WHEN’S THE BEST TIME TO TRAVEL TO COSTA RICA?
Costa Rica may be one of the smaller countries compared to others in Central America, but don’t be fooled by its size – you can pack a lot into a short trip. There’s diverse landscape brimming with lush wildlife, with more than 25 per cent of the country being protected land and national parks, so it’s rich in biodiversity and wilderness. With water temperature averaging in the low 80s, steady winds, and consistent swells, Costa Rica is a surfing mecca and one of the best places in the world if you are a beginner at surfing. It’s also one of the world’s leading destinations in ecotourism, offering thrilling adventures to nature lovers of all ages.
Costa Rica’s adventures are hard to rival – as long as you miss September and October’s heavier rainfall. In fact, it’s a luscious, tropical country, which means you shouldn’t be surprised with rain at any time of year – even in the dry season, but it’s this rainfall that makes the country so abundant and beautiful. May to November is considered rainy season and it’s the time where few tourists visit. Visitors can expect an average of two hours of rainfall in the mid-afternoon, during this period, whilst water temperature range from 26-29ºC/78-84ºF. This is where you’ll find advanced divers enjoying open and free waters. From December to April, it’s dry season, with little rainfall throughout the Pacific coast, which makes it the best time to travel for those who particularly love extreme sports and adventures, both on land and sea. Cooler currents bring water temperatures as low as 19ºC/68ºF and seasonal air temperature averages vary with altitude. But in general, along the coasts, it’s 27°C/82°F in winter and 33°C/92°F in summer.
January – April
This is high season which has the least amount of constant rainfall. Tropical showers are always to be expected in a country with such plentiful rainforest. This season is a popular time for visitors, particularly in January and over Easter, with bustling national parks and beaches. It’s a great time for spotting wildlife and going on adventure activities.
May – June
Known as the start of Costa Rica’s ‘green season’. Although rainfall is more frequent, there’s still plenty of warm sunshine in the Central Valley, Caribbean Coast and Northern Pacific areas in particular. If you want to see the national parks this is a quieter period to visit, so feel free to observe the wildlife without interruptions. Surfers will also enjoy it during this time because of increasing swells on the country’s best surfing beaches.
July – August
Rainfall increases, but this is still a time when families get to travel to Costa Rica over the holidays with their kids due to its wealth of adventure activities. It’s the start of whale watching season around Dominical and one can spot green sea turtles on the coastline of Tortuguero National Park. Those looking for time to sunbathe on the beach can head to the far northern Pacific coast, which receives the lowest year-round rainfall in Costa Rica.
September – October
The peak of wet season when travel is not recommended. It will be a challenging period to go wildlife spotting with heavy rainfall. Roads will be muddy and difficult to drive through due to higher river crossings or landslides – making exploration beyond the main highways particularly tough.
November – December
Expect heavy rainfall to continue. In fact, it may be difficult to predict the exact time when the heavy rain ends. Although the worst may certainly be over, by mid-December the high season begins with Christmas and New Year. Be ready to do some pre-planning and expect this to be an expensive time to travel.