Costa Rica vs. Jamaica: Which to Choose for Your Vacation?

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Costa Rica and Jamaica have a lot in common, including beautiful beaches, abundant wildlife, and lush jungles. However, choosing just one tropical destination for your vacation can prove to be a challenging endeavor!

In this post, we’ll compare and contrast the most notable similarities and differences between Costa Rica vs. Jamaica, so you can determine which of these fabulous destinations is best for your vacation. However, in our opinion, Costa Rica is the better choice — keep reading to see why!



Dry vs Green seasons

Costa Rica

Costa Rica experiences a dry season and a rainy season (or green season). Most visitors prefer to vacation from December – April when the weather is dry and temperatures are higher. The average temperatures during the peak season range from 75 degrees to 90 degrees, and the beaches in Guanacaste tend to have higher temperatures. In contrast, the mountainous regions in Arenal and the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve tend to enjoy cooler weather.


The most popular times to visit Jamaica are similar to Costa Rica — from December to April. During these months, the temperatures aren’t too hot, but the rainfall is minimal so you can enjoy Jamaica’s stunning beaches and outdoor adventures. The hotter fall and summer months, from May – November, tend to experience more rainfall.

Beach view with tree

It’s also important to note that hurricane season for the Caribbean Islands, including Jamaica, runs from June through November, so you may want to plan your trip around these months.



Aerial view of beach and water

Costa Rica

Costa Rica has its fair share of decent beaches — over 300, to be exact! The Pacific Coast is known for its stunning beaches, exceptional fishing, unique diving, and excellent surfing at locations like Playa Tamarindo and Playa Flamingo. Playa Conchal, in Guanacaste, is famous for its white sands made from crushed seashells.

Costa Rica’s Caribbean Coast has its fair share of unique beaches too, including Playa Negra — a black-sand beach formed from volcanic rocks.

Costa Rica vs Jamaica - sunset over the beach


Jamaica is home to some of the best beaches in the Caribbean, with fluffy white sands, crystal-clear waters, and reef-lined coasts. Seven Mile Beach in Negril is one of the island’s most popular beaches and is surrounded by luxury resorts and hotels. If you want to see tropical fish, turtles, and rays, head to Doctor’s Beach in Montego Bay or Ochos Rios Marine Park and Devil’s Reef — both fantastic diving sites and snorkeling destinations.


Food & Culture

Plate of traditional food from Costa Rica

Costa Rica

Costa Rica has a vibrant culture marked by the “pura vida” lifestyle — a slow and simple approach to living that embraces time outside spent with friends and family. Locals in Costa Rica are friendly, happy, and have a deep respect for the environment.

Some traditional foods to try in Costa Rica include gallo pinto, a breakfast staple with rice and beans, and casado, a dish with rice, beans, meat, and a tortilla. However, you’ll still find plenty of international cuisines, trendy restaurants, and casual beach bars in San Jose and other cities across Costa Rica.


Chances are, you already have a great sense of the culture in Jamaica. Many cultural traditions in Jamaica, from food to music, have become popularized in the United States.

Jamaican musical concert

Jamaica is the birthplace of reggae (and Bob Marley), so you can expect to hear lots of relaxing and upbeat music while on vacation. You’ll also be able to sample the flavorful cuisine, with popular dishes like jerk chicken on the menu, and wash it down with tropical drinks featuring none other than Jamaican rum.


Outdoor Activities


Costa Rica

If you are looking for a thrilling adventure vacation — you’ll want to head to Costa Rica. Costa Rica is known for its outdoor adventures, stunning scenery, and diverse wildlife. In fact, over 30% of the whole country is protected in national parks!

Arenal Volcano National Park is one of the most popular parks, filled with fabulous hiking trails and relaxing hot springs. Manuel Antonio National Park — on the Pacific Coast — is a popular location for surfing and wildlife spotting. And in the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, you can zipline or take a canopy tour through the magnificent rainforest.


If you are looking for a relaxing, all-inclusive beach vacation — you’ll likely want to head to Jamaica. Most visitors stay in all-inclusive resorts in Montego Bay, Negril, or Ocho Rios to enjoy the shopping, dining, nightlife, and beaches nearby.

View of Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville

However, you should plan at least one or two excursions during your trip to Jamaica to explore the island’s beautiful scenery. You can visit iconic sites, like Dunn’s River Waterfalls and Port Maria, from Ocho Rios. Or, head to Port Antonio to visit the Blue Lagoon and the Rio Grande.

View of a coastline beach

Stay with Special Places of Costa Rica for a Memorable Vacation

If you make the tough (but smart!) decision to travel to Costa Rica over Jamaica, you will be pleased to discover there are plenty of accommodation options to choose from when planning your vacation — including all-inclusive resorts and comfortable condos. You’ll also be greeted with tons of adventurous activities, stunning beaches, and, best of all — no hurricane season!

Special Places of Costa Rica offers hundreds of beachfront homes, luxury villas, and other places to stay in the Guanacaste Province of Costa Rica. Explore the rental options available during your trip, and if you have any questions while booking, please contact us!

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