I am going to Costa Rica for my first time in October. Planning on going to Arenal and after relax at a Guanacaste beach town. I do arrive into Liberia until 9:45 p.m and am wondering if we should stay the night by the Liberia airport and pick up the rental car first thing the next morning before heading to Arenal area. Or would you recommend picking up the rental car the night we land and driving carefully at night. We are two young adults eager to get the trip started.
We would definitely recommend staying the night near Liberia if you are flying in that late. We never recommend driving long distances in Costa Rica at night and even try to avoid it ourselves. Mostly this is because of poor viability due to factors like; fades lines on the road, poor signage, absolutely no street lighting, glare from oncoming traffic. And for you in October you are likely to get some evening rain, which will only compound things. The last thing you want to do it have a stressful drive after a long flight. That drive is beautiful (yet curvy) in the daytime too so you don’t want to miss it, especially the part going from Canas and then around Lake Arenal.
If you need some hotel suggestions for places to stay near LIR, this thread has some: https://www.twoweeksincostarica.com/question/la-fortuna-guanacaste-10-days/
You can also get the car delivered to your hotel the next morning, which will make things easier. The company we get the Rental Car Discount through offers that service for free to our readers.