rented a car in Spain last year (it was expensive) but definitely worth it. Having a car gives you the freedom to go wherever you want and at the time that suits you. No waiting for a bus/train schedule to hold you back.You must know how to drive standard though because most car rentals outside of North America does not carry (or in limited quantities) automatic cars. Always check before booking if you have any specific requirements.
We researched about renting a car in Costa Rica. The car itself is cheap to rent but the insurance was more expensive than the car rental price. We found out the government controls the car insurance in the country and you basically have no choice but to get it.
We reserved a car with Hertz and it was easy to find the location because it was on the main highway and all the car rental companies are beside each other.
Once there, the paper work took a bit long and of course we were asked if we wanted additional frills like a GPS and more insurance coverage for tires and windows. I was getting nervous about my bf driving and almost told him to forget it but I have confidence in him that we will just be fine.
When we finally got inside the car, I breathed the sigh of relief and buckled up. We were armed with a map and my bf's driving skills. Getting out of San Jose was easy. Following the signs wasn't too bad either. It was after San Ramon when I got a little scared because we had to go up and down the mountains. It reminded me so much of Spain and how we drove along the winding road along the coast.
The road was paved but it was very narrow with a lot of sharp turns. The view made up for the scary ride for sure. We had to cross a lot of bridges along the way and had to be careful when we saw school crossing signs. You really have to mind you speed as it changes quite quickly and if you get a ticket, you cannot leave the country!
After over two hours of driving, we made it to La Fortuna without getting lost.
Overall, I think it was worth it for us to rent a car in Costa Rica since we went to a lot of places in a short amount of time. Also, our compact car was fuel efficient and gas was cheap. I only recommend getting an SUV if you have at least 4 people and planning on driving off the main road. The road during summer is in great condition and paved. We never had a problem. Always mind your speed especially on school crossings. I repeat, do NOT get a ticket!