We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Is GPS critical for driving in Costa Rica

Salmon Arm, Canada
Level Contributor
43 posts
342 reviews
Save Topic
Is GPS critical for driving in Costa Rica

We've rented a 4X4 for our trip - Route: San Jose to Arenal, Monteverde, down west coast to Manuel Antonio (no doubt there will be side trips). Have a Garmin but cost to download Costa Rica map is $140 -- as only going to be there once, would welcome comments as to whether it is crictical to have a GPS or if a 'paper map' is adequate for navigating the country.

Thank you in advance for your thoughts,

Mentioned in this post
Arenal Lodge
Arenal Lodge
893 Reviews
La Fortuna de San Carlos, Costa Rica
San Jose
San Jose
San Jose Metro, Costa Rica
Monteverde
Monteverde
Province of Puntarenas, Costa Rica
Manuel Antonio
Manuel Antonio
Province of Puntarenas, Costa Rica
Costa Rica
Costa Rica
Central America
Costa Rica
Level Contributor
25,653 posts
25 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Is GPS critical for driving in Costa Rica

A good paper map will be enough. I use the one from Mapcr.com - you can buy it through Amazon. It has a photo of a toucan on the front. No need to spend that kind of money on GPS maps for your itinerary.

Another possibility is that some rental car agencies will include a GPS for you at no extra cost with a car rental.

London, England...
Level Contributor
2,558 posts
118 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Is GPS critical for driving in Costa Rica

Not critical, but highly advisable.

Bear in mind you can rent a GPS for $10 from your car-hire company, and it's one that'll be properly loaded up with streets and destinations and POIs etc on it. Also the hire company will often be nice and pre-programme it all for you. Dollar did for us and we had every hotel in their before we even left San Jose on our first day.

Presuming your trip is less than 14 days this would be a more cost effective option and, IMO, a small price to pay for the peace of mind.

Mentioned in this post
San Jose
San Jose
San Jose Metro, Costa Rica
nebraska
Level Contributor
1,244 posts
68 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Is GPS critical for driving in Costa Rica

It's really helpful to use GPS but you can do it without. It's just less stressful.

We use Navsat and they offer a 10 day service for $49 if you already have a Garmin.

Check out their website.

www.navsatcr.com/carro/detalleProducto.php…

San Jose, Costa Rica
Level Contributor
49,025 posts
35 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Is GPS critical for driving in Costa Rica

ou really do not need it...but nice to have one...

roadadvisor

Brooklyn, New York
Destination Expert
for Sarapiqui
Level Contributor
6,373 posts
148 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Is GPS critical for driving in Costa Rica

Having done those drives, I would absolutely say as David E did "not critical but highly advisable."

One dirty trick they pull on foreign drivers in Costa Rica is to change the name of the highway when it passes through town, and then fork it off in two different directions in the middle of town (this was especially true on the way to Arenal).

And, of course, the roads inside many of these towns are unmarked.

It's nothing that can't be resolved via the time-honored tradition of rolling down your window and asking someone "Perdon. Donde esta la via para Arenal?"

Just hope that your Spanish listening is good enough to understand the rapid fire answer.

Mentioned in this post
Arenal Lodge
Arenal Lodge
893 Reviews
La Fortuna de San Carlos, Costa Rica
Costa Rica
Costa Rica
Central America
Canada
Level Contributor
4,622 posts
67 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Is GPS critical for driving in Costa Rica

Another vote for critical no - advisable yes. Cheaper than a message for the stress relief and you will appreciate staring at the scenery rather than a map.

Bermuda
Destination Expert
for Bermuda
Level Contributor
3,539 posts
30 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Is GPS critical for driving in Costa Rica

Save some gray hair and possibly your marriage by getting the gps. Go with the 10 day map "rental" as mentioned above and spend more time looking out the window rather than at a map.

Toronto, Canada
Level Contributor
63 posts
6 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Is GPS critical for driving in Costa Rica

GPS is very handy....but use some critical thinking (and the odd check with a paper map) and make sure what the gps is telling you makes sense! Especially if you're heading through the city, I've taken a wrong turn or 2 with help from the gps! But not to worry if this happens, go with the flow! Have fun!

San Jose, Costa Rica
Level Contributor
89 posts
1 review
Save Reply
9. Re: Is GPS critical for driving in Costa Rica

If this is gonna be your first trip to CR I would say "Take the GPS with you"...

You will save time and gas.

David E got a GPS from Dollar but I think it is cheaper, I think it cost $9 x day...

Alameda, California
Level Contributor
46 posts
22 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Is GPS critical for driving in Costa Rica

We thought long and hard about renting a vehicle in CR and finally decided we would, mainly for the flexibility and freedom. We're glad we did, but we would NOT have done so well without the GPS, which we rented along with the SUV. The hotels don't have addresses, but we were able just to enter the name of the hotel and, if necessary, the city, and Tica (our pet name for the voice) would always get us there. I can't imagine trying it with only a map; signs are scarce.