Motorcycle Travel Guide: Costa Rica

Welcome to the Costa Rica Motorcycle Travel Guide. This detailed article for adventure bike riders explains everything you need to know about riding in Costa Rica on a motorcycle. 

Motorcycle Travel Costa Rica

Contents

Picture of By Luis Rojas

By Luis Rojas

Luis is a Costa Rican adventure motorcyclist and runs GoRide Moto Costa Rica

Motorcycle Travel Costa Rica

Why motorcycle in Costa Rica?

Costa Rica is a peaceful, safe and beautiful country. And we love motorcycles, which makes it the perfect place to visit!

You can ride at sea level after your morning coffee and then be 2,500 metres above the ocean within a couple of hours for lunch. And our volcanic mountain range is just a short distance from the coast, giving you the chance to quickly flit between backdrops. This makes Costa Rica so interesting to ride through as there’s so many different conditions, roads and climates.

There are countless rivers to cross, gravel and dirt roads to ride and mountains to explore all amongst the peaceful and friendly rural communities that welcome sustainable travellers.

You’ll find volcanoes, Caribbean and Pacific beaches, rain forests and jungles, dry areas and waterfalls with so much wildlife – all packed into one gorgeous country.

Motorcycle Travel Costa Rica

Paperwork

Visas – 95 countries are visa exempt and will be able to get a 180, 90 or 30 day visa-free stay. For the remaining countries, you will need to apply for a visa. Check here to see your country’s requirements. 

Driver’s license –You need a valid motorcycle license to ride a bike in Costa Rica.

International Driver’s License – An IDP is required only if your license is in a different alphabet (example Mandarin or Arabic).

Vehicle insurance – Most visitors to Costa Rica will either rent a motorcycle or join a tour. In this case, you will need to contact the rental company. More often than not, insurance is included in the fee.

READ MORE: Motorcycle Travel Paperwork Explained

Getting in and out

Land borders

For overland motorcycle travellers, the main border entrances and exits are:

  • Nicaragua – Peñas Blancas border
  • Panamá – either Paso Canoas or Sixaola border

Flights

If you’re flying in to rent a bike or join a motorcycle tour, SJO Airport is recommended. Bear in mind that rental bikes can be dropped off and picked up from the Liberia Airport for an extra cost.

There are many flights connections from Europe, making it easy for Europeans to catch a direct flight. If not, there are loads of connections via the USA or Panama. 

Motorcycle Travel Costa Rica

When to go

The best time of year to motorcycle in Costa Rica is between November and May. This range of months is most likely to be dry. But, every year is different with a slight variation of the seasons. Bear in mind that Costa Rica is a tropical country filled with rain forests, volcanoes and beaches that only survive (and look great) because of the rainfall.

So, you can expect it to rain at any time of the year. All throughout the year, the weather during the first half of the day will be great with sunny weather.

Motorcycle Travel Costa Rica

Accommodation and costs in Costa Rica

Hotels

There’s plenty of accommodation options in Costa Rica. However, during the busy holiday seasons like New Year, Easter week etc. it’s worth booking in advance.

Outside of holiday times, there’s plenty of availability in hotels, cabins, guest houses, hostels throughout the location.

There’s a range of different accommodations too, from luxury hotels and lodges to simple jungle cabins, or mid-range hotels to suit any budget. 

We recommend checking with Booking.com as you’ll find plenty of decently priced accommodation options on there. To get an idea of current prices throughout the country, take a look at the below map. 

Booking.com

Camping in Costa Rica

 We have a wide network of very cool campsites that we work with (100+ campsites) throughout the country. We know them and have used most of them before. So you’ll find plenty of official campsites, but it is also legal to wild camp in Costa Rica.

I would recommend checking first before pitching your tent to make sure you’re finding a good and safe spot. And I also recommend camping far away from touristy areas and local towns.

READ MORE: Camping Guides

Food and fuel

A Costa Rican lunch at a local restaurant locally known as ‘’sodas’’ cost between $6 and $8. Prices increase at more fancy or touristy restaurants.

Fuel costs approx. $1 per litre. A full tank on a bike will be between $13-$20 depending on the bike’s capacity and that will get you between 250-350 kms. 

Finding fuel is easy. Gas stations are common, even in the country and you won’t go far without finding a fuel supply.

Safety and security in Costa Rica

Safety is not usually a concern in Costa Rica. We are known for being a friendly, peaceful and tourist-friendly country. But, as with anywhere in the world, you will still need to take precautions such as not leaving your belongings unattended. Motorcycle robbery is not a usual concern for adventure rental bikes.

Police are usually honest and tend not to stop travellers and tourists for money. However, a bribe may be offered instead of writing a ticket out if you’re caught speeding etc. These bribes aren’t cheap and would be around $50+.

You’ll find police on the roads patrolling as per usual. They occasionally stop vehicles and motorcycles, but it’s not frequent. Just obey the traffic laws and you’ll be fine.

READ MORE: Dealing with Bribes

Motorcycle riding conditions

The entire country is rideable, although the best areas for adventure motorcycling are in the mountain range that crosses the country and the Pacific Coast. There’s a lot of variations in scenery, volcanoes, waterfalls, rivers and wildlife in this region.

All our volcanic regions, mountain ranges and the Pacific Coast from North to South all have interesting rides. And these routes are filled with fascinating authentic communities that are always willing to welcome international travellers. 

The best roads and routes are off the beaten path, not paved and connect smaller towns – these routes will eventually take you to the country’s hotspots and fun touristy towns.

Motorcycle Travel Costa Rica

Staying safe

When venturing into remote areas, only take it as far as your skills and motorcycle are prepared for. Getting into technical terrain without the necessary support and skills can quickly result in a rescue situation.

Road conditions change unexpectedly, so you have to always be ready for changes in the terrain. You’ve got to be ready for anything as after a couple of hours in the saddle you’ll be in a completely different climate with new scenery. The landscape changes quickly and gives you a great feeling of freedom.

Off-road

You’ll find main access roads throughout the country which are in reasonable condition. But riding a motorcycle allows you to connect these areas using backroads and by visiting rural communities. These are normally along gravel and dirt roads between towns. If you’re looking for easy ways to get to your destinations, you may also find a variety of natural attractions and a few gravel roads along the main roads. And there are paved routes throughout the country so you can avoid gravel if you prefer.

There’s loads of off-roading for those looking to travel off the beaten path. We specialise in dual sport and off-road tours and love guiding and suggesting routes for adventure riders, so get in touch if you’d like some help planning an off-road trip.

Motorcycle Travel Costa Rica

Riding gear 

We recommend hot weather riding gear similar to enduro and motocross kit. Most riders use adventure jackets and pants, but the more lightweight the better. However, you have to feel comfortable in your kit and that’s the most important thing.

There are colder areas in Costa Rica, but a wind breaker or waterproof layer is normally enough to fight off the cold.

Consider the type of riding and travelling you’ll be doing. If you’re going hard off-road, then MX boots are a great idea. If you’re stopping off in National Parks, hiking etc, then go for more flexible adventure styled boots.

READ MORE: Adventure Riding Gear Guides

Motorcycle Travel Costa Rica

Renting or joining a motorcycle tour in Costa Rica

Both are fantastic ways to explore our country and each have their own benefits, but which you go for completely depends on what you want from your trip and travels.

Renting

Renting a bike and going off on your own offers complete freedom. But you must be independent and plan your own trip. You’ll need time to prepare and research where you want to go and what you want to do, find your own hotels and routes and it’s unlikely you’ll get to experience very off the path locations or technical sections as you will be alone without backup.

But, Costa Rica is safe and full of beauty, if you’d rather not travel in a tour group and like doing things at your own pace and in your own time, you can very easily rent a bike and just go for it.

Tour

Everything is taken care off on a tour. All the logistics of booking hotels, support vehicles, guides etc are all arranged in advance so you just have to turn up and enjoy the ride with an expert route and every detail already planned out.

GoRide Moto

I run Go Ride Moto in Costa Rica and take clients on tours, expeditions, rent out motorcycles and even arrange self-guided tours. We’re recommended by Mad or Nomad and have our own workshop where we maintain our own bikes (the fleet includes Honda CRFs, Kawasaki KLRs, BMW GSs, Royal Enfield Himalayans, KTM Enduros and so on). Our bikes are meticulously checked, maintained, inspected and kitted out with excellent tyres and equipment such as protection, phone holders, USB chargers etc. so you can tackle anything.

If you’re interested in renting a motorcycle or joining a tour in Costa Rica, we can help you have the best adventure possible. You’ll find our details in the about the author section below. 

Motorcycle Travel Costa Rica

Top tips

Remember, you will be riding in a friendly and safe country. Don’t worry, you will absolutely love it and getting lost in Costa Rica is never a problem.

Bear in mind that 200 kms can take 3-5 hours on a motorcycle in Costa Rica. So even though it is a small country, it will still take 2-3 weeks to explore most of the country, which is a good amount of time for a traveller. 

The smaller the motorcycle, the more enjoyable the trip will be. Most of our clients are used to their big 700s, 890s, 1200Gs and all those fancy bikes. People have the idea that renting a 250cc will be too small and can’t do the trip. But, most of the time our clients on the 250s are the happiest. And they’re also the ones who get to explore further and ride more technical terrain without difficulties. So consider going for a smaller bike.  

Fly in, grab a motorcycle and get out of the city. Our city doesn’t have much to offer for adventure bike travellers. All our nicer areas are around the central valley, where you can immediately start exploring after picking up your bike. 

Motorcycle Travel Costa Rica

About the author

Luis Rojas is a Costa Rican adventure motorcyclist and runs GoRide Moto Costa Rica.

Luis has a background in agricultural engineering and business administration and has worked in both agriculture and tourism in Central America and the Caribbean. GoRide Moto Costa Rica combines his passion and knowledge of the countryside and rural areas of Costa Rica by being able to offer the best motorcycles and equipment for international travellers to explore this beautiful country.  

To get in touch with Luis and book a bike, check out his links below. 

Motorcycle Travel Costa Rica

Read more on adventure motorcycle travel in South America

Thanks for checking out the Motorcycle Travel Guide for Costa Rica. We hope you enjoyed it! Here’s a few more articles on adventure motorcycle travel in South America that we recommend you read next. 

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Are you planning a motorcycle trip to Costa Rica? Do you have any questions, tips or suggestions? Let us know in the comments below. 

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