New! The Gecko Trail Airport Express connects the international airport with the Caribbean. Unlike other shuttles, this one does not stop in San Jose, whisking you directly to/from the airport to the Caribbean.
The schedule is optimized to meet most arriving and departing flights so you can enjoy your whole vacation at the Caribbean beaches! Check our transport planner for schedules and rates.
Getting Around Costa Rica
Quick jump to:
There are lots of ways to get around in Costa Rica. Here's a quick rundown on what's available:
- Public bus: Costa Rica's
public bus system is regulated but run by many different bus companies. They are generally of consistently decent
quality. They generally run on schedule and prices are very reasonable. Some
of the bus terminals though are not good (especially the "Coca Cola"
terminal in San José where some Pacific bound buses leave) or do not feel
safe. There are many different bus terminals in San José; it is important to
know where your bus is leaving from. This
schedule from the Costa Rican tourism board includes schedules for every
inter-city bus in the country. Bus tickets can generally only be bought in
person from the bus company at the terminal.
We have a service for the Caribbean or Manuel Antonio, as well as international services to Nicaragua and Panama, where if you are arriving at the airport we will meet your flight at the airport with your bus ticket already purchased so you are guaranteed a ticket and bring you to the bus terminal in San Jose where you catch your bus. To get more information or purchase this service:
- Shared Ride Shuttles a hassle-free alternative to the bus, is shared ride shuttle services operated by Interbus, Grayline and other companies in Costa Rica. These include pickup and dropoff at most hotels so you don't need to find a bus terminal. They also can be purchased online and must be booked in advance. Service is provided in comfortable air-conditioned minibuses or vans. Gecko Trail Costa Rica can book you on any of the shuttle companies so you get the service and schedule that matches your needs. Click below to make a shuttle reservations where you can see schedules and prices for all routes or see our shuttle page for more information.
- Hiring a van and driver: if your schedules don't work with the shared ride shuttle services or you're a larger group or you just want the convenience of traveling at your own schedule and being able to make stops when you want for photos, bathroom breaks and snacks, then hiring a vehicle and driver is the way to go. This is also useful if you are transporting pets (buses and shuttle companies will not do so) or lots of luggage. Gecko Trail Costa Rica uses several reliable companies but not all of the drivers speak a lot of English, so you you either have to practice your Spanish or communicate with sign language. If an English speaking driver is a must, please let us know and we of course are happy to book your trip accordingly. Rates are fixed for different point to point routes so you know what to expect upfront. Service is provided in comfortable air-conditioned vans, minibuses or even full-sized buses if you have a large group. Click below to make a private van/driver reservation or see our private transport page for more information.
Flying: There are two domestic airlines which serve many small airports/landing strips in Costa Rica, using small 10 to 20 passenger propeller planes. A 25 minute flight for about $75 can save you half a day of driving. However, many routes fly via San José so they are not always ideal for getting to/from other areas. We work with Nature Air, the world's first carbon neutral airline, which flies out of Juan Santamaria International Airport.
If schedules and destinations don't fit your needs, we can also arrange a charter or helicopter flights to the destination and at the time you desire. This includes airports may not be offered by the regular domestic airlines. In our transport planner we implemented the often requested option to fly from San Jose to the southern Caribbean and now offer this flight including onward transportation to your hotel. For all other charter and helicopter arrangements, please contact us.
If you need transportation to or from either of the airports, click here for information and booking on our airport pickup/dropoff service.
Click below to make a flight reservation or see our domestic flights page page for more information.
Rental cars are widely available with small 4x4 vehicles being the most popular. In city driving, especially in the central valley, can be very confusing. Between cities, the signage is usually quite decent but be prepared for potholes and for possibly being stuck behind a truck on a winding mountain road once in a while. All major car rental companies have offices in San José, both at the airport and in the city. There are also rental offices scattered in tourist areas throughout the country if you just need a car for a few days or you want to do a one-way rental. Car rental rates found online generally do not include insurance and this can be very expensive in Costa Rica and is mandatory so bring proof of any insurance coverage you have and be prepared to argue with the car rental company if you want to decline any of their coverage.
Gecko Trail Costa Rica does work very closely with Adobe Rent a Car, as we have found their service and prices to be good and they have an office in the Caribbean (as well as in many other tourist spots in Costa Rica). They will also deliver your car to Puerto Viejo and surroundings or pick it up at the end of the rental period. This service does usually cost around $50 per way, depending on the number of days you rent the car. Please inquire upon reservation to get a fixed quote for this service.
Please use the form at the right to book your rental car online with Adobe.
We also work with a variety of other agencies all throughout the country. Please contact one of our travel agents directly. and we will be happy to make a customized car rental arrangement for you with the agency that works out best for your needs.
- Adventure Connections:
clever planning can make a day spent getting around into a fun activity! That's why we've put together a set of tours we call Adventure Connections. Included in these tours is transportation between multiple points in Costa Rica. We'll pick you up in one location in the morning, bring you on day long adventure and drop-off you off at another location at the end of the day.
Why not spend a day whitewater rafting instead of in a shuttle? For $79-99 you'll be picked up at your hotel in your choice of San José, Arenal area or the Caribbean Coast, spend an adventure filled day and then be dropped of at your hotel in your destination city. Or take a horseback tour along Lake Arenal which starts in La Fortuna and ends in Monteverde (or vice-versa). There are lots more! Check out our Adventure Connections page for all the options.
Many of our Destination Packages also include the option to start in one place and end in another. For example, spend a night in Tortuguero; that package includes pickup and dropoff in your choice of locations as does our Arenal Volcano package.