Getting to Costa Rica…
Getting to Costa Rica is getting easier every year. The modern Juan Santa Maria International Airport is just outside San Jose and is the country’s largest airport offering direct flights to and from popular American and European cities.
“Once touched down in Costa Rica, this is where the adventure really begins…”
Most guests choose to rent a 4x4 car with our recommendation Vamos rent-a-car. Allowing them to really explore Costa Rica’s scenery and enjoy their own independence. With recent improvements in the road infrastructure the drive from San José to Pura Vida Ecolodge takes between 3 and 4 hours, depending on the season (dry or rainy). Go by way of Jaco and Quepos and enjoy the endless coffee plantations and cow ranches, with a stop near Carara National Park to observe the crocodiles lazing in the river. Stop for lunch and beachside dining in Dominical and shortly after passing through Uvita (home to the world famous Parque Nacional Marino Ballena) is the sleepy village of Coronado. Here you’ll be welcomed by our housekeeper who leads guests up to the lodge in convoy as we are purposefully not signposted, in an effort to maintain our retreat’s privacy.
“At a dramatic and refreshingly cooler altitude of just over 300 meters…”
…Pura Vida Ecolodge is a 10-minute bumpy drive up from Coronado, through some stunning panoramic scenery with views over the lush valleys towards the meandering Rio Terraba and once you arrive, you’ll find the lodge tucked away hanging over the jungle canopy on one side and on the other, directly faces the Pacific Ocean, Costa Rica's spectacular sunsets and the world famous National Parks - Isla del Caño & Osa Peninsula on the other.
Alternatively, you can catch a 45 minute flight from San José to Palmar Sur via SANSA or Nature Air (from San José Municipal Airport) or a shorter flight to Quepos. These flights arrive at Palmar Sur in the morning and at Quepos throughout the day and from there we can help you arrange your 4x4 car rental pick up. From Quepos airport, it’s then about 75 minutes to Coronado and from Palmar Sur, just under 30 minutes.
Whether you fly or drive down to the wild Southern Pacific coast, you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy SO much of Costa Rica’s natural diversity along the way and once safely settled into Pura Vida Ecolodge,
you’ll no doubt leap at the chance to turn off and ‘re-wild’, embracing your first magical sunset where you can lay back in the hammock, with a freshly plucked mango and be a front row spectator of nature with monkeys, pizotes, parrots and toucans all frequently visiting the lodge and it's surrounding reserve.
flights from San Jose
Both Sansa Air & Nature Air fly to Palmar Sur & Quepos (which are 45 mins or 75 mins respectively from Pura Vida Ecolodge.) Flight time from San Jose is approx 45 mins and both companies offer 1-3 flights daily depending on the season. Return fares start from $120 and there are currently 4 flights a day (SJO to Quepos), which is also very convenient for a visit to the world famous Manuel Antonio National Park, where powdery white beaches run directly into thick rain forest brimming with tropical wildlife. Please check their websites for up-to-date times, prices & availability and whether you choose Quepos or Palmar Sur, you can arrange a ‘meet & greet’ service with Vamos rent-a-car to pick up your 4x4 car hire.
*Tip: Be sure to have your camera to hand for some of the world’s most stunning aerial photography!
4x4 Car Hire…
We highly recommend Vamos Rent-A-Car, one of Costa Rica's best 4x4 specialist rental companies who we have been working closely with since we first opened. When speaking to our contact Luis, please be sure to mention Pura Vida Ecolodge when reserving to benefit from the best possible deal. (They will also price match if you find a better deal elsewhere). Vamos Rent-a-Car offer a more personalised service from start to finish with no hidden extras, unlike some of the other larger companies that you might find online and while their main office is within walking distance of San Jose International Airport, they do offer ‘meet & greet services’ for our guests. Prices typically start from: Jimmy 4x4 - $50.00 a day inc basic insurance & tax, Daihatsu Terios - $60.00 a day inc basic insurance & tax, Rav 4 - $80.00 a day inc basic insurance & tax, Fortuner - $110.00 a day inc basic insurance & tax. Given they are a smaller company and have a smaller fleet of 4x4 cars, please bear in mind that availability runs out quickly as the peak season approaches. We also recommend that you take Fully Comp car insurance for complete peace of mind...
Off the beaten track 4x4 Driving in Costa Rica…
Road conditions may differ quite a lot from what you are used to ‘back home’. Some of the roads are not paved in Costa Rica and potholes are very common. A large tree limb on the road may indicate a pothole or another kind of obstacle on the road.
Costa Rica is a super mountainous country and it’s often necessary to drive through the mountains on small, curvy and really bumpy roads. This is why journeys often takes longer than they looked on the map! In addition there can be other interesting obstacles along the way, like trucks overloaded with bananas or a sloth seemingly taking a lifetime to cross the road. Naturally, this can sometimes slow things down a little and curvy roads sometimes makes overtaking a little tricky. Best advice is to remember you’re on vacation and just enjoy taking things slow, lapping up the ever changing scenery and nature!
For more useful tips on driving in Costa Rica, including maps, estimated route times, driving at night, traffic laws and other super useful information, please kindly visit Your Travel Map