The Best Time to Go to Costa Rica by Season and Month

From beaches to jungles, volcanoes to waterfalls, sunsets to stargazing—Costa Rica is a vacationer’s dream. It’s hardly surprising the locals, or Ticos, use the phrase Pura Vida, or pure life, to mean anything from “how are you” and “I’m great, thanks” to “see you later” and “have a wonderful time.” Because just like sloths, the country’s symbol, Ticos are known for their peaceful outlook on life and stress-free attitude. 

So, when is the best time to go to Costa Rica for that wonderful pura vida vacation?

Actually, you can enjoy the ravishing beauty of this Central American country year-round. Still, microclimates mean weather can drastically differ from one area to another. 

With the right timing, you can see the cone-shaped Arenal spewing lava from its crater, trek into gushing waterfalls that feed into milky-blue pools, and spot wildlife in the national parks, all in one week.

It’s that diverse.

So, before you plan your trip, let’s dive into the best time of year to visit Costa Rica.

Costa Rica’s seasons in a nutshell

greenery and ocean in costa rica

Are you a sun worshiper? 

Then you’ll love the time from December to April when the weather is generally dry, warm, and pleasant. The months of March and April are the hottest, especially on the western side of the country, where highs peak between 30-37°C (86-98°F).

Did we hear you ask, “When is the rainy season in Costa Rica?” It can rain anytime, and that’s precisely why the pura vida country is blessed with lush vegetation. But the rainy season gets underway on the Pacific side towards the end of June, notably in Guanacaste and the Nicoya peninsula. 

Arenal volcano and lightning

The worst time to visit Costa Rica is in September and October when lashing rains and floods wash out bridges and roads. But, unsurprisingly, that’s also the cheapest time to travel.

The shoulder or green season from May to mid-June and November has plenty of appeal. Prices are more affordable than in the high season from December to April, and sunshine is still typical. The beaches and lowlands on both sides of Costa Rica have low temperatures of 22 to 28°C (71-82°F) and peak at 32°C (89°F).

Costa Rica’s weather by month

girl kayaking

So when is the best time to visit Costa Rica? Let’s look at each month a bit closer.

January to April (best time to go to Costa Rica for sloth spotting)

smiling sloth

While you can always expect tropical showers in a country blanketed by rainforest, the peak season has the least precipitation. This period attracts many travelers, especially in January and Easter, resulting in crowded national parks and beaches. On the other hand, it’s the best time to visit Costa Rica for wildlife. 

May to June

arena volcano costa rica

This is the official start of the green season. For many, this is the best time to visit Costa Rica for the weather and affordability. While rain is more common, you still get a decent amount of sunshine, especially on the Caribbean Coast, Central Valley, and North Pacific. 

As the national parks are quieter, you can spend more time spotting wildlife without interruptions. But sometimes the rains tend to send the animals into hiding.

Surfers appreciate the increased swell on the country’s top beaches at this time of year.

July to August (best time to travel to Costa Rica for whales and turtles)

lake in Costa Rica

Deluges can happen more often, but they don’t put off everyone, especially not families with kids keen to embark on adventures. This period marks the beginning of the whale-watching season in Dominical. And it’s a perfect time to spot green sea turtles on Tortuguero National Park’s shore—two of the best things to do in Costa Rica. 

Are you looking for some beach time? The extreme northern Pacific coast receives Costa Rica’s lowest rainfall per year.

September to October

sunset over waves

This is Costa Rica’s wettest time of the year. 

Long periods of heavy rain make spotting wildlife difficult, and roads are muddy and occasionally inaccessible due to higher river crossings or landslides. As a result, exploration beyond the main roadways is a challenge. 

You’d better come another time if you’re eager to observe rainbow-billed toucans and scarlet macaw parrots whizzing through the jungle air. And don’t worry, the green, red-eyed frogs and sloths still laze around at the end of the year.

November to December

Costa Rican woman dancing

An accurate prediction of when heavy rains end is difficult to make, but the skies tend to clear up at the end of November. By mid-December, you’re out of the woods.

Whichever month is your best time to go to Costa Rica, pure life and laid-back Ticos await you year-round. With this in mind, “Pura Vida!”

FAQ

Is Costa Rica cheap to visit?

Prices are not as inexpensive as you might think, but things become more affordable in the green season.

Can I drink tap water in Costa Rica?

The short answer is, oh yes, you can! In virtually every part of the country, drinking tap water is safe. But in rural Caribbean regions and places off the typical tourist paths, you’d better stick with bottled water.

What else is there to see or do in Costa Rica besides wildlife, beaches, and volcanoes?

There are loads of health spas to spoil yourself and retreats for meditation and yoga.

Want to travel across the land and sea?

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