Best Time of the Year to Visit Costa Rica

Beautiful contrasts | © Jenn Parker
Beautiful contrasts | © Jenn Parker
Photo of Jenn Parker
19 March 2017

Costa Rica has two seasons: wet and dry. Months are also categorized into either high, low, or green season months, which reflect levels tourist activity. There isn’t necessarily one, difinitive “best time” to visit Costa Rica. The best time to visit Costa Rica is dependent on multiple factors and this answer is specific to the individual or group of travelers planning a visit. There are pluses and minuses to each month of the year in Costa Rica. Here’s what you need to know.

Dry season, high season

Typically, by the middle of November the rain has stopped and the dry season has begun. This period of time, ranging from mid-November through until at least April, is considered summer by Costa Ricans. During the dry season, there is practically zero rainfall. The first few months of the dry season feels like the same day played over and over again – cloudless blue skies, beaming sunlight, arid winds, and cool and crisp mornings and evenings. The climate is picturesque for endless beach days. There are also far fewer mosquitos during the summer months.

Backyard sunsets
There are plenty of activities in Costa Rica, whatever the weather | © Dennis Tang/Flickr

The dry season months also encompass Christmas, New Years, and Easter week – with Easter being a very big deal in Costa Rica. Due to the holidays and the ideal weather conditions, the dry season is busier and more expensive than the other months of the year. If you are planning a trip to Costa Rica during this time, it is wise to book far in advance. It also should be noted, especially if staying somewhere like Playa Santa Teresa, Playa Langosta, and Playa Guiones, just to name a few, that it can be very dusty in parts due to the dirt roads and heavy winds.

Cortez armarillo and dirt back roads during the dry season
There's never a bad weather day in Costa Rica's dry season | © Kurt Bauschardt/Flickr

Green season

The very end of April or beginning of May usually brings about the first rains. The first rain is something that is celebrated by those living in Costa Rica. By the end of six very dry months, the rain couldn’t be more necessary. The end of April is bone dry and aside from the magnificent flowering trees like the malinche, frangipani, and Cortez amarillo, everything else takes on a singular golden hue. The animals all appear dehydrated and hot, there are forest fires on the mountainsides, and the heat can be unbearable – so maybe just avoid the end of April altogether here. So when the first rain falls, plants, animals, and humans dance in it.

Happy cows
Trekking through rainforests is worth the effort whatever the weather when this is the reward! | © Donna Boley/Flickr

The green season months are from May until the end of August. The landscape quickly transforms and every shade of green becomes present. During these months, it will typically rain just once a day. The remainder of the day is usually quite pleasant. Green season rates for flights, accommodations, car rentals, and activities are cheaper than during the high season. This is a great time to visit for those who want to see the green side of Costa Rica and spend a little less money. As Costa Rica continually becomes more popular though, so does this season. When visiting during these months, it is crucial that you always wear bug spray to ward off those pesky mosquitos.

Rainy season, low season

September and October are the two rainiest months in Costa Rica. It is likely that there will be times that it will rain for the entire day. However, there are also days when not a drop falls and the sun is shining. It’s a bit of a gamble to visit during these months if you are anticipating a lot of outdoor activities.

Peace and serenity in the cloud forest

For those who are coming to Costa Rica to just relax, rejuvenate, and spend time surrounded by nature, the rainy season can actually be a perfect time to visit. There are quite a few luxury eco-lodges which offer five-star accommodation, incredible views, spa services, exquisite food, hot tubs in the rooms and hot springs outside. Imagine being nestled high up in the cloud forest, drinking a glass of champagne in your hot tub with the windows open and clouds rolling by so closely that you can actually touch them as intermittent rain showers dance on your roof and on the surrounding dense canopy. Rainy reason might be just the escape you have been craving.

Poor man's umbrella, so called because the poor used to shelter beneath them during daily downpours | © Trevor Huxham/Flickr
Welcome rains will wake up the wildlife for nature lovers | © Ralph Kränzlein/Flickr

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