Best time to visit Costa Rica
by Josien - 09 Apr, 2020
The best time to visit Costa Rica depends on what you are looking for when traveling. The country is close to the equator and you would expect it to be nice and warm all year round. However, in the mountains, you can also have cold nights in Costa Rica. In addition, some areas have different climates than others.
I have lived in Costa Rica for several months (read about my life as a digital nomad in Santa Teresa here). For sure I’m not a weather expert, but I can absolutely recommend when and where to go. Let’s dive into the seasons, temperatures, and weather forecasts of Costa Rica!
Best time to visit Costa Rica per season
Fortunately, in Costa Rica, you can reasonably rely on the two main seasons: The dry season, which runs from December to April, and the rainy season from April / May to November. But the dry season does not automatically mean that this is the best time to visit Costa Rica. Want to know all about the best time to visit Costa Rica? Then read further on this page!
Important note: Costa Rica experiences two types of climates. Depending on which side of the country you are (East vs West) the weather forecast can be different then what you have read online (or in this blog post for that matter). If you want to know what weather forecast is in Costa Rica, please download the Weather Radar App on your phone (iOs & Android). If you want to have a general overview of the weather in Costa Rica per month, please read on. I cover it all in this post!
High season: December to April
This is the dry season in Costa Rica. Although it rains less, you can expect showers from time to time. It is also the busiest time of the year, so I recommended to book accommodation in advance and to expect prices to be higher than during the rainy season. This season is considered the best time to travel to Costa Rica.
Mid-season: May to July and November
This is officially the rainy season, but the months are still great to travel. The most rain falls around July and August and from November it starts to get drier again. The big advantage is good weather and low (er) prices.
Low season: August to October
In these months you can expect the most rain. The low season falls in the middle of the rainy season. The advantage is that prices are much lower than the high season and that nature is incredibly green. Because of the heavy rain, everything is blooming beautifully.
The dry season in Costa Rica
The dry season (roughly from November through April) is considered the best time to visit Costa Rica. During these months, most areas are dry almost all day, with occasional showers. Besides that, it is mainly enjoying a lot of sunshine and warm temperatures.
The dry months of Costa Rica bring the most sun, but also many tourists. Wildlife enthusiasts and beach bums flock to Costa Rica to explore the country’s spectacular rainforests and white sand beaches. In addition, it is also a good time to spot turtles.
Temperatures do not differ that much in high and low season. Many North Americans and Europeans come to Costa Rica in December and January. This means that you have to book certain accommodations a few months in advance.
The rainy season
The rainy season (from May to mid-November) is not considered the best time to visit Costa Rica, because you often have sunny mornings, but rainy afternoons. The rain is heaviest in September and October. You do not suffer much from the rain. Where in some countries in Asia or South America some roads can become impassable, you are less affected in Costa Rica.
The rainy season is often referred to as the “green season” because of the beautiful green forests and valleys. If you don’t mind a shower now and then, the rainy season is actually a great season to travel.
You do not have a clear blue sky like the dry season and you can expect a shower in the afternoon, but it is much quieter in the country and also cheaper. In addition, the showers usually last only a few hours.
Best time to visit Costa Rica per month
The best time to visit Costa Rica varies not only by area but also by month. You never have a guarantee of the perfect weather, but you can prepare well. To help you a bit, we made a small overview of the best travel time per month.
WEATHER IN JANUARY
January is the busiest month in high season as travelers linger over the Christmas and New Year holidays. It is also dry, with little rain and blue skies.
The early months of the dry season (December / January) are particularly attractive because the landscape is still green from the rainy season, despite the lesser rainfall.
WEATHER IN FEBRUARY AND MARCH
It is still the dry season and the weather remains good. There is generally a peak in the number of tourists during Easter and the week before. Plan ahead and make reservations for Spring Break and Easter, because accommodations are limited during these popular months.
WEATHER IN APRIL
April is about the last month of the dry season, although the rainy season never starts overnight of course. You still have blue skies and lots of sun.
April is also historically one of the hottest months in Costa Rica. When Easter falls in April, it will be extra busy and booking accommodations upfront wouldn’t hurt.
WEATHER IN MAY
In May the rainy season, or the green season in Costa Rica, starts. The intense April heat subsides making it a pleasant month to travel. Just like the temperatures, hotel prices and the number of tourists are also starting to fall.
May is a bit of a transitional month, in which the rain increases as the month lasts.
WEATHER IN JUNE
In June you can see that it gets a lot quieter as the rainy season has really started. Things can get busier at the end of the month due to holidays worldwide. The big advantage is that everything starts to look greener when the rain brings the rainforest to life.
WEATHER IN JULY AND AUGUST
Given the weather, these months are certainly not the best time to visit Costa Rica. BUT if you don’t mind the rain these are the nicest months. Do you mind the rain, then you better not come in July and August. You are in the middle of the rainy season and can expect a shower every day.
These are the greenest months in Costa Rica. In between showers you often have sun, the afternoons are rainy with mostly clear mornings (perfect for morning tours). The weather is generally good and prices for accommodation low.
WEATHER IN SEPTEMBER
September (and October) is the peak of the rainy season in Costa Rica. Don’t let that rain put you off, though. This month is perfect for spotting wildlife. In addition, this period is perfect for surfing too.
Another big advantage is that it is quiet, you never have to book in advance and prices are low.
WEATHER IN OCTOBER
In terms of weather, this month can be compared to September. Lots of rain, but also beautiful nature and few travelers. The rain starts to decrease during this month.
Since October is the absolute low-season on the west side of the country, many local shops and restaurants are closed for the month.
WEATHER IN NOVEMBER
November is the month when the Costa Rican rainy season really decreases and the sun comes out. The end of November is usually (it cannot be predicted) at the beginning of Costa Rica’s dry season.
Like May, November is a bit of a transitional month. It’s getting busier as you get closer to December. Personally, this is my favorite month. There are fewer tourists, but enough to open the doors of restaurants. Locals are happy since most of them just enjoyed their holidays. The weather is not too hot and the rain is barely noticeable. All and all, this is the time I am in Costa Rica.
WEATHER IN DECEMBER
Along with January, December is the best time to visit Costa Rica. The beginning of December is less crowded, but the closer you get to the holidays, the busier it gets. This is the high season. The weather is the best with a lot of sun and little rain.
You do suffer from high prices for accommodations and a lot of crowds in tourist spots and beaches.
Summary: best time to visit Costa Rica
So, depending on which side of the country you are visiting, the best time to go to Costa Rica is December/January. It is right after the rainy season, which makes the jungle super green and fresh, the waterfalls are not dried out, and it’s the holiday season. All restaurants and bars will be open and there are many tourist attractions to choose from. Learn more about all the things you can do in Santa Teresa here.
The only downside of this time of the year is that you won’t be the only tourist in the country and might experience crowded places.