Red-eyed frog on a ginger flower, Costa Rica

Best time to visit Costa Rica

Overall, the best time to visit Costa Rica is in the dry months of December to April. However, there is more to deciding when to go than just looking at the climate. You might want to see whales, you may prefer travelling in a cheaper season where there are fewer people, or you might be a keen birdwatcher.

Love the sun, embrace the showers!

Costa Rica is extensively covered in rainforest, flanked by oceans and with a spine of mountains in the middle. For these reasons Costa Rica gets a lot of rain and it can come in any month, so don’t necessarily discount travel in May to November – indeed September and October are really the only months we tend to advise most people to avoid. Even on rainy days, it’s rare not to see the sun!

Paul-May-2019
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Frog, Costa Rica © DanielBlindt

Costa Rica's seasons

An overview of the whole country in terms of the seasons.

On Papagayo peninsula, Costa Rica © Shutterstock

December to April

From December to late April/early May Costa Rica gets relatively little rain. Because of this, these months are generally the more popular and busier times to visit – especially Christmas and Easter. April and May are the less busy months within this period.
Consider booking as early as possible to stand more chance of getting your first choice of accommodation.

Hummingbirds in Costa Rica © DanielBlindt

May, June and November

It begins to rain a little more from May. As a rough rule mornings tend to be sunny and any rain often comes as an afternoon downpour before clearing once again. It’s not all rain, rain, rain.
Also on the plus side, there are now fewer visitors and hotel availability is better. If you’re going off the beaten track and self-driving, we’d recommend a 4x4 as the roads could be muddy.

Rafting at Pacuare, Costa Rica © PacuareLodge

July to October

While this is the rainy season, it’s really only September and October which tend to be a write-off for most travellers as many hotels close and roads can be quite bad.
July and August are still a good time to visit and you get sunny times on most days. As well as being quieter, the flowers are blooming and it’s a great time for birds and butterflies. Also it’s a perfect time for river rafting.

When to visit different regions

Your guide to temperature and rainfall patterns in different regions of Costa Rica.

Arenal volcano, Costa Rica © AGMarks

Arenal

You can visit Arenal volcano at any time of year, but as with much of the country, the drier months of December to April are the most popular so expect them to be busier. September and October are often too wet to be much fun.

Andaz Papagayo, Costa Rica © AGLarchner,AndazPapagayo

Pacific Coast

The dry months of December to April are the most popular times for travellers to this region. If you’re a surfer, July to October are your best months.

Caribbean beach in Costa Rica © chriss73,Shutterstock

Caribbean coast

Whereas September and October tend to be attract the heaviest rainfall in most of the country, these are two of the less rainy times here, along with February and March.

Wildlife viewing in Tortuguero Natoinal Park, Costa Rica © JOehl,Shuttersotck

Tortuguero

Being on the Caribbean Coast, September and October are a little drier than most other months (opposite to the weather patterns on the Pacific coast). July tends to be the rainiest time here and April is usually the hottest month.

Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica © PAtkinson,Shutterstock

Manuel Antonio

The most popular time to visit is from December to April when there is less chance of rain. You’ll find temperatures in the high twenties celsius most of the year round.

Villa Vanilla, El Remanso, Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica © ElRemanso

Osa Peninsula

In common with most of the Pacific coast, December to April are the least rainy months. Keep the price down in this stunning wildlife destination by considering other months.

When to see Costa Rica's wildlife

A wildlife enthusiast’s quick guide to when and where to see some of Costa Rica’s key species.

Sloth, Costa Rica © PCook

Sloths

They can be little hard to find, but they are present all year in many places including Manuel Antonio and Tortuguero . . . and they don’t run away!

Red-eyed frog, Costa Rica © Shutterstock

Frogs

The red-eyed frog is an iconic symbol of Costa Rica. You can see frogs all year, but they prefer wetter weather so May to November are the better months for frog lovers.

Whale © Shutterstock

Whales

Humpback whales can be seen off both of Costa Rica’s coasts for about 9 months a year, August to April, though the best months are August to October in the southern Pacific.

Sea turtle © Shutterstock

Turtles

TORTUGUERO: Green turtles lay about late July to September. PLAYA GRANDE: Leatherbacks lay here roughly November to February. PLAYA OSTIONAL: Peak time for Olive Ridleys is September to October.

Toucan in Costa Rica © MCaunt,Shutterstock

Birds

With over 900 bird species, Costa Rica is a brilliant birding destination at any time, with most species being resident all year. Migratory species swell numbers from about October to February.

Resplendent quetzal, Costa Rica © Shutterstock

Resplendent quetzals

This stunning bird is best searched for in cloud forests such as Monteverde in the breeding season around March to July.

White-faced capuchin monkey, Costa Rica © DanielBlindt

Monkeys

You will probably see monkeys whatever month you visit, but they’re not keen on rain! Osa Peninsula has all 4 species: squirrel, white-faced capuchin, spider and howler.

Alex-neaves
Talk to Alex - Travel Consultant

Call:  01473 890499

Start planning your tailor-made holiday now. Tell us what you want, and we will tailor make your perfect trip.

Client Rating for Costa Rica 5/5 from 216 reviews