The best time to visit Costa Rica is from December to May, giving you a broad window to plan your vacation around top experiences or your travel preferences.
Costa Rica is alive with wildlife, beautiful scenery, and authenticity. Preserved heritage fills museum galleries and spans secluded corners of the country, while waves crash against the beaches, birds flock to cloud forests, and sloths hide in dense jungle terrain.
Whether in the heat of the dry season or cooling rains of the wet season, use the information in the following guide to uncover Costa Rica’s seasonal personalities.
Low Season: July • August
The low season in Costa Rica is technically the rainy season, but even with high chances of rainfall, it is a great time to travel to the country.
The summer months have grown in popularity as the rainfall is generally periodic as opposed to overtaking the whole day, and there are fewer crowds. This gives you plenty of opportunities to visit volcanoes, relax on the beach, or wander through the rainforest.
However, some regions do experience higher rainfall, which may make them inaccessible during this season.
High Season: December • January • February
December to February is the dry season in Costa Rica, with January and February right in the middle of the best time of the year to visit.
The crowds are at their peak and the tropical heat can be intense without an afternoon shower, but the central regions and Pacific coast hum with adventure in January and February.
Vibrant festivals during the peak season create an extravagant ambiance in parts of Costa Rica in winter, adding to the spirit of pura vida.
Shoulder Season: April • May • September • November
April to May is a great time to go to Costa Rica. Locals continue to travel around the country until the end of Easter week and the landscape is green and lively with wildlife.
September and November still provide 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 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 to realize your goals.
Best Months: December • January • February • March • April • May
Costa Rica is best experienced from December to April, when there is a long stretch of dry months edging into May. At this time, sunshine makes the country ideal for enjoying the beaches, searching for wildlife, and exploring the best places to visit in Costa Rica.
December to April is generally the most popular time of the year to visit Costa Rica, resulting in larger crowds in hotels, on beaches, and in activity groups, but it’s hard to beat the consistently good weather that gives you every opportunity to explore its wide range of adventures and natural beauty.
Best Months: October • November • December • January • February
The fall and winter months from October to February are fantastic for experiencing Costa Rican coffee.
The harvest starts in October and can last until March, giving you plenty of chances to sample the new crop throughout the country and witness the harvest from inception to end product. Plantations during the harvest bustle and you can see where your coffee comes from, how it’s cultivated, and what a coffee bean looks like before roasting.
Coffee is an essential flavor when visiting Costa Rica and you can have a trip focused on finding the characteristics inspired by the soil, roasting, and micro-climates on a vacation to Costa Rica’s best regions for coffee tours.
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 them in spring, summer, and fall.
You can also discover many that are little-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 Months: February • March • April • May • November • December
The best weather for surfing is between winter and spring, from November to May. In general, the swells are bigger between November and December, but the surf is more consistent between February and May.
Surfing conditions are far less consistent on the Caribbean coast, but still give you plenty of great opportunities, especially in November and December.
Best Months: March • April • June • July • August
Hiking in Costa Rica is alluring in spring and summer, specifically from March to August.
The country is very popular in the dry season, which brings large crowds to its beaches and national parks. However, visiting at the edge of this season and into summer gives you the chance for more intimate hikes through the national parks and distinctive microclimates.
Even in the rainy season, you have plenty of time to enjoy a great hike before the afternoon showers arrive.
Best Months: July • August • September • October
Visiting Costa Rica in summer and fall is the best time for wildlife, specifically from July to October.
The wet season is far less crowded than the dry season, so you have national parks and waters that are quiet, providing better chances for spotting wildlife.
It is also the best time to visit Costa Rica for whale and turtle-nesting seasons, and you can explore the Costa Rican wilderness on our Costa Rica eco tours.
Best Months: September • October • November • December • January
Fall and winter, from September to January, are the best times for birding in Costa Rica.
While you can easily spot native species year-round, fall and winter provide the ideal opportunities for spotting migratory birds or finding the elusive and colorful quetzal.
The heavier rains in October don’t seem to hinder bird-viewing possibilities, instead adding to the vibrancy of the wildlife and wilderness.
Best Months: December • January • June • July
Winter and summer are great times for a family Costa Rica trip, specifically in December and January or June and July.
These months take place respectively in the dry and wet seasons, but offer similar treasured experiences as you enjoy the top things to do in Costa Rica with family.
December and January are warm, with plenty of sunshine in the country’s best-known areas, but they also bring larger crowds. June and July offer sunny mornings and endless greenery, with mild afternoon showers. These months are also absent of the dry-season crowds.
Learn more: Costa Rica Family Vacations
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 June to July, covering parts of the dry and wet seasons.
It doesn’t rain daily during the wet season, but when it does, showers mainly occur in the afternoon. Even the dry season isn’t devoid of rain.
The winter months give you plenty of sunshine in which to enjoy the beaches, while the summer months have golden mornings and afternoon showers that tend to drive away large crowds, giving you seclusion in the most romantic places in Costa Rica for couples.
Learn more: Costa Rica Honeymoon Packages
Best Months: July • August • September
The best time for seniors to visit Costa Rica is from July to September, which generally has more rain, but also more comfortable temperatures and fewer crowds.
The rainfall during these summer months is more predictable, while the rainiest month is October. The smaller crowds make accommodations more economical, while still providing incredible levels of service and activities for all levels of engagement.
Learn more: Costa Rica Tours for Seniors
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 marine life.
The wildlife and local culture enhance the experience of pristine beaches and secluded mountain escapes, providing a different perspective of the “Rich Coast”.
Activities: Hiking • Surfing • Horseback Riding • Food Tours • Beach
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 larger crowds from packing the gorgeous beaches or vibrant mountains, giving you the chance to embrace the slower pace of life and endless adventures that lead from winding natural canals to crashing white water.
You can thoroughly enjoy Costa Rica on your time and at your tempo, matching it to the country’s cozy ambiance.
Activities: Rafting • Kayaking • Scenic Walks • Turtle Nesting • Wildlife Walks
Costa Rica has endless experiences to enjoy, but knowing the types you want to have will support the best time to explore Corcovado or cruise Tortuguero’s canals.
Our Costa Rica travel guide and top things to do in Costa Rica can give you more information and helpful tips on how to craft your perfect trip, or you can find inspiration with our sample Costa Rica vacations and tours.