Celebrating Christmas in Costa Rica
Christmas in Costa Rica is a time of joy and celebration with plenty of traditions and activities to enjoy. The festivities kick off with the Festival de la Luz, a dazzling parade that travels from Paseo Colon to El Parque de la Democracia in Downtown San Jose.
Local Traditions, Colors, and Flavors of Christmas Celebrations
One of the most important aspects of Christmas in Costa Rica is family, and families gather together to celebrate, exchange gifts, and enjoy traditional meals, like tamales. Music is also an essential part of Christmas, with carolers singing traditional Christmas songs in the streets.
San José, the capital city of Costa Rica, offers a great experience with Christmas lights and decorations, Christmas-themed performances, and traditional treats, while Guanacaste or Central Pacific beaches offer a perfect beach getaway during Christmas.
If you spend Christmas Eve in Costa Rica, don’t be surprised by the sounds of a fiesta happening nearby or the amount of fireworks, it’s how the locals celebrate Christmas!
Tips for Traveling to Costa Rica During Festive Holidays
Christmas in the tropics? What a fantastic idea! Why not trade in material presents for an unforgettable experience of traveling with your family? If you're thinking about spending Christmas holidays in Costa Rica, here are a few things to consider for planning your trip.
Holiday Travel Draws Crowds, Even in Costa Rica
Festive season is one of the most popular times of year to visit Costa Rica, and you may run into some crowds while getting here, or being out and about. Travel industry refers to this period as peak season, which typically starts around December 16 and lasts until around January 6th.
If crowds are not your cup of tea, and holidays are the only time you can come, there are plenty of off-the-beaten-path places to stay, and towns that you can explore. Montezuma, Samara, and other small towns on the Nicoya Peninsula are great options that don't see as much tourism as the more popular spots like Tamarindo, La Fortuna, or Manuel Antonio. And if you're looking to completely disconnect, remote and secluded places like Rafiki Safari Lodge, Rio Perdido or Pacuare are a great option for you.
Seasonal Pricing for Holidays
What is peaking at this time of the year—beside the crowds—are rates for lodging.There's no going around it—established hotels and rentals are taking advantage of high demand during Christmas. If your budget is limited, and you start planning on time, you may get lucky on getting good options, but that’s rare. Consider coming during summer or fall, when you can get the best bang for your buck—deals with two or three complimentary nights, and basically private guided tours.
Christmas Dates Are Always Hot, Hot, Hot
Hot with high prices, and hot as in selling out as hot cakes. If you're embarking on your first holiday travel adventure, you may be taken aback by the limited availability of accommodations early in the year. Surprisingly, some hotels sell out immediately after they begin accepting holiday reservations. This is especially true if you require multiple rooms or are part of a larger group. That's why planning early is essential. Even daily activities and tours can get booked up quickly.
Take a deep breath and relax! You’ve got this.
Online Availability Isn’t Always What It Seems
Having the help of an agent taking care of all the details of finding availability can make a difference. Why? In a complex world of advanced negotiations and relationships that run for decades in the travel industry, agencies often have access rooms that you wouldn't be able to secure on your own.
So even if you are checking a specific hotel and they are not showing any availability, by speaking to an agent, they can confirm the true status and also make suggestions of alternative options that you wouldn’t know about.
Limits on Guided Tours, Activities and Attractions
Once you settle on the destinations you’re visiting on your trip, and book your stay, you want to lock in your preferred tours or activities, too. Trust me, you don't want to arrive, settle in your hotel, only to find out everything is already fully booked.
Tour operators that have experienced guides, drivers, and other support staff are aplenty, but not unlimited, especially during a season with high demand. Placing reservations early will ensure you have a wonderful time, once you land in Costa Rica.
Time to Kick Back, Relax, And Wait for Pura Vida Time in December
Your reservations can be held by only 10% if booking as early as six months out, and interest-free installments help you pay for your vacation without stress - you'll barely feel it!
December is usually a great time to visit as rainfall is limited. However, if you're planning to visit the rainforest, keep in mind that there's always a chance of rain. But don't worry, that just means everything will be even more green and lush!
Rebecca Porter, a native of Atlanta, GA, is a Travel Consultant who has been living and working in Tamarindo, Costa Rica since 2018. Rebecca is passionate about Costa Rica and loves sharing her knowledge of the country.