The Best Time to Go to Costa Rica: A Month-by-Month Guide

Fora Author Fora

The Modern Travel Agency


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Want to know the best time to go to Costa Rica for your next escape? We’ve got you covered with a month-by-month breakdown, plus tons of when-to-travel-to-Costa-Rica FAQs — like when to check out Costa Rica’s beaches, wildlife and more. 

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When’s the best time to go to Costa Rica? First, you need to understand the country’s 3 distinct climates

Before we get into the nitty gritty of the best time to visit Costa Rica, it’s helpful to know the difference between the country’s three major regions. 

Region 1: The Pacific coast

Costa Rica’s sunny northern Pacific coast sees the bulk of the country’s tourism because the weather is glorious. This is especially true during the dry season, which runs from December to April for most of the coast. During this period, expect minimal cloud cover and rain, and temperatures ranging from the mid-70s to the low-90s — perfect for beach days. 

The rainy season runs from May to November, but this can still be a great time to visit Costa Rica. Most mornings are still sunny and temperate, with showers or storms mostly occurring in the afternoon. 

The southern half of Costa Rica’s Pacific coast, which includes the Osa Peninsula and Manuel Antonio National Park, is notably wetter throughout the year. But if you’re staying at a Costa Rica jungle resort, we find that the rain enhances the gorgeous rainforest experience.

Region 2: Central Valley & Highlands

If you’re looking for a breathtaking escape into nature, Costa Rica’s central regions — which include the Central Valley and Highlands — are an excellent destination almost any time of the year. Generally, these regions enjoy mild, spring-like temperatures all year. 

The rainy and dry seasons here loosely match the Pacific coast’s, but it’s worth noting that because of the central regions’ varying elevations, there’s a lot more variety in terms of humidity, rain and temperature.

Some of the coolest natural landmarks in Costa Rica are native to this region, like Arenal Volcano and the magical Monteverde biological preserve: a “cloud forest” marked by extremely low cloud cover and an almost smoky, ethereal appearance. 

Want to check out the Central Valley or Highlands for yourself? Connect with Fora to book and plan your Costa Rica vacation.

Region 3: The Caribbean coast

Known for its chill, bohemian vibe, Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast is for travelers who want to kick back and relax. The weather is a bit warmer on average, and it’s more humid. But it’s also stunningly beautiful and lush all year — because unlike the Pacific and central regions, Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast doesn’t have a true dry season.

It does rain slightly less here from February to April, but there’s a minimal difference. Despite the frequent rainfall, the Caribbean coast still offers beautiful beaches and unique wildlife encounters (like sea turtles!) so it’s every bit as worthy a destination as the other regions if you don’t mind a little rain during your trip. (Otherwise, the best time to go Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast is during early spring.)

Check out the best Caribbean Costa Rica resorts if you’re interested in staying in this gorgeous region.

When is Costa Rica’s rainy (or “green”) season?

Costa Rica’s rainy or “green” season runs from May to November in the Pacific and central regions, with the southern half of both regions receiving a bit more rain on average.

Rainfall is common throughout the year on the Caribbean coast, however. So if you want to avoid excessive rain, the best time to go to Costa Rica extends between December and May on the northwest Pacific coast.

The best time to go to Costa Rica: month-by-month breakdown

Here’s a month-by-month breakdown of the best times to go to Costa Rica.

January & February: the busiest months in Costa Rica

January and February are peak travel months in Costa Rica. The weather around the country is gorgeous, with less rain and comfortable temperatures. And because of the international crowd, Costa Rica nightlife hits a fever pitch. 

Several of the country’s coolest cultural festivals are held during these months, too, like las Fiestas de Palmeras and The Envision Festival, both of which vibrantly celebrate Costa Rica’s traditions.

Finally, the potential wildlife encounters during these months are particularly exciting. Tropical birds are at their most lively and humpback whales can be seen migrating north on the Pacific coast.

March & April: the hottest months on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast

March and April are only slightly less busy than January and February because many countries around the world are on spring break. 

The Pacific coast sees its hottest temperatures of the year (low 90s, on average), but this only makes beaches and rainforests more lovely to explore (or relax on). 

Connect with Fora for the lowdown on the coolest things to do this time of year in Costa Rica.

May, June, July & August: crowds and prices drop with the rainy season, but ecotourists and surfers can take advantage

May and June kick off the best time to go to Costa Rica if you want to avoid crowds and save a little money without sacrificing too much of what makes the country so awesome to visit. The rainy season is usually in full swing by early-to-mid May (except for along the Caribbean coast, where it rains regularly all year), so tourism sees a sharp decline over these four months.

If you’re interested in nature escapes and adventure, though, this is the best time of the year to visit Costa Rica because the rains bring a whole new level of greenery to the country’s rainforests and parks. As the rainy season reaches full blast, rivers and waterfalls create a magical atmosphere for sightseeing and watersports.

And speaking of watersports, ocean swells and fewer crowds create gnarly conditions for surfers of all skill levels. And these conditions only get better as summer progresses. 

In the meantime, check out these guides to a Costa Rica girls’ trip or a Costa Rica bachelorette trip for some inspiration. 

September & October: shoulder season & the best time to go to Costa Rica to see turtles

Travel to Costa Rica reaches a relative low in September and October but is no less incredible. You can generally find the best prices on accommodations (connect with Fora to plan and book your stay) and experiences, and ocean conditions are still great for watersports. Best of all, this is turtle hatching season on the Caribbean coast, with tens of thousands of baby sea turtles beginning their mad dash to the Atlantic.

The only downside is that the rainy season generally reaches its peak during this period, so if you’re not keen on getting drenched, you may want to wait another month or so.

November & December: the rainy season dwindles, surf season peaks and a festive spirit takes hold

By November, the rainy season is beginning to taper off, arguably leading to the best time to go to Costa Rica’s Pacific coast. On the opposite coast, conditions in the Caribbean Sea make beaches unusually clear for scuba diving and snorkeling. 

November also kicks off Costa Rica’s holiday season, lending the country a joyful ambiance with tons of festivities.

The best time to go to Costa Rica for specific experiences

Wondering about the best time to go to Costa Rica for X, Y or Z? We have you covered.

Is there a “best time to go to Costa Rica for good weather?”

Yes and no. It’s probably better to ask if there’s a good time to go to Costa Rica to avoid the rain, which would be December through April on the west coast and in the central regions (it always rains on the Caribbean coast). That said, even during the rainy season, certain places on the west coast, like the gorgeous Las Catalinas, only see light rainfall (check out our Las Catalinas itinerary).

Otherwise, Costa Rica generally has great weather all year long. For personalized recommendations, book and plan your trip with Fora.

When’s the best time to visit Costa Rica’s cloud forests?

This varies by forest, unfortunately. Many of Costa Rica’s cloud forests have unique weather patterns because of their varying elevations and proximity to either ocean. If you let us know which forest you’re most interested in, we can hook you up with the best places to stay in either region. (Check out some amazing Costa Rica jungle resorts, in the meantime.)

What are the best months to observe Costa Rica’s wildlife?

Costa Rica is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world, so you’re going to see a lot of nature no matter when you visit. But if you want to know the absolute best time to go to Costa Rica to see its bountiful wildlife…it still depends

You’re more likely to notice wildlife during the dry season since a lack of rainfall improves visibility. However, wildlife activity rises and falls throughout the year, and rainfall is only one of dozens of factors that impact wildlife activity. 

If there are particular critters you’d like to see — vibrant poison dart frogs (don’t touch!), adorable white-faced capuchins, goofy three-toed sloths, water-skimming green basilisks (not to be confused with Hogwarts-dwelling serpents)...the list goes on — we can do the legwork of finding out the best time to go.

Check out our Costa Rica nature travel guide for an example itinerary. 

Is there a best time to go to the beach in Costa Rica? What about the best time for surfing?

Costa Rica’s picture-perfect beaches are worth visiting virtually any time of year. Of course, they do get more crowded during the dry season, which coincides with peak travel season. 

As for surfing, the best time to go — depending on your skill level — is November or December, between peak rainy season and the incoming dry season. The rainy season itself is also great for surfing because there are fewer crowds and the ocean swells create consistent waves.

Want privacy? Book your trip with Fora to unlock sweet perks at the best resorts in Costa Rica for couples.

When should you travel to Costa Rica to avoid crowds? Is this the most affordable time to visit Costa Rica?

The rainy season, and particularly September and October, is the best time to go to Costa Rica if you want to avoid crowds and save money on the best accommodations. The best part is that even though it rains nearly every day during Costa Rica’s rainy season, the mornings are usually clear, so you can still enjoy adventures. 

Pro tip: complimentary room upgrades are generally more likely if you stay during the low or off season.

Plan & book your trip with Fora and we’ll help you find your best time to go to Costa Rica

Ultimately, the best time to go to Costa Rica depends on what you want to do and see while you’re there. When you plan and book your trip with Fora, we’ll make sure you visit when it makes the most sense for your interests and schedule. Better yet, we’ll ensure you get awesome hotel perks, insider travel recommendations and more extras to make your trip an unforgettable experience. Fill out the form below to get started.

Need more Costa Rica travel inspiration? Check out our guide to the best places to visit in Costa Rica for the first time or the best all-inclusive resorts in Costa Rica for families

Not sure Costa Rica’s the right choice for your next vacay? Maybe one of these Fora guides will cover your desired destination:

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