The best time to visit Costa Rica: planning your trip wisely
When is the best time to visit Costa Rica? This article breaks down each month in Costa Rica and explains what the weather, crowds, and cost of travel are like.
Costa Rica is easily one of the best Central American countries to visit. It has diverse wildlife, stunning natural landscapes, delicious local food, and a thriving backpacker scene.
Flights to Costa Rica are quite cheap from elsewhere in the Americas, especially the south of the USA. So whether you’re backpacking through South and Central America, doing a Worldpackers work exchange, or just looking for a quick tropical getaway, Costa Rica is an amazing country to explore.
If you’ve decided to visit this country, you may be wondering when is the best time to visit Costa Rica.
Because it’s such an incredible country, there is no bad time to visit. But when considering the best time to travel to Costa Rica, there are three main factors: weather, crowds, and cost.
Better weather means more crowds and higher costs of accommodation, flights, and tours. Less desirable weather means fewer crowds and cheaper costs.
So the best time of year to travel to Costa Rica really depends on which of these three factors matter to you the most.
In this article, I’ll explore the best time to visit Costa Rica. First I’ll give a brief overview of weather in Costa Rica. Then I’ll break down each month and explain what the weather, costs, and crowds will be like. Then you can decide when is the best time for your visit based on this information!
Planning a trip to Costa Rica? Don't miss the 11 best things to do in Costa Rica and How to master solo travel in Costa Rica.
Overview of weather in Costa Rica
Costa Rica has pretty consistent temperatures year round. It is always warm but not too hot, so it has a very desirable climate. The temperature can range from 60 degrees Farenheit at lowest to 80 degrees Farenheit at highest, on average (15 to 26 degrees Celcius).
The main seasons in Costa Rica are:
Rainy season is, of course, very wet. It rains almost every day and the rain can last for hours. Thunderstorms and monsoons are common.
Dry season has the best weather, with lots of sun and the occasional rain shower.
The Green season is in the middle. Mornings are often sunny and clear and rain is common in the afternoon.
The temperature and weather can also vary depending on the region you visit. Coastal regions tend to be warmer and the highlands in the center of the country tend to be cooler. The humidity can also increase the further south you go.
So weather in Costa Rica is very warm, humid, and sometimes wet. This is why the country is so rich in wildlife and biodiversity.
Regardless of when you visit or where you visit, check the weather report daily because sun and rain can both occur at any time.
When is the best time to visit Costa Rica?
Based on this overview, the best time to travel to Costa Rica depends on what you’re looking for.
I’ll now explain what the weather in each month is usually like. That way you can decide the perfect month for your visit based on weather, crowds, and cost.
Weather in Costa Rica: December, January, February, March, and April
These months make up the Dry Season, which is also peak tourist season. The weather is hot and sunny almost all the time with very little rainfall. Also, the rainy season has just ended so the forests are flourishing and the waterfalls are lush.
Because of the nice weather, this is the most desirable time to visit Costa Rica. Due to the nice weather and holidays like Christmas, New Years, Easter, and Spring Break, this is also the busiest time to visit Costa Rica.
Crowds are at their highest, especially in the most touristy areas. Flights and accommodation are also at their most expensive, and it is essential to book everything in advance in case things sell out.
So this time of the year is great for those who want amazing weather with the lowest chance of rain. Some people only get holiday time over December and January as well, so this is an ideal time to visit Costa Rica.
Travelling to Costa Rica in May and June
May marks the beginning of the Green Season. It is also shoulder season for tourism, meaning it is right in the middle of peak season and low season.
When considering weather, crowds, and cost, May could potentially be the best month to visit Costa Rica. There is a good chance of many sunny days, crowds die down after the holidays, and prices are reasonable.
During Green Season, there is some rain but it’s usually in the afternoon or evening and it might not rain every day. There is a good mix of sunny and rainy days. Having an early beach day or booking a morning tour is a good idea, so you can relax later in the day when it rains.
Prices and crowds both usually drop in May because peak season ends. National Parks and beaches in Costa Rica are less crowded, and the surf is usually really good.
So May and June are ideal for travelers looking to save some money and escape the crowds, as long as you don’t mind some rain here and there.
Visiting Costa Rica in July and August
These months are similar to May and June, in terms of weather. It is still the Green Season, so there is often clear mornings and rainy afternoons.
This is a good time to spot wildlife, including sea turtles in Tortuguero National Park and whales in Dominical.
However, there is a small spike in prices and crowds due to Summer Holiday season. Prices and crowds are still lower than the Dry Season, but May or June are better months for those looking to skip the crowds and save money.
Weather in Costa Rica: September, October and November
September marks the start of the Rainy Season, which is also low season for tourism.
This is generally the least desirable time to visit Costa Rica because the weather is extremely wet. It rains almost every day, though there is the occasional sunny day. But most days are overcast and extremely humid.
Sometimes the rain gets so heavy that there is flooding and roads will close. This can disrupt travel plans, especially in remote regions with less transport options. The rain also makes wildlife spotting more difficult.
If you don’t mind rain, there are actually some benefits to visiting Costa Rica during low season. There are barely any crowds, so you may have lots of attractions all to yourself. Flight prices are super cheap as well.
By mid-November, the rain slows down as well. You’ll start to get better weather and still enjoy low crowds and prices.
If you’re also wondering when is the best time to travel for surfing in Costa Rica, September through November is great. Storms bring big swells and the beaches aren’t crowded at all. The water is still nice and warm too.
I personally visited Costa Rica during Rainy Season. I found insanely cheap flights, and I still had an epic time despite the rain.
If you meet other backpackers through hostels or work exchanges in Costa Rica, you can all make the most of the weather and still have fun. If you’re traveling on a budget, this is the best time to travel to Costa Rica.
Be part of a volunteer program in Costa Rica
As with all travel, the biggest expense is accommodation. But, with Worldpackers, that's not an issue. There's a great selection of volunteering opportunities in Costa Rica to help you save on accommodation costs.
Besides saving money, you'll meet fellow travellers from around the globe and learn new skills.
Some of the work-exhange opportunities in Costa Rica, includes:
- Help promote an eco-village in Drake Bay.
- Yoga, Farming, cooking and more in this Holistic Center.
- Be part of the staff of a hostel in Ballena Bay.
To know more about Worldpackers, you can read How to volunteer abroad using Worldpackers and Traveling with Worldpackers: your top questions answered.
So when is the best time to travel to Costa Rica?
I would say overall, May or November are the best months to visit Costa Rica.
These months lie in between peak season, so the crowds are low and prices are pretty cheap. There may be some rain, especially in early November. But rain can be fun, especially when swimming in waterfalls and exploring the rainforest.
However, if you want the best weather, December and January are ideal. If you want the cheapest prices, visit in October. If you want to see wildlife, visit in July or August. Basically, there is no bad time to visit Costa Rica!
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