The BEST Time to Visit Costa Rica! [August 2019]

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You’ve decided to make Costa Rica your next travel destination because you’ve heard nothing but rave reviews, right? Well, everything you’ve heard is true! With amazing beaches, jungles, rainforests, waterfalls, surfing, volcanoes, hot springs, diving, hiking…you can bet you’ll have plenty to see and do.

And while warm and sunny days probably first to come to mind when you think about Costa Rica’s weather, you’ll find that there’s a lot more to consider when deciding your best time to visit Costa Rica. For such a small country, Costa Rica boasts many different elevations that result in several climatic zones with different weather conditions.

So when you’re narrowing down your options for the best month to visit Costa Rica, it’s important to consider what parts you want to see and what you want to do. Here you’ll find a complete guide to Costa Rica’s monthly weather conditions – and events to bear in mind.

When is the best time of year to visit Costa Rica?

The first thing that you want to consider is that Costa Rica has two main seasons: dry season and wet season. But, there are exceptions, as while one area may be rainy and flooded, another part could be sunny and dry. Generally, the dry season goes from December through April, aka high tourist season. The wet season is May through November, aka low tourist season. You can expect average temperatures year-round to range between 68-86℉ (20-30℃).

Costa Rica

This is our INSIDER GUIDE for the best times to visit Costa Rica!

It’s important to know what you want to get out of your Costa Rican adventure. If it’s beach lounging, heat and minimal rain that you’re after – dry season is obviously your best bet – which would be in winter or early Spring.

But, if you seek lush scenery, whitewater rafting or amazing jungle and rainforest hikes – the summer months of the wet season are an excellent choice. They don’t call the wet season “green season” for nothing! 

Is Costa Rica safe?

While nowhere in the world is 100% safe, as long as you use your common sense, you’ll likely be fine in Costa Rice

Having said that, you should NEVER travel without proper travel insurance. We’ve tested all of the best travel insurance providers, and World Nomads is our favorite! Fill out the form below to get a quote for your trip to Costa Rice so you can keep yourself (and your belongings!) covered and safe 🙂

 

What months are the best time to visit Costa Rica?

If dry season conditions are more your style, late November or early December is one of the best times to visit Costa Rica. You’ll find overall dry conditions and possibly enjoy some calm before the holiday rush strikes – but it’s still high tourist season, so you’ll still need to plan and book ahead! You’ll find plenty of warmth and sunshine to enjoy the outdoors.

For greener conditions, the May through July months is the best time to visit Costa Rica. Expect rain, but levels will not be at their highest. You’ll have ample opportunity to hike, surf and jungle trek – plus have the advantage of better deals and fewer tourist crowds. 

Besides weather, there are events to consider, so let’s take a look at a monthly breakdown!

Costa Rica in January

Read Below for information about Costa Rica weather in January (Photo credit – qcostarica.com)

Costa Rica Weather in January

January marks the height of Costa Rica’s dry season on the Pacific side with average high temperatures ranging from 86 to 94 °F (30-35 °C) and lows of 76 to 84 °F (25-29 °C) 73℉ (23℃). Unless you head off to the cooler mountains, expect warm conditions all day long!

Costa Rica Events in January

  • Palmares Festival (first 2 weeks of January)
    • For the past 30 years, Costa Ricans keep the New Year celebrations alive and kicking with this popular, highly-anticipated festival. It offers fun for all ages with live music concerts, bullfights, a carnival complete with attractions from a haunted house to roller coasters, food, bars and more. 
  • Patron Saint of Santa Cruz Celebrations (week of January 15)
    • Get an authentic taste of Costa Rica’s religious traditions with this important festival honoring Santo Cristo featuring bullfights, music and the main event – the ox cart parade!
  • Festival de las Mulas
    • The town of Playa Esterillos hosts a unique event, unlike one you’ve never seen before! Mule riders from all over Costa Rica gather to show off their mule-racing prowess on the beach! Live music and an arts and crafts fair make for an eventful day.

 

Trying to plan ahead? Start with the basics with our favorite neighborhoods in Costa Rica!

 

Costa-Rica-Beach-Swing-in-February

Read Below for information about Costa Rica weather in February (Photo credit – creescapes.com)

Costa Rica Weather in February

Costa Rica’s weather in February is much like January’s: hot and dry. The temperature is slightly higher with a daily average of 75℉ (24℃) and average highs of 85℉ (29℃) – often higher at the popular Pacific-side beaches. Peak holiday travel prices go down and many see this as the best time to visit Costa Rica. If you want to visit the Caribbean side, expect wetter conditions with 8 inches of average rainfall.

Costa Rica Events in February

  • Puntarenas Carnival
    • Immerse yourself in local Costa Rican culture at this popular celebration, also known locally as the Queen of Carnival events. Brazil usually takes the spotlight for Carnival festivities, but people travel from far and wide to attend the Central American party with all-night dancing, music, parades, masks and more.
  • Fiesta de Los Diablitos (last week of February)
    • Over 2,500 villagers and visitors attend the country’s most important indigenous celebrations, the Festival of Little Devils. Villagers dress in costume to exhibit mock battles with a symbolic bull – meant to represent the Spanish colonists. On the last day of this multi-day festival, catch the marvelous display as the bull is lit on fire and all-night celebrations take over!
costa rica in march

Read below for information about Costa Rica weather in March (Photo credit – caminotravel.com)

Costa Rica Weather in March

At the peak of the dry season, most of the country is sunny and warm. Expect Costa Rica’s hottest temperatures in March at the popular Pacific beaches. Highs reach well over 90℉ (37℃) with evenings cooling down only slightly. The Caribbean coast is a bit drier, but afternoon rain is still the norm.

Costa Rica Events in March

  • Día del Boyero Nacional Parade (second Sunday of March)
    • The National Oxman Day Parade is one not to miss if you want to witness a colorful oxcarts parade! Complete with contests and local priests’ blessing of the crops and animals, it’s a unique celebration to enjoy with the locals.
  • National Orchid Show (early-mid March)
    • Costa Rica has no shortage of gorgeous flora and fauna, and orchids are top on the list! With over 1,300 known orchid species in this small Central American country, the annual orchid show attracts orchid lovers and cultivators from all parts of the world to view over 300 species on display.

 

Let’s make this simple. These are the best hotels in Costa Rica!

 

Costa Rica in April

Read below for information about Costa Rica weather in April (Photo credit – tripsavvy.com)

Costa Rica Weather in April

Along with March, April is Costa Rica’s hottest month with similar average high and low temperatures. But the dry season starts making its exit, so be prepared for occasional rainfall as it gets closer to the end of the month and into May.

Costa Rica Events in April

  • Semana Santa (early April)
    • Holy Week is a very important time in Catholic Costa Rica. Religious events are found countrywide as they commemorate the last week before Jesus Christ’s crucifixion. Expect almost all businesses to be closed for the week. 
  • Easter
    • Easter Sunday is a very intensely-religious day in Costa Rica. If you want to experience local culture, attend one of the many religious ceremonies taking place everywhere. Don’t expect to find many Easter bunnies or colorful egg hunts!
  • Día de Juan Santamaría (April 11th)
    • Juan Santamaría is an important national hero – he’s celebrated as the barefoot soldier who sacrificed his life in the 1856 battle against infamous American, William Walker and his troops. Parades, concerts, marching bands and traditional dances are part of the week-long celebration.
Costa Rica in may

Read below for information about Costa Rica weather in May (Photo credit – kazakliscreative.com)

Costa Rica Weather in May

May is a transition month and can be the best time to visit Costa Rica – though stable weather conditions aren’t a guarantee. Typically, May marks the beginning of the wet season but the transition is slow and rainfall is minimal compared to the levels reached in September and October. You should still be able to find plenty of sunshine!

Costa Rica Events in May

  • Dià de Los Trabajadores (early May)
    • The country celebrates workers on Labor Day- like in many other countries of the world. It’s a national holiday, so government offices and banks are closed. Enjoy a variety of parades and fireworks shows taking place all around!
  • San Juan Marathon (mid-May)
    • The biggest marathon of the year takes place on the Day of Saint John. Thousands of runners participate in this big race and feature athletes, cheering spectators, food and festivities. You don’t have to be a runner to enjoy this event!
  • Día de San Isidro Labrador (May 15)
    • In honor of the farmers’ patron saint, San Isidro, villages gather for the country’s biggest agricultural fairs. Locals and foreigners alike are invited to take part in the festivities that include the blessing of crops and animals, music, oxcart parades, dancing and food.

 

Not sold on Costa Rica? There are some incredible things to do in Costa Rica that won’t believe!

 

Costa Rica in june

Read below for information about Costa Rica weather in June (Photo credit – theinertia.com)

Costa Rica Weather in June

June is part of the Green Season making sunny mornings and rainy afternoons the norm. This month can be the best time to visit Costa Rica for travelers interested in sprouting green leaves and lusher scenery – plus you’ll find better travel deals! Rainfall continues to increase to an average 6 inches (17 cm) which is still low compared to the wet season’s peak September and October months.

Costa Rica Events in June

  • Festival Internacional de las Artes 
    • A must-see event for art lovers! FIA is Costa Rica’s biggest and most important cultural party that takes place every year in San José. The 10-day festival attracts local and global artists to showcase the best of art, theater, music, dance and literature.
  • Día de San Pedro and San Pablo
    • Witness more of Costa Rica’s religious traditions with the processions held in local villages, Sand Pedro and San Pablo, in honor of Saint Peter and Saint Paul’s martyrdom.
costa rica july

Read below for information about Costa Rica weather in July (Photo credit – entercostarica.com)

Costa Rica Weather in July

Although July falls in the middle of Costa Rica’s wet season, many are now in on the secret of “veranillo” – a short 3 to 4-week dry period that occurs at the end of July to early August. Particularly in the northern Pacific, rainfall decreases considerably during these weeks. Otherwise, you can expect sunny mornings for beach time followed by rainy afternoons and evenings.

Costa Rica Events in July

  • Fiesta de la Virgen del Mar (closest Saturday to July 16)
    • Puntarenas and Playa del Coco host colorful regattas and boat parades in honor of La Virgen del Monte Carmelo – or the Virgin of the Sea. Parades, music concerts, dance, sporting events and fireworks are also in the line-up of the day’s events.
  • Dia de Guanacaste (July 25)
    • Another lively day of bullfights, concerts, horse parades, music and rodeos in celebration of the annexation of the province of Guanacaste from Nicaragua in 1824.
  • Humpback Whale Season (July thru November)
    • Take advantage of the start of the migration season to see these lovely humpback whales in action!
Costa Rica in August

Read below for information about Costa Rica weather in August (Photo credit – crsurfschool.com)

Costa Rica Weather in August

  • Still in the rainy season, August sees a slight increase in rainfall from June and July. But if you’re up for sunny mornings for outdoor activities and are prepared for rainy afternoons – in exchange for fewer tourists and awesome deals – August is a good option! Like the rest of the season, the average high is  82℉ (28℃) with a low of 64℉ (18℃).

Costa Rica Events in August

  • La Virgen de Los Angeles (August 2)
    • An important national religious procession takes place on August 2nd in celebration of Costa Rica’s patron saint, the Black Madonna or Black Virgin. The procession goes from San José to Cartago. Recognized as a national holiday, expect most places of business and establishments to be closed.
  • Día de San Ramón (August 30)
    • Thirty saints from the town of San Ramón’s neighboring villages participate in a religious procession that endears locals as the patron saint, San Ramón, dances through the streets in this traditional parade.
costa rica in september

Read below for information about Costa Rica weather in September (Photo credit – vimeo)

Costa Rica Weather in September

  • If your heart is set on spending time on the county’s Pacific side, September is probably not the best choice to visit Costa Rica. The Osa Peninsula and southern Pacific normally get flooded by endless rainfall, causing many tourist locations to completely shut down. But if the Caribbean side is on your wishlist, September is one of the driest and best months to visit!

Costa Rica Events in September

  • Central America’s Independence Day (September 15)
    • Along with Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Honduras, everyone celebrates independence from Spain. The highlight of Independence Day is the relay race that involves passing the “Torch of Freedom” which travels from Guatemala and arrives in Costa Rica on the 14th. It’s quite a moment, as the whole country stops and sings the national anthem! Celebrations continue with kids carrying their homemade lanterns in parades and more music and parties ensue.
  • Expo Vino Costa Rica (early September)
    • A real treat for wine enthusiasts, San José hosts an annual multi-day event of all things wine! Savor in the expo’s various offerings – including tastings of a variety of local and foreign wines, food pairings and talks by renowned industry leaders sharing the latest and greatest in the world of wine.
Punta Uva, Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

Read below for information about Costa Rica weather in October (Photo credit – kimkim.com)

Costa Rica Weather in October

With September, October is the rainiest month on the Pacific side of Costa Rica. But the Caribbean sees some of its warmest and driest of the year! Overall, October temperatures go as low as they get in Costa Rica with an average daily high of 80℉ (27℃) with cooler evenings in the 70s℉ (20s℃).

Costa Rica Events in October

  • Dia de La Raza (October 12)
    • Also known as Columbus Day, the port city of Limón hosts a festive week-long carnival. Partake in a number of concerts, parades, dancing and live music!
  • Fiesta del Maiz (mid-October)
    • If you’ve never seen beauty queens donning dresses made completely of corn plants, now’s your chance! Upala hosts a party dedicated to this important crop.
  • Virgin of Pilar Day (mid-October)
    • Tres Rios pulls at all the stops for their patron saint with a colorful and lively all-day festival. You can count on parades, music and incredible costumes to keep you entertained!
costa rica in november

Read below for information about Costa Rica weather in November (Photo credit – oceanranchpark)

Costa Rica Weather in November

November is a transitional month as conditions slowly start moving out of the wet season into the highly-awaited dry season. But this means that the weather can be unpredictable; you could be showered with sunshine – or with rain! Conditions improve towards the end of the month, often making this one of the best times to visit Costa Rica.

Costa Rica Events in November

  • Día De Los Muertos (November 2)
    • Also known as All Saints Day – most widely known as a “Day of the Dead” tradition in Mexico –  this day is also celebrated in most of Central America. Costa Ricans honor the dead by leaving flowers and gifts at loved ones’ gravesites. Some festivals and colorful parades can also be found in some parts of the country.
  • La Ruta de Los Conquistadores (early November)
    • Watch out, Tour de France! This 3-day biking event is considered one of the most grueling in the world. Riders cover 29,000 feet in climbs and cover the entire country – from the Pacific coast to the Caribbean. If you’re a cyclist, this is not for the faint of heart. As a spectator, have fun watching these athletes in action!
  • Montezuma International Film Festival (mid-November)
    • An increasingly popular event, Montezuma hosts 10 days of free international, arthouse and independent movie screenings. If you’re interested in more than just films, you’re in luck! The festival also includes parties, street art, DJs, food and all-night weekend celebrations.
costa rica in december

Read below for information about Costa Rica weather in December (Photo credit – lapuertadelsolcostarica.org)

Costa Rica Weather in December

Typically, December marks Costa Rica’s dry season. Though some years this isn’t the case, overall, you can expect drier conditions and sunny skies in the popular Pacific area. Many consider the beginning of December one of the best times to visit Costa Rica – and if Christmas and/or New Year’s plans are on your radar – be sure to book far in advance!

Costa Rica Events in December

  • Las Fiestas de Zapote (late December)
    • Every year between Christmas and New Year’s, locals gather in San Jose’s suburb of Zapote for a week’s worth of festivities. The events are all about Costa Rican tradition – filled with carnival rides, cowboys, rodeos, drinks and food aplenty! For a real authentic experience, this is a good event to catch it all in one event.
  • Festival de la Luz (second Saturday of December)
    • The holiday season officially starts with San José’s beloved Festival of Lights. The festive holiday events bring cheer with marching bands, floats and gorgeous light displays throughout the city. It’s a must-see to really get into the holiday spirit!
  • Las Posadas (mid to the end of December)
    • A lovely holiday tradition that involves children across the country singing carols door-to-door as a gesture of Joseph and Mary’s search for lodging.

 

What is the best time to visit Costa Rica weather-wise? 

Not taking into account tourist crowds and higher prices, weather-wise, the best time to visit Costa Rica is in the height of the dry season. If beaches and sunshine are what you’re after, then January through April will present the best weather conditions in terms of the least amount of rain. Daily temperatures remain hot and consistent with evening temperatures dropping only slightly.

For those who enjoy green and lush vegetation – in exchange for some afternoon showers – July, August and early November may represent the best time to visit Costa Rica for you.

Especially if you catch veranillo, the mini-dry season in July or August, you’ll find pretty ideal conditions. You don’t want to pick December through May if hot and dry weather isn’t your cup of tea!

Final thoughts on the best time of year to visit Costa Rica

The good thing about being such a small country with so many micro-climates is that you’ll find your perfect place in Costa Rica year-round. There is no shortage of events and festivities taking place at all times, so just be mindful of your weather, tourist-level and travel budget preferences when making your final travel decisions.

Whether your preference is for the Pacific side, the Caribbean, or the mountains – you can be sure Costa Rica will not leave you wanting for things to see and do! Regardless of month or season, you’ll be living the pura vida in no time!

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About the Author Aaron Hovanesian

Born in Los Angeles, Aaron Hovanesian is one of the original staff writers for Hotel Jules. Having backpacked the world as a young man, Aaron now prefers to travel the world in luxury, proudly staying in the world's most amazing hotels and properties. When Aaron is not traveling he lives in Western Colorado he can be found brewing his own beer (probably an IPA) or spending time with his two amazing golden retrievers.