Taking a taxi in Costa Rica? Read this first! There are several choices, some of them really efficient and legal. Some of them not as much.
As you arrive in Costa Rica, and especially in towns and cities, you will notice that the taxis of Costa Rica and their services are as diverse as Costa Rican nature… well! Almost!
Mostly all visitors in Costa Rica, sooner or later have to take a taxi… And yes! When you are a passenger of Camino Travel, you will be with private transportation between destinations, tours and so on. But lt’s say you decide to enjoy a dinner in the nearby town… Or what if you decide to stays in town for an ice cream after seeing dolphins and whales?
In Costa Rica, it is said, usually, “Take only the ones that have a yellow triangle on the door”. And, easy to say… However, once on site, you will have other choices before you… And you may want to know who is who here.
Let’s talk here about the first ones you see when you come out in the airport:
Actually you know about them prior the exit, they are these guys in white short sleeved shirts and brown tie. They are the only ones authorized to be at the airport and pick and drop passengers at the terminal. Wait a minute! Does that mean that Camino uses these? What about tour companies and hotel?
Well yes! They are them are authorized for just for short whiles. And private cars, have to park and go get their relatives.
If you are one of our passengers most likely our staff will be at the airport with a board and your name on it, take your luggage and guide you to your transportation and hotel while the guide or driver explains to you everything about your Costa Rica vacation. But if for any reason your transfer in is NOT included, then, most likely you are to take one of the Orange Airport Taxis.
Red Taxis (Official ones)
Wherever you go you will see them. There are thousands of them. You will find them aligned usually near bus stations, plazas, supermarkets and hospitals. In the cities they are regular cars. In the country towns you will see that they are four wheel drives.
They are regulated by the government and they are supposed to have meters that have to be used by law. They cannot tell you a random price, either negotiate it. They are the ones that have the yellow triangles on the doors and roofs (With their license number on them).
Read also: A look at the parks and plazas of San José
In San Jose and some areas of Guanacaste you can download an app called “Easy Taxi” to signal participating taxis that a client is waiting in that or this place. You get and estimated wait time and can track the taxi until it gets to you.
These are the taxis, that, most likely you will get if your hotel reception calls one for you. Simply make sure that they will use the meter.
This is the best way to go, as the hotel knows them and if you leave something in the car or something goes off… like no meter, for instance. You can have the number taken and talk to the hotel and even report it to the authorities.
In some country areas, you will find the “colectivos“. They are the official taxis, but as they are driving they will pick other people on the way to the destination. Make sure you tell them that it is a private service. (This happens regularly in the Southern area.
Tips are highly appreciated, but not compulsory.
These cars have been quite polemic as they do have permits but they drive people at a negotiated rate (Some destinations have already fixed rates). They are especially set for some neighborhoods where red taxis may not want to get in for various reasons: Maybe their criminality rate or even because the streets are in bad conditions. They usually have a yellow circle on their doors.
These are simply drivers that will charge you whatever they feel like and they can actually be dangerous, even some are known to have assaulted their clients. You may find them before malls and some other places where the regular red taxis are scarce.
A “pirate” might also be your tour guide’s neighbor who’s super recommended and might be the one taking you around whenever you want to go for dinner or such.
If a “pirate” gets caught, he/she might get a high fine or even their plates removal. So, they usually ask you to sit in front and if something happens say that you know him/her.
Us, at Camino Travel we DO NOT recommend these whatsoever!
And then, the controversial Uber.
They are mainly in the Central Valley, although are spreading throughout the country. You can also download their app and have them come to your hotel.
And yes, it is as controversial as everywhere else… And as popular.