March can be a great time to visit Costa Rica with practically guaranteed sunny weather and gorgeous beaches. But it is best to be informed ahead of time about the fluctuations in high and peak season pricing that can occur throughout the month. Read on to learn more about planning a trip to Costa Rica in March.
What is the Weather Like in Costa Rica in March?
Costa Rica in March tends to be very pleasant with sunny days, warm evenings and starry nights. March pertains to the Costa Rican dry season, or verano as locals call it, which generally runs from mid-December to early May. In fact, occasionally March can be so dry that even in this country covered by rainforest, there can be small forest fires in the arid pacific northwest region of Guanacaste. Of course, it is always still possible to experience a passing afternoon rainstorm in March. In fact, the cooling breeze of a rainstorm might even be a welcome respite from the sunny, dry days.
Photo Gallery “Glimpse” of Costa Rica in March
Holiday, Festivals & Places to Visit in Costa Rica in March
Holy Week (2nd Half of March or 1st Half of April)
Holy Week, or Semana Santa, is the week that leads up to Easter Sunday. The dates for Holy Week fluctuate from year to year between late March and early April, but it is the most important date to know ahead of time when considering a trip to Costa Rica during these two months. This is because almost everyone in Costa Rica takes this week as vacation and heads to the most touristy spots.
Add that phenomenon to North America’s overlapping Spring Break and guaranteed beautiful, sunny days and you’ve got the perfect storm for crowded beaches, inflated prices, limited availability and animal wildlife fleeing from the crowds. That being said, if you are okay with some human wildlife, Semana Santa in Costa Rica can be an incredibly unique and cultural experience.
With more than 75% of Costa Rica identifying as catholic, this holiday is a deeply religious event for many Ticos. Beginning with Palm Sunday and going through Good Friday and Easter Sunday, catholic churches begin to hold processionals through the streets using elaborate and sometimes gory mannequins of Jesus and other characters from the Biblical story of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Many locals come out to participate in these processionals with children oftentimes dressing up as cherubs and grown men donning robes to represent the Romans who crucified Jesus.
There are lots of traditional foods on display at this time of year such as chiverre (a type of squash) dishes, arroz con leche, salmon, seafood, fresh homemade breads, and dulce de coco (sweet coconut).
Easter Week brings with it some unique superstitions passed down by older Costa Ricans, as well. Perhaps due to the increased amount of bathers in the ocean, some Ticos believe that if God is angry, you will drown, or that if you go swimming in the ocean on Good Friday, you might turn into a fish. Younger Costa Ricans might say that the best sunsets of the year happen during this week, sitting on the beach, with a cold drink in hand and friends around.
Given that Easter Week is such a popular travel time, most tour and activity providers will be operating as usual to meet the demand, but you can expect banks, businesses, and some transportations services to be closed from Thursday-Sunday. Also, it may be important for travelers to note that alcohol is typically not sold from Wednesday to Saturday of this week.
What to Pack for a March Trip
In addition to the basic Costa Rica Escape adventure pack that we recommend, for a trip to Costa Rica in March you’ll definitely want to pack high-quality sunscreen as this and other toiletries can be very expensive to purchase in Costa Rica. Also, plan to bring a reusable water bottle to stay hydrated during hot and sunny days. View our detailed Costa Rica Packing List article.
Pros to visiting Costa Rica in March
- Sunny, hot beaches provide a great escape from the northern hemisphere winter
- Easy to visit even the most remote of locations due to dry roads
- Consistently dry weather means you can plan your activities ahead of time
Cons to visiting Costa Rica in March
- Temperatures are at their peak this time of year
- High season pricing on accommodations and activities
- Spring break and Easter can collide to create the perfect storm of overcrowded beaches and accommodations with peak season pricing
Top 5 Things to Plan for a Trip to Costa Rica in March
- Visit the Monteverde Cloud Forest – With most crowds heading to the sunny beaches, the majestic Monteverde cloud forest will have fewer tourists and dryer days, making the winding road up into the clouds much easier to traverse than other times of years.
- Catch sight of the resplendent Quetzal bird – The dry season makes certain back-country roads and cloud forest trails more transitable, which allows admirers closer access to Costa Rica’s vibrantly-colored and unique birds.
- Catamaran & Snorkel Cruise – Long, sunny afternoons that turn into orangey-pink sunsets on the horizon are best to witness from the deck of a catamaran cruise with drinks, food, and a professional crew at the helm.
- Attend a Semana Santa religious service or procession – If your trip coincides with the famous Easter week in Costa Rica, you won’t want to miss out on one of these unique religious events.
- Overnight White-Water Rafting trip on the Pacuare River – Join a certified, professional crew of white-water rafting guides to journey down the Pacuare River and then spend the night under a million stars in the surrounding biological corridor Jungle Camp.
The Bottom Line on March in Costa Rica
March is generally a very nice time to visit Costa Rica given the warm, sunny days. Nevertheless, it can sometimes be unclear when high season and peak season pricing apply throughout the month, which can be confusing for some travelers. Easter Week activities (if they fall in March) can dramatically affect travel plans as well, making it vital that anyone wishing to travel to Costa Rica in March plan as far ahead as possible.