I never realized that Costa Rica has such a great transportation system, and it’s much easier and more cost-effective than I’d previously thought before moving here. Many expats decide not to buy a car or another mode of transportation for the simple reason that the transportation system here is so good. This also means they don’t have to be concerned with auto insurance, license fees, maintenance, expensive gasoline costs and the high price of buying an auto here in Costa Rica. I’ve also decided to forgo buying an automobile—at least for the time being.
When we visit the town center, we always catch the bus, and the fare is only 500 colones per person one way, which is about 86 cents. What a deal! If you’re a resident and over the age of 65, you can ride the local bus for free. The buses are big, clean, modern, comfortable, and air conditioned. You can go practically anywhere in Costa Rica via the public bus system, whether it’s a short distance or a long distance. It’s the least expensive form of transportation and very convenient.
Taxis are an affordable option that are also convenient for getting around in Costa Rica. It’s very important to ride only with authorized taxis and licensed taxi drivers. Taxi drivers are affectionally known as “rojos” because of the red color of their cars, which also have a yellow triangle and the number of the cab on the doors. Illegal taxi drivers, popularly known as “piratas,” are everywhere in Costa Rica. They may be cheaper, but don’t be tempted to use an unauthorized taxi. Stick with the rojos. Make sure the taxi’s meter, known as “la Maria,” is running before leaving for your destination. It is usually mounted on the dashboard.
One thing that I like about the taxi service is that you can use taxis for both short drives and long journeys. For a long journey, you must book your taxi in advance and get a set rate before traveling. Tezzy and I booked a taxi and got a good rate from Grecia when we ventured on a two-day holiday to Jaco last December. The taxi driver picked us up at our casa (house), drove us directly to our hotel in Jaco, and came back a couple days later when we checked out of our hotel to transport us back home.
If you’re landing at Juan Santamaria Airport, you’ll need an orange cab. These cabs operate under cooperatives between private companies and the Costa Rican government. They are licensed to transport passengers only to and from the airport, so when you arrive, don’t waste time trying to get a red taxi—they won’t be able to pick you up. The orange cab drivers are all conveniently located at the airport exit, and a dispatcher is also available.
Another one of our favorite ways of getting around Costa Rica is by hiring an Uber driver. It works the same way as in the US and other countries by using the Uber app to summons a nearby driver. From what I’ve heard, Uber is only allowed to operate in the Central Valley areas. Uber tends to be less expensive than the metered taxis. Another big advantage is you don’t need cash. Currently, there’s a feud brewing between Red Taxi and Uber and hopefully things will be settled and negotiated fairly. Didi, a new Uber competitor, just popped up, but I’ve never used them.
Costa Rica also has a great shuttle service for getting around, especially for long trips. One such shuttle company is Costa Rica Shuttle, which I used when I first arrived in Costa Rica. It offers plenty of room for your luggage, which is important if you’ve just arrived, as well as air-conditioned interiors with English-speaking drivers. I reserved a ride from San Jose to Grecia for a reasonable fee. I also highly recommend Interbus, which is my favorite and it allows you to travel all over Costa Rica. It’s even cheaper when you’re on a shared shuttle ride with other passengers, meaning you can split the fare. These shuttles can take you to some of the country’s most popular tourist destinations, including Jaco, Manuel Antonio, Monteverde, and Guanacaste. Be sure to reserve your ticket in advance, which you can easily do online.
If you’re up for adventure, you might consider renting a car or SUV. The rates are fantastic, and you can go anywhere you want on your own schedule. Just make sure you allow yourself plenty of travel time between locations. Most roads are in good condition unless you are traveling through the mountains or other less-trafficked areas. I recommend Discover Car Hire, which you can book online.
Need a Taxi? “Better Call Randall” WhatsApp 506-8533-5688
Now you know—this is how we roll!