Renting a Car in Costa Rica

Renting a Car in Costa Rica

Renting a Car in Costa Rica

I hope everyone is doing great wherever you may be. I’ve been busy planning my husband David’s big 80th birthday party. Several friends will fly down for the epic event and have asked if they should rent a car in Costa Rica.

I figure you’ve wondered about it too. How accessible are cabs? Can I Uber in Costa Rica? Are there rental cars at the airport or should I have the concierge from the vacation home I rented take care of it for me? Which rental car company is best? These are all great questions. Let’s dig in.

Should I Rent a Car?

To rent or not to rent? That depends on what kind of vacationer you are. Do you plan to get to your vacation villa, unpack, kick back with a cold tropical cocktail, spend time at the pool, and escape from everything? Because, if that’s the case, I’d say you don’t need to rent a car in Costa Rica.

Besides, when you stay at the Discovery Beach House, you’re close to everything. Why leave a car sitting in the parking area when you just want to lay on a float in a pool and hang at the beach. The beach is a 30-second walk from your back door. Stores, ATMs, restaurants, bars, and shopping are just a 2-10-minute walk from the villa.


Costa Rica TaxiTaxis are readily available on the main road. Uber is in San Jose but hit and miss in our area of Manuel Antonio. If you’re adventurous and want a local experience, take the public bus, it’s easy. The public bus stop is right outside the Discovery Beach House gate. Buses pass by every 20 minutes, except for Sundays when they’re on a minimal schedule. It’s only $.60 to ride into town and takes maybe 15 minutes. It’s a cultural experience.

Do I Need a 4×4?

If you’re the type of vacationer who likes to get out and explore, then I suggest you rent a car in Costa Rica. You may want to visit nearby towns or get off the beaten path. You don’t need to rent a 4×4 vehicle unless you plan to visit rural areas of Costa Rica.

How Are the Roads?

The road conditions in Costa Rica have vastly improved over the past few years. The roads around Manuel Antonio are great in comparison to other areas of Costa Rica. When you’re off the main highways, there are still potholes that can swallow your car. So be careful and don’t be in too much of a hurry. Remember the maximum speed limit in Costa Rica is only about 50 mph. If you’d like to know more about driving around in Costa Rica check out my article “Costa Rica Map Tips: One Inch Does NOT Equal Five Miles.”

Mandatory National Insurance

The mandatory national insurance is the biggest complaint we hear from guests renting a car in Costa Rica. Online websites don’t include the mandatory national insurance in their online quotes. Imagine your surprise when you think you scored a deal on a car, then come to find out, it’s much higher than what the website says. The national insurance can add $10 to $25 a day (it depends on what type of car you rent) to the total cost of the rental.

Our concierge has received many phone calls from panicked guests at the airport asking for help. Their deal turned into a not so great deal fast. That’s why we suggest you let our concierge book your rental car. Our concierge service is free for our guests. We only work with reputable companies. We send them so much business, if any little thing pops up, we get priority.

INS a Costa Rican Monopoly

There’s one company that offers car insurance in Costa Rica. The company “INS” (National Insurance Institute) has a monopoly here. Don’t get tricked into purchasing international car insurance for your Costa Rica vacation. Unless your insurance is from INS it isn’t valid in Costa Rica. You’ll either lose your money or have to ask for a refund when you return from your Costa Rica vacation.

Reputable Car Companies

If you book your car on your own, make sure you use a reputable company. Don’t book with a company you’ve never heard of, no matter how good the deal seems to be. If something does happen, you want to make sure you have someone in the office that can help you.

Basic or Full Coverage?

Basic or full coverage is separate from the mandatory national insurance. I like the idea of full coverage because if anything happens (stuff does happen sometimes), it’s nice to know you’re covered.

Most major credit cards include full coverage on cars rented with the card. Call your credit card company and double-check. That’ll save you quite a bit of money and give you peace of mind with your car rental. Basic coverage is just that, basic. Most guests never have problems with basic coverage.

Rental Car Deposits

You’ll need a credit card for the deposit on your rental car in Costa Rica. Rental car deposits range from $300 to $1,500 depending on the company and the type of car you rent. If there’s no issues, the rental car companies will return your deposit within three business days after you return your vehicle. Keep that in mind if you need access to the deposit money after your vacation. Similar to the US, you’ll need a valid driver’s license and be over 25 years old to rent the vehicle.

Now You Know

I hope that by now, I’ve answered most of those daunting questions you had about how to rent a car in Costa Rica. As always, our concierge is here to help you with your Costa Rica vacation planning needs.

See You Soon

We look forward to your vacation with us. If you haven’t read my other articles, please check them out here. Please follow us on Instagram @discoverybeachouse. For more information or to check our availability, visit our website at Discovery Beach House. Watch our YouTube Channel for more details on Manuel Antonio, the best spot to vacation in Costa Rica.

The Boruca, Costa Rica’s Unconquered Tribe

In my last article, Land’ ho Costa Rica History and the Last Unconquered Tribe, we talked a little about indigenous tribes. Costa Rica has a rich history of native tribes who have lived in the area about 10,000 years before Columbus arrived.

Out of Costa Rica’s 4.5 million population, about 114,000 are indigenous people from ancient tribes making up about 2.4% of the population. These tribes have retained their customs, culture, language, and rituals throughout the occupation of the Spaniards to present day.

The Mighty Boruca

In this article, I’d like to feature the mighty Boruca tribe. The Boruca are the only indigenous tribe of Costa Rica not defeated by the Spaniards. The Boruca are also known as Brunca, Brunka, and Borunca. The Boruca live on a land reservation of about 140 km2 in the South-Pacific region of Costa Rica. Costa Rica law established reservations for indigenous tribes to live. The Costa Rican government allows the tribes to self-govern on their reservations.

Boruca Scared the Sh*t Out of the Conquistadors

If you recall from my last article, I described the first Boruca and Spanish conquistador encounter in the jungle. The Boruca masks were terrifying with distorted scowling faces and jaguar-like fangs. Their bodies were painted in bright colors or covered in animal skins or banana leaves.

When the conquistadors first saw the Boruca tribesmen, they ran. The Boruca charged the conquistadors and chased them back to their ships. Legend has it the Boruca warded off the conquistadors for four days. That must have been such a sight to see, the brave conquistadors running for their lives.

Dance of the Little Devils

The Boruca celebrate each December 30th to January 2nd with the Dance of the Little Devils. This festival represents the Boruca chasing off the Spaniards. The Spaniards, represented by a bull and the Boruca the “little devils.”

Day 1

This multi-day festival starts with the warriors hear of the approaching conquistadors; they hike up into the surrounding hilltops to keep a lookout. While on the mountain top they call on the spirits of their masks to help them ward off the invaders. The warriors, to simulate animal skin wear burlap. They ordain themselves with beautiful feathers, paint their bodies in bright colors and wear their masks. The warriors energized with the spirits of their masks return to the village ready to defend their land.

Day 2

Day 2 begins with someone dressing up in the bull costume. The bull costume is covered in burlap, draped over a large box with a mask of a bull’s head. It’s somewhat cumbersome to wear, and it takes quite the beating. Due to this, the bull costume is worn by different people throughout the festival.

The Boruca paint their bodies in bright colors and don masks representing different spirits. The little devils, chastise, chase, and hit the bull. During the first couple of days of the festival, the bull knocks down the devils and thwarts their attacks. On the evening of the second day, the warriors drink chicha.

Chicha is a strong traditional alcohol drink made from corn. The Boruca believe chicha gives them powers to defeat the Spaniards. I guess when you have a few cocktails, you can feel invincible. The Boruca certainly did.

Day 3

The morning of the third day, the “Cacique” (Chief) and elders of the tribe walk through the village and bang on drums, play flutes and blow into a conch shell. The elders call the warriors of the village to come out and fight, then drink more chicha. They summon the spirits of the masks, drink more chicha, and become more emboldened. They then chase down the bull and the attacks worsen. Wouldn’t you hate to be the person dressing up in the bull costume?

Day 4

The final day of the festival, the warriors drink more chicha, then cover themselves with banana leaves to make themsleves appear to double or triple in size. They change their masks and attack the bull again and again. The attacks become more and more violent. It almost turns into a drunken brawl with all the chicha they drink, and that’s why the last couple of days of this festival gets a bit violent for the people participating. The ceremony culminates when the devils finally kill the bull and save their heritage.

Boruca Today

Today the Boruca live a peaceful life in the Talamanca mountains of Costa Rica. They still embrace their traditions, language, and culture. The Boruca tribe mostly relies on Ethnotourism to sell their crafts to sustain themselves.

Ethnotourism is pretty much what it sounds like. It’s when you travel to immerse yourself in another culture. Cool, huh. When you visit the Boruca you can arrange a homestay to see what’s it’s like to live in that culture. My husband David, daughter Dawn, and I have done it all over the world. We’ve stayed with weavers high in the Andes and on Lake Titicaca in Peru. We’ve also stayed with farmers in Bhutan. If you’ve never tried it, I highly recommend it. It’s enlightening, makes you humble, and makes you grateful for many things you’ve taken for granted in your life.

By now, I hope you’re ready to bring your tribe to visit the mighty Boruca tribe, the only indigenous tribe who remained unconquered by the Spanish during their control of Costa Rica.

See You Soon

We look forward to your vacation with us. If you haven’t read my other articles, please check them out here. Please follow us on Instagram @discoverybeachouse. For more information or to check our availability, visit our website at Discovery Beach House. Watch our YouTube Channel for more details on Manuel Antonio, the best spot to vacation in Costa Rica.

* Danza De Diablitos | Photo Credits: Tilyian Morrin, Peace Corps Volunteer, (Festival of 2017 – 2018) |

Key Tips Upon Arrival at Your Foreign Destination Luxury Vacation Rental

Key Tips Upon Arrival at Your Foreign Destination Luxury Vacation Rental

Key Tips Upon Arrival at Your Foreign Destination Luxury Vacation Rental

Last year you spent hours looking at holiday apartments and the time has finally come to go on your holiday. It’s been a long year, right! You’ve waited all year for this moment and you’ve been excited about it ever since you booked the trip. You’ve arrived at your luxury vacation rental home, or in an exhilarating Global Basecamps foreign location. Things are bound to be a bit different from home. Either a rental agent, concierge or homeowner will be there to Meet & Greet you. But there’s more involved than just handing you the keys. Follow these tips to get the most out of your Meet & Greet and maximize your experience at your home-away-from-home.

Actively Participate in the House Tour

All the adults in your party should accompany your greeter on the house tour.What usually happens is just one person goes on the tour while the rest of the party wanders about checking out the different rooms. Leaving 90% of your group uniformed about important details in the house is a recipe for disaster. Work as a team and eliminate the possibility of being left in the dark literally because the one person who knows what to do when the electricity goes out just ran to the grocery store.

Check the Lights

Ask to be shown where all the light switches are. Building standards vary from country to country and you don’t want to be groping around in the dark for alight switch. Try all the lights and make sure there are no burnt out bulbs so they can be replaced before you need them. Power outages may be a common occurrence in some foreign countries, so you’ll want to ask about the location of emergency lights, flashlights, candles and matches.

Check the Air Conditioners

Your luxury vacation rental home will likely have air conditioners. Turn each one on briefly to make sure it works then review the functions with your greeter. The last thing you want to happen on a scorching hot day is to discover an air conditioner doesn’t work and the technician can’t come over until tomorrow.

Know Your Kitchen

The most complicated room in the house is the kitchen as it usually has several appliances. Some foreign countries, especially Latin ones, use propane gas stoves. You’ll want to know how to light the stove and oven if you plan to use them. If there’s a barbecue grill ask how it works if you’re unfamiliar with the model.

Ask Questions

The operative phrase here is “ask, don’t assume.” Don’t be afraid of sounding dumb if you aren’t sure about something. Your greeter is there to help and inform you. Getting your questions answered during the tour can save you several phone calls later. Everything won’t be exactly like it is at home. Be sure and ask for contact information in case something goes wrong. Also ask for local emergency numbers for the hospital, police and fire department. Chances are you’ll never need them but it’s a good idea to have them close at hand, if nothing else, for peace of mind. So, encourage everyone in your party to be an active participant during the Meet & Greet. Learn all you can about the house and check that everything is in working order. Be sure and ask plenty of questions and you’re bound to have a great experience at your luxury vacation rental.