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Best Time To Visit Costa Rica: An Expert Guide by Season

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If you’ve never been to Costa Rica and you’re hoping to plan your Costa Rica trip around the country’s natural abundance, you’ll want to read on. Costa Rica is incredible for outdoor adventures, animal spotting, and swimming along the coasts.

However, as a tropical country, Costa Rica also has some extreme weather that tourists will want to avoid if they want to spend long days in nature. But there are other factors to bear in mind, too.

For instance, if you want to increase the likelihood of seeing sea turtles during your trip, you must strategize. You’re far less likely to see them during the dry or high season because the country’s green sea turtles nest on the beaches months later. Sea turtles are more active when they nest from July to October during the low season.

Generally, peak tourist season will be at the height of Costa Rica’s dry season, which makes sense because the weather will be best. That will be the ideal time to visit Costa Rica. However, there is some nuance in what that best time means for every traveler.

So, I’m going to try my best to tell all of you:

The Best Time to Visit Costa Rica

Toucan in Tree in Costa Rica
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Generally speaking, the best time to visit Costa Rica would be during the dry season. That runs from mid-December to April. That is when the country is driest, brightest, and busiest. While you’ll have many sunny days, this is also the peak season for tourism in the country.

That means those sunny days come with many more people and higher price points for accommodations, tours, and everything else. Although Costa Rica is still a relatively inexpensive tropical vacation destination, your dollar will go much further if you don’t mind a bit of rain and visit in the green season instead.

If the dry season is an absolute must for your visit, you must do some pre-planning. Tours, hotels, and dining reservations go quickly during this high season. So, especially if you plan on staying at a beachfront property, you’ll need to plan your trip for months, not weeks.

See Related: Places to Visit in Costa Rica

Visiting Costa Rica During the Rainy Season

Bridge in Rincon de la Vieja, Costa Rica
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

The dry season in Costa Rica is just a drop in the bucket compared to the country’s rainy season. Costa Rica’s rainy season lasts from May through November each year. This season rains supreme across the country for half the year, bringing to life all the vibrancy the rainforest-smattered Costa Rica has to offer.

For many visitors, this is the best time to visit Costa Rica. Not only is the rainy season considered significantly cheaper than the dry season, but the country’s natural beauty truly comes back to life with the abundant rainfall. Especially if you plan on visiting places like Tortuguero National Park or Manuel Antonio National Park, enduring a little rain is well worth the sights you see.

Animals, in general, are more active during this season as well. So, if you insist on seeing sloths, sea turtles, toucans, or monkeys, be sure to pack a good poncho and head out. Rain may make the ground slippery, but you’ll save much money and see much more wildlife than in the dry season.

See Related: Most Famous Landmarks in Costa Rica

Visiting Costa Rica During the Shoulder Season

Beach of Playa Panama, Costa Rica
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Also known as the green season, shoulder season in Costa Rica lands smack-dab into the rainy season. From May to mid-August, this green season is considered the in-between dry and rainy seasons. This is the peak season for families since it is summer vacation for students in the United States and Canada.

Even though it isn’t the driest of times in Costa Rica, the green season is a terrific time of year to visit. It is cheaper than the dry season with fairly predictable weather patterns to still enjoy your visit.

Mornings to early afternoons during this green season are often sunny or partly cloudy, with frequent rain showers moving in from late afternoon to evening. Similar to Florida weather, these days are best suited for folks who can plan earlier excursions.

Since the shoulder season falls in the middle of Costa Rica’s rainiest times of the year, everything is lush– hence the green season’s nickname.

Although the rain can derail plans here and there, you’ll save money not traveling during the peak season or dry season. Nevertheless, you must plan tours before the afternoon storms or be prepared for a downpour. That means keeping the rain in mind when packing for your Costa Rica trip.

See Related: Best Costa Rica Excursions to Book Today

When to Visit Costa Rica for the Best Beach Days

Playa Panama, Costa Rica
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Honestly, this question depends on your style as a traveler. The best time to visit Costa Rica for beach bums is probably during the dry season when the weather is hottest and driest. But you could also enjoy at least partial beach days if you travel during the green season, so long as you don’t mind half-days to full ones.

Tourists tend to favor the Pacific Coast in Costa Rica for its convenience and abundance of water activities like surfing. But on the other side of the country, the Caribbean Coast is equally as beautiful, though it can take a bit more time to get there from a hub like San José.

You’ll find some of the country’s most popular beaches along the Pacific Ocean. Our favorites are Playa Manuel Antonio in Manuel Antonio National Park or Tamarindo.

If you want to take the best advantage of beach time on the Pacific or Caribbean side, we have a few beachfront hotels we highly recommend. For the Pacific coast, we recommend a stay at either the Santarena Hotel at Las Catalinas or Dreams Las Mareas – Costa Rica.

The second is an all-inclusive hotel, which isn’t very common in the country. As for the Caribbean coast, we recommend the gorgeous Hotel Aguas Claras.

See Related: Is Costa Rica Safe To Visit?

When to Visit Costa Rica for Cheap Prices

Capitán Suizo Beachfront Boutique Hotel Walking Path
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

For folks looking to save a few bucks when they visit Costa Rica, you’ll want to look outside of the dry season for your journey. The best time to visit Costa Rica is during the country’s rainy or green seasons. You’ll face a few rain showers during this time, but there are fewer tourists, plenty of wildlife-watching opportunities, and ample Costa Rica experiences.

When saving money is part of your game plan for a place like Costa Rica, you have to consider the rainy seasons. Even if you don’t have the best weather, you will find that a bit of rain can’t ruin a Costa Rica vacation. That’s because even creatures like green sea turtles prefer a wetter environment to roam around in.

You can save even more money when you visit Costa Rica in the low season by staying at one of the many oceanfront hostels around the country. We love Selina Jacó because of its hip aesthetic, proximity to the ocean, and the amenities at a low cost. Selina Jacó offers snorkeling, yoga classes, an airport shuttle, an on-site restaurant, and an outdoor pool.

See Related: Guanacaste Itinerary

Visiting Costa Rica During the Holidays

Decorations at Christmastime in Costa Rica
Juan / Adobe Stock

Since mid-December is the start of Costa Rica’s high season, it only makes sense that the wintertime holidays like Christmas are a popular time to visit. Snowbirds, in particular, go to Costa Rica to escape the doldrums of winter.

Plus, school holidays make for a terrific time to visit Costa Rica! You should also expect things like rental cars and hotel prices to be higher during Christmas and the week leading up to New Year’s Eve.

You can expect more things to be open on the holiday days themselves if you’re in a more touristy part of the country, like along the Northern Pacific Coast. Where there are more tourists, there are bound to be more shops and restaurants open on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, along with New Year’s Eve and Day.

Since Christianity, specifically Catholicism, is Costa Rica’s majority religion, Christmas is a big deal here. If you want a time to visit Costa Rica when there is gorgeous weather and incredible holiday traditions to participate in, you should visit during the holidays.

See Related: Things to Do in San José, Costa Rica

Visiting Costa Rica During Spring Break

Aerial View of Papagayo, Costa Rica
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Depending on when your spring break falls, Costa Rica could be a fantastic and potentially very crowded destination. Since the high season runs through April, the weather in Costa Rica in the early spring is incredible. There is not a lot of rain, relatively mild temperatures, and tons of scenery to behold during the plethora of sunny days.

Not only that, but Costa Rica has a wide array of hostels that will not only save your holiday budget but exceed your hostel expectations. Costa Ricans, or Ticos, are some of the kindest people you’ll ever meet.

There’s a reason Costa Rica is frequently named one of the happiest countries on Earth. It is also one of the most sustainable countries, so you know your travel eco-footprint will be a little less impacted.

One hostel worth noting, especially for anyone wanting to see sea turtles on their trip, is the Tortuguero Casa Pelican. Just off of Tortuguero Beach, where the sea turtles nest yearly, Tortuguero Casa Pelican gives you a cozy spot to lay your head at a moderate hostel price.

If you’re itching to see Costa Rica’s sea turtles, your best bet is to visit from July to October during their nesting season. Let’s be real, sea turtles are the best thing to see.

See Related: Best Travel Insurance for Costa Rica

What Months Are Hurricane Season in Costa Rica?

Bay of Papagayo, Costa Rica
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

If you plan to go to Costa Rica during the fall, you may want to know that it is also hurricane season. Generally, the season runs from late May to late November but peaks in October and November.

That said, Costa Rica rarely encounters hurricanes because it’s south of the hurricane belt. That doesn’t mean they don’t happen; it just means they’re not common.

Statistically, a hurricane makes landfall about once a year in Costa Rica. The more affected parts of the country are along the Pacific Coast, like Guanacaste. The worst hurricane to ever make landfall in Costa Rica was Hurricane Cesar in July 1996.

So, unlike other tropical vacation destinations like the Caribbean or Puerto Rico, hurricanes aren’t as much of a factor for Costa Rica. You should always be prepared for the unexpected, though you don’t need to be as concerned about booking your trip during the months-long hurricane season.

See Related: Visiting Las Catalinas, Costa Rica

Month-by-Month Breakdown

Playas Coco Sunset, Costa Rica
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers
Month Average Temperature (°F) Average Temperature (°C) Average Rainfall (inches) Average Rainfall (mm)
January 70-90°F 21-32°C 0.4 inches 10 mm
February 71-92°F 22-33°C 0.2 inches 5 mm
March 72-94°F 22-34°C 0.2 inches 5 mm
April 73-94°F 23-34°C 1.1 inches 28 mm
May 73-92°F 23-33°C 6.1 inches 155 mm
June 72-88°F 22-31°C 7.1 inches 180 mm
July 72-88°F 22-31°C 6.7 inches 170 mm
August 72-88°F 22-31°C 6.7 inches 170 mm
September 71-87°F 22-31°C 8.6 inches 218 mm
October 71-86°F 22-30°C 11.8 inches 300 mm
November 71-86°F 22-30°C 9.3 inches 236 mm
December 70-87°F 21-31°C 3.9 inches 99 mm

When visiting a country like Costa Rica, it’s essential to know that there are a variety of microclimates. That means even if there is a weather summary, it must be taken in context.

Weather in the Central Valley will be different than along the Caribbean Coast or the Pacific Coast. Parts of Costa Rica will be drier than others, or areas will receive more rainfall.

In any case, here is a general comparison between the different months across the country:


  • Weather: Dry and sunny in most areas, making it popular for tourists, particularly along the Caribbean Coast and Pacific Coast. Terrific time for beach vacations.


  • Weather: Similar to January with dry and sunny conditions. Perfect for visiting the tropical dry forests or soaking up the sun at the beach.


  • Weather: Continued dry and sunny weather. Excellent for hiking, observing Costa Rica’s wildlife, or enjoying some water sports.


  • Weather: The dry season transitions to the green or shoulder season with occasional showers—still great weather for seeing the rain forests.


  • Weather: The green season begins with increased rainfall, especially in the afternoons. Lush greenery, fewer tourists, and much more wildlife watching available.


  • Weather: Green, low season continues with sunny mornings but daily afternoon showers. Still ideal for experiencing Costa Rica’s rainforests at their most vibrant.


  • Weather: Rainy, low season continues with frequent showers. Great for waterfall visits, seeing Tortuguero National Park, and river rafting.


  • Weather: Rainy, low season persists. Expect vibrant landscapes and the possibility of road closures due to heavy rains.


  • Weather: The rainy, low season in Costa Rica reaches its peak. It’s the wettest month, so plan indoor activities or visit the Caribbean Coast for drier conditions.


  • Weather: Costa Rica’s rainy, low season continues, but by the end of the month, some regions begin to see drier weather.


  • Weather: Transition month from the wet season to the dry season. Expect occasional showers but improving conditions, particularly around mid-November.


  • Weather: Start of the dry season, especially in the Pacific Coast regions. Perfect weather for visiting national parks, wildlife watching, or heading out for a beach day.

See Related: Best Activities in Costa Rica: Top Outdoor Adventures

Travel Insurance for Costa Rica

Tsunami Evacuation Sign in Costa Rica
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Even without the high risk of hurricanes in Costa Rica, you never know what could happen. Insuring your trip through a reputable agency like SafetyWing is always a good idea. Travel insurance can protect not just your accommodation or transportation investments but you.

Although Costa Rica is relatively safe from things like tsunamis or hurricanes, it is also home to active volcanoes and is known for earthquakes and floods.

These phenomena are not limited to a particular time of year, so you could still encounter a flash flood or earthquake even if you visit during the dry, high season. It’s always best to be on the safe side by getting insurance ahead of time–before you need it.

See Related: Important Pros and Cons of Travel Insurance


What is the hottest month in Costa Rica?

April tends to be the hottest month in Costa Rica. Just at the end of the dry season, April brings warm temperatures as well as hot sunny days.

There is little rain this month, though most tourists tend to go to Costa Rica. The dry season runs from mid-December through the end of April and is the peak travel season.

What is the cheapest time to go to Costa Rica?

Off-season in Costa Rica would be the rainy, green, or low season. This is when hotel prices will be at their lowest, while the country’s natural beauty will be at its highest.

These are the rainy months, though there tend to be sunny skies in the mornings if you want better weather for exploring. Plus, the wildlife watching is terrific since the animals come out more during the wet months.

What months is Costa Rica’s rainy season?

Costa Rica’s rainy and green seasons (the middle of the rainy season) run from May through November each year. However, this is still a great time to visit Costa Rica if you don’t mind rainy days and better hotel prices. It’s an excellent time for wildlife spotting and bird watching since animals are more active in the green season.

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