When is the best time to visit Costa Rica?

Arenal Volcano landscape

Costa Rica is a magnificent destination in Central America and is a wonderful place to visit for nature lovers, adventurous travelers, and those in search of a relaxing and rejuvenating vacation. But when is the best time to visit Costa Rica? If you’re planning a vacation, take a look at our comprehensive guide to the weather, events, festivals, and other considerations to discover the best time to go.

The best time to visit Costa Rica for great weather

Weather is a huge consideration when booking any vacation, and Costa Rica is no exception. The country broadly has two seasons; the rainy season and the dry season. December through April is the dry season, while May through November is the rainy season. Although that might sound like an easy choice, the rainy season (known locally as the green season) should not be disregarded, due to lower costs, fewer crowds, and more active wildlife during the period. In fact, many travelers in the know name July and August as the best time to visit Costa Rica, due to the low crowd numbers. The rain during this time is also unpredictable and is unlikely to be heavy enough to stop you from experiencing the country. If you are set on having dry weather for a beach break, then December through April is the best time to visit Costa Rica.

It is worth bearing in mind that Costa Rica experiences a range of climates across its varied landscapes. The coasts are generally warmer, while inland across the mountainous regions weather can be more unpredictable, as well as cooler.

A rushing waterfall in the Costa Rica rainforest

Costa Rica weather by month

Read on for a detailed month-by-month breakdown of Costa Rica weather.

Costa Rica weather in January

Dry season

January is the peak time for visiting Costa Rica for great weather, It is right in the middle of the dry season when clear skies dominate, and the landscape is lush and green following the rainy season. Weather-wise January is one of the best times to go to Costa Rica, but you will be joined by many other people in what is the country’s busiest month for tourism.

Weather in Costa Rica in February

Dry season

The weather remains brilliant in Costa Rica in February. It is sunny, dry, and warm, and is the perfect time to relax on the numerous beaches or dip beneath the waves and try some snorkeling or scuba diving in Costa Rica.

Costa Rica weather in March

Dry season

The dry season marches on in Costa Rica in March. Crowd numbers begin to pick up again as Spring Break and Easter are near, as people flock in to enjoy the tropical temperatures and sunshine during the holidays in what is one of the best months to visit Costa Rica.

Costa Rica weather in April

Dry season

April in Costa Rica is the final month of the dry season. The weather is still warm and dry, although the plants and trees that cover the country have noticeably lost their verdant color after months without rain. April is historically the hottest month in Costa Rica.

Costa Rica weather in May

Wet season

May is the first month of the green season, and with the rain comes respite from the intense temperatures of the dry season. May is a bit of a hidden gem for visiting Costa Rica, as the wettest weather has not yet set in, but temperatures are lower and more comfortable than during the dry season, and crowd levels are also low. It is the best month to visit Costa Rica to enjoy a little bit of everything that the country has to offer, so long as you don’t mind some rainy days.

Weather in Costa Rica in June

Wet season

The second month of the rainy season brings the rainforests in Costa Rica to life, as flowers and plants blossom and bloom under the life-giving showers of rain. Crowd numbers have a bit of a surge during June in Costa Rica as the schools get let out.

Costa Rica weather in July

Wet season

It might still technically be the wet season, but July in Costa Rica brings with it what the locals call Veranillo, or little summer. Veranillo is a short spell of bright, sunny weather in the midst of the rainy season, particularly in the mornings. It is one of the best times to visit Costa Rica to enjoy off-peak prices and small crowds, whilst having some pretty good weather and sunshine.

Costa Rica in August

Wet season

Veranillo can continue for a few weeks into August, with pleasant weather and spells of brightness offering a respite from the rain. Wildlife is particularly active at this time of year, making it ideal for rainforest treks.

Weather in Costa Rica in September

Wet season

September in Costa Rica is the peak of green season, but don’t let that put you off. Water-based activities such as surfing and rafting are at their best, and wildlife-spotting opportunities are plentiful. You will also notice a lack of crowds and low prices during September.

Costa Rica in October

Wet season

The Pacific Coast of Costa Rica is still feeling the full effects of the rainy season in October, meaning that beach days will be few and far between. However, the rainforests will be at their most lush following many months of rain, and temperatures will be cool enough that, with a good raincoat, you can comfortably explore the great outdoor attractions of the country.

Costa Rica weather in November

Wet season

November in Costa Rica is a bit of a shoulder month when the rain begins to ease off paving the way for the dry season in December. It is a great time to visit Costa Rica in what is the last quiet period of the year, before the crowds and the temperatures pick up for the holiday season.

Costa Rica weather in December

Dry season

Early December in Costa Rica sees pretty unpredictable weather, with showers tapering off as the month progresses. As the holiday season approaches, the temperature begins to rise, with long spells of bright sunshine ushering lazy days at the beach and chilled nights in waterfront bars. December is perhaps the best time to travel to Costa Rica for plenty of sunshine before the temperature and humidity climb too high.

Arenal Volcano in Costa Rica

Costa Rica temperature by month

Costa Rica does not see a huge change in temperature throughout the year, hovering around the mid-to-upper 70s (high 20s). April is the hottest month, while November is generally the coldest.

When is rainy season in Costa Rica?

The rainy season in Costa Rica lasts from May through November, with early December also being quite wet. It is locally known as the green season in Costa Rica because it brings the beautiful foliage of the rainforests to life. It is also a wonderful time to visit if you want to see Costa Rica’s wildlife at its best.

When is hurricane season in Costa Rica?

There is no hurricane season in Costa Rica per se, as tropical storms of hurricane magnitude rarely, if ever make landfall in the country.

Best time to visit Costa Rica for events and festivals

Costa Rica is a lively destination and as such hosts many fabulous parties and events throughout the year. Throughout the year, there are several music festivals, as well as cultural occasions. Local highlights of the Costa Rican social calendar include Fiestas of Palarmes in January, Dia del Boyero in March, and Costa Rica’s Independence Day on September 15th. Basically, whenever you turn up in Costa Rica, there’ll probably be a party of some kind going on. Most outdoor events such as music and beach festivals take place during the dry season, so if you want to experience as much as possible, then December through April is the best time to visit Costa Rica.

Christmas in Costa Rica

Christmas is a special time to be in Costa Rica. The weather is dry and sunny (perfect for spending an unforgettable Christmas on the beach). The holiday spirit is unmissable, with trees bedecked in twinkling lights, extravagant meals, and carols drifting along the waterfront. Christmas in Costa Rica is one of the most popular times to visit, so there will be plenty of people enjoying the festivities.

Costa Rica New Years

New Year in Costa Rica is generally a quiet, family affair. Many Costa Ricans opt to stay in and enjoy a meal together, rather than going out to public events. Most bars and restaurants close down by midnight, so it is not the best time to be in Costa Rica if you want to party the night away. It is, however, a great option if you fancy a chilled New Year’s Eve.

Easter in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a predominantly Catholic country, so Easter is a big celebration in the country. The week leading up to Easter in Costa Rica is called Santa Semana. It is a time of reflection in the local communities. Religious parades, some of them dramatic and intense in nature, take place during the week leading up to Easter Sunday.

A toucan sits on a branch in dense rainforest in Costa Rica

When is the best time to visit Costa Rica for wildlife watching?

Home to over 500,000 species of animals, Costa Rica is an incredibly diverse country with countless fantastic opportunities for wildlife lovers. The green season between May and November is the best time for wildlife watching. Rainforest creatures such as sloths and toucans prefer the cooler, wetter conditions that the season brings. This is also the time when the cloud forests are at their most enigmatic. With the help of a ranger or wildlife expert, you could even be lucky enough to see one of Costa Rica’s most elusive creatures; the jaguar.

The rainforests don’t get all the glory; there is a fantastic number of sea creatures to see in Costa Rica as well. Both the Pacific and Caribbean coasts of the country offer amazing whale watching opportunities, particularly between August and October. Scuba diving reveals a technicolor world beneath the waves, teeming with tropical fish, rays, and even sharks.

So, when is the best time to visit Costa Rica?

For the best weather, January through April is the best time to visit Costa Rica. If you want to spend long days on sun-drenched beaches, pick any of these months. If wildlife watching is at the top of your wish list, grab your raincoat and visit between May and November. Whenever you decide to go, Costa Rica is sure to charm and delight you with its incredible landscapes, breathtaking beaches, and vibrant culture.

If you’re looking to book a stay in Costa Rica, take a look at our stunning vacation rentals in the country. You can also get in touch with our brilliant Travel Planners for more information.