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HomeTravel articles & guidesWhen is the best time to visit Costa Rica?

When is the best time to visit Costa Rica?

05 April, 2018
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Arenal

On a tour to Costa Rica, you will discover a spectacular country, abounding with nature, with wonderful wildlife and beautiful beaches.

But when is the best time to visit Costa Rica?

Read on below to find out when it’s the best time to visit this lush country.

Costa Rica’s climate

Manuel Antonio

Costa Rica is a year-round destination that can be visited at any time of the year.

Located in the tropical climate belt, the country enjoys a unique location between two oceans. The west coast faces the Pacific, while the east coast neighbours the Caribbean Sea.

The two oceans contribute to the highly varied climate of Costa Rica. So there is therefore a big difference in the weather, depending on whether you are in northern Costa Rica, in the mountainous areas, close to the coast or inland.

Costa Rica has two seasons: a dry season and a rainy season.

However, you can expect hot temperatures with a chance of rain all year round. The average temperature is between 21 and 27 degrees 365 days a year, but with variations that depend on season and altitude.

A lot of people think the best time to visit Costa Rica is in the dry season, which is why the dry season is also peak season for visitors to the country.

Costa Rica’s dry season

The dry season is from December to April. The locals call the period “verano”, which is Spanish for summer.

The dry season is typically hot with little or no rain. The hottest months of the dry season are often March–April, while the wind can make January–February cooler.

The Caribbean coast is an exception. Although there is generally little or no rain in the dry season, it rains for much of year along the east coast.

Costa Rica’s dry season is high season, making it the most popular time of the year to visit.

The advantages of visiting Costa Rica during the dry season:

  • Lovely weather with a little or no rain.
  • It may be easier to spot the animals gathering around fewer watering holes.
  • You get a well deserved break from the cold weather in the UK.

Costa Rica’s rainy season

The rainy season is from May to November, with September and October the wettest months.

The rainy season is also called the green season and it is low season for visitors, although the number of visitors rises slightly in June and July, coinciding with the European summer holidays.

There are big differences in how much rain falls over the course of a year. However, despite the fact that a lot of rain falls in some areas, it falls at almost the same time every day, making it easy to plan activities around it.

The advantages of visiting Costa Rica during the rainy season:

  • Lush nature (the green season) and you can see large groups of mother turtles arriving on the beaches in Tortuguero National Park, for example.
  • Cheaper prices, especially if you book in good time.
  • Generally fewer visitors.

Geographical differences in the weather in Costa Rica

Tortuguero

The climate of Costa Rica varies greatly, partly due to its location between two oceans and partly due to its mountains and volcanoes. You could almost say that there are several types of climate in the otherwise small country.

Although Costa Rica basically has two seasons, there are still very large geographical differences in the weather in the seven different provinces.

Guanacaste: The north-western Pacific coast

Area: Rincon de la Vieja and Playa Samara

The weather on the north-western Pacific coast is typically dry and hot, with temperatures rarely below 29 degrees. The region has a longer dry season than the rest of the country, and the rainy season has sunny days and wet afternoons and evenings.

The north-western Pacific coast is the area of Costa Rica with the most sunny days and the lowest rainfall.

Alajuela: The northern central area

Area: Mount Arenal volcano

In Alajuela Province, east of Guanacaste, there are generally high temperatures, but also a lot of rain. The driest month is January, the hottest month is March and the coldest and wettest month is September.

Humidity is around 80% in the dry season, rising slightly during the rainy season.

Heredia: The north-eastern area

Area: Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui

Heredia Province is located on the border with Nicaragua, in northern Costa Rica, east of Alajuela Province. The province is located in an area with major differences in altitude. The area is between 0 and 2900 AMSL, and the weather is also colder, the higher the you go.

The temperature is around 20–25 degrees.

San José & the central highlands

Area: San José (capital city)

San José and its surroundings are located at an altitude of 600 to 2,450 meters above sea level, and the higher you are, the colder it gets.

The average temperature here is around 22 degrees – lower here due to the mountains. However, the area has some of the best weather in the entire country.

Cartago: Central Costa Rica

Area: Mount Irazú volcano

Situated in the central part of Costa Rica is Cartago Province.

Sandwiched between San José and Limon provinces, Cartago is one of the colder places in Costa Rica. Cartago Province is also drier than average.

The temperature remains almost unchanged throughout the year, but in the rainy season, it is predominantly cloudy.

Limón: The Caribbean coast

Area: Tortuguero National Park, Limón

On the Caribbean coast, where Tortuguero is situated, the weather is a completely different story to on the west coast.

The weather by the Caribbean Sea is characterised by high humidity, rain almost all year round and high temperatures. However, the region has less rain than the rest of the country in September and October.

Puntarenas Province: Costa Rica’s central and south Pacific coast

Area: Monteverde Cloud Forest (north) and Manuel Antonio National Park & Corcovado (south)

Puntarenas Province extends along most of Costa Rica’s west coast on the Pacific, and the peninsulas Nicoya and Osa are also part of the province.

In the northern part of the province, which is the central highland, you will find Monteverde cloud forest, among other places. In Monteverde, where you can enjoy a multitude of treetop experiences, the weather on most days of the year is typically foggy and misty. However, the mist does not hang about all day long.

In the southern part of the province are Manuel Antonio & Corcovado National Park, two of Costa Rica’s absolute biggest natural gems. The weather in the national parks is warm and the humidity is high, with heavy rainfall during the rainy season.

Want to visit Costa Rica?

Monteverde

Costa Rica is a fantastic country, offering wonderful experiences all year round.

Check out our tours to Costa Rica below

If you would like to discover the Costa Ricans’ pure vida philosophy, contact our travel consultants for the best guidance on the choice of tour and departure date based on what you wish to experience.

Please note that the above guide is a guideline only, and recommendations may change on an ongoing basis.

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