Costa RicaCosta Rica

Taking Taxis

Taxis in Costa Rica are inexpensive, prevalent and convenient. For many tourists, taking taxis may be less costly than renting a vehicle. Official taxis cost about $1.15 per kilometer ($1.80 per mile), and for this price you'll save yourself the cost of a rental, insurance and gas. If you plan to take many tours – most include transportation – and don't mind walking to town for meals, shopping and other excursions, taxis will keep cash in your pocket.

From the passenger's seat, you won't have to worry about getting lost or deciphering Spanish-language signs. You won't stress about potholes, poor road conditions or other obstacles that may cause damage to your rental. As a taxi passenger, car-free equals carefree.

There are three types of taxis: private taxis, cooperativas (legal, semi-private), and pirate taxis. Official red taxis, called rojos because of their cherry-red paint, are part of the city or town taxi cooperative. Rojos have an official taxi license plate, and are required to use the meter (known as the maria) at all times. You can flag down a red taxi on the street, catch one at an official taxi stand, or call one for pickup at your location.

Airport taxis, which are painted orange, are a type of cooperative taxi. They are licensed only to drive clients to and from the international airport. Official red taxis are not permitted to pick people up at the airport, but are allowed to drop passengers off.

Porteadores are private taxis that are licensed and legal. However, they are only allowed to pick clients up at their homes or hotels. Porteadores use regular cars, may be painted any color, and do not have official taxi license plates. They will display their taxi permit inside the vehicle. Prices are similar to those charged by red taxis. Pirate taxis are not licensed to provide transportation services, and usually don't have insurance or other safeguards.

The 11-mile drive from the Juan Santamaria airport into downtown San Jose costs $26 in an official airport sedan. The red cab rate from San Jose to Manuel Antonio would be around $200, although rates for long distances can often be negotiated beforehand.

The rates for taxis are comparatively cheap, with meters starting at 570 CRC ( just over $1) for each kilometer traveled. Depending on traffic, a ten-minute trip across town may cost between $4-$8.

Taxi Vocabulary

Taxi driver Taxista
Meter Maria
Straight/Left/Right Directo/Izquierda/Derecha
Could you please call a taxi? Me puede por favor llamar un taxi?
Please turn on the meter Puede por favor poner la maria
Please take me to... Por favor, lleveme a...
What is the fare? Cual es la tarifa?
Stop here, please Pare aqui, por favor