Costa Rica’s tropical climate and diverse nature attract visitors from around the world. Costa Rica has beaches, mountains, active volcanoes, rainforest and cloud forest, and you don’t have to travel far to experience changes in nature, climate and temperature. So when is the best time to travel to Costa Rica?
The Climate in Costa Rica
Costa Rica has a tropical climate with average temperatures of around 22 degrees Celsius (72 Fahrenheit), but temperatures can vary a lot between the different regions. Costa Rica’s mountains rise up to more than 11 000 ft (3600 meters) and in the highest altitudes nights are chilled. Costa Rica’s two coastlines, on the Caribbean side and the Pacific side, are both hot throughout the year and temperatures can be much higher than the national average. The Northwest part of Costa Rica is the driest region of the country and has a longer summer than other parts. Even in the wet season, it does not necessarily rain all day. On the Caribbean coast, however, it can rain at any time of the year.
The Dry Season in Costa Rica
Like tropical countries in general, Costa Rica has a rainy season, or “winter”, and a dry summer season. The dry season, between the end of November and the end of April, is the most popular time to travel to Costa Rica. For many visitors the weather is at its best in December and January: there is much less rain than from May to November and the days are sunny, but nature has been left green and verdant after the rainy season. The downside of traveling during the dry season, and especially around Christmas, is that flights are more expensive, hotel rates can be much higher than in the low season and you’ll have to share the beach with crowds of other visitors.
The Rainy Season in Costa Rica
Locals call the rainy season from May to the middle of November the “green” season. This is Costa Rica’s winter, and it is wet. The heaviest rains are usually in September and October. The early months in the wet season can be a good time to travel if you like a quieter Costa Rica experience, as it often rains mainly in the afternoon and you can still get some sunny time. You’ll also find that accommodation prices are lower than during the Christmas season and you can probably find cheaper flights too. However, during heavy rains traveling around in some parts of the country can be difficult, especially where there are just dirt roads that get quickly muddy.
Tips for Planning a Vacation
If you’re going to Costa Rica to surf, the best places to go surfing during the dry season are the Caribbean coast and the Northern peninsula. In the rainy season, the Pacific Coast gets gradually faster and bigger waves starting from June and especially in September and October.
Take into account local holidays when planning travel to Costa Rica. December to February is the local school holiday time and this is when many Costa Rica residents take their vacations, which means more crowds in the most popular destinations.