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The best time of year to travel to Costa Rica

written by Emily Kratzmann March 9, 2018
Arenal Volcano, Costa Rica

Costa Rica is definitely having a moment right now.

And rightly so. With palm-fringed beaches, adrenaline-inducing activities, dense jungle, amazing wildlife, belching volcanoes, mysterious cloud forests and friendly locals, the Central American country has something for everyone. (Unless you’re a desert fan – you won’t find desolate swathes of scorching sand here.)

Despite being so close to the equator (it’s between eight and 12 degrees north) and having a year-round tropical climate, the varying microclimates mean that the weather conditions can change quite dramatically, depending on when – and where – you travel. There’s no such thing as summer and winter here either. Costa Rica has two predominant seasons: wet and dry.

CHECK OUT OUR FULL RANGE OF COSTA RICA ADVENTURES HERE

The dry season

Talamanca Beach, Costa Rica

Photo by Simon Dannhauer, Shutterstock

December to April in Costa Rica is the dry season, and offers up hours of sunshine, warm temperatures and very little rainfall. This is also peak season, so you can expect to see a lot more people ambling around beach towns, soaking up on the sun on the beach and wandering through national parks.

This is a great time of year for bird watching; twitchers should keep their eyes peeled for quetzals, hummingbirds and hawks. It’s also prime for hiking and snorkelling, as trails are generally dry and the water is clear.

During the dry season, the weather can be extremely hot, and with no rainfall some waterfalls and kayaking rapids can be reduced to a trickle.

RELATED: 10 REASONS WHY COSTA RICA SHOULD BE ON YOUR BUCKET LIST

The wet/green season

A waterfall in the jungle, Costa Rica

Photo by Gail Johnson, Shutterstock

During May to July (and again in November), Costa Rica heads into the wet/green season. The country generally sees sunny mornings, with bursts of rain in the afternoon, usually lasting for a few hours. If you can deal with the showers and increased humidity, this can be a great time to travel in Costa Rica, as the majority of tourists have moved on. The rainforests are lush and green, with explosions of colour from flowers and new growth, the towns are far less crowded, and you’ll get to see the country’s stunning waterfalls in all their gushing glory.

RELATED: 7 UNMISSABLE EXPERIENCES TO HAVE IN COSTA RICA

The *really* wet season

Cloud Forest, Monteverde

Photo by Monika Gregussova, Shutterstock

Costa Rica is at its wettest between August and October, however this is an awesome time for spotting wildlife – keep your eyes peeled for humpback whales on the Caribbean Coast and turtles on the Pacific Coast. Storms along the Pacific Coast make for excellent surf conditions, and it’s a great time of year for kayaking.

A few rule breakers

A woman in Costa Ricas Cloud Forest

Photo by Pedro Paulo Ferreira

There are a few spots in Costa Rica that don’t play by the conventional weather rules. Visitors to La Fortuna and Arenal Volcano can expect all types of weather, whatever the time of year. It’s slightly drier between February and April, but still pack wet weather gear, because you never know when the skies will open. Temperatures range from the low-twenties to the mid-thirties (Celsius).

Monteverde’s famous cloud forest is another anomaly. The mountaintop park is almost always shrouded in mist, but can be pretty wet and windy during the dry season. During the wet season, hiking trails can get very muddy, which may make your afternoon forest walk a little less enjoyable so it’s a good idea to wear waterproof boots and a waterproof jacket.

A smiling sloth

Photo by Damsea, Shutterstock

RELATED: HOW TO SPOT SLOTHS IN MONTEVERDE’S CLOUD FORESTS

There’s never really a bad time to visit Costa Rica – while more sun equates to more tourists, there are plenty of out-of-the-way spots to visit, where you’ll feel like you’re the only person on earth. Travelling during the green season is often cheaper and quieter, and an afternoon rain shower is the perfect time of day for a beer (or a nap).

Explore Costa Rica on a small group adventure with Intrepid. Check out our range of tours here

Feature image by Robert Cicchetti, Shutterstock. 

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1 comment

Kat Katrawitz August 21, 2018 - 2:29 am

Nice if you are getting paid for it or can afford it. My neighbours look at me like I’m crazy if I tell them I’ve been to Costa Rica. Then when I tell them both times we had an earthquake they don’t believe me I’m sure. What do you expect on Pacific Ring of Fire? Then I have to explain that, then they think I am fantasizing.

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