Costa Rica Transportation in late 2020 & 2021
Morpho Vans has provided reliable Costa Rica Transportation since 2012. We keep track of the different options available for travelers to get around Costa Rica, new services available, schedules, prices and conditions, so we can advise our customers and help them make good decisions when planning their vacation.
In this article we’ll be writing about all the Costa Rica transportation solutions available after the Covid-19 pandemic, for independent travelers visiting solo, in a couple, small groups and families.
Changes after March 2020
Several things have changed in the last months since the pandemic started. To provide an update on how transportation in Costa Rica has changed recently and what to expect if you are planning to visit us in late 2020 or 2021, we are publishing this post plus a series of short articles discussing additional transportation solution. We’ll also describe how Morpho Vans has adapted to these changes with new protocols required for safety.
Renting a Car and Driving yourself
The experience of renting a car and driving yourself in Costa Rica has not changed much after the pandemic. If you like driving we suggest you go ahead and enjoy it. But there are caveats. Read more…
Shared Shuttles have lost some of their appeal after Covid19 because they put a group of strangers in the same vehicle for several hours, this way breaking the “social bubble”. Read more…
Public buses are inexpensive and go everywhere. The routes between San Jose and most major beach towns are still simple and reliable. But other routes can be very slow and changing buses is always confusing. Read more…
Private transfers are the ideal solution to get around Costa Rica post Covid-19. You travel in a very comfortable van just for your group. Read more…
Renting a Car and Driving yourself
The experience of renting a car and driving yourself in Costa Rica has not changed much after the pandemic. If you like driving yourself we suggest you go ahead and enjoy it.
We expect to have less road maintenance because of the financial crisis and road conditions may begin to deteriorate in the next few months.
At the time of writing, October 2020, fuel prices are the same as they were before Covid in March 2020. That is almost one US dollar per liter ($3.80 US per gallon). Something you may not know is that during the pandemic international fuel prices dropped but Costa Rica, where fuel importation and distribution is a monopoly of the state, chose to keep local prices the same and used the extra profits to provide financial aid to people who had lost their jobs or were furloughed due to the pandemic.
Actual car rental prices are a bit lower post-covid, but the difference is small and won’t make a big dent in your trip budget. Keep in mind that your total cost for traveling through Costa Rica in a rental car will include two other expensive items: fuel and insurance. These two together may cost more than the price of the rental.
What is the most popular rental car in Costa Rica?
We like Adobe rent a car. They are the largest rental company owned by Costa Ricans and not by an international chain.
Can I rent a hybrid or electric car in Costa Rica?
On a positive note, there are now more hybrid cars available for rent. We like the Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid sedan by Adobe Rent a Car. The rental price of the hybrid is the same as a regular sedan but you’ll save 20% to 30% of the cost of fuel
Electric cars are still not available for rent. The main reason is the lack of charging stations. But this is slowly changing and we hope we’ll soon have many electric cars available for rent and with that reducing our carbon footprint.
Morpho Vans doesn’t rent cars to drive yourself, but we have a deal for a very good discount with Adobe rent- a-car. You can check rental car prices and availability here.
Is it dangerous to rent a car in Costa Rica?
The usual safety precautions are valid when you drive around Costa Rica post Covid-19: never leave the car unattended, especially if you have luggage or valuables in it. We also suggest you rent directly with a local company instead of using an international 3rd party like Expedia or Kayak.
A shared shuttle is a transportation service going from one city to another, that picks passengers up from multiple hotels. These are people who are not travelling together. The service is normally from hotel to hotel and has a fixed schedule.
In Costa Rica Shared Shuttles provide daily transportation between the most popular tourist areas. They are operated in vans with capacity for 8 to 15 passengers maximum. This has been a good option for people traveling solo or couples who..
Shared shuttles have lost their appeal after Covid-19 because they put you in the same vehicle with a group of strangers, breaking the “social bubble”.
Shared transportation companies have reduced the number of passengers in their vans to 50% of the capacity and are required to follow strict protocols of cleanliness and sanitation of the vehicles. Still this is not an option we recommend right now.
Shared shuttles only cost less if you are traveling solo or in a couple. But if you have 3 or more persons traveling together, the price of three tickets in the shuttle is almost the same as a private transfer. With 3 or more travellers you should use a private transfer instead; it will not cost more and you’ll avoid all the disadvantages of the shared service.
Regardless of Covid-19, the main drawbacks of shared shuttles are that they only run at fixed times and you can’t stop where you want. They only make stops for bathroom and bus changes at fixed locations, usually at a souvenir store or touristy restaurant.
Shared shuttle is a service between hotels. They don’t pick up at Airbnb’s, offices or private houses.
If you choose to use shared transportation, make sure you go with a reputable company. The best are Interbus and Grayline which operate all over the country. There are a few other regional companies like Tropical shuttles in Guanacaste or Caribe shuttle if you are going to the Caribbean Coast including Bocas del Toro in Panama.
Public buses are inexpensive and very reliable. The routes between San Jose and major beach towns are fast and reliable. Other routes to places like La Fortuna or Monteverde can be complicated because you need to change buses on the way. This is slow and can be confusing even for us Costa Ricans.
Public buses are running less frequently because of the pandemic. Our experience is that they are traveling at almost full capacity but running less often. For long trips, if you have the time and wish to save some money, the public bus is a great transportation solution. And you’ll get the cultural experience of being together with the locals.
It’s hard to find updated/accurate bus schedules in Costa Rica. Here are a couple of resources we can recommend but even the best of them can’t keep track of the constant changes. For the best information we suggest you check with your hotel or someone in the community where you are staying.
Private transfers are the ideal solution to get around Costa Rica post Covid-19. You travel in a van with a driver just for your group. The service is door to door and includes the freedom to stop where you want along the way.
Do private transfers have fixed departure times?
No. Private transfers can be booked at any time you need it, during the day or the night. We do suggest you book in advance with a reputable company.
Other traditional advantages of private transfer services are still valid:
– private transfers are always door to door
– private transfer pick up at any Airbnb, private house, office or building
– you can choose the departure time
– you can stop where you want along the way
Also the Morpho Vans’ drivers are very good at sharing information about the country, our culture, food and attractions at the areas you are visiting.
Do private transfer drivers in Costa Rica speak English?
This changes a lot depending on the company you are hiring.
All Morpho Vans’ drivers have at least an intermediate level of English that is enough for the communications you normally need on a transfer from hotel to hotel. Most of our drivers for small vans actually speak English well.
Keep in mind that even if you hire a bilingual driver, they are not tour guides and don’t have the specific knowledge and training to work as such.
Be careful of very low prices in private transportation
There are no big price changes after Covid because the costs of operating private transportation have not changed at all.
Our advice is that if you see a surprisingly low price in private transportation, be cautious and check all the details. Very low prices normally mean the operator is cutting corners somewhere. Maybe the vehicle doesn’t have insurance or it’s not licensed for tourism, or the driver is not being paid the minimum wage. We’ve seen many cases when the drivers don’t even get an allowance for a meal after 10 or 12 hours on the road.
Are there Covid-19 safety protocols in private Costa Rica transportation?
Yes. The Costa Rican Tourism Institute and our Ministry of Health have issued strict protocols for transportation and all travel related activities like hotels, restaurants and tours.
All passengers (except small children) and the driver must wear a mask for the duration of the trip. There are also strict rules for cleaning and sanitizing the vehicles between trips. Morpho Vans and our drivers comply with all the Covid-19 safety protocols and our drivers and vans have all the necessary licenses and insurance.
You can find prices and details for all our private transfers here.
We hope this information will help with planning your next trip to Costa Rica.
Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or want assistance organizing transportation in Costa Rica.