Costa Rica Spring Break Vacation Guide for Families

If you plan your trip carefully, spring break can be an ideal time for your family to visit Costa Rica. The weather in March and April is as good as it gets and the tourism industry is especially robust during this time, ensuring that you will be able to make lots of memorable experiences.

However, the northern spring break often coincides with Costa Rica’s extremely busy “Semana Santa” or the Holy Week before Easter, and so as you will see in this article, a spring break trip needs extra careful planning. This article will give you our insider tips on how to plan a spring break trip to Costa Rica.

Kids surfing in Costa Rica


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What is Semana Santa? How Does it Impact a Spring Break Trip to Costa Rica?

Semana Santa is the Catholic celebration of the week leading up to Easter. It usually falls in late March or early April. In 2024, it will go from Sunday, March 24 to Sunday, March 31.

Costa Rican schools are closed for the entire week, and most businesses and public services close for at least Thursday and Friday. Therefore, many Costa Ricans use the time off to visit loved ones or to head to the beach themselves. As a result, there is a higher volume of people on the roads and tourism at the beaches, leading to traffic delays and higher demand for accommodations and reservations.

Tourism demand around Semana Santa is so high that most accommodations charge “Peak Season” pricing during this week, that is if reservations are available at all. This makes it especially imperative that you plan a spring break trip to Costa Rica well in advance. Many businesses will also be closed during Semana Santa and, in some small towns, they will not sell liquor or alcohol.

The increase in national tourism during Semana Santa also means that the beaches are much busier. It is not uncommon on Easter weekend for the beach to be full of cars and large family picnics with grills and loud music. Sometimes, this can feel disruptive for a tourist family that had hoped to have a quiet, nature-filled visit to Costa Rica. However, it can also be an opportunity to make some family friends on the beach.

Semana Santa is also a fascinating opportunity to witness the processions where Catholics dress as Roman soldiers and carry effigies of Jesus on the cross through the town to be crucified. There is much pageantry and deep religious practice and it can be a fascinating opportunity to sit in on a local mass in this country that is 47% Catholic.

A final word of caution about traveling to Costa Rica during Semana Santa. Because so many people are celebrating together, it is a time of increased accidents – primarily traffic accidents and water accidents. The National Red Cross puts out appeals each year for people to practice extra caution, but there are inevitably large amounts of preventable accidents. The best way to keep your family safe is to be cautious on the road and in the water and never mix those things with alcohol.

Is Costa Rica a Family Spring Break Destination?

Dad and Child on Costa Rica Beach

Costa Rica is a popular destination. Upwards of 2.5 million people visited Costa Rica in 2023, making this small Central American country one of the premier destinations for global travel. With two major international airports that receive direct flights each day from across the United States (and elsewhere), it is easier than ever to experience a “Pura Vida” Costa Rican spring break with your family.

Because of those same reasons, though, some beach towns in Costa Rica have become popular spring break destinations for college students. That being said, college students who visit Costa Rica on spring break tend to travel in much smaller groups than you may find in the more infamous spring break destinations like Cancun or Florida. Therefore, it is not likely that your family will be lodging next to a rowdy, large, fraternity group.

That being said, it is easy to avoid the locations that party revelers are visiting during spring break. These are generally the easiest-to-reach beach towns which have clubs (discotecas) and lots of nightlife – places like Jacó, Manuel Antonio, and Tamarindo.

Thankfully, no matter where you end up, Costa Rica is home to hundreds of miles of beaches, 29 national parks, and plenty of other outdoor attractions that will help you and your family escape the crowds and spend quality time together.

Is Costa Rica Safe for a Family Spring Break?

Mom Relaxing on Costa Rica Beach

Because of tourism’s importance to the local economy, the Costa Rican government works diligently to ensure visitors to the country are safe. From opening new police stations in tourist-heavy towns to staffing lifeguards at popular beaches to providing tour operators with emergency training, Costa Rica aims to find the balance between adventure and safety.

Like any other country, though, Costa Rica is not without its problems. The U.S. Department of State classifies Costa Rica among its safest international destinations (Level 1: Exercise Normal Precautions), but the U.S. Embassy notes tourists are sometimes targets — usually for petty theft.

Before visiting, make sure you read the U.S. Embassy’s safety tips for Costa Rica. It is also helpful to read our safety advice — which covers driving, ocean safety, and common sense behaviors — to enjoy a stress-free family spring break in Costa Rica.


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Spring Break Weather in Costa Rica

Sunny Beach with People in Costa Rica

If your ideal spring break weather includes copious amounts of heat and sunshine, then Costa Rica should be high on your list for a family vacation. March and April comprise the end of Costa Rica’s dry season. That means you’ll experience sun in most places — perfect for a day at the beach, or by the pool.

Costa Rica’s driest region is the northwest, in Guanacaste province and the Nicoya Peninsula, where the dryness can lead to dusty roads and barren trees. That might not be what you’d expect for a tropical country, but the tradeoff can be worth it for nonstop sunshine.

In April, Costa Rica’s South Pacific — think the Osa Peninsula — typically starts to receive some rain.

The exception to all this dry weather is Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast, which includes popular destinations like Puerto Viejo and Cahuita. March and April are sunny there too, but the true dry season for the region isn’t until September and October.

All that being said, Costa Rica has 12 climatic zones and hundreds of microclimates. The weather can change dramatically in just a few miles of driving.

Rest assured, there will be plenty of sun, so make sure you pack your sunscreen.

Where to Spend Spring Break with Family in Costa Rica

So you’ve chosen to spend spring break in Costa Rica with your family. Now, the all-important question: Where do you go?

Every family will have different preferences, but here are some popular Costa Rica vacation destinations that shouldn’t be overrun with college-aged spring breakers.

Playa Hermosa (Guanacaste)

playa-hermosa-beach-guanacaste

A few minutes from Playas del Coco — a growing hotspot for tourism and nightlife in Guanacaste — is the quieter village of Playa Hermosa. At Playa Hermosa, you can relax in hotels with gorgeous views of the bay and eat dinner at one of the many beach restaurants. Plus, you will be close to other picturesque beaches, including some of our best beaches for families.

Cahuita and the Caribbean

Costa Rica's Caribbean Coast

Puerto Viejo will attract the biggest crowds on spring break, but just 20 minutes away is one of Costa Rica’s most pristine (and criminally underrated) national parks. Cahuita National Park has an expansive white-sand beach, coral reefs for snorkeling, and a hiking trail through the jungle. You can also visit indigenous communities, make your own chocolate on a tour, and visit an animal rescue center. You can’t ask for much more than that!

La Fortuna (Arenal) and Monteverde

Arenal Volcano in Costa Rica

When the weather is nice, most people think of the beach, but don’t forget about inland destinations! La Fortuna is a town near the base of Arenal Volcano, and clear skies should give you stunning views of the conical behemoth as you relax in natural hot springs. Across Lake Arenal is Monteverde, a town founded by Quakers that has a cloud forest, artisanal cheesemaking, and jaw-dropping views of the countryside. Either makes a great destination, and you can travel between the two towns with a boat ride across the lake.

Let’s Plan a Family Spring Break Vacation in Costa Rica

It can be difficult to find the right place — one that’s kid-friendly but great for adults, and an exciting destination that’s also doable as a weeklong trip. With just a few days in Costa Rica, you and your family can relax at the beach, zipline through the jungle, make your own chocolate bar (or a cup of coffee), hike through a cloud forest, and have enough time left over to watch the sunset over a volcano. Please use the contact form below to schedule a complimentary phone call to discuss all of the exciting options that lie before you and your family for a spring break vacation in Costa Rica.

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