Guide to Visiting Costa Rica During the Dry Season

Playa Samara in Costa Rica is a dreamy beach with white sand and palm trees
Playa Samara in Costa Rica is a dreamy beach with white sand and palm trees | © Hemis / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Jenn Parker
21 September 2021
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There are two seasons in Costa Rica, wet and dry. The distinction between the two, especially in some parts of the country, is like night and day. The dry season brings brilliant blue skies and endless sunshine, often a crystal-clear turquoise sea and low humidity. Here’s what you need to know about this sunshiny season.

Experience the best of Costa Rica with Culture Trip as part of a small group of culturally curious travellers on our epic nine-day Costa Rican adventure, led by our Local Insider.

What to expect

Expect yellow trees and a blue sky during the dry season in Costa Rica | © Mabelin Santos / Alamy Stock Photo

The dry season typically lasts from December to April. The further north you go, the effects of the lack of rainfall are more noticeable. The province of Guanacaste is in the northwestern portion of the country and is the driest of all Costa Rican landscapes, so much so that is it home to a unique tropical dry forest ecosystem. You can expect dusty roads where the pavement ends, vibrant flowering trees like the corteza amarillia to be in full bloom, cool mornings and evenings, blistering afternoons, cool ocean temperatures, fewer mosquitos, blue skies and starry nights day after day.

What to see

Watch humpback whales at Marino Ballena National Park, Costa Rica | © Claude Huot / Alamy Stock Photo

The dry season months are some of the best to see humpback whales, sometimes with babies, traveling the Pacific coast. They usually stay relatively close to the coastline, so whale watching is very accessible. It is also during these months that the ginormous leatherback sea turtle nests in the north of Guanacaste. In the tropical dry forest, this season is a great time to observe wildlife since the leaves of most trees have fallen and animals aren’t as easily hidden. December through April are the best months to visit Costa Rica if you are seeking a full-on beach vacation, as every day offers the perfect beach-going weather.

What to bring

The conditions during the dry season are a bit harsh, though. The sun is very strong, and the air is very dry. It is absolutely imperative that you wear sunscreen (choose one that is natural and reef-friendly) every single time you venture outdoors. It is also a good idea to bring a hat, lightweight long-sleeve shirts, good-quality sunglasses and a reusable water bottle that you keep filled and with you at all times. It is very important to stay hydrated since heat exhaustion and severe dehydration are a threat to your health and happiness while in Costa Rica. While the mosquitos are way less abundant during these months, it is still important to wear insect repellent, as dengue and other mosquito-borne illnesses can be contracted any time of the year.

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel – and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Epic Trips, Mini Trips and Sailing Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travellers and friends who want to explore the world together.

Epic Trips are deeply immersive 8 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and enough down time to really relax and soak it all in. Our Mini Trips are small and mighty - they squeeze all the excitement and authenticity of our longer Epic Trips into a manageable 3-5 day window. Our Sailing Trips invite you to spend a week experiencing the best of the sea and land in the Caribbean and the Mediterranean.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm – and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

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