yourself and/or keep your relationship!!! (TRUST me on this!!! I've seen it happen over and over). MAKE SURE THEY'RE LEGAL hence FULLY INSURED!!!!!
(if you're looking to hire a driver for longer trips•transfers and you have the $$ - my MAIN CHOICES that I've used a LOT are:
ABNER ARIAS with Abners Custom Costa Rica Tours
CR #: (506) 8-889-7555 US #: 1-908-818-0606 Skype: Abner506
info@AbnersCustomCostaRicaTours.com (website and facebook page are coming)
AbnersCustomCostaRicaTours.com • facebook.com/AbnersCustomCostaRicaTours
He's great if you're looking for a LEGAL, insured private driver that speaks good English and lived in the U.S. for 10 years so he KNOWS U.S. standard of Customer Service (not real easy to find here. He even has a U.S. # for you so you don't have to pay $3+ a MINUTE to call Costa Rica if you don't have an international plan!!)
FRANK CHICAS with Costa Rican Reliable Tours
CR #: (506) 8-871-2900 • US #: 1-800-559-2684
CostaRicanReliableTours.com • FrankChicasTours@yahoo.com
EVERYONE I've sent to Frank LOVED him as he's GREAT but he now has a bunch of drivers so if you REALLY NEED to emphasis you want him and/or someone that speaks good English - make sure to specify it via email!!! He has a U.S. 800 #.
THE BEST BEST WAY TO SEE COSTA RICA TO MEHire a DRIVER to take you there (to learn the ins and outs and stop wherever along the way and find•see things you would NOT NOT NOT see otherwise) - and FLY back (on a clear day) - what an INCREDIBLE trip you will have!!
VICKI's TAKE•THOUGHTS ON DRIVING IN COSTA RICA