Best Time to Visit Costa Rica

Gulf of Nicoya in Costa Rica

Gulf of Nicoya in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is vibrant and alive with wildlife adding to the adventurous scenery and authentic feel. Preserved heritage fills museum galleries and spans secluded corners of the country as enticing waves crash against the beaches, vibrant birds perch in the cloud forests, and sloths hide in the dense jungle terrain. Whether in the heat of the dry season or in cooling rains of the wet season, Costa Rica has a provocative landscape steeped in natural and cultural heritage intertwined with contemporary life. You can use the information in the following guide to uncover Costa Rica’s seasonal personalities.

Best Time to Visit by Season

 Playa Espadilla beach in Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica

Playa Espadilla beach in Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica

Spring: April | May

Spring is a great time to visit Costa Rica especially in the second half of April through May. April is often considered the end of high-season but locals continue to travel around the country until the end of Easter week. The weather is still great from April to May and the crowds have generally retreated. You can expect clear skies in the morning with afternoon showers but otherwise, the country is green and lively, and wildlife is especially active.

Summer:  May | June | July

Summer in Costa Rica is technically the rainy season but even with high chances of rainfall, it is a great time to visit. Summer has grown in popularity as the rainfall is generally periodic as opposed to overtaking the whole day while there are still far fewer crowds across the country. It gives you plenty of opportunities for volcano panoramas, relaxing on the beach, or wandering through the rain forest. However, some regions do experience higher rainfall that may make them inaccessible during the rainy season.

Fall: September | November

Fall is surprisingly Costa Rica’s rainiest season but generally, September and November still give you great opportunities for exploring, discovering, and enjoying the country’s diversity, especially around the Caribbean coast. Rain is a constant factor throughout the year in Costa Rica but even in September and November, you will most likely have clear skies in the morning and showers in the afternoon giving you a better understanding of when to plan your excursions and how you enjoy your specific goals.

Winter: January | February

Winter is the beginning of the dry season in Costa Rica with January and February landing right in the middle of the most popular time to visit. The crowds are at their peak and the tropical heat can be intense without an afternoon shower to break-up the day but the central regions and Pacific coast hum with adventure in January and February. Vibrant festivals create an extravagant ambiance in parts of Costa Rica during winter that only adds to the essential spirit of Pura Vida.

Best Time for Sightseeing

Vulcano Poas in Costa Rica

Vulcano Poas in Costa Rica

Best Months: December | January | February | March | April | May

Sunshine and dry air make Costa Rica ideal for enjoying the beach or searching for wildlife at your pace. This environment is best experienced in the dry season from December to April with the long stretch of dry months also edging into May. December to April is generally the most popular time of the year to visit Costa Rica resulting in larger crowds in the hotels, on the beaches, and in the activity groups but it’s hard to beat consistently great weather that gives you every opportunity to explore the wide range of adventures and natural beauty the country has to offer.

Best Time for Coffee

Organic red cherries coffee beans harvested in Costa Rica

Organic red cherries coffee beans harvested in Costa Rica

Best Months: October | November | December | January | February

The fall and winter months are fantastic for experiencing the fresh coffee of Costa Rica. The harvest starts in October and can last until March giving you plenty of chances to not only sample the new crop of coffee beans throughout the country but also witness the harvest from inception to end product. Plantations during the harvest bustle with energy. You can see where your coffee comes from, how it’s cultivated, and what a coffee bean looks like before roasting.

Best Time for Beaches

Playa Samara, Costa Rica

Playa Samara, Costa Rica

Best Months: April | May | June | September | October

April to October is the best time to visit Costa Rica for beaches. While the most popular time of year may be from December to April, you can avoid the crowds by visiting the beaches in spring, summer, and fall. You can also discover many beaches that are not as well-known such as those on the Caribbean coast, in addition to the popular beaches on the Pacific. Even in the wet season, the sun often shines throughout the day leading to short showers in the afternoon giving you plenty of time to enjoy yourself.

Best Time for Surfing

Surfing at Santa Teresa beach in the Puntarenas Province of Costa Rica

Surfing at Santa Teresa beach in the Puntarenas Province of Costa Rica

Best Months: February | March | April | May | November | December

The best weather for surfing takes place between winter and spring in Costa Rica but the best surfing conditions often occur in winter giving you plenty of time to surf around the country. In general, the swells are bigger between November and December but the surf is more consistent between February and May. The surf is much less consistent on the Caribbean coast but still gives you plenty of great conditions especially in November and December.

Best Time for Hiking

Hiking to waterfall in Costa Rica

Hiking to waterfall in Costa Rica

Best Months: March | April | June | July | August

Hiking in Costa Rica is an alluring excursion in spring and summer, specifically from March to August. Costa Rica is very popular in the dry season, which brings large crowds to the beaches and national parks all over the country but visiting at the edge of the dry season and into summer gives you a chance to hike through the national parks and distinctive microclimates with much more intimacy. Even in the rainy season, you have plenty of time to enjoy a great hike before the afternoon showers come in.

Best Time for Wildlife

Red-eyed tree frog in Costa Rica

Red-eyed tree frog in Costa Rica

Visiting Costa Rica in summer and fall is the best time to find the diverse wildlife around the country specifically when visiting from July to October. The wet season is far less crowded than the dry season, so you have the national parks and waters free of noise for better chances at spotting wildlife. It is also the best time to visit Costa Rica for whale and turtle nesting seasons for a different perspective of the captivating wilderness.

Best Time for Birding

 A quetzal in flight

A quetzal in flight

Best Months: September | October | November | December | January

Fall and winter are the best times of the year for birding in Costa Rica. While you can easily spot native bird species year-round across the country, September to January is the best time of the year for spotting migratory birds or for finding the elusive and colorful quetzal. The heavier rains in October don’t seem to hinder the bird-viewing possibilities and instead add to the vibrancy of the wildlife and wilderness.

Best Time with Family Travel

Young boy playing at Punta Uva beach, Costa Rica

Young boy playing at Punta Uva beach, Costa Rica

Best Months: December | January | June | July

Winter and Summer are great times for a family Costa Rica trip, specifically in December to January or again from June to July. These specific months take place respectively in the dry and wet seasons but offer similar treasured experiences for your entire family. December and January are warm with plenty of sunshine around the best-known areas of the country but also bring larger crowds while June and July offer sunny mornings and endless greenery with mild afternoon showers absent of the dry season crowds.

Best Time for Couples

Couple enjoying views of Guanacaste, Costa Rica from the top of Pelado Hill

Couple enjoying views of Guanacaste, Costa Rica from the top of Pelado Hill

Best Months: December | January | February | June | July

Romance is always in the air in Costa Rica making any couple’s visit great especially from December to February or again from June to July, covering parts of the dry season and wet season. The reality is that it doesn’t rain daily during the wet season, the showers mainly occur in the afternoon, and even the dry season isn’t devoid of rainfall. The winter months give you plenty of sunshine to indulge on the beaches while the summer months have golden mornings and afternoon showers that mainly drive away the large crowds giving you a secluded ambiance.

Dry Season Activities

Horseback riding through the jungle in Costa Rica

Horseback riding through the jungle in Costa Rica

Best Months: January | February | March

Costa Rica is nothing short of adventurous and captivating and visiting during the dry season months from January to March only highlights the country’s charm. The winter months give you plenty of time for venturing into the national parks or kayaking to a protected island in search of vibrant marine life. The wildlife and the local culture enhance the experience of pristine beaches and secluded mountain escapes for a different perspective of the “Rich Coast.”

Hiking | Surfing | Horseback Riding | Food Tours | Beach

Rainy Season Activities

Whitewater rafting on the Pacuare river in Costa Rica

Whitewater rafting on the Pacuare river in Costa Rica

Best Months: August | September | October

The wet season in Costa Rica is still a great time to discover the Pura Vida lifestyle mainly from August to October. The name tends to deter the larger crowds from packing in their trip to the gorgeous beaches or vibrant mountains and instead give you the chance to embrace the slower pace of life and endless adventures that lead from winding natural canals to crashing whitewater. You can thoroughly enjoy Costa Rica on your time and at your tempo matching it to the cozy ambiance of the country.

Rafting | Kayaking | | Scenic Walks | Turtle Nesting | Wildlife Walk

More Travel Information & Tips

Aerial view of river running thru Corcovado National Park in Costa Rica

Aerial view of river running thru Corcovado National Park in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is famous for its dry season and tropical weather but even the rainy season offers colorful scenery and stunning microclimates. Costa Rica has an endless number of things to do and knowing the type of experiences you want will support the best time to explore Corcovado or cruise Tortuguero’s canals. Zicasso’s Costa Rica Travel Guide can give you more information and helpful tips on how to craft your perfect trip. You can also speak with a Costa Rica travel expert for free by filling out a Trip Request Form or by calling our team at 1-888-265-9707.