Pictured above (left to right): Sunny days provide a clear view of the Poas Volcano’s crater inside the Poas Volcano National Park; Tamales are a traditional Semana Santa treat; A busy beach and dry landscape at Playa del Coco (Guanacaste)
Some of the information in this article about traveling to Costa Rica in March can also be found in our related blog post:
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Is March 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 March 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 April / 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 March
If any of the following Costa Rica events interest you, you may want to plan your vacation to Costa Rica in March:
- Dia de los Boyeros (Oxcart Driver Day): This event, which pays homage to oxcart drivers, is celebrated in mid-March each year with a parade of oxcarts that travel between Escazu (downtown) and San Antonio de Escazu.
- Bamboo Bass and Jungle Jam: These live-music festivals (that also incorporate art and culture) are typically held in Jaco during February, though they may also be scheduled for January or March.
- Mardi Gras: This cultural festival in Playa Flamingo typically corresponds with Lent, which means it may be celebrated in March if not in February.
- Fiestas Civicas (Civic Festivals): These cultural festivals take place in most cities and towns around Costa Rica during the dry, summer months, including March. 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 March!
- 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 March if not April. 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.
Noteworthy wildlife / marine life sightings in March
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 March:
- Parque Nacional Marino Las Baulas (the Las Baulas National Marine Park) hosts leatherback sea turtles nesting on Playa Grande in March (best seen between October and March, ideally in December and January).
- 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 March (best seen between March and October).
- Costa Rica’s Pacific coast hosts humpback whales migrating up from the north in March (best seen between December and March).
- Islas Catalina (the Catalina Islands, also known as “The Cats”) hosts giant manta rays in March (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 March (best seen between January and April).
- Parque Nacional Palo Verde (the Palo Verde National Park) hosts migratory bird species in March (best seen between January and April).
Interested in Costa Rican wildlife? Don’t miss the photos in our related blog post:
Costs in March
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 March. 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). As a popular month for travel in general, international flights to/from Costa Rica tend to be average or above-average in price for visits during March, save for seat sales and other flight discounts. If you’re only interested in traveling to Costa Rica during the high season, know that international flights to/from Costa Rica during March (and the first two weeks of January) tend to be more expensive than flights during February and the last two weeks of January.
Weather in March
Costa Rica’s most favorable weather is experienced during the high season, which spans March. 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 March. However, the country’s tropical climate means there’s always a chance of sporadic rain.
Views in March
Since the dry season is synonymous with little cloud cover, March 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 March
March is part of Costa Rica’s dry season, which means you’re most likely to witness parts of the country brittle and brown during the month. This landscape is most common along the northern Pacific coast, in both the Guanacaste province and on the Nicoya Peninsula, where much of the land comprises a dry forest ecosystem. Parts of the country that are home to different ecosystems, including tropical rainforest and cloud forest ecosystems, may remain lush and green throughout the year. In regions where more than one ecosystem is present (along the central Pacific coast, for example), the landscape in March is typically a mix of green and brown.
Road conditions in March
Costa Rica’s roads are typically at their best during March because rainfall, known for creating bumpy roads dotted with potholes, is kept to a minimum. Also, the lack of rainfall received during March 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 March. Regardless, having a 4×4 vehicle is a good idea if you plan to drive around Costa Rica in March. 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 March
Costa Rica experiences below-average amounts of rainfall during March, 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 March 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 March and other high season months.
Terrain in March
Hike conditions tend to be at their best during March 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 March due to below-average rainfall levels.
Tourism in March
Tourism in Costa Rica is most efficient and most obvious during high season months including March, especially at popular tourist destinations. If you plan to visit during this month, 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.
Atmosphere in March
Characteristic of Costa Rica’s high season, the month of March is bustling and gives off a social vibe. It’s great to visit during this month if you want to experience Costa Rica when it’s full of energy and doesn’t feel empty, but if you’d rather feel like you’re traveling off the beaten path, vacationing in March should be avoided.
Closures in March
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 March, 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 March visit.
Cruises in March
March marks the end of the cruise season in Costa Rica, which typically runs from October to March. Carnival, Celebrity, Disney, Marella, Oceana, Princess, Regent, Royal Caribbean, and Windstar are some of the more popular cruise lines that visit Costa Rica during the cruise season. It’s important to note that non-cruise visitors may find port towns such as Puntarenas (on the Pacific coast) and Limon (on the Caribbean coast) to be busier than normal during days in March when ships are docked.
Availability for accommodations in March
Several Costa Rica hotels sell out during the month of March, which means room availability can be difficult to come by. 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 March accommodations by September of the previous year.
Wondering when you should book Costa Rica trip items to not lose out on availability? Don’t miss our related blog post:
Availability for tours / activities in March
Though full tours and activities don’t always sell out during the month of March, specific tour dates, tour times, tour combinations, and tour guides get scooped up quickly. 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 and/or you have specific tours / dates / times / guides in mind, 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 March, 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 the month of March, it’s usually easy to find other people to participate in tours with.
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 March
Some Costa Rica transportation services (including shared shuttle services, private transfer services, domestic flights, water taxis, and ferries) sell out during March. 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 March. 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.
Need help deciding which transportation services to use in Costa Rica? Check out our related blog post:
Availability for rental cars in March
Nearly all Costa Rica car rental agencies sell out of their best vehicles during March. 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.
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QUESTION TO COMMENT ON: Have you been to Costa Rica in March? What did you experience?