sloth road

One of the road hazards in Costa Rica… don’t expect them to sprint out of your way!

Costa Rica is well known for its white sandy beaches, laid back atmosphere, heaps of wildlife and pleasant climates.  It is no wonder that many want to take a vacation and ride across Costa Rica.  If you are one of those this is a guide to help you make your dreams a reality in paradise.

The first question to ask yourself is, what to ride? Should I ship my motorcycle to Costa Rica? Should I rent a bike in Costa Rica? Should I ride to Costa Rica?  Most likely shipping is out of the question but we are talking about riding your own personal bike so get a quote, you never know and you might decide to never go home.  Riding from USA to Costa Rica can be dangerous, despite what you have probably heard about Mexico it is an amazing country to ride and mostly safe just like Guatemala and Nicaragua but Honduras is the country that you mostly have to worry about.

Many people have made the overland trip with no problems and if you’re the adventurous type then it can be a challenge to accept.  But for many people this may be out of the question, especially if you don’t speak Spanish.   Renting a bike is a great option, you can find many different makes and models, from touring motorcycles to street legal dirt bikes.

costarica_roadmapThe most dangerous part about riding a motorcycle in Costa Rica is dealing with the bad drivers, especially in the capital San Jose (which is no different then most capitals).  Other than that and the odd sloth on the road the country is incredibly safe.  The dry season is the best time to ride, between mid-November thru April the climate is perfect for riding.  You definitely won’t need any under layers along the coast and cruising in your t-shirt will feel so refreshing.  During the day the temperatures in the mountains will be around 68 degrees F.

The country is relatively small, only 19,730 square miles and there is a mere 155 miles of road separating the Caribbean coast from the Pacific.  The prices of gasoline are known to be some of highest in Central America but not out of reason.  The roads are mostly windy with the speed limit is set to around 40 miles per hour, but there are some straight stretches where you can hold back on that throttle.

The government in Costa Rica is doing a very good job of improving the out dated roads but like most things in Latin America it is a slow process, some of the new roads are outstanding but you will definitely have some potholes to dodge.  It is important to know that you do need a motorcycle driver’s license in Costa Rica, your out of country  license is good but will only be valid for 90 days.  If you are willing to rock a scooter under 50cc you don’t need a bike license, just a regular driver’s license.

If you spend 2 weeks in Costa Rica you can visit all sides of the country but once get here you will want to take some time to relax at each destination so plan for a longer trip if possible.

jaco

The view of Jaco

From the bright blue Caribbean waters of Puerto Viejo de Talamanca to the small party beach town of Jaco this must do trip will offer a little bit of everything within 200 miles. The Caribbean side is much like Jamaica where you will find Rasta men smoking on the beach mon. No matter where you go in Costa Rica you will notice that everyone is so laid back and happy, in fact it is known to be the happiest place to live in the world.  The mountains between these two beach towns will be a nice break from the heat of the coast and the views will take your breath away.  Once you get to Jaco you can unwind with a little party and hit the casino if that’s your thing.  You can find many adventure tours in Jaco and there is even a motocross track to ride.  You will want to make your way up Miro Mountain to enjoy the views from the abandoned hotel/restaurant project up on the hill.

From Jaco head south to the bio diverse secluded nature land called Osa Peninsula and be sure to stop by at Manuel Antonio National Park and hang out with the monkeys on the beach, this is the most visited park in Costa Rica for good reasons.

When most people visit Costa Rica they think about the beaches but if the cooler mountain climates are more your style then you will have many options for mountain rides.  From Dominical head up to the fastest growing city in central America San Isidro de General and beyond up to Chirripó the highest peak in the country at 12,533 feet, you will only be able to ride your bike to about 3300 feet and if you want to make your way to the peak you will need to hike.  From San Isidro the back route # 2 towards San Jose will test your abilities with steep grades and sharp switchback corners.

Arenal Volcano

Arenal Volcano

Within 2 hours on San Jose you can ride to several other beautiful mountain escapes such as Poas Volcano, Monteverde, La Fortuna where you can visit the Arenal Volcano and make your way around the splendid Lake Arenal.  Atenas is known to have the best climate in the world but don’t forget to escape to the northern beach towns of Playa Del Coco and Tamarindo.

Most people never think of Costa Rica as a riding destination but with all there is to offer, maybe they should!  The often used quote “I don’t ride a bike to add days to my life. I ride a bike to add life to my days” truly applies to Costa Rica!

Jason Mueller is an entrepreneur living in Costa Rica with family from Canada. After graduating from high school and getting his pilot’s licence he lived to travel the world looking for adventure.  He is currently working with A-1 Auto and is the owner of Jaco Ropes.

Comments
  1. […] (This is the 2nd post by Jason. Check out his other post Motorcycle Riding in Paradise!) […]

  2. […] two additional guest posts to this blog.  Shipping Your Bike Overseas? Things to consider!  and Motorcycle Riding in Paradise; Costa Rica.  Check them out when you have some […]

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