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Private driver or rent a car? Sjo to Jaco and Jaco to MA

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Chicago, IL
Level Contributor
46 posts
5 reviews
Private driver or rent a car? Sjo to Jaco and Jaco to MA


Would it be recommended to drive ourselves from SJO to our hotel in Jaco and then drive ourselves to MA for a day trip when we feel like it? Or should we hire a private driver? We don't have any activities planned because we wanted to get there and see but most likely at least will go to Manual Antonio state park. I know some people recommend guides for the park but is it easier to hire private drive/guide?

There are 6 of us and we are only staying for 4 nights from July 9th- July 13th. We get in around 11am upon arrival and depart around 1pm.

Destination Expert
for Jaco, Bocas Town
Level Contributor
3,955 posts
129 reviews
1. Re: Private driver or rent a car? Sjo to Jaco and Jaco to MA

We always use a private driver. You would need a big car for 6 people so if you just need the four transfers the coast may be about the same. Do get a guide for the park. We love using Juan Carlos, tjtransfers@gmail.com. He can help with a guide and other stuff you may want to do on your trip. You can at least get a quote and compare it to renting a car.

raliegh nc
3 posts
1 review
2. Re: Private driver or rent a car? Sjo to Jaco and Jaco to MA

I'd hire someone. Driving from San Jose could be done but if you've never been to Costa Rica before why endure the stress of driving. Through DayStar in Jaco we arranged to be picked up in San Jose and it only cost $115 each way (not per person but total) and there were 5 of us. We traveled in a large modern air conditioned van and the drivers were great to answer questions and provide info on Costa Rica and the sites.

DayStar can also arrange a tour to Manuel Antonio for you for $85/person and that includes a guide through the park with a spotting scope & a great lunch afterwards at a local restaurant. Having the Guide I think was essential as he spotted animals, reptiles, etc that we would never have seen and within seconds had the spotting scope set up and focused for us to see & take pictures.

If you drive, San Jose is a crazy place because drivers obviously like to honk horns and swerve in/out of traffic alot more than anywhere in the US outside of LA or NYC <g>. Also, even though the road to Jaco is a new highway, its pretty winding with steep climbs/decends and you will often encounter slow moving local trucks/vehicles. Me, I'd rather enjoy the trip and let someone else drive.

Also... getting insurance for a rental in Costa Rica is expensive. You will probably have a hold of up to $1500 put on your credit card until you return the car & its undamaged in any way.

New Orleans
Level Contributor
168 posts
59 reviews
3. Re: Private driver or rent a car? Sjo to Jaco and Jaco to MA

I always use, Chilly Willy, he is the best. Knows everyone and everything. He picks us up at the airport, brings us to Jaco and then sets up all our tours for the best price anywhere. Chilly Willy Tour Sevice, Guillermo Arias ,local phone numbers , 506-382-6816 or 506-552-1299 , Speaks both English and Spanish and is a good guy.

Destination Expert
for Bermuda
Level Contributor
3,068 posts
28 reviews
4. Re: Private driver or rent a car? Sjo to Jaco and Jaco to MA

i've used www.tucanlimoservices.com several times, all with excellent results. also, explore the cost/freedom comparison of renting a car for a day or two at a time while in jaco for spontaneous adventures.

Chicago, Illinois...
Level Contributor
13 posts
11 reviews
5. Re: Private driver or rent a car? Sjo to Jaco and Jaco to MA

I just returned from my first trip to Costa Rica, spending time in Manuel Antonio and Uvita (smaller town 1 hr south of Quepos), and I have to say that I am so happy I rented a car! I've always been a "do it yourself" kind of traveler, but have also done the private car thing a few times. I didn't find driving in Costa Rica (with a rented GPS unit) to be very tough at all once we got out of the airport/city area and I really enjoyed getting to drive to some out of the way places down dirt and gravel roads in the 4x4 we had. Definitely think about renting a car if you're up for a little adventure and want to be able to make quick trips to amazing, out of the way, places at a moments notice!

1 post
6. Re: Private driver or rent a car? Sjo to Jaco and Jaco to MA

Hi Sean

Thank you for posting your experience of your Costa Rica trip. I am from Atlanta, GA and I am traveling with 4 other relatives all adults to Costa Rica and we are staying in Jaco on the Pacific side.

Did you rented at the airport or did you waited to reach your destination to rent the vehicle?

Approximately about how much did you spend and for how many days?

I would like to know which rental company you used and what type of things to avoid.

Is my first time visiting the country, I speak Spanish fluent but I want to educate myself of the do's and don't of the area.

Any information you send me will be appreciated.

Thank you so much,


Atlanta, Georgia

Level Contributor
9,880 posts
44 reviews
7. Re: Private driver or rent a car? Sjo to Jaco and Jaco to MA

Another option is to rent from Vamos Rental Car (GREAT company). They can provide a driver for your first day under $50. He'll pick you up and drive you to Jaco leaving the vehicle with you. Best of both worlds. You don't need to navigate busy and oft confusing San Jose traffic. You can stop along the way if you like and relax enjoying the view. We found the drive from Jaco South all the way down to Palmar Norte very simple. Recently paved roads. Great signage and parallell the Sea. We were very happy to have the freedom of our own vehicle. SO much to see. Waterfalls, Beaches, Wildlife and more. At night in Jaco you can park the vehicle and walk or take taxis. When you get ready to leave drive yourselves back to SJO or have the driver meet you again. The best thing for us with a Driver is we did not waste a minute having to go to a car rental office, wait in lines etc. Biggest Pleasant suprise...Final charge from VAMOS was exactly, to the penny what our emailed (From Max and George) Statement said it would be. Costaricadiscount.com will get you a 20% discount from Vamos for a $20 fee.

8. Re: Private driver or rent a car? Sjo to Jaco and Jaco to MA

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