When is the best time to travel to Costa Rica? When to go depends on the climate as it varies quite a bit depending on the time of year and the part of the country. With such vastly different geographies from region to region, it’s no wonder this small Central American country sees such diverse weather.
When is the best time of year to visit Costa Rica?
Well, the answer depends on where you’re going and what you want to do there. Are you going for a couple of days or two weeks? Want to go surfing or do some extreme adventure activities? What regions do you want to visit? Answering all of these questions will determine the best time of year to travel to Costa Rica.
Depending on the part of the country you’re visiting, the Costa Rica weather can vary drastically. The country boasts lush jungles, central highland valleys, mountains, and stretches of coastline on both the Pacific and Caribbean sides.
If you want to visit the mountains, they can get quite foggy during the rainy season, so that may not be the best time to travel to Costa Rica. The central valley, however, has very good weather year-round. The coasts deflect the trade winds off the ocean which in turn sustains a hot, rainy, and humid climate throughout the year.
The weather in the Northwest province of Guanacaste is dryer than the rest of the country. In general, the central regions tend to be cooler than the coastal areas, and humidity increases the further south you go. So, deciding the best time of year to go to Costa Rica, may depend on the types of activities you like to do.
The temperatures in Costa Rica range between 20 – 30 °C year-round. They can often reach into the mid-’30s during the dry season. The San José, Costa Rica weather is wonderful, staying in the mid-’20s throughout the entire year.
Understanding the Costa Rica climate can be a huge help in determining the best time to visit Costa Rica. Best time to travel? Well, like most tropical countries, there are two main seasons – the dry season and the rainy season, and depending on what you want to do in what season will help you decide.
Dry Season in Costa Rica
The Costa Rica dry season lasts from December to April and also sees the most tourists. The lack of rain and high temperatures make it a more popular time for vacationers. However, prices will also be higher and the vegetation will be much less beautiful than it is in the green season.
Green Season in Costa Rica
Costa Rica rainy season is from May to November. Rainfall is heavier and prices are cheaper during this time. There are also fewer crowds, which makes some of the best months to visit Costa Rica if you are willing to chance a bit of rain.
The rainy season and green season are synonymous in Costa Rica. The heavy rains yield lush and beautiful foliage across the country, which makes it both a very wet and very green time of year.
Costa Rica Weather: Month by Month Breakdown
Costa Rica Weather in January
Early in the dry season, January is the peak tourism season in Costa Rica. It’s a particularly attractive month to visit because the foliage is still green and lush from the rainy season but the rainfall has subsided.
However, if you plan on traveling to Costa Rica in January, be prepared for high prices. Hotels, and car rental companies run their High Season pricing, activities fill up quickly and planning ahead is essential. Many Costa Ricans are also on holidays for a good chunk of January so domestic tourism further drives up prices across the country, so this may not be one of the best times to visit Costa Rica if you are looking for a bit of solitude.
Costa Rica Weather in February
The vegetation begins to dry up in February and is no longer lush and beautiful. The average temperatures begin to rise drastically, often hovering in the mid-’20s and ’30s. You can expect plenty of sunshine and practically no rainfall during February in Costa Rica. This makes it perhaps one of the driest and hottest months of the year. The Guanacaste, Costa Rica weather and the weather on the Pacific Coast are particularly hot. Beachgoers consider this one of the best times to travel to Costa Rica.
February is still considered High Season with prices and availability reflecting the seasonality.
Costa Rica Weather in March
March is the driest and hottest month in Costa Rica. By this time, most of the greenery from the rainy season has disappeared and parts of the country, especially the Pacific Coast is struggling for water, which doesn’t make it the best time to go to Costa Rica. It is also a very crowded month due to the Easter holidays and spring breaks that happen around this time of year.
Costa Rica Weather in April
Over the past 50 years, April has seen an average temperature of 26°C. If visiting during this month, definitely consider traveling to some of the higher elevation areas where the temperatures are more bearable. It is also worth noting that if Easter falls in March, then April is the start of the green season prices in Costa Rica. Best time to visit? Probably not if you are on a budget.
Costa Rica Weather in May
May is another transition month between the dry and rainy seasons. The weather can be a bit unpredictable during this month, feeling more like a dry season or rainy season month depending on the year. Rainfall gets heavier but is not often unbearable, and temperatures begin to cool. The prices and volume of tourists decrease significantly and low season pricing is now in full effect across the country, which marks the beginning of one of the best times to go to Costa Rica.
This is the best time to visit Costa Rica if you are on a budget.
Costa Rica Weather in June
The rain picks up somewhat in June, but this transition to the rainy season happens slowly with time. Most days will be clear in the morning with some afternoon showers to be expected. The rainforests start getting greener and plants to begin to bloom, so it still ranks as the best month to go to Costa Rica due to the foliage.
Costa Rica Weather in July
July is further into the rainy season and although there will likely be more precipitation, there may also be some stretches of brilliantly sunny days. This phenomenon is known locally as veranillo de San Juan, the Spanish word for “Indian Summer.”
If you are traveling in the Osa Peninsula during June or July, you can expect especially strong rainstorms. They can sometimes get so bad as to ground flight, so be aware if this is when you choose to head there as it may not be the best time to go. Costa Rica may not be a travel option in June or July due to these storms.
Costa Rica Weather in August
There are still some chances of catching a veranillo in August as well, but the chance of storms increases too. Especially towards the end of the month, you can expect rainfall nearly every day, so it may not be the best time for Costa Rica travel plans.
Costa Rica Weather in September
In September, the Costa Rican rain picks up quite a bit. The Pacific side gets more wet weather than the Caribbean side in general. This is the best time of year to visit Costa Rica for seeing wildlife in the jungle. Long rainy days and heavy storms become more common.
Costa Rica Weather in October
October is the rainiest month in Costa Rica. Extreme flooding is not uncommon, as are power outages across the country. If you plan to visit Costa Rica during the month of October, be prepared for a real hit or miss vacation. You may get lucky, especially if visiting in the later part of the month and see lots of sunshine, but you may have an entire week or nothing but rain.
If you want to have guaranteed sun, it may be best to stick to the Caribbean side where there is less precipitation.
Costa Rica Weather in November
The rain begins to subside in November, the coolest month of the year. Depending on the year, the rain may lessen at the beginning of the month or the end of the month, making it a more unpredictable time for weather in Costa Rica. Precipitation is still common, so be prepared for some rainy evenings and nights, but most mornings should be clear. Rain is more common in the Central Valley and in the rainforest.
The weather is pleasant during this time of the year, even along the Pacific Coast. Prices remain low, so if you can score some vacation time before the Christmas holidays, take advantage of it! It can be a beautiful time to visit Costa Rica.
Costa Rica Weather in December
December marks the transition from the rainy season to the dry season. The foliage begins to lose its vibrancy, and tourism begins to pick up again. There may be a few scattered showers in December but for the most part, it is dry, so this change makes it a best time to travel to Costa Rica.
The Ultimate Best Time to Visit Costa Rica?
The best time to visit Costa Rica ultimately depends on why you are going. If you really want to experience some heat and avoid the rain, the dry season is naturally your best choice. However, going in the rainy season can have many advantages including more beautiful scenery, fewer tourists, and lower prices.
As a general rule, keep in mind that January to April is very dry, especially in Guanacaste, Costa Rica. This intense heat and lack of natural beauty can make a visit unpleasant. On the flip side, San José, Costa Rica weather is so consistent, it is a great place to visit year-round.
Also, remember that the rainiest time to visit Costa Rica is between September and October, so it is best to avoid visiting during this time if precipitation (or lack thereof) is important to you.
READ NEXT: Best Places To Stay In Costa Rica
Our Recommended Best Time to Visit Costa Rica
If you are wondering when is the best time to go to Costa Rica, we recommend specifically to visit at the end of November/early December or in June and July. These the best times to visit Costa Rica and are a great choice to visit any region of the country.
Planning to travel around Costa Rica by car? We recommend renting your car from Hertz. CLICK HERE and use our promo code DTT-HERTZ to get 20% off your Hertz Car Rental!
BEFORE YOU GO: DON’T FORGET TRAVEL INSURANCE
We can’t stress enough the importance of travel insurance, especially in a country like Costa Rica. Whether you just plan to explore the cities, do a little bit of hiking or go extreme (think surfing or scuba diving) being protected on your travels is an irreplaceable peace of mind. We learned about the importance of travel insurance the hard way and now we never travel without coverage.