When to Visit Costa Rica

There are three primary travel seasons in this beautiful country. Read below to determine the best time to visit Costa Rica. If you’re looking for advice on where to go in Costa rica, we offer advice on that as well.

Costa Rica Rainfall Weather Map – ‘months wheel’ legend for – Location Villa J & J

Reading Costa Rica Weather ChartsVilla JJ is located 15 min south of Jaco

Costa Rica’s Dry Season & Spring Break

The dry season for Costa Rica tourism begins around the United States holiday of Thanksgiving, in late November.  The dry or high season lasts through mid to late April, or Spring Break as it is known in the United States.  In many cases this schedule is driven by school’s vacation schedules so that theentire family can travel together.  It is also happens to be right about the time that people from the north are seeking warmer, summer-like conditions. This timeframe happens to coincide with the “dry season” in Costa Rica, which for the most part means a little less rain during your travels through Costa Rica.

Horseback Riding in Costa Rica

Costa Rica During the Holidays

The super-high season for tourism has nothing to do with the weather in Costa Rica, but more with demand in the county.  The two-three weeks around Christmas & New Year’s are very busy for the travel industry in Costa Rica.  Sometime Easter Break or Semana Santa is included in this, but for the most part it encompasses the Holiday break in December & January.  In general, tourism during the high & super-high seasons will mean that good prices will be more difficult to find; however, much of the pricing compares favorably to many other tropical tourist destinations throughout the world during this time period, for example Hawaii.  Many hotels, activities & point’s of interest will be slightly more crowded, but Costa Rica has a plethora of amazing tour options to choose from in a close proximity no matter where you are in the county.  In many cases the amount of visitors is limited in certain parks or attractions to avoid an over-crowded or un-enjoyable experience.

Costa Rica’s Green Season

The “green season” is the third season within the travel industry, and it is a wonderful time of the year to travel.  This term is currently being used to refer to the tropical rainy season from May through Mid-Nov when tourism is not at its peak. Tourism during this time of year can still provide for a wonderful experience, especially some of the more eco-touristy attractions. Rivers run higher, the rainforest becomes a little more mystical, and even the dry-forests of Guanacaste turn green and lush. Most places in Costa Rica receive their rain near the same time on most days during this season.  This way planning activities & outings are very possible.  Driving is much more difficult this time of the year due to lack of bridges over roads.  Many of the more unkempt roads become near impassible although by using professional itinerary design with professional transportation services you can reduce the probability of getting stuck.

Costa Rica Day Tours (Turrialba)

So…When’s the Best Time to Visit Costa Rica?

Your time of year to visit mostly depends on what you’d like to see and when you have time to go.  We’ve visited Costa Rica at every time of year and while there are advantages to the high / dry season, we thoroughly enjoy the green/low/rainy season, too. There are definitely a few places where it would be ill advised to visit at a few specific times of the year because of the weather.

Don’t forget while reviewing the weather and climate data throughout Costa Rica, one of the reasons you’re visiting Costa Rica is because it’s covered in rainforests.  As the name suggests, it rains in the rainforest. If you’re only looking for sunny days on the playa then Costa Rica has a zone and season that guarantees that too.

Here is a brief monthly breakdown:

Costa Rica in January

January the first true dry month of the Costa Rican dry season. The first half of the month is also great from the perspective of weather but it tends to be somewhat crowded and peak season surcharges can make the first week one of the most expensive all year The second half of January is one of the best times for a Costa Rica vacation.

Costa Rica in February

February is the heart of the dry season for Costa Rica’s Pacific beaches & Central Valley (San Jose, Alajuela, etc). There is almost no rain in the western and central regions of Costa Rica.  Here visitors will experience sunny & hot weather – perfect for your mid-winter Costa Rica Escape.  When the rain comes, it typically showers in the afternoon, evening or overnight.  The chance of rain on the Caribbean side is still fairly high; however, this region of the country still receives plenty of sunshine, too.  Many say that February is the best time for a Costa Rica vacation.

Costa Rica in March

March is the middle of the Costa Rican dry season.  This is also the month for Spring Break in the United States which means lots of family vacations &student group trips through Costa Rica.  The vast majority of Costa Rica has sunny weather, nearly no rain and surprisingly low humidity.  The tropical dry forests covering the lowlands of Guanacaste and the Nicoya Peninsula have dropped their leaves.  Often times in Guanacaste there can be small forest fires, which puts smoke into the air.  In other regions many trees are flowering providing for an amazing “color-changing” season for visitors.

Enjoy the Costa Rican Jungle when Volunteering in Costa Rica!

Costa Rica in April

April is pushing towards to the end of the Costa Rican dry season. Temperatures are ideal throughout the country in April; hot & sunny on the beaches with slightly cooler temperatures in the mountains and central valley where San José is located. What little rain falls usually comes as afternoon, evening or overnight.  Many travelers are surprised to find that the Pacific Northwest region of Guanacaste looks like a desert more than a jungle.

Costa Rica in May

May is the beginning of the “shoulder season” which means the weather is changing from the dry to the rainy season in Costa Rica and the weather is a bit more unpredictable.  As you might guess, the weather starts out dry but by late May rainy season weather patterns are in greater effect. Especially with Costa Rica’s weather there’s no way to predict this precisely. Rain begins earlier on the Caribbean coast, where it is generally wetter all year-round.  May is a great transition period for travelers as they return to school after Spring Break, but before Summer Vacation. The beaches and lowlands experience high temperatures, while mid-elevations, like the Central Valley & San José are 5-10 degrees cooler.  Temperatures at high elevations (Monteverde and Chirripo) can be 20 or even 30 degrees cooler.

Costa Rica in June

June is a transition month for the weather in Costa Rica, but it is considered part of the “green season”. The majority of the rain showers in June fall in the afternoon, evening or overnight.  There is plenty of sunshine in the mornings and the beaches are excellent early in the day.  This month tends to be a busier month for travelers due to summer vacations schedules in the United States.  Once again, you can expect many Costa Rica family vacations &volunteer student groups traveling through Costa Rica in June. In June the rainy season usually hits the Caribbean a little earlier than the Pacific.

Costa Rica in July

July is smack-dab, right in the middle of the rainy, I mean “green” season of Costa Rica.  However during July, Costa Rica experiences a short mid-year, mini-dry season.  This “veranillo” or “veranito” as it is called in Costa Rica typically takes place sometime between mid to late July and the beginning of August. Rainfall decreases significantly for three or four weeks especially in the northern Pacific. The entire month of July is a great time to visit with hot sunny days to enjoy the beach and afternoon and evening rains cooling it off so you can enjoy the evening.  Due to student travel & school schedules, there are still numerous Costa Rica family vacations taking place at this time of the year.

July Beach in Costa Rica - When to Visit?

Costa Rica in August

August is in the middle of the rainy season but there is a lull in the rain at the end of July & beginning of August.  This is especially true of Guanacaste.  The Caribbean side is solidly in the rainy season weather pattern with some rain nearly every afternoon and/or evening.  August us a great time of year to visit Costa Rica if you have some flexibility in your travel schedule.  August tends to be a quieter month and there are often deals to be found in the country, which can be great for Costa Rica honeymoon vacations where couples want a more relaxed atmosphere, don’t mind a little precipitation and are on a budget.

Costa Rica in September & October

September & October are very rainy months on the west coast and throughout the mountains of Costa Rica.  The Pacific beaches and central valley regions get significant rain.  This generally comes in a pattern of sunny mornings followed by showers in the afternoon or evening. The South Pacific and Osa Peninsula areas are inundated by days or even weeks of continuous rainfall driven by westerly winds. Many of the lodges and tour operators are closed until November.  The Caribbean side of the country gets a break in September and October.  These months generally bring clear weather especially in the southern Atlantic beach areas of Cahuita, Puerto Viejo and Manzanillo.

Costa Rica in November

November’s weather is a roll of the dice.  In an average year, the northern and central beaches as well as the mountains will get significant rain most days.  They typically enjoy a pattern of sunny mornings and days with most of the showers in the afternoon or evening.  Early in the month the southern Pacific and Osa peninsula are still quite rainy. Lodges and tour operators that have shut down during the exceptionally wet months of September and October resume operations as the weather begins to dry towards the end of the month.  The end of November & the United States holiday of Thanksgiving begin another busy travel season.

Costa Rica in December

December is another transitional month for weather and it is hard to predict.  The month begins slowly with lower prices and low hotel occupancy.  The first two weeks of December are a great time to have the country of Costa Rica to yourself.  By the holidays the high season has begun, hotels have a tendency to sell out at a very high, peak season price, and the excursions and adventures are filled.

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