There is no easier place outside of the United States to drive than the Guanacaste region of Costa Rica. With brand new, perfectly paved roads, you’ll easily be able to get from the Liberia airport to the playas region or the Rincón de la Vieja Volcano in no time.
Unless you plan on going on extreme off-road adventures, you won’t need a 4 wheel drive vehicle. While there are steep inclines to navigate, 4 wheel drive is not necessary.
The speed limit in the area varies from 40 to 80 kmph, which may seem rather slow. However, the roads are winding and slower speeds are the only way to safely navigate them. However the Ticos know these roads like the back of their hands, so you’ll see them driving much faster than the speed limit.
Police officers don’t patrol the roadways like they do in America, so to enforce slower speeds in town, speed bumps (or reductors) are placed every few blocks. Most have remnants of yellow paint that has faded over time, making the speed bumps the same color as the road and easy to miss. Signs are posted warning drivers of the speed bumps, but the signs can be quite a ways away from where the speed bump actually is.
There are parking lots at each playa (beach) in the area with Ticos manning the lot, offering to watch your car for a couple bucks. I was never sure if it was mandatory or voluntary, but we always paid because it’s inexpensive and puts some money back into the locals pockets. Plus, most parking lots at larger stores or condo communities have security guards watching the cars, leading me to believe there’s a serious problem with car break-ins and thefts.
Keep in mind that there are no addresses throughout most of Costa Rica and street names are non-existent. When you ask for directions, you’ll get step by step instructions based on specific landmarks. This can be overwhelming, but there aren’t that many roads in Costa Rica so you shouldn’t have any issues.
The most dangerous part of driving in Costa Rica is the number of people walking or riding bikes on the main roads. Even at night, people will walk along the roads wearing dark colored clothing, making it vital to pay very close attention while driving.
If you’re worried about driving in Costa Rica – don’t! You won’t have any issues driving in the Guanacaste area.