Costa Rica has two domestic airlines, Sansa and Nature Air. Both airlines have their main hubs in San Jose, Sansa at the Juan Santamaria International Airport, and Nature Air at the smaller, more central Tobias Bolanos International Airport. Both airlines run “puddle jumpers”, small single or double engine propeller planes holding 16-19 passengers, capable of landing at small, remote airstrips throughout the country.
Flying in Costa Rica has its advantages and disadvantages. The main advantage is speed. Getting to another part of the country in 30-45 minutes certainly beats hours on Costa Rica’s windy, potholed roads. Prices are reasonable and the views spectacular, especially from the specially designed big windows that you’ll find on Nature Air. There is definitely some Graham Greene-like romance about waiting at the side of a remote jungle airstrip waiting for the daily plane to come in!
The disadvantage of traveling by plane in Costa Rica is the small luggage allowance per person. These are small planes, and as such there is a limit of between 25 and 40 pounds per person (depending on airline and type of ticket). If you are the type of traveler who brings the kitchen sink with you, flying is not going to work! You can pay extra to bring more luggage, but unfortunately, these planes sell tickets right up to the last minute, and if your plane is full, and each passenger has their full luggage allowance, then your extra gear will more likely than not, not be allowed on the plane. Best to travel light!
Luckily Costa Rica is tailor made for traveling light – all the tourist really needs are shorts and t-shirt. A great compromise is to split your transportation between between land and air in order to see the best of this beautiful country.