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Costa Rica holidays can catch you off guard if you are a visitor or you just moved here and wonder why everything is closed.
In general, holiday dates are fixed, and unlike the United States, are not moved to make a three day weekend. For example, Mother's day is always on August 15th.
However, in 2021 due to the COVID pandemic, the Costa Rica Government has temporarily aligned some holidays to a Friday or Monday targeting those who live in Costa Rica in an effort to help promote and improve the economy via local tourism.
All government agencies are closed during holidays. Banks are closed for 1 day holidays and operate on a reduced schedule during Holy Week. Most private businesses that are not in the tourism or food industry, such as hardware, furniture stores and auto dealerships, will be closed during holidays.
For those not familiar with Costa Rica, certain parts of the country such as the Guanacaste beach towns of Tamarindo, Playas del Coco and Flamingo become very crowded during Christmas, Easter and the first two weeks of July. While not an official holiday, most schools get out at the end of June and families traditionally take their annual vacation of two weeks starting at the beginning of July.
Beaches and restaurants are jammed, prices are much more expensive than normal and the traffic from San Jose heading north to Guanacaste is very heavy, especially at the beginning and end of these holiday periods. For long holidays, most Costa Ricans depart early in the morning of the first day of the holiday period and return home late at night on the last day.
Conversely in October, one of the few months without a national Costa Rica holiday, there are few people who visit the Pacific coast. This is primarily due to the torrential rains that arrive starting in September. This time of year is a very quiet and peaceful month to visit, especially if you like cooler temperatures and lots of rain. Many small business owners that cater to the tourism industry, close down for a few weeks and go on their annual vacation.