Driving in Costa Rica is a little hairy as most of the roads are two lanes, very narrow, windy, hilly, and not in the best condition…though there are some nice exceptions. On the other hand, for all those same reasons, the drives around here are gorgeous and the vistas are often breathtaking. As we’re approaching the 6 month mark here (!!!), I thought I’d share a few things we’ve learned to watch out for while on the roads.
- Landslides – As much of the country is mountainous and roads are cut through the mountains, landslides are very common after heavy rains and especially in the rainy season, and it sometimes take a day or two before they are cleared so it’s common for roads and major routes even to close after heavy rainfall.
- One lane bridges – There are very few two lane bridges in Costa Rica except on a few of the highways, so you will often come across one lane bridges. There is always a “Ceda el Paso” (yield) sign on one side of the bridge and the other side has the right of way so you have to make sure to look for the sign so you know if you have the right of way or if you have to stop.
- Potholes – They are everywhere and they can be deep.
- Deep drainage channels at edge of streets means tricky parking in town and even on the highway so don’t go over the ‘cliff’ as there typically is no shoulder.
- Use your 4-way flashers. Everyone loves their 4 way flashers and use them for just about everything: making a turn, slowing down, pulling over, and oncoming cars use them to warn of accident, landslide, police or just about any hazard ahead. If you see someone flashing them, best to slow down.
- Motos are very common and love to pass on the left or the right (!!) especially when there is traffic.
- Cyclists – Another bogey! I wouldn’t have thought cycling would be so popular here with the steep, narrow roads, but it’s huge! Again, there are really no shoulders here so passing can be tricky if there is heavy traffic.
- Accidents – You can’t move your car if you’ve been in an accident in Costa Rica for insurance and police report purposes so traffic can back up for literally hours depending on the severity of the accident.
- Always be ready to merge. Even the major highways (the Interamericana and Route 27) go from four lanes to two lanes with little to no warning so you always need to be paying attention and be prepared to merge into one lane at any minute.
- Roadside stands are fantastic. Stop and see what’s fresh and local.
And here are just a few more interesting driving related photos. 🙂
Tractor trailer hauling oranges from Nicaragua to Costa Rica, banana plantations and truck hauling yucca.