Airlines servicing Liberia are American, Delta, Continental, United/ USAir. The same carriers plus TACA and Jet Blue fly to San Jose. TACA can be difficult to book. It s generally cheaper to fly to San Jose, and depenting on the route (i.e FL to CR) it can be signifcant. But then my daughter flies to Liberia from Newark for less that I can get to San Jose’ from Florida, and 1/3 or the Fl price to Liberia. The timesaving of Liberia may be worth the extra fare. The drive from San José takes about 3 1/2 hours, and it goes through the mountains. I like the drive. If coming from San José, try to leave before 3 pm as it starts to get dark about 6pm and there are no lights on the roads. From the airport in Liberia the trip is a little over an hour. A new expressway has just been finished from San Jose to near Puntarenas. This has taken an hour off the time and much of the switch back mountain driving. When the airline tickets a $400 more to Liberia, I go to San Jose.
Rental cars from various companies are available at both airports. Four wheel drive is recommended but not absolutely necessary. The little 4 x 4’ s are great. If space is not a factor the little Diahatsu Terrios and Suzuki’s are great. Car rental is not cheap in Costa Rica. Reserving in the US is a good idea because you can use your discounts. Try to avoid the extra insurance.
From San José: Two Routes: Take Rt. 1 past the Airport and travel through San Ramon to the sign for the Puente Amistad, or take the Pista del Sol toward Punarenas–then join Route 1 and travel till you see the signs for the Puente Amistad ( bridge over the Tempisque River). Turn left and follow signs to Nicoya and then Santa Cruz. When you reach Santa Cruz go past the turn to the city center (Banco Nacional), go across the bridge and make an immediate left towards Playa Junquillal. (If you want groceries go into the center of Santa Cruz–there are several grocery stores–I like Super Kion–stock up and go back to the main road and head to Junquillal)
From Liberia If you fly into Liberia airport, which is located on Rt. 21 just below Liberia, turn right out of the airport and right (south) on Rt. 21. Rt. 21 is a pretty much straight shot to Santa Cruz. There is a small bridge (Rio Diria) leading into Santa Cruz, just before the bridge on the right you will see a bus stop and a smaller road #152. Make this right turn. There will be a sign directing you to Playa Junquillal. Follow this road for about 18 km to 27 de Abril (that’s the name of a town not how long it takes). Then follow the signs to Playa Junquillal. From this point a new road has just been finished and complete with bike path it is unequaled in Costa Rica. Continue straight to Paraiso, pass the soccer pitch and at the stop sign make a left turn.
Follow this road to Playa Junquillal. This road winds past Hotel Iguanazul, Hotel Hibiscus. At the Bar y Resturante Junquillal make a left (or stop in for a beer and ask where the house is). Go past the Villa Serena and make a left turn at the entrance to the Hotel Antumalal (it is cosed and abandoned). Continue to the fork in the road, go right at the fork towards Las Brisas de Mar condominiums. Our home is about 150 yards down this road on the right. Look for the Casa Cielos Azules sign.
Tico Times (local English language newspaper) Tip: Driving Driving in Costa Rica can be a challenge to the newcomer. Until you get used to the roads and local driving habits, it’s best to avoid driving at night, especially outside the city.
• Always drive defensively. Hazards include pedestrians, animals on the roads, huge potholes, pavement that suddenly ends, unlit vehicles, sudden fog in mountain areas, torrential rain and reckless drivers.
• If you rent a car, be sure to check the vehicle thoroughly before accepting it. Look at the tires (including the spare), windshield wipers, lights, engine and body. Report any dents so that you won’t be charged for them later. (Be very picky about the dents and scratches – DOB)
• Never leave anything of value in a parked car, even if it’s in the trunk and the car is locked.
(Much of this text was purloined from the work of Domnhall Obroin a departed dear friend and neighbor)