a VirtualTourist member
My wife and I will be traveling throughout Costa Rica. We arrive in San José and from there go to Arenal. From there we go to Guanacaste, and then return to San José. We have the option to rent a car or to take shuttles from each place. We were wondering how good the road system is in Costa Rica. Would it be worth it to rent a car, or would it be safer to go with a shuttle service? Also, does anyone know how long it takes to travel from each San José to Arenal, Arenal to Guanacaste, and Guanacaste to San José? Lots of questions I know, if anyone could help that'd be great. Thanks!
I recommend you rent a car. The only issue driving from San Jose to Arenal is getting stuck behind trucks transporting cargo. They move very slow through the mountains with few places to pass. The drive from San Jose to Arenal takes about 3.5 hours. Give or take depending on the number of trucks you are stuck behind. I went this January and had great luck making the drive in 3 hours.
Arenal to Guanacaste is tricking to give you an answer since you did not mention where in Guanacaste you are going. Its a big area. Taking the most direct route from Arenal to the beach takes about 3 hours. Could be more depending on location but it would not be less. Also depends on the route from Arenal. I always drive around Lake Arenal to Cano then onto the beaches. I love this drive but it has a lot of twists and turns (but no real steep sections).
The same holds true with the route from Guanacaste to San Jose. Depends where you will be coming from. I would say no less than three hours because you have to go back through the mountainous region.
Good luck, have a great trip!!