Spring Break arrives in the United States just in time for Holy Week celebrations in Costa Rica. Holy Week in Costa Rica is a week-long party called Semana Santa. This week is packed full of parades, music, cultural shows, and most of all, beach parties. While Semana Santa is celebrated all over Latin America, people from every country travel to Costa Rica to spend their vacations in style. If you are able to make a March trip to Costa Rica, you’ll have the experience of a lifetime. You’ll need to be prepared, however, because Semana Santa is much more than beach fun and tropical food and drink, it usually coincides with the hottest week of the year.
A trip to Costa Rica in March will be the cultural experience you’ve been aching for, but it will also come with a couple things to consider. This week can be extremely warm, and to keep yourself safe and energized for your next party, you’ll want to be prepared. You’ll need to pack extra light clothes, sunscreen, hats, and plenty of beach wear.
The Pacific Region will receive the vast majority of tourism during March. This tourism includes both foreign and local, as local Costa Ricans typically have the week off work to celebrate Semana Santa. Both families and young groups of friends alike head toward the Pacific for some Spring Break celebrations. This region will also most likely be the warmest and driest region of the country. Daily highs will hit the mid 90s and a day or two in the 100s may pop up during your trip. The sun will be strong, but this just brings more tropical charm to your getaway. Lows will most likely not drop past the low 80s, so make sure your night time wear is breathable and lightweight as well. The strong sun means you’ll need to make a conscious effort to stay hydrated, but with so many organic fruit smoothies and coconut water vendors who sell fresh water, often inside the coconut, right to your beach blanket, this can be an easy task. If you are planning to hit the Pacific during your trip, make sure you have plenty of sun protection.
Night times often stay very warm in the Pacific region. While the beginning of the month may be bearable, by the end of March, night times may be uncomfortably warm. This region is well known for temperate weather, but in March you might consider booking hotels with air conditioning. You’ll want a conditioned retreat for a midday break and a good sleep at night. Remember, if you want a beach-side hotel to celebrate the week in a popular beach town, you’re going to need to make reservations months in advance.
The Northern Zone receives great weather during March. Highs can bring the countryside into the lower 90s, but most days linger between the mid to upper 80s. Visitors to this area are usually eager to see the cloud mountains and explore some National Parks. The month will be warm and dry, but the cloud forests will still be easily visible and ready for exploration. As the month proceeds, some water sources will start to dry up. This may make for less spectacular waterfalls and slightly more muddied rivers, but tropical exploration will still be at its peak. Animals in this area usually take full advantage of these warm months. You’ll find monkeys sunbathing in clear site, and animals of all kinds will gather around the shrinking water holes. A hike will be hot and sweaty, but you’ll have a chance to see new and exotic species.
In this area, the nights will drop to the lower 80s. There will be almost no rain, and if you do encounter a shower during your stay, it will be during the nighttime.
Southern Zone and South Pacific
The South Pacific and Southern regions of Costa Rica are also popular destinations for March vacationers. Here the weather will be tropical, staying around the low 90s. The weather will be dry, and any rain you experience during your trip will be short-lived and limited to the night times. These rains will leave the region refreshed in the morning, so you’ll want to take advantage of any post-rain mornings for a cup of local coffee and a beach jog. Night times in this region won’t cool off significantly either, so you’ll want light clothes and sun protection for your trip.
This region is well-known for luxury tourism options. You’ll most likely have access to air-conditioned rooms, swimming pools, and even spas. This may be the perfect location to spend a tropical vacation.
The Central Valley thoroughly enjoys March. Weather hits the upper 80s and lower 90s, and the entire month may only receive one night time rainfall. The area starts to dry out significantly, which can cause more dust than would be ideal, but the weather is perfect to get everyone in the mood for their Semana Santa vacations. The city streets will be full of parades and celebrations, and you can’t help but feel the festive spirit.
The Central Valley area, especially around Arenal, is a common destination for those looking for a more peaceful March getaway. Some people use this time to relax and recharge, which can be difficult in the crazy Pacific scene. The Arenal area will bring a strong tropical sun, but less heat than the beach and definitely less crowds. You’ll be able to hike, sightsee, and enjoy the tropical surroundings. A word of warning, however, is that if you find yourself in Arenal in Semana Santa, be prepared to stay there for a few days. From Thursday of Holy Week until the following Monday, a huge part of Costa Rica is shut down for vacations. This even includes public transportation. By Wednesday, you’ll want to be where you plan on spending the rest of the week. Private operators will still be running, however, but you’ll need to make any travel reservations well ahead of time.
The Caribbean side of Costa Rica is always an exciting experience. The culture, from the music to the food, is Caribbean and strongly influenced by the diverse population. The weather also tends to be different than the rest of the country. This is the only zone where you’ll most likely see a rain shower or two during your vacation. The rainy season will be ending, but short showers will still make themselves known. Daily highs will linger in the lower 90s, but humidity will be high. This is a popular destination for March vacationers looking for some relaxing beach time without the Spring Break crowds or excitement. The weather will be warm and steamy, but you’ll enjoy the colorful towns and tropical beaches.
Regardless where you go in Costa Rica during your March vacation, plan your trip with light clothes and plenty of sun protection. Be prepared to make the most of early, active mornings, then spend the heat of the day lounging in a beach-side hammock, cocktail in hand.