March is an exciting month to visit Costa Rica. Being the last of the dry season and at the tail end of the high tourist season sees the country at its best with abounding wildlife and verdant landscapes along with greater availability and a drop in accommodation and tour prices.
The western half of the country, which includes the popular hubs of the Osa and Nicoya Peninsulas, as well as Guanacaste Province, are simply superb to visit in March. El Niño is having a particularly drying effect on the Pacific side in 2016, and extremely wet on the Caribbean. Although this is great news for travel-related activities, don’t be surprised if you must contend with occasional power cuts. Costa Rica relies heavily on hydroelectric power, and as rivers dry up, power supplies are somewhat rationed. But rest assured, this is certainly not enough to put a damper on your vacation!
Beaches are pristine and dry, boasting balmy waters and sparkling sandy shores. With barely a cloud in the sky, March is ideal if beach-bumming, snorkeling and relaxing is on your agenda.
Wildlife viewing is also perfect at this time, as rain-free days and nights make jungle hikes enjoyable and easy, and creatures tend to be a lot more active as they seek watering holes.
Monkeys, sloths and larger animals are all quite active in March and easy to spot, as they tend to spend much less time in thick forest coverage – there’s no need to seek shelter from the elements when the climate is dry and delicious- and as water holes shrink in the heat many of the animals are lured out for a refreshing drink, making wildlife watching particularly great. All of Costa Rica’s major national parks are very rewarding to visit at this time of year.
For turtle hatchling viewing, March is also ideal, with the Pacific coastline hosting colonies of Olive Ridley, green and leatherback turtles, with the latter being the last of their kind for the season. Since nesting season peaks at around Christmas time, this is the perfect month to catch the little ones in flapping action!
Excellent whale watching spots towards the end of the month are all along the coasts of Guanacaste and Nicoya, where humpback whales make their seasonal swim. Many more actually migrate off the eastern shores; however, they tend to take a much wider berth and are usually invisible from the beach.
Bird watching aficionados will also enjoy the blooming population in the wetlands of Tortuguero and Cano Negro, where northern birds retreat to for a balmy and much more agreeable winter vacation.
The cultural calendar for March is jam-packed full of colourful celebrations, with the month being a precursor to Easter, the busiest and most celebrated event in the Costa Rican calendar. The Oxcart parade (El Dia del Boyero) which takes place in San Antonio de Escazu on the second Sunday in March, is one of the most colourful of the year. Proud cart owners parade their incredible works of art in what is one of Costa Rica’s most unique events. Watch ox-pulled carts fill the streets of San Antonio and witness the blessings of the animals by local priests.
On the 19th March, you’ll find St José, one of the country’s most revered Saints, being celebrated all over the country. Alongside cruelty-free bullfighting shows, you’ll stumble upon amazing food and produce markets, arts and craft stalls and an evening filled with music, dancing and fiesta-making!
If you’re lucky enough to be visiting San José in March 2016, you can attend the fantastic International Arts Festival, which is held between 15th and 25th March, only on even-numbered years. This fortnight event serves up an amazing array of great artists, performers, and musicians, in concerts, fiestas and events held all over the capital. Look for a reason to make a short-notice getaway to Costa Rica? This is it!
Adrenalin sports highlights
Although the heart of dry season spells lesser flowing rivers, daytime water release plans means white water rafting in the central region is still very much offered! The lack of rains and stormy seas makes March absolutely ideal if you’re heading to Costa Rica on a surf learning vacation, something you can do all along the coast of the Nicoya Peninsula, and the beaches of the Manuel Antonio National Park. A dry climate, of course, is what makes this one of the year’s best months for zip-lining, mountain biking and hikes immersed in pristine nature.