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The Off-season is the Best Season in Costa Rica

Caldera flooding 2010

As I sit here sweating enough to refill the Arenal lake, I really wish I were sea-side with a frothy adult beverage in hand. That’s a place I haven’t made it this year. You may be thinking I missed my chance now that Easter has passed, it’s unofficially not summer here in Costa Rica, the rain is looming (which frankly in this heat, I welcome) and vacation days are over. I’m glad you feel that way. I hope you continue to feel that way because then you won’t be there hogging all the good tourist spots, taking up parking and jacking up the rates for everything.

I think now is the best time to start visiting places. I might not get a great tan (though my dermatologist will be happy), but it’s still warm most places and the tide isn’t going to stop changing. Oh but the RAIN you say… I’m a grown up living in a country where it rains seven months a year; I can plan for that. Plus I’ll be saving money while helping small businesses through lean times. Everyone’s a winner! (Except my dermatologist who I won’t be visiting since I didn’t get that tan).

The post Easter tourist drop-off is upon us. It’s bad for business but good for you and me. The discounts haven’t taken long to show up and Canatur is already offering discounts for residents with a media push from Teletica. In the past the banks have gotten in on the off-season discounting by offering deep discounts for payment with certain cards so keep your eyes peeled as I suspect we will be seeing that.

What’s the advantage to seeing Costa Rica in the off-season? Green, green, green. We’re famous for being a green place but a couple of weeks ago the park in front of my house had taken on a sort of natural sepia-tone. Guanacaste gets that way in the dry season as well, throw in unpaved roads and you get a lot of dust too. But add a little water to the mix and you get beautiful expanses of fresh green and no dust. It only took a handful of rain showers for the park to show signs of green glory once again and Guanacaste is much the same way.

You need more than just green? I offer you no crowds, no traffic and probably staff that is happy to have you there. I had a friend visit a couple of years ago, and we booked a zip-lining tour on a Monday in the off-season. Our tour group for that morning consisted of the two of us and the two zip-line guys. We had a blast, though I can’t say we saved any money as a much larger than average tip was called for given the private nature of the service. But the zip-line operators didn’t complain about having to come in or about the fact that there was a small crowd. We actually spent most of the time chatting and doubling up on the number of lines we ran so they could stretch the tour to two hours (see a 20sec video clip of that trip here).

The other thing the off-season does is change your photography options (If you have read any of my other blogs I bet you were wondering how long it would take me to get around that). Gone are the deep blue skies but you get a change in scenery, plus mist and clouds that you can play with. Remember that you may have to take a few shots since light bouncing through clouds can create a wall of light that may confuse your camera’s light meter and darken your subject. Misty scenery can be gloomy and interesting. Water pooling or droplets on leaves or flowers are excellent options as well. Try to see things differently as you sit around waiting for a shower to pass. Storms are also excellent subjects just be aware of flooding as an issue and don’t get caught in an awkward situation. Once you are on higher ground look for sunlight breaking through while areas are still cloudy.

The off-season is your chance to see and photograph Costa Rica in a new way. I like it more. If you disagree please feel free to stay home and leave the beach and the discounts to me. Now where’s my beer?

Jaco storm 2010

Irazu in the mist

Cartago hills

Pool side rain

The Off-season is the Best Season in Costa Rica
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