When to Visit Costa Rica

Sunset on palm fringed beach, Costa Rica
••• Matteo Colombo/Getty Images

The best time to travel to Costa Rica is late November through April. If you are looking for great weather, you are almost guaranteed sunny skies and rain-free days. However, this is also high tourism season so plan on paying more for your hotel room. 

From May through August, expect clear skies in the morning and rain in the afternoon. During the green season, rain can sometimes come in bursts so strong that it paralyzes traffic and all outdoor activities.

  

September and October are Costa Rica’s rainiest months, with rainfall lasting nearly all day. If you happen to book a trip during these months, not to worry. These are the most beautiful months along Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast. Plan to head to Cahuita, Puerto Viejo or Tortuguero.   

While you used to be able to tell time based on weather patterns, climate change has thrown Costa Rica a bit of a curve ball. Locals are finding that rainy season may not be as rainy and dry season may have a few showers. So plan travel to this tropical country with an open mind.

The following timetable of weather patterns is not steadfast and you may be in for a surprise (whether good or bad) during your stay here.

Central Valley (San José)

  • Nov.-April: This is dry season. It’s very rare you will see rain.
  • May-Aug: This is considered rainy season, but you are almost guaranteed sunny skies in the mornings.
  • Sept-mid-Nov.: These are the rainiest months of the year, with rain beginning in the early morning and lasting through the night.

    Pacific Coast (Manuel Antonio, Tamarindo, Playa del Coco, Osa Peninsula, Mal Pais/Santa Teresa) Weather patterns tend to mirror that of the Central Valley.

    • Nov.-April: These are the dry months, which almost no rain showers.
    • May-Aug: Plan on sunny mornings and wet afternoons.
    • Sept-mid-Nov.: These are the rainiest months of the year, with rain beginning in the early morning and lasting throughout the night.
    • It’s important to note that Guanacaste may be somewhat drier than points further south (such as the Osa Peninsula).

    Caribbean Coast

    • Nov.- Jan.: Considered the Caribbean coast’s rainy season (though rain is unpredictable – and you may get sun or you may get rain), these months tend to receive more rainfall than any time else during the year.
    • Feb.-March: These are drier months.
    • April-Aug.: Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast collapses back into rainy season for these months; though rainfall usually only comes in the afternoon. 
    • Sept.-Oct.: These are the nicest months on the Caribbean side. Typically, the early fall gets the least amount of rain. However, there is the risk of periodic hurricanes. 
    • If you are heading to the Caribbean coast, it’s best to keep flexible travel plans. That way, you can head to another part of the country if the rain sounds too intense.   

    Arenal, La Fortuna

    • There is no ideal time to visit Arenal Volcano and La Fortuna. There is a risk of rain year-round. If you are looking for views of the volcano, try your luck in the early morning (at 4 a.m. for views of the lava and at 5:30 a.m. for views during the day.)

    Where can I check the weather in Costa Rica?

    The National Meteorologist Institute is the go-to source for weather updates in Costa Rica.

    However, weather reports are rarely reliable and their success rate for predicting weather patterns is abysmal compared to more developed countries.

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    Updated by Marina K. Villatoro