Discover the Perfect Time to Explore Costa Rica's Wonders!
If you're planning a trip to Costa Rica, the peak season is typically around Christmas and New Years. However, for a more peaceful and affordable experience, consider traveling a few weeks later, after the crowds have cleared.
Although the rainy season ends in December, the lush forests and dry, sunny beaches make for a unique and exciting experience in the new year. During this time, you can expect to see a variety of wildlife, including tropical monkeys and sloths, as well as migrant birds from the north. You might even catch a glimpse of humpback whales giving birth in the warm waters or sea turtles nesting along the shore.
The best months to visit Costa Rica are January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, and December.
Our personal favorite time to visit is July and August, when there's a bit more rain but also fewer visitors and slightly lower prices. However, if you're looking for a unique experience, consider traveling during the "secret" dry season in September and October on the Caribbean side.
In reality, there's no bad time to visit Costa Rica. It all depends on your travel goals and priorities.
Select Month: January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December.
Discover the best time of year to visit Costa Rica with our comprehensive guide that covers weather, wildlife migrations, nesting patterns, crowd levels, lodging availability, prices, and seasonal fiestas and festivals - simply select your desired month from the dropdown menu! If you're feeling overwhelmed by all of the options, get personalized travel suggestions from our experts.
The good news is that travel to Costa Rica does not require any testing, vaccinations, electronic health passes, travel insurance, or QR codes, making it a perfect destination for anyone looking to avoid indoor risks. With abundant outdoor activities, al fresco dining options, and even luxury tent lodging, you'll have the freedom to relax and unwind while enjoying the great outdoors.
Keep in mind that the best weather in Costa Rica depends on both the time of year and location. With multiple microclimates throughout the country, one zone could be flooding while another remains bone dry.
While the high dry season often has its advantages, we recommend considering the low rainy season, or "Green Season," for uncrowded times with stunning weather. Our weather pattern and rainfall maps can help you compare and plan your trip accordingly. Be sure to check out the summary for each month for additional comparisons and suggested alternatives.
And remember, while Costa Rica is known for its sunny beaches, it's also covered in lush rainforests that thrive on rainfall. So embrace the rainy season and all the beauty it brings!
The Crowd, the Expenses, and Other Factors
In the past, there were clear peak and off-peak seasons for travel in Costa Rica, but now the word is out. July and August are becoming just as popular as December and January.
Nonetheless, seasons can still make a difference in terms of cost, with the peak weeks of Christmas and Easter costing nearly twice as much as the average, and the shoulder seasons (May/June and Sept./Oct./Nov.) being more affordable.
To help you compare and estimate your travel costs based on your preferences for what, when, where, and how, consider using our handy budget calculator, which provides an instant trip cost estimate with no app to download or mailing list to join.
If you plan to travel during the Christmas, New Year's, or Easter holidays, we recommend booking about a year in advance for the best selection, as some boutique hotels and lodges fill up even earlier. Shifting your travel dates by a few days away from the holidays could make a huge difference.
If you have other questions or concerns, please let us know and we will do our best to help you determine the best time to visit.
NOAA reported the end of the El Niño weather pattern in August 2019, signaling a return to normal rainfall patterns for 2020.
The intermittent eruptions of Turrialba volcano caused occasional disruptions at San Jose (SJO) airport between 2015 and 2018 due to ash. Although the activity continues, it has not been an issue for operations in 2020. For more information, see Choosing an Airport.
Quick Monthly Summaries
Use these brief summaries to get a general idea of the optimal times for travel, then click on any month for additional details. You might also try our Best Time Quiz to determine the best time for your visit.
The New Year is a popular time for Ticos, Europeans, and snowbirds from the US to hit the beaches. It's hot, sunny, busy, and expensive. But if you wait a few days, you'll discover one of Costa Rica's best-kept secrets. Around January 5th, prices drop, crowds disappear, and you'll enjoy four to six weeks of perfect weather. The rainy season just ended, so the forests are still green and lush, and rafting rivers and canyoneering waterfalls still have good flow. - OPTIMAL TIME
Travelers start to arrive in larger numbers in February. The dry season is well established, and the trees of the tropical dry forests in Guanacaste and Nicoya on the Pacific side are shedding leaves. The central mountain rivers still have plenty of water, and the Caribbean side has its typical afternoon showers. This is an ideal time to visit the Osa Peninsula, and nesting season for quetzals in the cloud forests begins. - OPTIMAL TIME
These two months share many similarities, making them a busy time for tourists due to North American spring breaks and Costa Rican Easter vacation. The southern, central, and eastern regions maintain their greenery, but the lowering of some river levels limits the possibility of rafting. The northwest area, however, lacks vegetation with dry ground and trickling rivers. – BETTER TIME
May marks the beginning of the transition into the rainy season where showers increase in intensity throughout June. Tourists subside, and the lush wildlife appears to breathe a sigh of relief as the dry season's dust settles and rivers start filling up. On many beaches, sea turtles nest for several species during this time of year. – GOOD TIME
July and August mark the best off-peak season to visit Costa Rica. While perfect to avoid the snow, it's also an ideal beach destination. These months usually have modest rainfall, perfect for waterfall rappelling and rafting in the inland regions. In the warm waters of Golfo Dulce, the Antarctic Humpback Whale pod takes up residence, and sea turtles are still present. – BEST TIME
September & October
With the highest discounts of the year, September and October register as excellent months to have the Pacific side and central mountains virtually to yourself. It's the rainy season on the Pacific side, with grey weather, while the Caribbean enjoys its driest weather. – BEST TIME FOR THE CARIBBEAN
November & December
Weather-wise, the first six weeks may be the wettest or relatively dry. Discounts are available, and reservations are accessible. By the last two weeks, the Pacific northwest dries up, but it's the peak season, meaning high prices and significant crowds throughout the country, come rain or shine. – GOOD TIME
Other Bests in Costa Rica
Discover our suggestions on the Best Places To Go, Best Wildlife Viewing, Best Trips ever, and Best Kept Secrets. We've got you covered with the Best Time To Visit and Best Things To Do across Costa Rica. Check out Costa Rica Best Things!
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