Best Time to Visit Costa Rica

Whether you dream of trekking through its lush rainforests or enjoying the sunshine along the Caribbean Coast, it’s key to know the best time to visit Costa Rica to ensure your trip is as memorable as can be.

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Best time to visit

Costa Rica is a vibrant and diverse destination that offers something for everyone, from breathtaking landscapes to rich biodiversity. The best time to travel to Costa Rica is during the dry season between December and April on the Pacific Coast and between March and September on the Caribbean Coast. There are perks to traveling either side of the rainy season – between May and June, and in November – too though. You’ll avoid the large crowds of the peak months, and the country is at its most beautiful, lush, and green. So green that the rainy season is also known as the green season. As Costa Rica is a tropical country, the temperature is always warm, but you should be prepared for some rain and humidity all year round. Read on to find out more about Costa Rica’s weather.

Our Experts Say...

"Costa Rica is a great year-round destination, as long as you don’t mind the rain! This beautiful country features two seasons which are the dry and green seasons. A majority of the year falls under the green season which is from May through November. This is my favorite season to visit because with the rain comes striking beauty, pops of all shades of green, and happy, bouncing wildlife. If you are looking to escape the rain or snow at home, then the dry season would be a perfect time for more uninterrupted sunshine. The dry season spans from December through April. With Christmas and Easter being big vacations in Costa Rica and popular travel times for Americans it is important to book these times very far in advance as availability fills up quickly. Costa Rica is lucky to also have a Caribbean coast, just keep in mind that the Caribbean side has the opposite seasons as the rest of the country. For example, October would be the warmest on the Caribbean side but the heaviest rainfall for the rest of the country."

Julie Norton, Latin America Specialist

Monthly Climate Guide for Costa Rica

, Costa Rica

Average temperatures (Fahrenheit) and rainfall (mm)

Jan
83°F 36mm
Feb
84°F 27mm
Mar
85°F 16mm
Apr
89°F 32mm
May
87°F 37mm
Jun
84°F 31mm
Jul
82°F 34mm
Aug
85°F 23mm
Sep
84°F 27mm
Oct
83°F 29mm
Nov
82°F 46mm
Dec
82°F 51mm
Jan
79°F 0mm
Feb
79°F 0mm
Mar
81°F 1mm
Apr
82°F 11mm
May
81°F 84mm
Jun
81°F 91mm
Jul
81°F 65mm
Aug
81°F 103mm
Sep
81°F 165mm
Oct
79°F 151mm
Nov
79°F 55mm
Dec
79°F 3mm
Jan
79°F 0mm
Feb
79°F 0mm
Mar
81°F 1mm
Apr
82°F 10mm
May
81°F 84mm
Jun
81°F 91mm
Jul
81°F 65mm
Aug
81°F 103mm
Sep
81°F 165mm
Oct
79°F 151mm
Nov
79°F 55mm
Dec
79°F 3mm

Costa Rica is celebrated for its rich biodiversity, stunning landscapes, and vibrant culture, making it a top destination. A pivotal aspect contributing to its diverse ecozystem is its unique climates, each presenting distinct advantages and considerations for travelers, thus influencing the best time to travel to Costa Rica.

The first climate, the tropical rainforest climate, dominates the lowland areas. Characterized by high temperatures and copious rainfall year-round, it crafts lush green landscapes teeming with wildlife. This climate is central to determining the best time to visit Costa Rica for wildlife, offering travelers the chance to experience the vibrant nature in its full splendor despite the frequent showers.

In the northwest, the tropical dry climate presides, delineating a clear wet and dry season. From December to April, the dry season promises sunny days and warm temperatures—ideal for those pondering the best month to visit Costa Rica for beach vacations and outdoor activities. Conversely, the wet season offers lush vegetation and smaller crowds, appealing to those seeking a visit without the bustle.

The highland climate, encountered in the mountainous regions, offers a retreat with cooler temperatures and misty cloud forests. Perfect for escaping the lowland heat, the highlands are great for hiking, birdwatching, and exploring unique ecozystems, making any time a good time to visit Costa Rica for highland adventures.

The rainy or green season runs from May to November, making it a lush time for those who enjoy verdant landscapes and cooler afternoons. Despite potentially limiting some outdoor activities, this season revitalizes the country's flora and fauna, offering a refreshing contrast to the heat.

Understanding Costa Rica's Seasons

Rather than having traditional seasons like the northern hemisphere, Costa Rica’s seasons are split into dry and wet (or green). Below we go through the best months to visit Costa Rica, and which activities or experiences to enjoy while you’re there.

Best Times to Go to Costa Rica for…

Trying to figure out the best time to visit Costa Rica? It depends on what you want to do. Whether it’s lying on the beach or checking out the wildlife in the jungle, here are the best times to travel to Costa Rica.

Wildlife Viewing

For wildlife enthusiasts and nature photographers, the best time to visit Costa Rica is during the dry season, from December to April. This period is prime for wildlife spotting as the weather in Costa Rica is more predictable, and animals, including monkeys, sloths, and many bird species, are significantly more active. Birding enthusiasts and those hoping to capture the awe-inspiring sight of sea turtles will find this best time to travel to Costa Rica especially rewarding.

Costa Rica's diverse ecozystems come alive during these months, offering a vibrant display of nature at its finest. The best month to visit Costa Rica for turtle spotting is usually around March and April, when sea turtles come ashore to lay their eggs, particularly in protected areas like Tortuguero National Park. For bird watchers, the dry season also aligns with migratory patterns, providing a spectacular array of local and migrant species.

Popular wildlife destinations include Tortuguero National Park for its sea turtles, Manuel Antonio National Park for monkeys and sloths, and the biodiverse Corcovado National Park, home to jaguars, tapirs, and scarlet macaws. Each park offers a unique glimpse into the rich wildlife habitats of Costa Rica.

Visiting the Beaches

With its tropical climate and stunning coastlines, Costa Rica offers the ideal backdrop for beach enthusiasts and surfers. The best time to visit Costa Rica for a beach vacation is during the dry season, from December to April. This period is marked by sunny skies, gentle breezes, and calm seas, creating perfect conditions for swimming, sunbathing, snorkeling, and engaging in various water sports.

For those inclined towards surfing, Costa Rica presents world-class waves that cater to all skill levels. The Pacific Coast is renowned for its consistent waves throughout the year. But Costa Rica in May to November brings peak swell season. Beginners, in particular, may find the smaller waves during the dry season more to their liking, ensuring an enjoyable surfing experience.

Exploring popular beach destinations in Costa Rica reveals a diverse array of options. Manuel Antonio dazzles with its pristine white sands and lush surroundings, Tamarindo offers a vibrant beach town atmosphere, Jaco is known for its lively nightlife and proximity to the capital, and Santa Teresa charms with its bohemian vibe and spectacular sunsets. These destinations provide stunning beaches, a rich cultural experience, vibrant nightlife, and a variety of accommodations to fit every budget.

Outdoor Adventure Activities

Costa Rica is a haven for outdoor adventure seekers, offering an array of activities from white-water rafting to exhilarating hikes through its verdant rainforests and majestic volcanoes. To fully embrace these adventures, timing your visit is crucial.

The best time to visit Costa Rica for hiking and exploring its national parks, such as Manuel Antonio National Park and Corcovado National Park, is during the dry season, from December to April. This season provides ideal conditions for outdoor activities, with sunny weather and less muddy trails, allowing for easier navigation through the stunning landscapes and rich biodiversity Costa Rica offers.

This period is also optimal for birdwatching enthusiasts and nature photographers. The dry season, extending into April, is when migratory birds enhance the local avian population, offering a spectacular display of toucans, scarlet macaws, and hummingbirds. Areas like the Monteverde Cloud Forest and the Osa Peninsula have become prime spots for witnessing these colorful species in their natural habitat.

Conversely, the rainy season, from May to November, creates the perfect conditions for thrill-seekers looking for activities like zip-lining and white-water rafting. The rivers swell, offering an exhilarating rafting experience, while the lush landscapes provide a stunning backdrop for zip-lining adventures above the forest canopy.

When planning your outdoor adventure in Costa Rica, considering the best season to go to Costa Rica based on your activity preference is key. The weather patterns can vary slightly depending on the region, so consulting the local weather forecast and seeking advice from travel experts can ensure you select the best time to travel to Costa Rica for an unforgettable experience.

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Best Time to Visit Costa Rica FAQs

  • How far in advance should I book my Costa Rica vacation?

    It's recommended to book your Costa Rica vacation at least 6 months to a year in advance, especially if you plan to travel during the dry season, from December to March. This ensures you get your choice of hotels and activities.

  • When is the best time to visit Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast?

    The best time to visit Costa Rica's Pacific Coast is during the dry season from December to March. However, we'd also recommend an adventure in May or June, during the 'green season'. As well as avoiding the crowds, you'll be able to witness the true magic of Costa Rica as the seasons transition. Visiting at this enchanting time of year means you'll encounter the luscious national parks at their best.

  • When is the best time to visit Costa Rica’s Caribbean Coast?

    The best time to visit Costa Rica’s Caribbean Coast is between March and September. When the Pacific side is rainy in July and August, the Caribbean is dry. If you’d like to see both sides of the country, traveling between March and April is the best time to go to Costa Rica.

  • When is the best time to visit Costa Rica and Panama?

    Panama’s rainy season is between May and December, peaking in September and October. This reflects Costa Rica’s weather patterns too, so the best time to visit Costa Rica and Panama together is between December/January and March.

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