Best Time to Visit Costa Rica

If you live somewhere that gets cold, you probably can’t wait to plan your getaway to Costa Rica. But when is a good time of year to travel to Central America? In this post, we’ll cover the best (and worst) time to visit Costa Rica based on weather, peak travel times, cost, and more.

 

Best Time to Visit Costa Rica | Two Weeks in Costa Rica

Dry and Rainy Seasons

Costa Rica has two distinct seasons: A dry season that runs from December through April, and a rainy season that runs from May through November. The peak travel season when most people visit coincides with the dry season, and conveniently, North America’s and Europe’s winters.

Dry Season: The Safest Time to Visit

We’ll explain why the rainy season really isn’t that bad below, but if you’re one of those people who are very worried about rain ruining your vacation, plan your visit during the dry season. Most areas of the country see little to no rain between mid-December and April, so you don’t have to worry about having to change your plans based on the weather. The dry season is also the best time to visit certain attractions in Costa Rica. Poas Volcano, for example, tends to get fogged in during the rainy months and might be that way during your entire stay. But during the dry season, you’re very likely to get to see it with clear skies.

 

Best Time to Visit Costa Rica
Crater at Poas Volcano when we visited in the rainy season

 

Best Time to Visit Costa Rica
Poas Volcano on a clear day in the dry season. Photo Credit: Philippe Guillaume

 

Certain hikes are also better in the dry season. If you’re trekking Mt. Chirripo, you’ll have the best chance of seeing both the Caribbean Sea and Pacific Ocean from the top during the dry months. Similarly, the Rio Celeste Waterfall gets muddled with sediment during rainstorms, skewing its characteristic bright blue hue. And the trails at parks and reserves in the wet Southern Zone, like Corcovado National Park, tend to get very muddy during the rainy season. Visibility for snorkeling is also better when there’s less rain and runoff to cloud the water.

 

Best Time to Visit Costa Rica
Rio Celeste Waterfall during the dry season

 

That said, there are some drawbacks to the dry season too. Most importantly, it can be extremely hot at times. We spent a dry season living at the beach in Guanacaste one year and temperatures often peaked in the mid or upper 90s (32°C) during the day. Other areas on the Pacific coast can be just as bad, and places farther to the south (where we live now) tend to be more humid. Because of the heat and lack of rain, it also can get very arid and less tropical in certain parts of the country. Rivers sometimes dry out later in the dry season, which can turn exciting Class IV whitewater rapids into more modest Class II or III. Some waterfalls are the same way, changing from a gush to a mere trickle or even disappearing completely.

Hedge Months of the Rainy Season: A Good Time to Visit if You’re Flexible

If you are somewhat flexible with your plans, consider visiting Costa Rica during the so-called hedge months in between seasons. November to early December and May through August are great times of year to travel. Not only will temperatures be a bit more enjoyable and the rainforest nice and green, you’ll also avoid the big crowds and get better prices. Hotels and rental cars are cheaper, and tour prices are easier to negotiate.

 

Best Time to Visit Costa Rica
Everything looking nice and green at Rainmaker Nature Reserve in the rainy season

 

Keep in mind too that you’re not giving up a fantastic vacation by traveling during the rainy season. It seldom rains all day every day during the majority of the season, so as long as you build some flexibility into your itinerary, you should still be able to do everything you want.

TIP: If you’re planning a visit to Costa Rica during the rainy months, take the time to carefully select your destinations. Some regions of the country are wetter than others and best avoided altogether during the low season. Here’s a post all about the weather in Costa Rica, which includes information about how much rain the different regions get over the course of a year: Weather in Costa Rica.

Times to Avoid

Rainiest Months

As we said before, many areas of Costa Rica are very nice during much of the rainy season. But if you have just a week or two to get away, there are certain times of year you’ll want to avoid. The rainiest months in general are September and October. During this time, you might have several days in a row with prolonged periods of rain, which can make it difficult to get out and explore. For this reason, we recommend avoiding travel to Costa Rica during this time for all but the most adventurous travelers. One exception is the Caribbean coast, which is a great place to go in September and October because it tends to be dry.

Holidays

Other times of year that you may want to avoid are certain holidays. The weeks around Christmas and New Years are the busiest travel times in Costa Rica. Many locals get time off during the week leading up to Christmas, all the way until after New Years, and go on holiday with their families. Not only that, but this is a popular time for tourists to travel as well. The same is true for Semana Santa (Easter week). Many locals get time off during the week leading up to Easter and start the party the weekend before the holiday week. The whole country is busier in general during these times, but beach towns tend to see the most traffic.

 

Best Time to Visit Costa Rica
A busy Playa Ventanas over the Easter holiday

 

Another consideration for those on a budget is that prices are highest during the holidays. You’ll notice, for example, that most hotels charge peak rates and vacation rentals have stricter minimum nightly stays.

TIP: If you’re planning to visit Costa Rica around Christmas or Easter, start early. Hotels and rental cars are usually booked months in advance. You can still have the best picks for lodging though if you plan far enough ahead.

Takeaways

Here are some takeaways about the best time to visit Costa Rica:

  • Visit during the dry season (December through April) if you’re worried about the rain.
  • If you’re more flexible, visit during the hedge months of November to early December and May through August to save some money and avoid the crowds.
  • Avoid the peak rainy season, September and October (unless you’re visiting the Caribbean coast).
  • Avoid the weeks around Christmas, New Years, and Easter, especially if you’re on a budget or don’t like crowds.

We hope these tips give you some insight into the best time to visit Costa Rica. Of course, if your options are limited and you can travel only during the busy holiday weeks or rainiest months, there is really no bad time to visit. You can always find a small town to retreat to during peak travel times. And thanks to the country’s many microclimates, you can still find places in Costa Rica with sunshine even during the height of the rainy season that will have you wondering where all the tourists are.

Have a question about when to visit Costa Rica? Ask us below.

Looking for more information to plan your trip? Start here:

 

 

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85 Comments

  1. I enjoy your posts. About the Poás, I am convinced that it has nothing to do with the rainy or a the dry season. I have visited it seven times (always at the peak of dry season) and I have seen the crater only twice. And by my conversations with other tourists I ran into, they have had similar experiences. Congratulations on your baby. A little tico to anchor you some more in CR. Pura vida.

    1. That’s interesting, Mayra. Some friends of ours just visited Poas the other day and had a clear view right in the middle of the rainy season so I guess you’re right, you never know. Thanks for the congrats. We can’t wait for him to arrive!

  2. Dear Matt and Jenn,
    I’m planning to spend 2 or 3 weeks in Costa Rica next August.
    I know that August is one of the ‘hedge months’.
    We’d like to experience wildlife, trekking and nature (and beach life…of course).
    Is there any region to avoid in August?
    Thank you for your kind help!
    Laura

    1. Hi Laura, In general, everywhere in the country is fine weather wise in August. It’ll rain some but shouldn’t be too bad. One area you might want to avoid is the very southern Pacific Coast/Osa Peninsula. This is the wettest area of the country so it could be rainy in August. That said, it really varies year to year so if you have your heart set on Drake Bay or Puerto Jimenez, don’t change your plans.

  3. A really useful post – thank you. We have our big trip in Oct or November every year and usually head East to Asia but want to start exploring another part of the world now. I’ve wanted to visit Costa Rica for a while but didn’t think it was good to travel during these months – now I know November is an option I can give it more thought! 😉

    1. Hi Keri, Definitely don’t rule out Costa Rica for your next big trip. Mid to late November especially is a great time of year here because the weather is pretty good and even the touristy towns aren’t very busy.

  4. Thank you for all the great information. I am considering a trip early July to Guanacosta area. Some reviews I read mention lots of bugs, specifically mosquitos, is that an issue there?

    1. Hi Sarah, Mosquitoes can be found almost everywhere in Costa Rica and are the worst in rainy season. So yes, there will be some in Guanacaste in July. As long as you stay in a hotel that is properly screened and you’re diligent about wearing repellent and proper clothing when doing activities outdoors though, you should avoid most bites. We wear repellent when we’re going to be outside for a while, and as long as we’re good about reapplying, we get very few bites. For info on which repellents we’ve found work best here, check out our post Costa Rica and Mosquitoes: Tips to Prevent Zika, Dengue, and More.

  5. Hi 🙂
    I am thinking of going to Costa Rica with my 18 year and 6 year old. We are hoping for a beach setting, and rainforest setting, zip lining, and exotic animals, volcano, and fruit stands. Suggestions ?

    1. Hi Jill, Lots of choices here. For a first-time visit, we recommend our One Week Itinerary or Two Week Itinerary. Both of those will take you to some of the big must-sees and give you a taste of the beach, rainforest, and awesome wildlife. Zip lining and farmers markets are available in the destinations included too. We also have a bunch of different itineraries to choose from in our guidebook, Top 10 Costa Rica Itineraries. Those itineraries each have a different focus, like wildlife, adventure, surfing, family travel, etc. if you’re looking for something else, we can also design you a custom itinerary. Here’s a link to the page on our website with more info.

  6. I am planning a trip to CR in Sept/Oct. to start looking for the retirement spot. Will there be afternoon showers in the Guanacaste south to Jaco areas? Will I be able to get around and see enough to get an idea if this is a potential retirement area? Thank you

    1. Hi Kelly, You should read our Rainy Season post and the comments too; there is a lot of good info in there. But, yes, September and October are the rainiest months on the Pacific coast. This is still a really good time to visit though as a prospective expat since you will get to see what places are like in the rainy season (we always recommend this because the country has a very different feel when by there are fewer tourists and it’s rainier). It will probably rain most days when you’re here, but you should still be able to get around to get a sense of the different towns. Just be sure you’re budgeting enough time in each place so you can see them when it isn’t raining. If you haven’t already, check our our post about Planning Your Moving to CR Research Trip for more tips.

  7. Hi
    Visiting Costa Rica next week and very excited about it. What about cell phones? Thinking about using our GPS on it as backup & having capability to call hotels & home. Any thoughts

    1. Hi Denise, Hopefully we caught you before you left. For info on using your phone in Costa Rica, you can check out these threads on our forum: Cell Phone Options; Changing Money and Cell Phone. GPS would be fine, but look into the Waze app for directions and maps too. We find that it works the best for Costa Rica, especially around San Jose because it takes traffic into account. For making calls back to the US, you can either buy an international phone card or if you have an iPhone, we love the Magic Jack app, but you would need a Wifi connection. It’s unlimited for $10 a year. Have a great trip!

  8. Hi, I’m thinking of visiting CR with my family of 5 (husband, 14 year old boy, and twin boys that are 11). I’d like to go Thanksgiving week. Based on your detailed, helpful information, it looks like that might be a good time to visit CR. The boys love adventure and I thought it might be nice to be near the beach, on a beach where we can see monkeys and other wildlife. Can you recommend some places to stay that are mid range to upper range in cost? We’d like a kitchen, or economy kitchen so we don’t have to go out to eat for three meals. These boys can eat a lot!!

    Thank you for any help you can provide.

    1. Hi Lynne, Yes, Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to visit Costa Rica. The weather is pretty good and it isn’t as busy. You have a lot of choices for places on the beach with wildlife. One idea is Nosara in Guanacaste. It has vacation rentals close to the beach and you can usually see howler monkeys and a lot of birds. We have a post about it with more info here. Another idea is the Southern Pacific Coast. This area has a lot of rainforest and wildlife and is a little more remote (more info about this area of CR here). We actually know of a property in this area that might work for your family if you’re interested. It’s a small group of villas in a really nice location about a 1 min drive off the highway with outstanding ocean views. There’s a lot of wildlife around the property and each unit has a kitchen too. Our friends stayed there and loved it. Let us know if you want more info and we can help you get in touch with the owner.

      1. Hi,

        Thank you for your reply! I can’t wait to take a look at your suggestions.

        Would you mind sending us information on the place you know of on the Southern Pacific Coast? We’d like to check it out!

        Also, have you flown Avianca or Aeromexico? We’re wondering how they airlines compare to the USA airline companies.

        Thank you,
        Lynne

        1. Hi Lynne, I’ll email you the info on the place on the S. Pacific. We flew Avianca for an in-country flight in Panama and had a really good experience. Felt more like how the US airlines were a while back with more complimentary drinks, free checked bags, etc. Later we also booked tickets to Peru through them, but needed to cancel and they refunded us the whole amount without issue even though they weren’t non-refundable.

  9. My family is planning a trip for Thanksgiving weekend this year November 23-30th. Do you have any historical data on rainfall during those dates?

    1. Hi Nia, We haven’t been able to find any data on specific dates from the Meterological Institute, just monthly. But you could check out their website to browse around at the different places you are thinking of going. The homepage has a map and if you check boxes to the right, it will give you different info. Climatic Data, the one all the way at the bottom, is what you’ll want. You can also check out their Facebook Page, and go back to their old posts by using the search posts option and typing in something like “noviembre 23” to see what the weather forecast was for past years.

  10. you mention that Sept/Oct are good months to visit the Caribbean side of Costa Rica. How different is that side & what, if anything, would be less appealing to either side. Being we are older travelers (65-70), we are more into seeing local towns rather than hiking wilderness treails.
    Suggestions you might have?

    1. Hi DiAnn, The Caribbean side has a very different feel from the Pacific Coast. It is less developed but still has a lot to offer as far as seeing sights. It is also much more laid back and tends to draw young people, though plenty of others visit too. Take a look at our Puerto Viejo and Cahuita posts – these are two popular destinations on the southern Caribbean that are themselves very different. Tortuguero to the north is another option. This is a really small town that has great wildlife viewing. Not sure you would be interested in it, though, as there’s not much to do other than boat canal tours, hiking, and turtle watching.

  11. My mom, daughter and I are traveling to Costa Rica some time in 2017. We are going for the birds, and especially the insects. Yes, insects. I can’t find any information about the best time of year to see the most insects and the biggest ones. We will be taking the eco friendly Caravan Tours which travels around most of the country within a ten day period. My mom and I love insect watching. This will be the only chance she will ever have to travel to a tropical country, so I want to be sure it is the best. I’ve been to Cost Rica once before in early February. The beetles, moths, mantises, katydids, and butterflies were out, but it was SO hot. Do the insects like the dryer hot seasons or wetter cooler times? We were thinking May 15th? Do you have any advice? Thanks

    1. Hi Corie, We aren’t specialists in insects but hopefully we can point you in the right direction. One of the best places in the country to see insects that we know of is Lomas Barbudal Biological Reserve in Guanacaste. We visited last year and it’s a great walk. So do some reading up on that spot. You should also look into Corcovado National Park. It’s the most biologically diverse place in Costa Rica and, I would imagine, has a lot of interesting insects. There is a biologist down that way that does insect tours now who is amazing. Her name is Tracie the Bug Lady (follow the link for a post we wrote about her tour).

      Not sure what the best time of year is. You might want to look into getting a field guide for specifics like that. The Wildlife of Costa Rica is a good generalist guide- we love ours. It covers all animals/birds but does have about 20 pages on
      arthropods. The descriptions talk about interesting characteristics of the different bugs snd tells you where in the country to find them. Sometimes it talks about time of year. There are probably more detailed insect guides too if you wanted something more scientific. Hope that gives you some ideas!

      1. I really appreciate your well thought out response. I am grateful for this website. We did check out the park recommended near Guanacaste, but can’t find a night or an insect tour yet. My mom is ordering that book on Amazon! We called the bug lady and she is 8 hours from our closest location, a huge disappointment. I have a few more questions if you are willing to answer them. I have checked out many websites and books and just can’t find consistency regarding a good time to travel where it is LESS hot. Everyone says January because it is dry and sunny. We need coolness, flowers, bugs and birds. You did say animal diversity varies by region and it is abundant year round, so I believe we will be okay with the insects! Some of the places on the tour are Fortuna , Poas, Hanging Bridges rainforest, Bali hot springs, SanJose, Turtuguero. If there is a lot of outdoors and walking, is May 12th through the 20th a good time for the lush rainforest regions or is it swampy, hot, and humid and more mosquitoes? Are the arid regions like Guanacaste dryer and hotter during May? Are the flights and tours so much cheaper in April/May because of a drastic shift in weather? Thank you so much, Corie, Sharnae, and Karen

        1. The answer is complicated, unfortunately, that’s probably why you are finding different things. In general, rainy season has the coolest temperatures across the country (May through November), but it is still humid in many areas then, and maybe more so because of the rain. December and January are probably the coolest months of the dry season, when it is less humid and there are less mosquitoes. Guanacaste can be extremely hot in May – it often doesn’t get its first rains until mid-May or later so is very dry and hot some years (like the desert). Are you locked into this tour package? If not, we could help you with a custom itinerary. There are so many factors that it is hard to say what the best time is for you to visit in just a few sentences.

  12. We are going to CR Guanacaste area in Feb, and they told us there is only 15 to 35 feet of visibility for diving. Is it worth even bringing our snorkeling stuff? Is scuba diving even worth it in that area with that low viability? Thank you! Very cute new addition to the family!

    1. Hi Matthew, If that information came from a reputable dive shop, then we would rely on that. The diving is good during certain times of year at the Catalina and Bat Islands, and we know of people who have had great experiences. We would expect February to be decent since that is dry season, but we are not experts so who knows.

      Snorkeling in Guanacaste is hit or miss. We don’t usually recommend people do a separate snorkel tour, but if it’s part of one you’re already doing (like a catamaran cruise) or you’re going yourself off the beach, it can be fun. Conditions usually aren’t outstanding, but we have seen some really cool stuff. So if you already have equipment, we think it’s worth bringing. Here’s a link to a thread in our forum with some good beaches in Guanacaste to check out.

  13. Hi guys, we’re getting married June 24 and will be heading on our honeymoon right after for two weeks. We’re trying to book flights this week. Costa Rica is definitely an option but she’s awfully worried that it will rain too much or be overcast a lot. From what I’m reading on your site, late June/early July seems like it would be mostly nice weather with occasional afternoon/night showers , yes? We’re into wildlife, food, beach, culture, relaxation, and some adventure. I’d so appreciate any suggestions you may have. We’re from Boston too by the way!

    1. Hi Stefan, Yes, what you have described is typically how it is. In July, the Pacific slope actually usually experiences a “mini-summer” when it rains less also. Of course no one can predict the weather, but it shouldn’t be that bad end of June into July. I hear your fiancée, though, on wanting to avoid the rain for your honeymoon. If you do decide to go forward with CR, take a look at Manuel Antonio or the Costa Ballena, which go well with your list of wants. Congrats on your upcoming marriage!

  14. Hi there, thinking of visiting Costa Rica in late November for our anniversary. We enjoy a mix of outdoor adventuring (surfing, hiking, exploring) and beach time (me laying in the sand with a book while my husband surfs or snorkels or swims). We also love eating! Thinking about a week or a little more. Any recommendations on where we should go (Pacific? Caribbean? specific beaches?) and how long we should stay in each place would be appreciated. We would consider maybe 1-2 places to stay for the week with day trips. THANK YOU!

    1. Hi Lauren, Lots of choices for what you are looking for. Northern Guanacaste (Tamarindo area, Playa Hermosa, etc.) has some of the most beautiful beaches in the country and should be nice and green in late November. It also has surfing and snorkeling (if conditions are right). Guanacaste is farther to hiking, though. Another idea is the Central Pacific, places like Manuel Antonio or Dominical a little farther south. Manuel Antonio, Tamarindo, and Playa Hermosa all have good food. Splitting your time 1-2 places in a week+ is a good balance. If you need more ideas for where to go, read our Destinations Summary Guide, which has an overview of each town we have written about on our website.

      1. Thank you! We may also reach out for your paid itinerary planning services. Still in making sure we can do this mode. 🙂

  15. Hi we are going to be 12 miles away from the Dreams las mareas resort during the early part of october can you tell me if this is normally an ok time to visit? I understand and have read several times when is the best time to visit but I am not looking at the best being that I can’t get there during that time so I am looking for OK. What areas can I fish in while there?

    1. Hi Zip, October is one of the rainiest months of the year everywhere except on the Caribbean side. How much it rains varies from year to year, but if you wanted to see some historical data, look at the charts in our Weather post (Liberia is closest to where you will be). So basically, there will be rain, potentially quite a bit, but it doesn’t usually rain all the time (more in downpours) and is still nice and warm.

      Fishing charters can be easily arranged from that area. We know of companies out of Playas del Coco but there are probably some closer to where you will be as well.

  16. Hello! Quick question regarding the last week in September. We are thinking of being in Manuel Antonio for the week of the 23rd to the 30th. Will we be miserable with rain or will mostly our days be fine and the evenings would be rainy? We are traveling with two children (11 and 8). We are wanting to zip line, explore nature, ride down a river, maybe ATV. Will it be warm and decent for the most part? Thanks!

    1. Hi Lauren, That’s the rainiest time of year, unfortunately. It still doesn’t rain all the time though usually. You should have some days where it’s a mix and is sunny most of the day then rains in the afternoon/evening, but other days will be less predictable and more rainy. It is still very warm and tropical feeling, though. Tours still run and some things like rafting are really fun in the rain.

  17. Hi there,

    Is first week of May a good time in CR? Since it’s just after dry season are things not lush and tropical? I don’t have a sense of how “dry” dry sea son is. Any areas to avoid at that time.

    Thanks,

    RJO

    1. Hi Rob, Good question. By the first week of May, most areas will have seen their first rains. The big exception is Northern Guanacaste Province where it is often still very dry that time of year. Things green up fairly quickly after some good rain, but the areas that are more likely to be lush and green are Manuel Antonio, the Southern Pacific and Costa Ballena, Osa Peninsula, Monteverde, La Fortuna/Arenal, and the Caribbean slope, which has completely different weather patterns.

  18. What is the difference in climate/weather temperatures between Pacific and Caribbean side? Which has more to do/see? Early May 2017? Thank you for your reply!
    Patricia

    1. Hi Patricia, Temperatures are similar on both coasts, but they do have different weather patterns. Dry season on the Pacific coast is December through April, so May is a good time to visit because it’s early in the rainy season. The Caribbean side has less predictable weather and receives more rain. It’s also very humid. Heat, humidity, and rainfall vary on the Pacific coast too. The northern Pacific is the driest and it gets wetter the farther south you go. Both have lots of things to do so it depends on your interests. Maybe start with our Destinations Summary Guide to narrow your search.

  19. Hi! What do you think about being at Peninsula Papagayo the first week of July this year? Trying to decide whether the rainy season will take over the vacation! Thank you!

    1. Hi Lindsey, That will likely be fine, and with any luck, the veranito will happen when you’re there. Costa Rica usually experiences what’s called a “little summer” in July, often early on in the month, when rain decreases and the weather is nicer. For more information on what to expect for weather during the rainy season, check out our Weather and Rainy Season posts.

  20. Hello- we are considering going to visit CR next year for our family vacation. We have kids, 18 and 13 and want to stay somewhere less populated but still in a place that offers lots of activities. Also what month is best to avoid the crowds and humidity? We are into sightseeing, water of course, exploring and anything fun for the kids at their age. 🙂

    1. Hi Roberta, Since you’re in the beginning stages of your planning, you might find our guidebook, Top 10 Costa Rica Itineraries, helpful. Staying outside La Fortuna somewhere on Lake Arenal would be a good option (La Fortuna is covered in a few Itineraries in the book). The best months to avoid the crowds are the rainy season, May to November, but because of the moisture, the weather is quite humid (though less hot). Humidity is hard to avoid in the tropics. Guanacaste Province is the driest region, but even it will be humid during the rainy season.

  21. Hi! Thank you for creating such a helpful website. We have never been to CR before and would like to plan our vacation there this year. Unfortunately, we can only travel the first 10 days of September. We have been speaking to a tour company that suggested an itinerary that included nights in Monteverde, La Fortuna, and Manuel Antonio. A lot of the activities are scheduled early morning, but there are some long car rides between cities and the risk of bad weather makes me fear this could be too much for a first trip. We are a young active couple that is up for adventure. I just don’t want to bite off more than I can chew! Any thoughts are appreciated!

    1. Hi Bridget, That’s not a bad itinerary for early September, but you’re right that it requires a lot of time in the car. The road from La Fortuna to Monteverde can be especially bad during rainy season, and September is the height of rainy season. It would be a safer bet to cut out Monteverde, which will likely be very rainy anyway, and stick with just two destinations, La Fortuna and Manuel Antonio. Hope that helps. We also offer an itinerary service and would be happy to help you plan a trip that makes the most sense for that time of year and your individual interests. Our service is completely custom to you. You can learn more on our Itinerary Help page.

  22. Hello, we are visiting for 2 weeks in mid September. I can see it’s going to be the height of the rainy season. We’d love to see both coasts in the 2 weeks, but it’s quite a trek between the two. Looking to have a bit of an adventure, but also relax by a beach, surf and sun etc. Would love to see some wildlife too. Would you recommend we stick to the Caribbean coast? Or would it be possible to take in some of both? We’re flying in & out of San Jose. Any help would be much appreciated!

    1. Hi Stephanie, With two weeks, we would recommend visiting both coasts since you will have a lot of time. The weather on the Caribbean will likely be better but it’s usually not too bad in certain areas of the Pacific coast. Take a look at Manuel Antonio as one option. This town is a reasonable drive to San Jose, and the weather is usually halfway decent in September. It’s a little far from the Caribbean but possible in one day or you could stop somewhere on the way for an overnight.

      The La Fortuna/Arenal Volcano area also has slightly different weather and September is known to be one of the better months for viewing the volcano, so that is another option.

  23. Hi there.
    We are heading to Costa Rica on November 23rd for 10 days. I am looking for packing tips! The rainy season does worry me a little. We are heading to Tamarindo and Monteverde.

  24. Hi Jenn & Matt: My husband and I are looking to plan a belated honeymoon in Costa Rica in Spring 2018. We’re looking to follow your recommended 2-week itinerary (Thank you by the way! It looks incredible!), but are planning to spend a few more days in Drake Bay and a few less in Manuel Antonio just to avoid more touristy areas and to have a good chunk of time to pretend we live in the rainforest. We’re really looking to hike, snorkel, eat, nap in hammocks, hangout with locals and generally take in all the rainforest has to offer. I am tentatively looking at the end of April into May as it seems to be less touristy. Would you mind offering your feedback on whether this would be a good time or not. We’re pretty flexible right now, just trying to keep it fairly inexpensive. Thank you so much in advance! It’s so kind of you to provide responses to so many people.

    1. Hi Laura, End of April into early May is a very good time to visit. It will be a little less busy and hotels start offering low season rates (some won’t start until May, though, so be aware of that). It will be starting to rain, and some years, the Southern Pacific (i.e. Drake Bay) receives a decent amount of rain but usually this is in the late afternoon or at night. So, yes, it’s a good time of year to come and do this itinerary (I like your modifications by the way and think they make a lot of sense based on what you have said you’re looking for in the trip).

  25. Hello,
    I am planing to visit Costa Rica just to enjoy the tropical fruits. It looks like March, April is the best time for Mangoes, Chicu , Cashew etc. However there is some fruit festival that is at the end of September. So what is the best time to visit CR to cover most of the tropical fruits (chempedak, marang, all types of sapote, cheryamoya etc) ? Also which side (pacific, middle or the Atlantic) will be the best?
    Thank you!

    1. Hi Bhajan, You can find a variety of tropical fruits year-round. We’re really not sure when the best all around time is to go- if you’re coming just for the fruit we’d recommend getting in touch with an expert, a farmer or something. We have tried a lot of the less common fruits here but aren’t exactly sure when for many of them. One of the most popular fruits are Mamon chinos, which you can find in the rainy season (September timeframe but they’re around for a few months). Mangoes are big in March/April and so are avocados. Good luck figuring it out!

  26. Hi Jenn and Matt,

    Your website is outstanding, tons of great information. Answers are probably in there but just looking for confirmation on what we are trying to do.

    We are planning a trip with another family and currently looking at the last week of May/first week of June time frame – probably 7-10 days.

    One of the areas we are looking at staying is Hacienda Pinilla – it appears to be a residential community with homes for rent and since we are trying to all stay together, thought that might be a good option. From your perspective, are there lots of good day trip options from there at that time of year or should we just plan to focus on the beach for the days we are there. I wasn’t sure since it was technically rainy season if that would impact our ability to do things in the area.

    The other area was more in the mountains and we were looking at Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin and Monteverde Inn. Any thoughts on those or insights. Also, according to your posts, it seems like we will likely get rain but it shouldn’t be a wash out and we could easily plan to do things during the mornings. Also, if you have any recommendations for other areas we could be looking to since this gives you some insights, that would be appreciated.

    Thanks
    Brian

    1. Hi Brian, Hacienda Pinilla is a decent option. It’s close to the JW Marriott in a somewhat secluded location but not too far from things to do in Tamarindo. You can also do day trips inland to places like Rincon de la Vieja, Llanos de Cortes Waterfall, Las Pumas Rescue Center, etc. We wouldn’t recommend Hacienda Guachipelin for more than a few days because that area is very remote and there isn’t much to do other than Rincon and the adventure parks. Monteverde is nice for a few nights too but it doesn’t sound like what you’re looking for as far as you and the other family trying to stay together and having a home base. You should still have plenty of nice weather in late May/early June for excursions as well as the beach. One destination that you could take a look at Samara, which is a good beach town for families. You could split your time between there and somewhere with lots of activity like Monteverde or La Fortuna.

  27. Hi Jenn and Matt,

    My girlfriend and I are starting to plan our trip to Costa Rica for late April to early May. What weather and temperatures would we typically expect during this time and how might activities such as trails, beaches, hiking and general sightseeing be impacted? We were hoping to see some beaches and rain forests during our time there. Would this time be a good time or would late August to early September be better?

    Cheers,

    Kevin

    1. Hi Kevin, You should read our Weather post for more detailed information, but temperatures are steady and warm here year-round. May is the start of rainy season but this is very early so the rain isn’t usually too heavy. Definitely better to go in April/May than in late August/September- September is one of the rainiest months. Don’t worry too much about rain-outs for activities that time of year. Usually if it rains, it happens in the late afternoon or at night and is only for an hour or two. Plan your activities for the morning and you should be fine.

  28. Hello, we are in the process of planning 8-10 day trip for family of four with 18 & 20 year old kids. Was initially looking at late June, maybe around 6/23-7/1. But looking at weather, I’m wondering if we should move to July arrival. Obviously, none of us have a crystal ball for the weather 🙂 , but based on your experiences do you think the odds are there’s a significant difference in potential weather or will they most likely be comparable? With school schedules, we are pretty much locked into June, July or early August but I prefer not to do late July/early August due to kids’ college schedules, etc.

    We are thinking we’d visit Utiva, Arenal and Guanacaste areas…any thoughts on that itinerary? Thanks so much!

    1. Hi Maryanne, All of those months are in the rainy season, but early July typically experiences a “mini-summer” when the rains lessen. So that time frame would be your best bet.

      That itinerary will show you different areas of the country, which is great, and we highly recommend all of those destinations. The only negative is the distance from Guanacaste to Uvita. It’s probably fine since you our kids are older but just keep the drive times in mind. One way around this would be to fly into San Jose to access Uvita and out of Liberia to end your trip in Guanacaste. Hope that helps!

      1. Thank you for your reply! So, for a few reasons we’ve decided to skip Utiva but I’m still really struggling with itinerary. We will def do at least 3 nights in Arenal and due to better chances of “drier” beach weather, I’m leaning towards Pacific side. Again due to weather, I’m thinking best chances of dry beach time are up in Guanacaste area. However if we do Guanacaste & Arenal, I’m thinking making the trip down to Manuel Antonio might not make the most sense. We could do 3 nights Tamarindo, 3-4 Arenal, and maybe 2 in Monteverde. But, if we skip MA, are we missing out on best chance of seeing sloths and monkeys? I’m not really locked into these ideas, just what seemed to make most sense from my initial research for late June-early July trip. Any suggestions on itinerary to give us some beach days, see wildlife, experience diverse areas of CR? Thanks for your help!

        1. You can see monkeys and sloths in La Fortuna but it is definitely easier in Manuel Antonio. Howler monkeys are in Tamarindo too but that town is less jungly. Honestly, we would risk the weather and just go to Manuel Antonio if you really want to see wildlife. Like we said before, typically the weather is fairly nice in late June/early July anyway. That makes for a nicer loop, with Fortuna, Monteverde, MA, and then flying out of San Jose.

  29. Hi Jenn and Matt.
    Thank you very much for your website and the tons of information.
    Although I already read a lot, i have one doubt that could be a deal breaker for me going to CR from 26 december and 11 january 2019: how hot is the beach water? 🙂
    My husband and I realy love hot sun and hot water.
    I weas thinking goingo to Puerto Viejo, Cahuita, Manuel Antonio and Tamarindo – we also like to party at night.
    What do you think?
    Thank you in advance.

    1. Hi Carla, It’s usually pretty hot at the beach in December, both the air and water. Late December/early January is dry season for most of the country so it doesn’t rain much if at all and is nice and sunny. Some other months later on in the dry season are hotter because it’s so dry, but temperatures are still in the upper 80s in late December. The weather on the Caribbean coast (Puerto Viejo and Cahuita) is slightly different—it rains more there—but December is usually nice.

      Those are all really fun beach towns, which have good nightlife so they seem like a good fit for you. The one exception is Cahuita, which is fairly quiet and really small, but still fun and interesting culturally. If you haven’t read them yet, be sure to check out our individual destination guides to these towns on our Destinations Page.

  30. Hi,
    We want to rent a house for a month, near beach & has a pool. Want to be able to snorkel. Can you suggest which side & beach community that would fit. Also want to visit different spots on the island to include rainforests, zip lines, wildlife, waterfalls. Would this be possible on day trips from where you suggest looking for a rental?

    1. Hi Barbara, There are a lot of options for beach towns that meet these parameters. We’d recommend reading through our Destinations Summary Guide and seeing if anything stands out to you. Costa Rica doesn’t have a lot for great snorkeling options. You could look at Puerto Viejo on the Caribbean coast or there are some towns in Guanacaste with decent snorkeling offshore, depending on the time of year.

  31. Hi! We’re visiting during the first 2 weeks of August. Would you suggest going to Nosara or are the Carribean beaches a better option as far as weather goes? Also, we have 10 days to split between a beach area (hopefully with surf lessons) and a rain forest area, what is your recommendation? Thanks!

    1. Hi Kate, The weather in Nosara is usually better than on the Caribbean coast in early August. The Caribbean side doesn’t usually start drying up until September. Nosara would work for surf lessons or you could go to Samara too. Samara has good waves for beginners. If you’re flying out of Liberia, we’d pair that with either Bijagua/Rio Celeste Waterfall area or La Fortuna/Arenal Volcano area. If you’re flying out of San Jose, look at Manuel Antonio. Hope that helps!

  32. Hi, we are looking at Costa Rica for our 2 week summer holiday next year 2019,and are thinking of going mid November?? Will we have good weather???
    Sharon x

  33. Hi there,
    I have the option of taking a school trip somewhere in October. The thing is, it has to be in October. I would love to take them to Costa Rica, but I am nervous that this time of year will not be a good enough experience for them, and the weather might ruin what is an expensive holiday. In your opinion, should I go for Costa Rica or choose somewhere else entirely? The tour would include Tortuguero, Arenal volcano, arenal hanging bridges tour, Monteverde National park and Santa Elena cloud forest. I appreciate your honest advice. Thank you so much!

    1. Hi Phil, We may be too late for you rplanning, but that tour would still be fun in October. The weather in Tortuguero and Arenal is typically nice this time of year. Monteverde/Santa Elena will be rainier, but still not too bad.

  34. Hi, my wife and 2 kids (14 and 12) are beginning to plan a trip to Costa Rica for ~March 29 to ~April 7 of next year. Can you offer some insight into the late March, early April timeframe for visiting Costa Rica. Is it busy? More expensive? Should we be making our reservations asap? This article was very informative.
    Thanks!

    1. Hi Dan, Late March/early April is still high season so you will get high season rates for hotels, but it is starting to slow down in general. We would definitely recommend making your reservations now so that you have a good selection of lodging. The best choices are starting to fill up. Hope that helps!

  35. Hi Jenn & Matt, great website! I’m thinking about Costa Rica this August (11-26) and trying to work out an itinerary. So far I am thinking Manuel Antonio, La Fortuna, Tortuguero and Puerto Viejo (in that order). Also not sure if Manuel Antonio will be too rainy but I’ve heard such good things about it. What do you think?

  36. Hi Jenn and Matt~ Your site in an awesome resource packed with honest insight. Thank you for documenting your experience for all our benefit. On Oct. 26 my husband and I will begin a 4 week stay in the mountains between San Isidro del Gereral and Dominical in Alfombra. We want to experience the climate both off season and in the mountains to help us determine the best location for retirement. This will be our fourth visit to Costa Rica, but we have always come in Feb/March and stayed in coastal areas. Can you comment on the temperatures and amount of rain we should expect during our vist? With thanks ~ Natalie

    1. Hi Natalie, Alfombra is usually quite rainy and foggy in late October. We used to live in this area and it was often fogged in in the clouds with a lot of drizzle and moisture this time of year. For temps, expect temps around 70 or low 80s if it’s sunny? We preferred living a little closer to the coast to have less rain. A lot of people like Platanillo- it’s drier there. Hope that helps!

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