Costa Rica is a country that can be visited year-round but if you’re looking to go at the most optimal time for weather, it’s generally between December and April when the sun is the brightest and there is less rain (in most areas). Another option is to catch the seasons in transition, a time when the weather will still be mostly pleasant, but crowds are few, including May, June, or November.
When is the Best Time to Go to Costa Rica?
The high season for tourists, not surprisingly runs between December and April, which also coincides with the colder weather in Europe, Canada and the U.S. May through November is the rainy season, though rain is often relegated to just a few hours every afternoon. There are far fewer tourists, and it will be easier to score reduced accommodate rates.
One of the primary reasons so many travelers visit Costa Rica is the wildlife – if that’s your goal, avoid the rainiest months of September and October, but do keep in mind that rainfall is possible anytime of year. Of course, that’s why the landscapes here are so incredibly lush. No matter what month you visit the average afternoon highs are typically in the mid- to high-70s Fahrenheit, with lows between 59 and 63 degrees.
To help you make the best decision, here’s a little more about what you can expect in each season, keeping in mind that there are really only two seasons here.
Dry/Peak Season: December through April
The drier months bring the most tourists and the most sunshine. December and January are particularly busy with many Europeans and North American visitors heading to Costa Rica for the warmth of the sun and the sand, but beach-seekers will be arriving from across the globe. If you plan to visit in those months, be sure to book reservations well in advance. While the capital city of San Jose experiences temperatures in the 70s throughout the year, if you had to drier regions like Guanacaste along the Northern Plains and coast, 90-degree temperatures are likely.
December is when the humpback whales begin to arrive, sticking around through April, and it’s also a great time to spot waddling green turtles and soaring quetzals. There will be all sorts of festivals and events, often featuring live music, dancing and bullfighting. Around late December/early January, the Zapote festivities take place, bringing the fiercest bulls from across the country to compete in the biggest rodeo of the year – there will be fair rides, vendor booths and lots of food like meat-on-a-stick.
Rainy/Low Season: May through November
The rainy, or “green” season brings even more stunningly lush foliage and dazzling views of waterfalls. There will be fewer tourists and discounted accommodation rates for those who don’t mind getting wet occasionally. Particularly in drier areas such as Guanacaste, showers start in the afternoon or even and only last a few hours. On the Caribbean coast, rain showers are frequent through September, with the sun typically reappearing in late October. The downside other than getting caught out in the rain is that some of the unpaved roads can become impassable, making it difficult or impossible to reach remote areas.
If you plan to come early or late in this season (May/early June or November) you may enjoy the best of both worlds, with conditions pleasant while prices are lower. May is your better bet, however. Keep in mind that lodges and tour operators are sometimes closed until November. Avoid October altogether if you can as many roads become impassable with this one of the wettest months causing rivers to swell as the rain pours down in buckets.
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