April in Costa Rica: Weather, What to Pack, and What to See

Coastline, Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica, Central America

Marco Simoni / Cultura / Getty Images

Anyone who's been to Costa Rica will tell you that it's worth exploring at any time of the year, but April may be a particularly special month to visit this popular Central American country. While the region is known for having great weather throughout the entire year, there is a defined dry season and rainy season. April is the tail-end of the dry season, so it's a perfect time to enjoy all that Costa Rica has to offer before the summer showers descend across the country.

The peak tourist season is when the dry season starts, coinciding with winter break and New Year's. April is still busy, but it will be much calmer than the busy holiday season. One event that typically falls in April is Semana Santa, or Holy Week, which is the week leading up to Easter Sunday and is full of religious processions and festivities around the country. If you're traveling during this week, make your reservations early because rooms will book up fast.

Costa Rica Weather in April

April is the end of the dry season and one of the hottest months in Costa Rica, but the climate can change dramatically depending on what part of the country you're in. The driest and hottest areas are on the northwestern side of the country—closer to the Pacific Ocean. The Caribbean side on the east, however, is more humid and may experience rainstorms even in the dry season. San José, the capital and largest city, is right in the center of the country and experiences a dry and hot climate similar to the Pacific side.

  Average High Average Low Average Rainfall Humidity
San José (Central) 78 F (26 C) 64 F (18 C) 2 inches 73%
Quepos (Pacific) 90 F (32 C) 74 F (24 C) 6.4 inches 81%
Liberia (Pacific) 97 F (36 C) 73 F (23 C) 1 inch 61%
Puerto Viejo (Caribbean) 86 F (30 C) 72 F (22 C) 10.4 inches 85%

Throughout April the Pacific side is generally drier and hotter than the Caribbean side, but the farther south you go, the more humid it gets—increasing the possibility of showers. Once you get to the popular Manuel Antonio Beach near Quepos, the climate begins to feel more like the Caribbean side of the country.

Even if you do get caught in the rain, storms normally come and go quickly as is typical in tropical climates. Regardless of what part of the country you're in, you shouldn't have a problem enjoying all of the outdoor beauty that Costa Rica has to offer because of bad weather. If anything, the rain on the Caribbean side is a welcome reprieve from the heat.

What to Pack

Costa Rica is a natural getaway and travelers come here to trek through the jungle, hike up volcanoes, and sit out at the beach, so you'll need to be prepared for all types of outdoor activities. Lightweight athletic gear is important, such as sleeveless or short-sleeved shirts, activewear shorts, and most importantly a good pair of shoes for walking and hiking (possibly two in case one of them gets wet).

Unless you're only staying in the northwestern part of the country, you'll also want to bring a lightweight waterproof jacket that's easy to carry around and doesn't take up much space in your luggage.

Items like sunscreen and bug repellent are available to purchase in Costa Rica, but are just as expensive or even pricier than they are in the U.S. If you can, bring some with you to avoid having to buy it once you arrive.

April Events in Costa Rica

The biggest holiday happening all around Costa Rica in the spring is Easter and the week leading up to it. Depending on the year, it falls somewhere between mid-March and mid-April, and it's a popular travel time across the country. It's an exciting cultural event, but be prepared for extra crowds and sold-out transportation.

  • The Easter Holidays: Also called Holy Week or Semana Santa, the week-long Easter holidays mark one of Costa Rica’s most memorable celebrations, taking place in 2020 from April 5–12. The country essentially shuts down to rejoice—even buses stop running on Holy Thursday and Good Friday. Religious parades fill the streets of numerous towns and other festivities have rodeos, bullfights, concerts, carnivals, and more. Most traditional businesses are closed on the Thursday and Friday before Easter (National Holidays), but you will be able to find tons of street food stands.
  • Juan Santamaria Day: Locals also know this celebration as National Hero’s Day. April 11 is a public holiday that honors the Tico, or native Costa Rican, who defeated American invader William Walker at the 1856 battle of Rivas. This is a day where you will find a lot of colorful parades, mainly from schools.
  • Sea Turtles Nesting Season: If you go to the Pacific coast you might be able to run into Olive Ridley turtles as they arrive at the beach for nesting. If you go to the Caribbean Coast, such as the famous Tortuguero National Park, you may see leatherback sea turtles. On both of the coasts, you are more than welcome to visit a rescue center to help out and meet these beautiful creatures.

April Travel Tips

  • Because Easter and the rest of Holy Week are so widely celebrated in Costa Rica, it can be difficult for travelers to find rooms without booking far in advance. You should book your accommodations at least two months in advance, if not earlier. Showing up without a reservation is a recipe for disaster. 
  • Businesses close during Holy Week, prices are raised, and the beaches are crammed with revelers. However, the religious processions and festivities are a sight to behold—just be prepared.
  • The Pacific side of Costa Rica is more accessible than the Caribbean side, which means it's also busier. The east coast is more remote, but if you want to get away from the crowds, it may be worth the extra effort to get there.