• Canopy walkway, Costa Rica

The best time to go to Costa Rica

The best time to visist Costa Rica is in the drier months between May and November but due to the microclimates, it is good all year round. Costa Rica enjoys a huge variety in its geography, with two very different coastlines and everything from dense tropical rainforest to mist-shrouded cloud forest and mountains in between. This means you are likely to experience a vast range of weather on any trip at any time of year, particularly if you are planning to incorporate a lot of the natural highlights into your itinerary. The average temperatures in Costa Rica range from 30ºC on the Pacific and Caribbean coasts to a milder climate in the cloud forest areas of Santa Elena and Monteverde, where it can dip to 10ºC at night. 

As a general rule of thumb, there is a rainy season and a dry season, which you can follow when planning your trip to this wonderfully biodiverse country.

Zip lining, Costa Rica

When to go if you want to see…

Butterflies and Moths: Year round - there is a huge variety in these winged insects in Costa Rica and they can be seen year round.

Humpback Whales: The best time to see the humpbacks is between November to January when they arrive in Costa Rica to mate. They can still be seen up until March while they wait to give birth.

Macaws and Toucans: Year round - Costa rica's colourful birdlife can be seen throughout the year.

Monkeys: Year round - cheeky primates can be seen throughout the year. you are more likely to see them outside of the rainier seasons.

Sloths: Year round - perhaps the most famous of Costa Rica's inhabitants, they can be seen year round.

Butterfly, Costa Rica

When to go to Costa Rica by season

May - November

This is Costa Rica’s rainy season, with September and October in particular being the wettest months.  The rain pattern is usually that of sunnier mornings and a build-up of cloud and rain following in the afternoon. Towards the end of these months you tend to see the landscapes become much more verdant. Those who are into surfing will find the best swells on the Pacific Coast in September and October.

Read more about each month on the following pages:

December - April

These are the driest months in Costa Rica, but there are some regional exceptions as each area has its own microclimate. The Caribbean coast generally sees more rainfall than other areas and you may experience downpours, even in the dry season. One consideration when planning your visit is that spring break can mean some areas are filled with American students, and you may wish to avoid this when it occurs sometime between February and April. Surfers should head to the Caribbean coast if visiting in this period, as the swells are better here than the Pacific side.

Read more about each month on the following pages:

Rafting Pacuare, Costa Rica

Best times to go to Costa Rica if you want to experience…

Rafting: June to December – this is the rainy season and the water levels are higher

Horse Riding: December to April - it is best when the weather is drier.

Jungle Walks: December to April - the jungle is best explored during the drier weather and the animals are not hiding from the rains.

Manuel Antonio Marine Preserve: Can be visited year-round, though January and February are the driest and best months. The park is closed on Mondays and is usually very crowded so it can be worthwhile visiting during the low season if you don’t mind getting wet.

Monteverde Cloud Forest: Year-round, though the rains in September and October can make wildlife spotting difficult and can make roads challenging to navigate.

Osa Peninsula: Year round, though the rains in September and October can make wildlife spotting difficult and can make roads challenging to navigate.

Tortuguero National Park: July to September is the nesting season for the green turtles which are the main reason to visit the park.

Kayaking, Costa Rica

When to go for Wildlife

As wildlife is a prime reason for visiting Costa Rica, this is something to factor into your planning. Many will be hoping to visit Tortuguero National Park where night walks take you out to witness green and hawksbill turtles, but this is only possible between July and September. Humpback whales arrive to mate in Costa Rica from colder waters between November and December and stay to give birth around the southern Pacific coast until March. The resplendent quetzal is most regularly spotted between January and July in the Monteverde Cloud Forest.

Rio Celeste, Costa Rica

Your Next Steps

View our Costa Rica safaris, or talk to one of our specialists for more details on travelling to Costa Rica. Please note we recommend a budget of from £7,000 / $10,000 USD per person for our style of trip to this destination.