A Way of Life
Many Costa Ricans use bikes as their primary method of transportation. This holds particularly true along the coasts. It can actually become difficult to drive due to the number of bikers on the Caribbean side around Cahuita and Puerto Viejo!
Day trip biking tours are available from most of the popular destinations in the country. These can vary from rides around Lake Arenal to single track riding on private farms. Most outfits provide quality bikes and equipment. If you choose to go with a tour operator you should request proof of ICT certification and insurance.
There are several operators that offer multi-day biking trips in various locations in Costa Rica. This can be a fun way to take your trip, but keep in mind that while you will see a lot of the scenery from the road side, you will have little time to enjoy the country. If you are considering taking one of these trips you should ask about elevation gains, descents and the route before signing up. Once again, you should request proof of ICT certification and insurance.
The Downside of Biking in Costa Rica
While biking in Costa Rica can be fun, you will need to be prepared as it can be downright dangerous. The roads here are often narrow, windy, mountainous, and in many cases could use significant repairs. To add to this, the drivers can be aggressive. There are no shoulders on the roads and generally speaking the mentality is “he who has the larger vehicle has the right of way”. I personally have been in Costa Rica for many years and have witnessed several incidents when a car either hit the cyclist or ran them off the road.
Petty theft can also be an issue. You will want to always have a lock for your bike. Never leave you panniers unattended.
The Upside of Biking in Costa Rica
If you do your homework, hire the right guide and go to the right locations, cycling in Costa Rica can be an amazing experience. There are excellent tracks in the La Fortuna de Bagaces area. There are also unpaved back roads throughout the entire country that will provide an incredible mountain biking experience.
We have friends that came to Costa Rica 20 years ago on their honeymoon and biked across the country. They did it again a couple years later and have been coming back to Costa Rica every year since. In that time, they have created the best map of Costa Rica. If you have questions about biking, feel free to use their contact us page. I’m sure they will be happy to help.