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Driving from San Jose to MA at night

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Driving from San Jose to MA at night

My boyfriend and I are planning a long weekend trip to Manuel Antonio, and our plane doesn't arrive until the evening time. We rented a car (Nissan Pathfinder) and are planning on driving there ourselves from the airport. We were a little concerned about driving at night since neither of us has made that dive before, and when we asked our hotel about it they didn't recommend driving at night. The hotel recommended a driver, but we aren't looking to spend that kind of money to get there and back, it would be double the car rental!

Can I get someone's opinion on making that drive at night? We heard it's about 3 hours. We're staying at the Villas Nicolas. We probably would not get on the road out of SJO until 9pm.

San Jose, Costa Rica
posts: 3,527
1. Re: Driving from San Jose to MA at night

Just go slow and you should be fine the road is all in good shape . Get a good map, directions or a gps so you do not get lost. You need to take highway 27th (the new one that goes to Caldera), get off on the Jaco-Quepos-Manuel Antonio exit and just follow the signs to Quepos and Manuel Antonio. Driving at night is more difficult as but many partsof the road are not iluminated, harder to help get if something goes wrong with the car or if you get a flat tire. It is normally 3 hours but maybe a little more at night

Edited: 6:10 pm, August 26, 2012
San Jose, Costa Rica
posts: 44,893
2. Re: Driving from San Jose to MA at night

Dear Kitty..

Just common sense...the road is great all the way from SJO to Villas Nicolas...observe your speed limits...and driving distances...if is dark rainy night..no moon...just slow down...the road again is better than ever...

Of course is better not to drive at night...but I even tell friends that it is 100% doable...just if you drive slow...

Check that your car have excellent tires...also that the tools are there...good spare...good idea to bring a couple flash lights just in case...all lights in good working condition...beam...etc...etc...

But please do not worry that much...some people for unknown reason will try to scare you a lot more than necessary...just common sense!

Get some USD in singles...to pay the toll road at 27TH...maybe around $ 10.00 in singles...YES they take USD...

Very simple from SJO take Pan Am Hyw ...drive about 15 minutes...North...the road is under construction...so you have to drive slow anyway...you will see some roads signs...ManuelAntonio...Atenas..La Garita...get off before the Hwy overpass...go up and make a left...now yyou are in La Garita road...drive about 12 minutes you will pass at your left a big restaurant...La Feria del Maiz...then soon you will see a church also at your left...then a small police station...and a soccer field......make a left right there...drive for about 15 minutes...you will see a over pass ...right before the over pass make a left...go up hill and at the top make a right...NOW you are in 27TH...

Drive all the way until you see road signs to Orotina...get ready to pay another toll...by the way the last one...once you pay the toll keep right...take the road to Jaco...Tarcoles...now you are in 34th...just keep driving all the way to Parrita and then Paquita...make a right hand side turn into Quepos..follow signs...to Manuel Antonio NAtional PArk...really only one road to go...once at the top of the hill you will see Cafe Milagros at your left...then Aqua Azul a little far away ...Villas Nicolas is at your right hand side...

Some sections of the road offer great road lights...VERY importnat...driving distances...from Parrita to Paquita that stretch of the road is flat and not many curves....people like to go fast around there...DO NOT DO IT...not safe...some bridges have a kind of a high ramp...and if you are driving a little to fast...your car can literally fly in one of those ramps...very common way in that road to loose control of your car!

Only one slow down by the entrance of Parrita some road work...but is well mark...be aware of any mudd slide...common of the rainy season...it was one yesterday by Las Caletas hotel...

Just buckle up and enjoy the ride in PARADISE!

Sorry I base my driving directions and driving times in my well over 45 years driving all kinds of vehicles in my country...my driving times some times do not match with some people...well for them is maybe a one time experience for me is just another safe drive...I do not base my driving route on any link...sorry...some nice people maybe can give you some good links...and yes they work very good...my way the COSTARICAN way!


Edited: 10:00 pm, August 26, 2012
Cahuita, Costa Rica
Destination Expert
for Cahuita
posts: 2,314
reviews: 9
3. Re: Driving from San Jose to MA at night

But be prepared to be flexible, if your plane is delayed, if the weather conditions are unfavorable, if you as the driver don't feel wide awake and alert...or any other good reason to abandon plans for super-early the next morning, don't take the risk! Driving here takes your full attention and I always plan any long journey to finish within daylight hours, even if I know the road. Have a great trip!

posts: 10
reviews: 15
4. Re: Driving from San Jose to MA at night

Thanks so much everyone, especially for those really detailed directions! That is exactly what we were looking for- something with landmarks, etc. . We are going to have GPS on our phones and we're renting from a reputable (American) car company in hopes for better roadside service in case we need it.

I have a feeling we will be okay. We drove the French and Italian Riviera from Marsille to Genova and then up to Milan, and we had never done so before. We spoke pretty much no French or Italian, but we never had any issues and never got lost.

posts: 553
reviews: 57
5. Re: Driving from San Jose to MA at night

roadavisor gave very good directions & advice but I just wanted to mention that people use the roads for walking wearing dark clothers, bicycles with no light & pushing baby strollers, etc. Especially on the La Garita road, there are no shoulders in many places. Going slow means VERY slow compared to US driving. It is VERY dark when it is dark (all the better to see the stars).

If it has been raining do watchout for mudslides--you'll see on 27 the potential when you see the walls cutout for the hwy. One good thing, many of us do not drive at night so the traffic will be less.

San Jose, Costa Rica
posts: 44,893
6. Re: Driving from San Jose to MA at night

You are WELCOME Kitty ...just relax everything is going to be OK...!

I think is more complicated driving around Como lake than in any of our roads...honestly!


Grecia, Costa Rica
posts: 916
reviews: 15
7. Re: Driving from San Jose to MA at night

Kitty L, as Mike A943, Sara F, and joyceh point out, driving in Costa Rica at night is not a simple process, and per the directions, you are often on a 2 lane secondary road.

If you decide to visit us during the rainy season (which officially ends in November) and it is raining or starts while you arrive, please consider postponing your departure until next morning, as despite the directions given you do need to heed the advice about "go slow", "mudslides", there is general lack of maintenance (very common here, as repairs are often done "Mañana") and of course the local frantic drivers who share the road. Just be prepared to stop at one of the many local hotels, wake up refreshed after the flight, grab some gallo pinto, then shove off.

You should also be very cautious about accepting a rental late at night, as often damage can be found in the light of day, and by then it's your dime. Do insist on a well lit spot to look the vehicle over and carefully document all scratches, dents, damage, windshield chips and stars, as well as cigarette burns in the seats, and missing knobs and/or equipment. Can make the difference between and great holiday and one with extra expense.

Have a great holiday and THANK YOU for planning to visit OUR beautiful country.

8. Re: Driving from San Jose to MA at night

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Removed on: 11:51 pm, August 27, 2012
San Jose, Costa Rica
posts: 3,527
9. Re: Driving from San Jose to MA at night

Great advice from CajonTraveler about checking your car rental really well especially if you are getting at night. As most of us pointed out it is best not to drive at night but if you have too just go slow. I also agree with CajonTraveler it is no secret that TOO many of the roads and bridges in Costa Rica are in bad shape and with many pot holes, (there are daily complains on the news and in the newspapers). The one to Manuel Antonio is in good shape. Have a great trip!

Grecia, Costa Rica
posts: 916
reviews: 15
10. Re: Driving from San Jose to MA at night

Thanks MikeA943 for the reinforcement as we want the traveler to have a great and safe time. others, well...their comments are just mean spirited when the truth is not all is well with the transport system here.

One final thing Kitty L, you mentioned you have a car rental arrangement with a "reputable (American" car company"..I hope it isn't Budget, as you should take a look at this post and use anyone but them tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g309224-i4208-k535…

Have a great and trouble free holiday.