When is the best time to go to Costa Rica?

Costa Rica’s beautiful beaches, wildlife-packed cloud rainforests and sky-scraping mountains attract entranced visitors from all over the world. The pura vida (pure life) spirit fills every corner of this magical country and the locals take their commitment to preserving it very seriously.

With the average temperature hovering around 80℉ (26℃), there’s really no bad time to visit this Central American paradise. But if you want to get the most out of your trip and have specific activities on your must-do list, timing is everything. Here’s what you need to know about choosing the best time to visit Costa Rica.

December to April is the best time for beach vacations

If your main goal is to spend time in the sun, visit during Costa Rica’s dry season which runs from December to about mid-April.

Every day will bring clear skies and enough sun to enjoy the beach along the Caribbean and Pacific coastlines. Lower rainfall means it’s arguably the best time to visit in general, and also more attractive for travelers hoping to see wildlife.

However, this is the high season – the most expensive time to visit – so expect higher prices for accommodation and airfare. It will also be more crowded, particularly around the major holidays of Christmas, New Year and Easter. March is also very popular for travelers on spring break.

Visit in May and June and you could have the hike up Arenal Volcano to yourself © MB Photography / Getty Images

May and June are the best times to avoid crowds

May is the beginning of the “green” season – meaning you can expect mornings full of sunshine, but rain later in the day. It’s when much of Costa Rica’s plant life comes into bloom.

This period can be slightly unpredictable when it comes to rainfall because it’s between the dry and rainy seasons. However, if you want to experience most of the more popular sites without large crowds, this is the best time to visit.

It’s also a great time to get a clear view of the Arenal volcano. Keep in mind the end of June will begin to see more crowds as the summer travel season starts for many Americans.

A closeup shot of a Sloths on a tree with the green leaves around in Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica
You won’t want to miss Costa Rica’s sloths © Getty Images / iStockphoto

July and August are the best times for spotting wildlife

July and August are still within the country’s green season, so you can expect the same weather as in May and June. It’s also the perfect time for whale watching in Dominical or spotting sea turtles in Tortuguero National Park.

Trails, roads and paths may be muddy and slippery at this time of year, so bear that in mind if you’re interested in exploring off the beaten track. Prices for certain attractions and activities may be higher due to the influx of travelers coming for summer break.

September and October are the best times for budget travelers

September and October see the departure of summer travelers and the arrival of holiday travelers. You’ll find fewer crowds and more deals on accommodation and travel to Costa Rica.

This makes it the best time for those wanting to explore the country without big crowds and higher prices, however, it’s also the height of the rainy season, so weather-wise it’s the least desirable time to visit. This time is not ideal for those looking to see more remote places due to the possibility of flooding.

Man walking with his surfboard into sea on the beach in Tamarindo, Costa Rica.
If you’re in Costa Rica to surf, head to Tamarindo Beach from August to November © lilly3 / Getty Images

August to November is the best time for surfers

Great surf is one of the main draws of Costa Rica’s Pacific coast, and August through November is when you will see many of the biggest waves thanks to storm surges brought on by the rainy season.

While conditions may be ideal for experienced surfers, you can also expect moderate rainfall. November’s weather tends to be unpredictable too, so bear that in mind if you are planning outdoor activities as part of your trip.

This article was first published Mar 18, 2021 and updated Jun 26, 2024.

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