Ashley Harrell » Lonely Planet »

Some of the most interesting, little-explored destinations are only accessible by car, and for the adventurous traveler, there’s simply no substitute for freedom.

In some cases, the drive itself – and all the striking scenery along the way – becomes a highlight of the trip. For those with the desire and the 4×4 (almost certainly necessary if you are planning to drive off the highway), here are the country’s top five nerve-shredding road trips.

The roads in some areas are poorly marked, curvy, pothole-ridden, flooded and occasionally non-existent; do your research and check road conditions before setting out.

1. Cerro Chirripó in Parque Nacional Chirripó

2. The Monkey Trail – A shortcut between Playa del Coco and Playa Flamingo

3. San Gerardo de Dota – a charming town set in a high-altitude cloud forest where one of Central America’s rarest and most beloved birds – the quetzal.

4. The drive to Drake Bay.

5. Rio Celeste – The forest surrounding the river is lush and wild, providing a home to an abundance of Costa Rican fauna, including the iconic jaguar.

This page was last updated on 2020.08.11