Best Times to Visit Costa Rica

best time to visit costa rica

When is the Best Time to Visit Costa Rica?

Due to its close location to the equator, Costa Rica has two seasons: the dry and the green season. Depending on personal preferences, either season is perfect for a visit. For some, the ideal time to visit Costa Rica is during the dry season, which runs from approximately mid-December through the end of April as this is a season of abundant sunshine. Alternatively, traveling to Costa Rica during the green season is a great way to save money on lodging and it is also when the plants are the greenest and the jungle explodes with life. While the waves are consistent all year round, the bigger swells tend to hit between May and November, providing amazing barrel waves for more avid surfers. During the green season, a favorite time of year to visit is May or June as you get the perfect mix of warm weather, lower prices, and outstanding waves without too much rain. Therefore, there is truly a perfect time of year for everyone.

Costa Rica is a country with incredible variety in its landscape, so keep in mind that the weather will change sometimes dramatically depending on where you go in the country. On the eastern Caribbean coastal areas and the northern plains, humidity will be high with temperatures in the 70s to upper 80s (22-31 C). The humidity is usually lower on the Pacific side but temperatures can reach the mid-90s (35C) during the dry season.

The country can receive between 10-12 inches of rain per month during the green season. The rain tends to fall predominantly overnight, so you still get plenty of sunshine during the day.

Costa Rica Calendar of Events

During the dry season from December to April, the top festivals and events are: El Tope and Carnival (December)

  • Festejos Populares (December)
  • The Coffee Cup (January)
  • Palmares Fiestas (January)
  • Santa Cruz Fiestas (January)
  • Diabilitos Fiesta (January)
  • National Orchid Show (March)
  • Juan Santamaria Day (April)

The top festivals and events during the green season (May to November) are:

  • Independence Day (September)
  • Virgin of the Seas Fiesta (July)
  • Annexation of Guanacaste Day (July)
  • Maiz Fiesta (October)
  • Limon Carnival (October)

Costa Rica Surf Seasons

Although Costa Rica is blessed with year-round consistent waves, there are some variations between each season.

May to August

Starting in late May, consistent surfing waves start flowing in from the southwest. Wave sizes can range from about chest high in sheltered areas to double the height of a person at points and beachbreaks that face south. Showers in the afternoon keep the dust down while allowing the jungle to explode in a riot of color. This is an excellent time to surf.

September to November

The ocean swells from the south begin to slow down in frequency but make up for that with greater power. The Endless Olas Surf Camp knows all of the best secret spots to make the most of these waves. Look for light rain in the morning that result in choppier surf but less crowding as lodging and rentals are cheaper during this period.

December to January

The famous “Papagayo” winds begin during this season along with less rainfall, occasionally causing cold water to be pushed up from the depths. The waves begin to start coming in from the northwest, often towering higher than a person, so you’ll need an experienced local expert like Endless Olas to find the best breaking spots. Due to crowds of visitors from colder climates, lodging and other tourist services are more expensive.

March to May

This is when the winds begin to die down and the waves start flowing in from the south again. In synch with the phases of the moon, waves start arriving that can be as high as three feet taller than a person. Because of prime surfing conditions and the Easter holiday, this is a popular tourist season so be sure to book surfing lessons and vacations with Endless Olas in advance.

Costa Rica Weather by month

January in Costa Rica

New Year’s is a time when everyone, Ticos (locals), Europeans and Americans all enjoy spending time on the beach. The weather is warm, the skies are sunny, and prices are at their highest.

Starting on January 5, the prices start to drop and the crowds thin out. Nonetheless, the weather stays absolutely perfect. The green season has just ended so the jungles and forests are at their most beautiful. An excellent time for rafting, canoeing and kayaking down rivers or seeing a waterfall.

Best Time To Visit Costa Rica

February in Costa Rica

The dry season is in full effect which means plenty of clear skies and lots of sunshine. Visitor numbers start to pick up. The Pacific Coast forests will start to drop their trees but there’s still plenty of water in the central part of the country for kayaking and canoeing. Look for brief afternoon showers on the Caribbean Coast. A great time to bird watch as the Quetzales start their nesting season in the cloud forests.

Best Time To Visit Costa Rica

March – April in Costa Rica

Between spring break in the United States and Easter week (the most important religious holiday for Ticos), expect periods of high visitor numbers and resorts/hotels getting booked up. Water levels in some rivers begins to drop too low for canoeing/rafting but not on the Pacific Coast where it’s still possible to canoe and raft in jungle areas. The south, center, and eastern parts remain pretty green but look for increasing dryness and bare trees in the northwest.

Better Time To Visit Costa Rica

May – June in Costa Rica

This marks the beginning of the green season. The dust will settle as overnight and afternoon showers help bring the water level in rivers back up. Temperatures cool down a bit and visitor numbers drop, making this a great time to visit. Look for many beaches to be filled with sea turtles as they begin their nesting season.

Good Time To Visit Costa Rica

July – August in Costa Rica

Probably the best off-peak time of year to visit. Although it’s plenty warm and sunny, it’s often less hot than many places in the United States. Rainfall is constant but not persistent. Rivers in the middle of the country are at their ideal for rafting and canoeing and it’s a perfect time to enjoy waterfall rappelling. Look for migrating pods of humpback whales as they set up shop in the Golfo Dulce.

Best Time To Visit Costa Rica

September – October in Costa Rica

The heart of the green season with plenty of precipitation, especially at night and in the afternoon. Look for fewer tourists and deep discounts on lodging and tours. The Caribbean side is a rare exception to the rain as this is the driest time of the year for everything on the eastern side of Costa Rica.

Best Time for the Caribbean Coast in Costa Rica

November – December in Costa Rica

The weather begins to transition to long periods of sun and dry weather. Discounts on lodging and tours can be found during the early part of the season but as Christmas approaches, so do higher prices and more crowds. By the end of the year, look for tourists filling up resorts, beaches, and tours everywhere across the country. If you want to visit between December 24 and January 5, you’ll have to book early as most places fill up months in advance.

Good Time To Visit Costa Rica

Endless Olas – The Premier Costa Rica Surf Camp

With some of the most consistent waves found anywhere in the world, the southwest coast of Costa Rica is a surfer’s paradise. The Endless Olas Surf Camp has expert local coaches and exclusive access to some of the best surfing sites to help complete beginners to experienced surfers enjoy this wonderful sport.

Endless Olas also organizes surf vacations and tours to some of the other beautiful spots in Costa Rica as well as other outdoor adventure activities in order to explore this beautiful and diverse landscape.