High Season Driving in Costa Rica
Things to know about visiting Costa Rica in the High Season
Vacations are about hot, sunny days ending with spectacular sunsets and warm evenings. From November to April is high season and dry season in Costa Rica, when the sun shines and visitors flock to the country to enjoy the tropics and escape with winter chill. What do you need to know about high season?
Dry season means that you can expect roughly twelve hours of sunshine per day and temperatures in the balmy 70°s and 80°s in the Central Valley, and to the scorching 90°s on the Pacific. Rain is rare in the Central Valley and the Pacific Coast, although the Caribbean is wetter while the rest of the country is dry.
But the best thing about dry season weather is that it is the complete opposite of the weather you’ve left behind!
Driving is easier in many parts of the country during high season. Areas such as the Nicoya and Osa Peninsulas can be difficult to access during green season when rivers fill and sometime flow across the roads. While the rains are only for a couple of hours in the afternoon in green season, the visitor has more flexibility in journey planning and driving times when there are no downpours to avoid.
Do plan your vacation to avoid long journeys on the busiest days when Costa Ricans have vacations too for the holidays. The Wednesday and Thursday before Easter Weekend, and Easter Sunday are big traffic days across the country as Ticos enjoy a beach break for the holidays, so plan for those days to be relaxing poolside rather than sitting in tailbacks. In general, traffic outside of the capital is unlikely to be an issue for the rest of the year.
Route 27 (Autopista del Sol) is the main road between the Central Valley and the closest Pacific beaches. Lanes beachbound will be reserved when large traffic numbers are expected at the end of holidays or long weekends to cut down on traffic delays. This is only an issue if you’re planning to head in the opposite direction!
Expect to pay more for accommodation, tours and car rental during high season, especially at Christmas, New Year and Easter. Book early to avoid disappointment as popular hotels will be fully booked months in advance.
Car rental agencies will be fully booked for peak times, especially the categories in most demand. So, reserve well ahead of time and confirm the reservation a few weeks before departure. While pricing is higher than in low season, you can cut costs by hiring a less powerful vehicle than you’d need in green season.
Dry Season Highlights
1. Observe huge Leatherback Turtles laying eggs at Playa Grande in Las Baulas National Marine Park near Tamarindo between October and March.
2. Go Whale Watching from Dominical between December and March.
3. Join in the celebrations at the Festival de la Luz in San Jose on the third weekend of December.
4. Catch a glimpse of the elusive Quetzal between February and May in San Gerardo de Dota.
5. Hang ten on the Salsa Brava wave in Puerto Viejo on the Caribbean Coast.
Come and enjoy the sunshine!