The Gas Station in Costa Rica!

Planning a driving vacation in Costa Rica?  Read-on to get our tips on how to fill up!

Locally, a gas station is known as a bomba – other things, such as fireworks are also bombas, so be clear if you are asking for directions to one to avoid confusion!  There are virtually no self-service gas stations in the country.  When you pull in to the gas station; you can relax and wait for the pump attendant to serve you (and keep your hands clean!)  It is normal for the attendant to give your windscreen a hose and wipe over as well as filling your gas tank.  You will probably need to ask if you want your tire pressure or water checked but some gas stations may do this too.  It is usual to tip a pump attendant a few hundred colones!

If your Spanish is less than perfect, don’t panic!  Gas station vocabulary is real simple!  You just ask for the tank to be full (with a Spanish accent!) or ask for the monetary amount of fuel you want e.g. diez mil (10,000 colones) of Super, Regular or Diesel. It really isn’t hard!

The vast majority of tourists have no problems with filling up!  However, do check that the amount you are charged is the same as is displayed on the pump and that the pump has been cleared to zero before beginning.  You can avoid paying extra this way!

As of this writing (29 September, 2010), the price of regular gas is approximately 562.00 Colones or $1.11 per liter or $4.21 per US gallon (exchange rate 505 Colones per USD).

If you need the bathroom, ask the pump attendant for the key.    Bigger gas stations may offer useful facilities, such as an ATM.

Remember that gas stations in Costa Rica can be scarce in rural areas or not open 24/7, so don’t allow your needle to drop into the red or you may find yourself stranded!

We Welcome Your Feedback!

3 Responses to “The Gas Station in Costa Rica!”

  1. Bryan Costa Rica says:

    Great advice about making sure the pump is set to 0. Nobody gave be a heads up about that until after I ran out of gas only 40 miles after filling up…

    You should also mention that many of the rental cars out here are beaters (have been driven very hard) so don’t trust the gas meter, stations are few and far between!

    • George says:

      Hello Bryan, Sorry to read that you experienced a negative experience at the gas station. I do remember that happening to myself at a gas station near Quepos. I noticed this early though when the fuel gauge needle did not move all the way to “F” within the first few minutes. I want back “steaming”, to say the least, yelling at the attendent. Lucky for me, the owner of the gas station had just arrived. He quickly straightened it out.
      I do understand your frustration. Where was the gas station? We would like to warn visitors of your experience.

    • RicardoV says:

      We hope you’re not speaking about Vamos cars when you mention ‘beaters’. 😉

      We rotate our fleet by selling our vehicles so that we can maintain a high standard of maintenance and appearance that our customers have come to appreciate.

      Yes, we don’t have brand-spankin’ new cars off the lot, but the ones we do own are in tip-top mechanical shape — save the few odd scratches, dings and other cosmetic imperfections that cars get when they travel on rough roads 7 days a week. 🙂

      If you haven’t rented from us before, then send an email to “” and he’ll hook you up with a web discounted rate to see what you think of Vamos.