If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to get from place to place while in Costa Rica check out the internal flights. Air travel, on prop planes, is almost equivalent to bus travel in the country. It’s relatively inexpensive and much faster than driving. You have a choice of two commercial airlines that fly domestically and flights can be chartered to more remote locations with ease. Sansa Air is one of the two commercial airlines in the country. As with Nature Air, their competitor, the planes are small prop planes that seat about 15 to 20 people. Their flight record is great as is the service. Most flights average a half hour to 45 minutes in duration as the country is so small. Their prices tend to run about $10 US less per flight than Nature Air and they also feature one and two week “Air Passes” (although I am not quite sure how the passes work) that supposedly allow you to fly unlimited around the country. The drawbacks: their website is difficult to navigate and book flights. In fact it was impossible for me to book one way flights on their site. And most of their flights originate out of San Jose so if you want to get from Point A to Point B (and neither is San Jose) you’ll have to connect through San Jose and pay for both legs of your trip separately.
If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to get from place to place while in Costa Rica check out the internal flights. Air travel, on prop planes, is almost equivalent to bus travel in the country. It’s relatively inexpensive and much faster than driving. You have a choice of two commercial airlines that fly domestically and flights can be chartered to more remote locations with ease. Nature Air is one of the two commercial airlines in the country. As with Sansa, their competitor, the planes are small prop planes that seat about15 to 20 people. Their flight record is great as is the service. Most flights average a half hour to 45 minutes in duration as the country is so small. Nature Air features a more user friendly website, and although their flights average about $10 US more per flight than Sansa, they are the only carbon neutral airline in the skies and they have more choices when it comes to direct flights. We chose Nature Air because it was easier to navigate their website, book flights online and they had better connections and flight options than Sansa. The staff was friendly and helpful and we really enjoyed our flights. Because these are smaller planes be aware that there is a weight limit for both checked luggage and carry-ons. Passengers are allowed ONE checked bag with a maximum 30 lbs weight limit and one carry-on with a 10 lbs weight limit. Checked luggage is weighed at check in and they will charge you if you are over the 30 lbs limit. The carry on is weighed along with you, so if you’re not overweight you can probably get by with a little over the 10 lbs limit.
Sample Prices: We booked a last minute, one way flight from San Jose to Puerto Jimenez for $99 US and one was from Puerto Jimenez to Quepos for the same price. If we had booked earlier there were better deals.
Pavas International Airport is the smaller of the two airports that serve the capitol city of San Jose. Pavas is definitely the smaller of the two. It’s major carrier is Nature Air, which flies, mainly domestically. Many charter flights also depart from Pavas. If you are connecting to a flight on Sansa Air (the other domestic airline in CR) or to an international flight on any other major airline, you will need to take a taxi to the Jose Santamaria International Airport 20 km from the city of San Jose. It’s approximately a 30 minute ride between the airports and taxis are readily available outside. The amenities are lacking here so if you have a long layover be prepared. There are clean restrooms available but if you want something to eat you’re limited to a snack bar that is infrequently open and locals vending snacks on the picnic tables outside.
If you’re flying to Costa Rica, chances are you’ll be arriving into the capital city of San Jose. The majority of international flights depart and arrive from Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO) in San Jose. The rest fly through Liberia in the north. SJO is located 20 km from the city of San Jose and 3 km from Alajuela. The airport is on the small side, but has all the amenities of a major airport, including bars, Duty Free and American fast food joints. Sansa Air, one of the two airlines that flies domestically in Costa Rica, also uses SJO as it’s home base of operations. The airport is small enough that if you’re changing planes you won’t have too many problems finding your connection but since Costa Rica is such a popular tourist destination be prepared for long lines at the ticket counters and customs. If you are connecting to a flight on Nature Air (the other domestic airline in CR) you will need to take a taxi to the Pavas International Airport in the city of San Jose. It’s approximately a 30 minute ride between the airports. Also know that if you’re flying from SJO into the United States you can buy liquor at the Duty Free, but you’ll need place the bottles in your checked luggage once you get to the USA if you’re on a connecting flight.
If you plan on vistiting the Irazu Volcano or anywhere outside San Jose rent a car to get there. The hotels in town charge $70-90 dollars per person for a tour but by all means don't do this. If you rent a car it will be about $55 and its an adventure driving in Costa Rica just remember you have to be patient with the local drivers.
The city is very busy, but I would recommend taking a taxi. The prices were fair, but you must remember to ask the driver before he takes you anywhere how much it will cost. Otherwise, you may have to pay too much.
We found a wonderful taxi driver to take us all the way to Arenal, Costa Rica, for about $100 US dollars, with 4 people riding. It was faster than taking a bus, and not a bad price for seeing the beautiful countryside.