Pictured above (left to right): Ricky renting a van through Mapache Rent-A-Car, a Costa Rican car rental agency that applies low season pricing during the last few weeks of April; A dusty, dirt road (Road 911) on a hot, sunny day; The dark sand Playa Tortuguero, where four types of sea turtles come to nest (Caribbean)
Some of the information in this article about traveling to Costa Rica in April can also be found in our related blog post:
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Is April a good time to go to Costa Rica?
The answer to this question depends on what you’re looking to get out of your travel experience, where in Costa Rica you’re headed, what you want to see and do while here, how much money you’re willing to spend, and several other factors. We compiled the information below to help you decide whether you should or shouldn’t go to Costa Rica in April which is part of Costa Rica’s “high season” (click here to learn more about Costa Rica’s high and low travel seasons), according to your own interests, wants, needs, and vacation priorities.
Planning to visit Costa Rica during a different month? Don’t miss our related blog posts:
Costa Rica in January / Costa Rica in February / Costa Rica in March / Costa Rica in May / Costa Rica in June / Costa Rica in July / Costa Rica in August / Costa Rica in September / Costa Rica in October / Costa Rica in November / Costa Rica in December
Special events and celebrations in April
If any of the following Costa Rica events interest you, you may want to plan your vacation to Costa Rica in April:
- Semana Santa (Easter/Holy Week): Costa Ricans celebrate Easter over several days, including the Easter weekend (Saturday and Sunday), Good Friday, and the Wednesday and Thursday preceding Good Friday. According to when Easter occurs each year, Semana Santa may be held in April if not March. The holiday, which is typically celebrated privately among Costa Rican families who host get-togethers, attend church, and participate in religious-themed parades, is rarely celebrated by tourists. It is worth noting, however, that because several Costa Ricans are awarded time off from work during the 5-day event, many vacation at popular Costa Rican destinations and beaches. Tourism throughout the country booms during Semana Santa, which means that availability for vacation items (such as hotels, tours and activities, rental vehicles, and more) is limited.
- Fiestas Civicas (Civic Festivals): These cultural festivals take place in most cities and towns around Costa Rica during the dry, summer months, including April. Ask staff or the host at the accommodation you plan to stay at when and where the local fiesta civica will be held during the year you plan to visit. With any luck, it will be held near your accommodation when you visit in April!
- Dia de Juan Santamaria (Juan Santamaria Day): This event, which pays homage to a young war hero from Alajuela, is celebrated on April 11th each year with a parade through the streets of Alajuela.
Noteworthy wildlife / marine life sightings in April
If you’re coming to Costa Rica to see a particular species of wildlife or marine life, consider the following benefits to visiting Costa Rica in April:
- Parque Nacional Tortuguero (the Tortuguero National Park) hosts olive ridley sea turtles, leatherback sea turtles, loggerhead sea turtles, and green sea turtles nesting on Playa Tortuguero in April (best seen between March and October).
- Islas Catalina (the Catalina Islands, also known as “The Cats”) hosts giant manta rays in April (best seen between November and May).
- Refugio Nacional de Vida Silvestre Mixto Cano Negro (the Cano Negro Mixed Wildlife Refuge) hosts migratory bird species in April (best seen between January and April).
- Parque Nacional Palo Verde (the Palo Verde National Park) hosts migratory bird species in April (best seen between January and April).
Interested in Costa Rican wildlife? Don’t miss the photos in our related blog post:
Costs in April
On average countrywide, the most expensive time to travel to Costa Rica is during the peak season, immediately followed by the high season, which includes April. This is when accommodation prices and car rental rates are at their highest (note that prices for tours / activities, shared and private transportation services, and food tend to remain the same year-round). This being said, a handful of accommodations and some car rental agencies only apply high season pricing until the end of Semana Santa (Easter/Holy Week) as opposed to April 30th. This means that, depending on when Easter falls in March or April during the year you visit, you may be able to access low season pricing on some items for your April trip, especially if you plan to travel during the last half of the month.
Weather in April
Costa Rica’s most favorable weather is experienced during the high season, which spans April. During this time, most of the country experiences the dry season, which is considered Costa Rica’s summer season. You’re most likely to encounter above-average periods of sunshine and below-average periods of rain if you visit during April. However, the country’s tropical climate means there’s always a chance of sporadic rain.
It’s important to note that during years when Costa Rica’s dry season ends early (i.e., before the end of April), April, especially the last few weeks of the month, may not be as sunny and dry as other high season months. If optimal weather is your priority, it’s best to visit during February or March when the transition from the dry season to the green / wet / rain season hasn’t yet begun.
Views in April
Since the dry season is synonymous with little cloud cover, April is a great time to take in countless beautiful views captured during adventure and nature tours, atop volcano craters, and at several miradors (viewpoints) around the country.
Landscape in April
April typically marks the end of Costa Rica’s dry season, which means you’re most likely to witness parts of the country that have dry forest ecosystems (including, but not limited to, the Guanacaste province and the Nicoya Peninsula) as brown and brittle. Areas that are home to tropical rainforest and cloud forest ecosystems tend to be lush and green year-round, and regions where more than one ecosystem is present (along the central Pacific coast, for example), usually display a mix of green and brown.
Road conditions in April
Costa Rica’s roads are typically at their best during April because rainfall, known for creating bumpy roads dotted with potholes, is kept to a minimum. Also, the lack of rainfall received during April reduces road delays caused by landslides, the need to navigate river crossings, and the mess that comes with driving on rutted dirt roads that have turned to mud. In contrast, most unpaved roads in Costa Rica are dry and dusty during April. Regardless, having a 4×4 vehicle is a good idea if you plan to drive around Costa Rica in April. Some mountainous areas and areas with rough roads year-round require one.
Plan to drive yourself around Costa Rica? Learn what to expect from each road and highway by reading our related blog posts:
Water levels in April
When the green / wet / rain season doesn’t begin early (i.e., before May), Costa Rica experiences below-average amounts of rainfall during April, so water levels around the country tend to be low. This means that waterfalls (for swimming in and canyoning beside) may be less powerful during April than months that fall within the green / wet / rain season; Some waterfalls may be reduced to a trickle. Some white-water rafting excursions may only provide mild thrills, which may disappoint avid adventurists and/or travelers with prior rafting experience, but simultaneously excite timid rafters and/or families with young children. Though always possible, tour and activity cancellations resulting from dangerous water levels are uncommon during April and other high season months.
Terrain in April
Hike conditions tend to be at their best during April when trails are usually dry. Trails that aren’t shaded make for incredibly hot hikes, however, so be sure to wear a hat and carry plenty of sunscreen and water. Though trail closures can occur at any time in Costa Rica, closures due to landslides, floods, or fallen trees aren’t common during April due to below-average rainfall levels.
Tourism in April
Tourism in Costa Rica is most efficient and most obvious during high season months including April, especially at popular tourist destinations. However, weeks in April that follow Easter/Holy Week tend to be the least busiest weeks during the high season months. If you plan to visit during April before or during Easter/Holy Week you can expect larger group sizes for organized tours; average to above-average numbers of hikers on popular nature trails; full hotels (or nearly full hotels), busy restaurants (the most sought after may require prior reservation); transportation vehicles and vessels you’ll likely share with other passengers (i.e., shared shuttle services, domestic flights, water taxis, ferries, and local buses); and higher levels of noise. If you wish to experience Costa Rica during one of the slowest periods amid the high season, it’s best to visit during the last week or two of April.
Atmosphere in April
Characteristic of Costa Rica’s high season, weeks in April before and during Easter/Holy Week are bustling and give off a social vibe. In contrast, weeks in April that follow Easter/Holy Week give off a much more laid-back vibe. It’s great to visit during this month (up to and including Easter/Holy Week) if you want to experience Costa Rica when it’s full of energy and doesn’t feel empty. If you’d rather feel like you’re traveling off the beaten path, or if your travel dates are restricted to April but you want to avoid crowds as much as possible, visit during the last two weeks of the month (a.k.a., the least busiest part of April).
Closures in April
Unlike Costa Rica’s green / wet / rain season, which typically sees several tourism businesses close temporarily, reduce their hours of operation, or renovate during off-season months, Costa Rica’s high season, including April, sees tourism businesses operate at full speed (some according to extended hours). This is great news because it means that the hotels, tour companies, and/or restaurants you wish to experience in Costa Rica will be available to you during your April visit.
Cruises in April
Costa Rica’s cruise season typically runs from October to March each year. Because cruises rarely dock in Costa Rica during April, tourism is practically non-existent in port towns like Puntarenas (on the Pacific coast) and Limon (on the Caribbean coast) during the month.
Availability for accommodations in April
Several Costa Rica hotels sell out during weeks in April that precede and include Easter/Holy Week, which means room availability can be difficult to come by. Availability is easier to find during the weeks that follow Easter/Holy Week. Though the amount of time you should book accommodations in advance depends largely on the area of the country you plan to visit and the property you wish to stay at, in general, it’s best to book April accommodations by September of the previous year. If you plan to travel during Easter/Holy Week, book accommodations even further in advance.
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Availability for tours / activities in April
Though full tours and activities don’t always sell out during the month of April, specific tour dates, tour times, tour combinations, and tour guides get scooped up quickly, especially for dates that precede or fall on Easter/Holy Week. If your travel itinerary is flexible, you can wait to book tour and activity experiences until a few weeks before your trip. If you’re traveling according to a tight schedule, if you have specific tours / dates / times / guides in mind, or if you plan to visit during Easter/Holy Week, it’s best to book tour and activity experiences as early as you decide on them.
If you’re a single traveler visiting Costa Rica in April prior to or including Easter/Holy Week, you’re in luck! Though most tour operators require a minimum of two people before they’ll run some tours, since Costa Rica welcomes so many visitors during this period, it’s usually easy to find other people to participate in tours with. On the other hand, if you’re a single traveler visiting Costa Rica during the weeks in April that follow Easter/Holy Week, you may find it tough to meet the minimum two-person requirement for participation in some tours / activities.
Want to save money on your Costa Rica day tours? Check out the free discounts we offer for Costa Rica tours and activities:
Availability for transportation services in April
Some Costa Rica transportation services (including shared shuttle services, private transfer services, domestic flights, water taxis, and ferries) sell out during April, primarily services that take place before or during Easter/Holy Week. Remaining availability for transportation services may not be for the exact route or departure time you want, so it’s best to book transportation services as early as you decide on them. It’s worth mentioning, too, that many transportation service providers increase the number of services they offer during high-season months, including April. With a greater number of transportation services (i.e., departure times) to choose from, you’ll have more control over the schedule for your trip. Service quantities, routes, and departure times offered in April may be reduced in the weeks that follow Easter/Holy Week.
Need help deciding which transportation services to use in Costa Rica? Check out our related blog post:
Availability for rental cars in April
Nearly all Costa Rica car rental agencies sell out of their best vehicles for weeks in April that precede and include Easter/Holy Week. 4×4 vehicles are the first to go, so reserve one as soon as you decide to drive yourself around Costa Rica, ideally several months prior to your visit. If you need to rent a car during the weeks in April that follow Easter/Holy Week, though vehicles don’t sell out as fast for this period, secure a rental as soon as possible to maximize your chances of getting the car you want and can afford.
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QUESTION TO COMMENT ON: Have you been to Costa Rica in April? What did you experience?