Potrero is easily accessible by car from both the Liberia and San Jose international airports, however Liberia is preferable as it is significantly closer. Driving to Potrero from the Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport (LIR) in Liberia takes just under an hour via Routes 21, 155 and 180, all of which are paved. There is a secondary road from Liberia to Potrero, Route 911 (also called the Monkey Road), but this route is not fully paved and has windy, narrow sections that are more challenging to drive. Route 911 also passes through a small river, which can get high enough during rainy season to require a vehicle equipped with 4×4 capability and/or a snorkel.
The shortest recommended drive from Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO) in San Jose via Routes 1,18, 21 and 160 takes about 4.5 hours long. Take note that this route involves paying tolls along the way. There is also an option to fly into the regional airport in Tamarindo, which is about a 30 minute drive away, and make your way to Potrero from there.
Visitors can reach Potrero from San Jose by a public bus that leaves three times daily and takes about 6 hours. Another bus comes to Potrero from Santa Cruz multiple times daily and takes about 2 hours. Shuttles to Potrero from Liberia are also plentiful and can be shared or private. Taxis and are an option to get from Liberia to Potrero or for getting around Potrero without a car. Ride shares though Uber are available in Liberia and some Uber drivers will take you to the coast, but Uber drivers don’t yet operate in the coastal towns on a day-to-day basis.
Renting a car in Costa Rica provides significant freedom to explore, however driving on the Gold Coast is not for the faint of heart. Road conditions vary significantly and road quality can change quickly. On paved roads drivers should anticipate obstructions like potholes and debris or flooding in the rainy season. Unpaved roads are to be taken slowly, if at all, as they can be found littered with sharp rocks and can have extreme undulations formed by rushing water during rainy season. Thankfully, some local districts will scrape and level frequently used, unpaved roads once or twice a year at their discretion.
An erratic local driving and passing style, animal encounters (with stray dogs and cats, iguanas, cattle and horses), frequently stopping “colectivo” cars, plus the lack of sidewalks and bike lanes all call for heightened vigilance on the road. As well, loose traffic regulations and enforcement in these laid back coastal towns means that drivers can expect a number of inadequate or uninsured vehicles, slow tractors or trucks with unsecured materials or workers in their beds on their journey. When choosing a rental car, it is important to consider the roads visitors intend to use. If sticking to the main paved roads is preferred, most available rental car types will suffice. If unpaved roads are on the itinerary, visitors may wish to opt for a car or truck with 4×4 capability.
For those who prefer to kick back while getting around, there are other options. If staying in a more central part of Potrero, some things are walkable. To go further on occasion, visitors can hire a taxi or take the bus. For longer stays there is the option to rent a golf cart, a side-by-side, an ATV, a bicycle or an electric bike. Lastly, a more local experience of getting around called colectivo may also be an option, especially for those who speak some Spanish. It is an informal and unregulated ride share which offers an economical, safe and efficient way of getting around, particularly if you need to get somewhere on short notice.
Many Costa Ricans rely on colectivo as their main transportation method. It became popular a few years ago due to an increase in bus ticket prices, when taxi drivers allowed groups of people to share rides and reduce commuting costs for riders. Eventually, people other than taxi drivers, began using their own private vehicles to earn extra money by driving from beach town to beach town and picking up passengers along the way.
Colectivos usually drive small, well-worn sedans and pick up passengers on the street or at bus stops. To hail one, stand on the side of the road in a safe spot and face oncoming traffic. Colectivos may slow down, flash their lights or call their destination out their window. Raise your hand like a high five and the car will stop for you to hop in. There may already be passengers in the car so be prepared to have company along the way to your destination. There can be a negotiation on price but typically the cost is about 500 colones (just under a dollar) from one town to the next.