The high tourist season in Costa Rica extends from the end of November to the end of April, that is to say during the dry season. This is good because it corresponds to the cold seasons of the northern hemisphere! How lucky you are ;) But, beware, during this period, especially at Christmas and Easter, the tourism industry is in full swing: prices are higher, attractions are more crowded and reservations must be made in advance.
Local tourism operators often refer to the rainy season (May to mid-November) as the "green season" or "winter". At this time of the year, it rains all over the country, except in September and October on the Caribbean coast. But don't panic, it rains mostly in the afternoon, which leaves you the whole morning to enjoy the sun. Especially since the sun rises at 5:30 am, and with the time difference, you will be up with the chickens. The advantage in this season is that it is less touristy, so activities and rentals are much more affordable. Note, however, that during the rainy season, some of the country's most damaged roads become impassable without four-wheel drive. So, for the more forward-thinking, take a 4wd rental and Costa Rica will no longer be off limits to you.
Landscapes and climate
Costa Rica's geography ranges from paradise beaches bordered by tropical forests to inland cities at medium altitude, to the mountains, and each of these regions has its own microclimate. Guanacaste is the driest and most arid region, while Corcovado and Tortuguero are the areas with the most rainfall per year.
At high altitudes, it is always necessary to bring warm clothes because the temperatures can be cool, as well as in San José where it is between 18 and 21 degrees all year round. At the seaside, shorts and tank tops are a must since it is usually between 30 and 35 degrees.
That said, the rainy and dry seasons are generally the same throughout the country:
- In the dry season the weather is nice and it (almost) doesn't rain: Don't forget that you are in the tropics and that if the country is so green all year round, it is not by chance
- In the rainy season, it rains but mainly in the afternoons/evenings.
Finally, the heat being tropical and humid, the high temperatures, the humidity rate remains rather high throughout the year, with some months however more bearable.
Although the landscapes are very varied, you will have understood, Costa Rica remains a country which offers very green landscapes with dense tropical forests as far as the eye can see
Costa Rica weather month by month
January: The beginning of the dry season
The dry season that starts in December marks the beginning of the high season, and so in January, you are in the middle of it! The weather is nice and warm, the landscapes are beautiful and the tourist activity is in full swing.
When it comes to tourist season, higher prices mean higher prices... At least you know that. The whole tourism sector (hotels, car rentals, activities of all kinds) increases their prices for the few summer months, and we won't blame them. To get the best prices and to be sure to get what you want, the best thing to do is to make your reservations well in advance. Last minute fans, change your habits ;).
On the other hand, many Costa Ricans are also on vacation still in early January, which increases the number of visitors to the most popular places. However, it's safe to stay off the beaten path where you can easily find beautiful places to enjoy the solitude.
February: The driest month
Contrary to what we are used to seeing in European latitudes, in Costa Rica, February rhymes with sun, heat and dryness. In fact, it is the month of the year when it rains the least and is the hottest. This is particularly visible and felt in the province of Guanacaste and more generally on the Pacific coast. Beach and surf lovers will not be disappointed.
This month is particularly favorable to do the beautiful hikes of the country. You can go to the Monteverde Natural Reserve, a splendid place that will please your children with its hanging bridges and tyrolean.
March - April: Ticos Holidays
March is also a very dry month. Students are back to school, which considerably reduces the number of Costa Ricans visiting tourist sites.
On the other hand, beware of April, it is the month of the famous Holy Week (the week just before Easter Monday) and it is one of the times in the year when all Costa Ricans are on vacation and rush to the beaches and other sites. At this time, you will see prices soar and crowds flock to certain beaches such as Tamarindo or Manuel Antonio. Clearly, a time to be strongly avoided.
May – June: The transition to the green season
In May, do (again) what you like. In Costa Rica, the month of May marks the transition between the dry season and the rainy season. This is when you will get the first good rains. Expect it to rain in the afternoon. But the weather is still generally very nice. The weather can be a bit unpredictable during this month.
Good news: the month of May marks the end of the tourist season and therefore the drop in prices in the tourist sector: you will have understood, the month of May is therefore a very good compromise to go to Costa Rica if you want a somewhat mild climate and more than reasonable rates for a limited budget.
The rainfall intensifies somewhat in June. Most days will be clear in the morning with some showers in the afternoon. The rainforests start to green up and the plants start to bloom. We love this time of year when nature is changing. The national parks are all the more beautiful. It is the moment to go to see some volcanoes like the Arenal volcano, probably one of the most known of Costa Rica.
July: Indian Summer
In July, the rainy season is already well underway. In Costa Rica, this month corresponds to the mid-year vacations for children. Although there is more rainfall, the sunshine rate is still quite good, and it is not uncommon to have several days in a row without rain: this phenomenon is known locally as "veranillo de San Juan ».
If you travel to the Osa Peninsula in July, don't be surprised if you witness particularly strong thunderstorms, it is quite common here. So be careful if you decide to go there, as it may not be the best time to do so. This is the only place in the country that doesn't really have an Indian summer.
August: The windiest
The risk of storms increases in August. Especially towards the end of the month, you can expect rainfall almost every day, so this may not be the best time to plan a trip to Costa Rica. Unless you plan on not radiating too much into the country.
If you are planning to do all the must-do activities in Costa Rica, you should go in a month that is a little drier so that you can go everywhere, all the time, without being blocked by the rain.
September-October: The wettest
In September, the rainfall in Costa Rica intensifies. The wet season is in full swing. The Pacific side is more humid than the Caribbean side in general. The country's iconic animals are out and about, so if you are a nature lover, this is a good time to come and see them in the jungle. Keep in mind that rainy days and violent storms are more frequent. October is the rainiest month in Costa Rica.
If you come in September: you will experience the Costa Rican Independence Day! A great event that you can't and won't miss! We let you discover it.
Floods are not uncommon, as are power outages. It's part of the folklore, of course, but be careful! The Ticos are used to it. You, Less. If you plan to visit Costa Rica during October, be prepared for a wet vacation. Or, you can go to the Caribbean coast, because the weather is better there! You can also attend the Limón Carnival and the October 12 celebrations. Costa Ricans know this and avoid the Pacific at this time of year.
November - Time for a lull
The rain begins in November. It may taper off at the beginning or end of the month, there is no rule. Precipitation can still be frequent but mostly in the evening. The rest of the day should be clearer, especially in the morning. On the other hand, temperatures are dropping, and this is not unpleasant. Rain is more frequent in the central valley and in the rainforest. The sunsets are more and more beautiful, especially after a day of rain, the colors are exceptional. Friends photographers, you should have fun!
The weather is nice this time of year, even along the Pacific Coast. Prices are still low, so if you can take a vacation before the Christmas holidays, take advantage of it! This is a wonderful time to visit Costa Rica.
December - Let the high season begin!
December marks the transition between the rainy season and the dry season. The foliage begins to lose its bright green color and tourism resumes. There may be a few scattered showers in December, but most of the time the weather is dry, which makes it the best time to travel to Costa Rica. Be careful, always if you have a limited budget, to travel before December 15 because after this date, the prices increase because we are officially in high season. Especially avoid being in Tamarindo or on very popular beaches between December 26 and January 2. You will not be able to escape the crowds of national and foreign tourists. Unless you like to party and meet people from all over the world.