We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Coast Rica and Panama travel

North Carolina
Level Contributor
79 posts
1 review
Coast Rica and Panama travel

Would it be a workable plan to drive from Dominical, Costa Rica to David, Panama and back without problems? We have traveled many times to Costa Rica but have not visited the southern zone. Would like to take another couple with us and go into Panama or at least the northern part of Panama and look around for several days then back to CR for several days. Any advice?

Playa Guiones...
Destination Expert
for Nosara
Level Contributor
2,557 posts
6 reviews
1. Re: Coast Rica and Panama travel

I don't see how you can do this on your own as I don't believe you are allowed to take rental cars over the border!

Tampa, FL
Level Contributor
2,234 posts
1 review
2. Re: Coast Rica and Panama travel

If you mean drive yourself in a rental car, you need to know that for most if not all car rental companies cross border rentals simply aren't allowed (not to mention the additional bureaucratic hassles of even driving your own car across a border). So the quick answer to your question would be no it isn't a workable plan.

OTOH, depending on how badly you want to do this and how much you're willing to spend, just about anything else is at least possible. For example, you could certainly use a rental car to get down to southern CR and explore around there, then drive to the border, park your car for a few days, while you use buses on the other side (or even rent a seperate car on the other side). However, if you try that, the rental clock on that idle car will still be running the whole time you'll be over there, not to mention your worries about whether your car will still be there and unmolested by the time you get back.

You could also return your car in Golfito or even arrange to have some body from the rental company pick up the car at the border before you cross over, but there will probably be extra costs to either of those options as well. Then what would you do in Panama and then in CR when you get back? Rent a new car in each place? You could probably pickup a rental in David but can you get one at the border or will there be an extra delivery charge to get one there. Then again on return to CR, pay for delivery to the border or get to Golfito on your own to pickup your next car there (and possibly yet another fee to return it at the end of your trip back in central CR). This is all just my longwinded way of saying forget it.

If you really want to do this cross border excursion, I think the simplest and most sensible way to do it would be by public bus or shuttle where available.

Brooklyn, New York
Destination Expert
for Sarapiqui
Level Contributor
7,410 posts
149 reviews
3. Re: Coast Rica and Panama travel

David isn't worth seeing even if you happen to be in Panama anyways. It's a working city, not a place with anything to offer vacationers.

More likely you'd want to be see the highlands of La Amistad and Baru (Cerro Punta and/or Boquete).

Unless by "northern Panama" you mean Bocas del Toro in which case forget about it completely. (Costa Rica/Panama share an East-West border, not a North-South one)

To me, it does not make any sense to drive to Panama to see that when you have San Gerardo de Dota and La Amistad/San Vito and Chirripo accessible by car pretty easily from where you are.

Don't get me wrong---I'm a huge fan of the Chiriquí highlands, HUGE fan, but that type of experiences can be found in CR without all that extra hassle and DAYS of extra driving.

Edited: 21 October 2014, 22:11
San Jose, Costa Rica
Level Contributor
50,913 posts
41 reviews
4. Re: Coast Rica and Panama travel

You can do it from Dominical to David….nice great ride…but the bad news not in a rent a car…maybe try to contact ALAMO rent a car…they used to have a program that in some way they meet you at the border and exchange vehicles…

roadadvisor

Tampa, FL
Level Contributor
2,234 posts
1 review
5. Re: Coast Rica and Panama travel

I understand Racandee's confusion about your comments. Many people are like you and think of Central America only in north and south terms (Mexico and the US to the north, South America to the south, the Caribbean to the east and Pacific to the west) But by the time you get to CR, you're really heading more in a west to east direction and by Panama you definitely are. If you really want to blow your mind consider this: Panama City is actually further north than David, Santa Marta Colombia is north of Penas Blancas on the CR/Nicaragua border and when you travel through the Panama Canal from the Caribbean to the Pacific you're actually traveling more east than west. So technically speaking, David is actually in the southern part of what is referred to as Western Panama while the actual north is more accurately around Bocas del Toro on Panama's Caribbean coast. However, I understood what you probably meant when you referred to "Northern Panama" since you were also asking about going from Dominical and David (both on the southern Pacific side of the isthmus), I also assumed that you were asking about David as capital of the Chiriqui province and its main transportation hub and (hopefully) that you really had like Boquete in mind for your actual tourism.

With all that being said, I think Racandee just brought up a very good point, even beyond the point that all of us have been making about the difficulty if not even impossibility about doing this trip with rental car(s). Even if you did this by bus, is it really worth going over the border just to see Boquete and Vulcan Baru? Personally speaking I've always been curious about doing a loop through "Northern" or Western Panama, that would inlcude not only Boquete but also a drive (by bus) north over the mountains to Bocas and then a return to CR by way of Sixaola and Puerto Viejo, but that woulld be even harder to do with a rental car since you couldn't even just park your car at the border since you'd be returning through another place.

Slovenia
Destination Expert
for Costa Rica
Level Contributor
19,181 posts
62 reviews
6. Re: Coast Rica and Panama travel

OP, while planning my upcoming trip to Panama, where I will have a week in Western Panama (Bouquete) I was very interested to visit Osa/Drake Bay from it. And I have dropped the idea after understanding all the logistical problems. I am thus joining others in suggesting you to stay in Costa Rica, and instead of Western Panama, you check out those less travelled paths around San Isidro de El General and San Vito.

North Carolina
Level Contributor
79 posts
1 review
7. Re: Coast Rica and Panama travel

Thank you to all who have taken their time to offer advice and I see that it is good advice. We have been to Costa Rica 5 times and we do so love it there. However, we are taking a couple, who have never been to CR, for a week or so in Costa Rica and then want to visit the Bouquete, Vulcan Baru areas as well as the coast. Love the area of San Isidro de El General. Just hate to fly to Panama City just to drive back to the area we would like to check out. Is there a small airport in any of this area that could fly you back to Palmar Sur or SJO that you know of? Yes, I am a country bumpkin but my husband would like to move to Ecuador and I told him Costa RIca or Panama possibly, so got to check it out. Already sold on CR. Thanks again, all of you.

8. Re: Coast Rica and Panama travel

-:- Message from TripAdvisor staff -:-

This topic has been closed to new posts due to inactivity. We hope you'll join the conversation by posting to an open topic or starting a new one.

To review the TripAdvisor Forums Posting Guidelines, please follow this link: http://www.tripadvisor.com/pages/forums_posting_guidelines.html

We remove posts that do not follow our posting guidelines, and we reserve the right to remove any post for any reason.

Removed on: 27 October 2015, 09:45