November is the best month to visit Costa Rica if you are looking for smaller crowds and better prices.

Best time to visit Costa Rica + When to Avoid – A complete guide [2023]

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Costa Rica is, hands down, a fun vacation destination ☀️ You have volcanoes 🌋 rainforests 🍃 gorgeous Pacific and Caribbean beaches 🏝️ exciting wildlife encounters 🦥 and adventure activities. 

Even though Costa Rica is a small country, it has vastly different weather patterns, thanks a variety of microclimates. The mountains in the middle of the country create a rain shadow for the Pacific coast throughout part of the year. The trade winds come in off the Caribbean Side of Costa Rica during the dry season and the strong prevailing wind pattern creates a rain shadow on the Pacific 🏄‍♂️

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Read on to find out the best time to visit Costa Rica by season and region. This guide will help you make an informed decision about how to plan your adventure and know what to expect during your trip to Costa Rica, whether you’re doing activities in La Fortuna or hanging out at the beach in Tamarindo!

How to visit Irazu Volcano National Park

Best time to visit Costa Rica: overview

Overall, the winter months (the driest months) and the summer months of July and August (which have a bit of a lull during the rainy season) are the best times to visit Costa Rica. ✈️

We visited in July and experienced several days of completely clear weather, and some days when there was an hour or two of afternoon rain – not bad at all, especially when a lot of the tours in La Fortuna happen in the morning! ⏰

Visiting Costa Rica: month-by-month breakdown

In this section, we’re breaking down the climate in Costa Rica through all the months of the year. Because Costa Rica has many different climate regions, we’ll discuss the areas on the Caribbean Coast, the Pacific Coast, and the middle of the country.

IMPORTANT NOTE: For each of these 3 regions, you will find representative averages for what you might expect. However, there are many microclimates in Costa Rica. For example, both La Fortuna and San Jose are in the middle of the country, but they experience somewhat different weather. 

The Pacific Coast is noteworthy, as the north Pacific and the south Pacific coasts see marked differences in weather patterns. The north Pacific is the driest part of the country and the south Pacific is one of the wettest places in Costa Rica.

Manzanillo is home to some of the best beaches on Costa Rica's Caribbean Side

Check my complete guide to the best things to do in Costa Rica for any type of traveler

When referencing Pacific weather in the following sections, we’ve highlighted what you will experience when staying in the Manuel Antonio/Quepos area, which is the middle of the Pacific Coast. You can expect to see drier weather as you head north, and wetter weather as you head south. 

It’s important to note when talking about the rainy season in Costa Rica that often rain will fall mostly in the afternoon, so the mornings will still be clear for your beach time or activities. The rainy season does not mean that it rains nonstop 🛑

Costa Rica in January

Costa Rica in January sees low rainfall across the country. It’s the best month to visit Costa Rica for the sunniest weather, with about ⅔ of the days being sunny.  

On the Caribbean coast, the average high is 85 F, and average low is 77 F. There is about 2.5 inches of rainfall rain 🌧️ with an average of 5 rainy days per month. 

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In Central Costa Rica, the average high is 88 F and average low is 72 F. This is a very dry month, with usually only a day of rain. 

On the Pacific Coast, the average high is 90 F and average low is 80 F. There are about 3 days with rain, receiving about 1 inch of rain total. 

Palmeros Festival in Costa Rica 💃 🕺 takes place in January and draws in a ton of visitors (about 1 hour from San Jose) and includes concerts, dancing, and food sampling.

February is one of the best months to visit Costa Rica if you are looking for perfect weather conditions.

Costa Rica in February

Weather in February continues to be sunny and dry. 

On the Caribbean Coast, the average high is 85 F and the average low is 77 F. The area sees about 2 inches of rain, with an average of 4 rainy days per month. 

In Central Costa Rica, the average high is 90 F and average low is 72 F. This is a very dry month, with usually only a day of rain. 

✔️ Check my guide to visiting Irazu Volcano – a perfect place to visit during Costa Rica’s dry season.

On the Pacific Coast, the average high is 91 F and average low is 80 F. There are 2 days with rain, receiving less than 1 inch of rain total. 🌧️

Costa Rica in March

March is still part of the dry season, and has slightly less sunny days than January and February, with about 50% of the days being sunny 🌞

On the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica, the average high is 85 F, and average low is 77 F. This is the driest month of the year, with an average of 1.3 inches of rainfall, and an average of 4 rainy days per month. 

In Central Costa Rica, the average high is 92 F and average low is 72 F, and there is usually only a day of rain. 

On the Pacific Coast, the average high is 92 F and average low is 80 F. This is the hottest month of the year. There are 3 days with rain, receiving less than 1 inch of rain total. 

November is a shoulder season and the best time to visit Costa Rica if you are looking for small crowds and great prices on accommodations.

Costa Rica in April

April is a transitional month. The rainy season starts and cloud cover increases dramatically as the month goes on. 

On the Caribbean coast, the average high is 85 F, and average low is 77 F. rainfall increases to almost 3 inches, and an average of 7 rainy days per month. 

In Central Costa Rica, the average high is 93 F and average low is 73 F, with about 4 days of rain, with an inch of rain falling ☔️

👉 Many visitors spend an average of 7 days in Costa Rica. Click here to learn how to make the most out of your trip.

On the Pacific Coast, the average high is 91 F and average low is 80 F. There are 7 days with rain, receiving about 2 inches of rain total. 

Costa Rica in May

Cloudy skies are here to stay across the country for the next several months, and rainfall continues to increase. 

On the Caribbean coast, the average high is 85 F, and average low is 77 F. About every other day will have rain (on average), with about 6 inches of rainfall during the month. 

In Central Costa Rica, the average high is 91 F and average low is 74 F. There are about 10 days of rain and 4 inches of rain falling during the month. 🗓️

On the Pacific Coast, the average high is 89 F and average low is 79 F. There are 13 days with rain, receiving about 6 inches of rain total. 

Cahuita National Park on the Costa Rica's Caribbean side is home to monkeys, sloths, all kinds of birds and reptiles.

Costa Rica in June

Rainy days and cloudy skies continue throughout the country. ☁️

On the Caribbean coast, the average high is 85 F, and average low is 77 F. Rain falls approximately every other day (on average), with about 7 inches of rainfall during the month.

In Central Costa Rica, the average high is 88 F and average low is 74 F. There are about 10 days of rain and 4.5 inches of rain falling during the month. 

On the Pacific Coast, the average high is 89 F and average low is 79 F. There are 15 days with rain, receiving about 6.5 inches of rain total. 

Costa Rica in July

On the Caribbean coast, the average high is 85 F, and average low is 77 F. July is very similar to June, with about 16 rainy days and 7 inches of rainfall throughout the month. 

In Central Costa Rica, the average high is 88 F and average low is 74 F. There are about 9 days of rain and 3 inches of rain falling during the month. This is the “mini summer” of Costa Rica. 

On the Pacific Coast, the average high is 89 F and average low is 79 F. Cloudy skies predominate, and there are 15 days with rain, receiving about 6 inches of rain total. 

Costa Rica in August

Rainy days and cloudy skies continue throughout the country. ⛅️

On the Caribbean coast, the average high is 85 F, and average low is 77 F. There is a very slight dip in August in the amount of rain compared to July, with about 6 inches of rain falling during the month. 

In Central Costa Rica, the average high is 88 F and average low is 73 F. There are about 11 days of rain and 4 inches of rain falling during the month. 

On the Pacific Coast, the average high is 89 F and average low is 79 F. There are 16 days with rain, receiving about 6.5 inches of rain total. 

Manuel Antonio is one of the most popular places  in Costa Rica that's best visited during winter months.

Costa Rica in September

On the Caribbean coast, the average high is 85 F, and average low is 77 F. This is still squarely in the rainy season, with approximately half the days seeing rain and 6 inches of rain falling throughout the month. 

In Central Costa Rica, the average high is 88 F and average low is 72 F. This is one of the wettest months for the region, with about 13 days of rain and 6 inches of rain. 

On the Pacific Coast, the average high is 89 F and average low is 78 F. There are 17 days with rain, receiving about 7 inches of rain total. 

Costa Rica in October

Costa Rica is still in the rainy season, and it is one of the wettest months of the year. 

On the Caribbean coast, the average high is 85 F, and average low is 77 F. Rainfall increases during October, with ⅔ of the days seeing some rainfall. Over 7 inches of rain (on average) will fall in October. 

In Central Costa Rica, the average high is 87 F and average low is 72 F,, with about 14 days of rain and 6 inches of rain. Overall, October is the coolest month of the year. 

On the Pacific Coast, the average high is 88 F and average low is 78 F. There are 16 days with rain, receiving about 7 inches of rain total. 

Costa Rica in November

November is a transition between the rainy season and the start of the dry season. As the month goes on, the drier and sunnier it will become, with about 40-50% of the days in November being sunny by the end of the month. Most of the rain that falls in November comes towards the beginning of the month. 

On the Caribbean coast, the average high is 85 F, and average low is 77 F. Rain falls about half of the days in November, and 6 inches falling during the course of the month. 

In Central Costa Rica, the average high is 87 F and average low is 73 F. By the end of the month, you have 50% sunny days and 8 days of rain, but the rainy days decrease as the month goes on. 

On the Pacific Coast, the average high is 88 F and average low is 78 F. There are 12 days with rain, receiving about 5 inches of rain total, with rain decreasing throughout the month.

Costa Rica in December

The dry season is back! Sunnier days and lower rainfall is evident throughout the country. 

On the Caribbean coast, the average high is 85 F, and average low is 77 F. It will be sunny about half of the days and rain will fall about ⅓ of the days this month, with an average total of 4 inches of rain. 

In Central Costa Rica, the average high is 87 F and average low is 73 F. There are less than 3 days of rain, with less than an inch of rain falling. 

On the Pacific Coast, the average high is 89 F and average low is 80 F. More than half the days are sunny, with 7 days of rain and 2 inches of rain falling. 

Best places to visit in Costa Rica

When to Visit Costa Rica for the best weather?

Undoubtedly, the best weather is in January and February, when Costa Rica is still early in the dry season, and the skies are clear and rain is very low. 

When to visit Costa Rica for the best surf?

The best time to visit Costa Rica for surfing depends a little bit on what coast you’re on. Surfing season on the Caribbean Coast is December to March. On the Pacific Coast, April to August has the best surfing waves for experienced surfers, while beginners will appreciate the somewhat smaller waves on the Pacific Coast from December to April. 

When to visit Costa Rica to avoid crowds

September to November sees the lowest crowds in Costa Rica, as this is the height of the rainy season. 

Best time to visit Costa Rica for wildlife

You can see many animals in Costa Rica at any time of the year, including monkeys, coati, and sloths, crocodiles, and macaws. 

You can see sea turtles at different times throughout the year, but the most famous spot to see them is in Tortuguero National Park on the north Caribbean coast, and July-October is the best time to see them nesting here. 

January-February and July-September are the best months to see whales on the Pacific coast. 

Best places to visit in Costa Rica

Visiting Costa Rica during the rainy season

Costa Rica during the rainy season is still a beautiful time to visit. The greenery is very lush and abundant, and waterfalls are at their maximum flow. There are less tourists, particularly during the months of September-early November, and prices are thus also lower during these times. 

However, there’s no getting around it – rainy season is, well, rainy. You’ll need to be prepared for rain most days, and heavy rain at that. Thankfully, generally rain is isolated to afternoon and you can still find good, clear times during the morning to enjoy your activities. Also, when it isn’t rainy, it will still usually be cloudy. This is a mixed blessing as you won’t burn as easily, but it can inhibit views sometimes.

  • Northwest Costa Rica: The Northwest of Costa Rica has the shortest and driest rainy season compared to the rest of Costa Rica. 
  • Caribbean Side of Costa Rica: The Caribbean sees a decent amount of rain during rainy season, but thankfully Costa Rica is far enough south that they are rarely hit by hurricanes. 
  • Central Costa Rica: Central Costa Rica has several climates, but one of the most popular destinations is La Fortuna, where people go to experience a lot of adventure activities like ziplining, ATVing, and white water rafting. Even in rainy season, these activities are generally done without interruption (very occasionally they are delayed if there is thunder). 
  • Southwestern side of Costa Rica: This region has the longest and wettest rainy season in Costa Rica. 

Visiting Costa Rica during the dry season

Costa Rica during the dry season is lovely – warm weather, sunny days, clear skies, and infrequent rain. However, it is important to note that there still may be a rainy day or two a month. The tradeoff is that there are higher numbers of tourists, and prices on hotels are higher (and they also fill up faster). Still, it’s a great time to visit Costa Rica for a sunny tropical getaway 😉

  • Northwest Costa Rica: By the end of the dry season, the vegetation in the northwest coast of Costa Rica can actually become limp and dry, and may not look like the tropical paradise you’re thinking of when talking about Costa Rica. 
  • Caribbean Side of Costa Rica: This is the best time to visit the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica for surfing. 
  • Central Costa Rica: Some of the waterfalls in Central Costa Rica will be less strong during this season. 
  • Southwestern side of Costa Rica: Dry season (January-February) is one of the best times to see nesting turtles on the Pacific coast. 
Puerto Viejo is one of the best places to stay on the Caribbean side Costa Rica

Visiting Costa Rica during the shoulder season

Shoulder season in Costa Rica is April and November, when the weather shifts between being sunny and fairly dry to being overcast and rainy as the month goes on in April, and then turns from rainy to dry and sunny by the end of November. Early April and late November are still sunny and dry and are great for visiting.

  • Northwest Costa Rica: This part of Costa Rica stays in the dry season longest in April and leaves the rainy season earliest in November. 
  • Caribbean Side of Costa Rica: The weather is transitioning, but there are still many nice periods of clear skies, particularly during the beginning of April/end of November.  
  • Central Costa Rica: Waterfalls are likely going to be fairly low during the month of April. 
  • Southwestern side of Costa Rica: This part of Costa Rica hits the rainy season the fastest and stays the longest during April and November. 

Worst time to visit Costa Rica

There truly is never a bad bad time to visit Costa Rica; however, May is the worst month to visit, as the rain is fairly high, and you don’t have the added benefits of good surfing conditions or turtle or whale watching season. The rainy season ends in October, which is the beginning of the shoulder season.

Overall best time to visit Costa Rica

The best time to visit Costa Rica is from January through February and in July. January and February are smack dab in the dry season, with plenty of sunny days and low rain. July is during “mini-summer,” where there is rain, but it’s less than other months. The vegetation is lush, waterfalls are high, and you have a good chance to see whales, nesting turtles in some regions, and enjoy surfing on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica.

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Best time to visit Costa Rica: FAQ’s

Costa Rica's Caribbean Side is an amazing place to visit at any time of the year.

What is the cheapest month to go to Costa Rica?

September to early December are the cheapest times to go to Costa Rica, as this is the height of the rainy season throughout the country. 

What months is the rainy season in Costa Rica?

April to June and September to November is the rainy season in Costa Rica. Technically, July and August are part of the rainy season too, but is often considered “mini summer” because the rain is a little bit lower during these months, especially in the central parts of the country.

What is the hottest month in Costa Rica?

As Costa Rica is only 10 degrees above the equator, the temperature doesn’t fluctuate very much throughout the year. That being said, March and April have the highest temperatures. 

When should you not go to Costa Rica?

There’s no bad time to go to Costa Rica. Truly, you can have a great time in this country any time of year. 

What’s the climate like in Costa Rica?

Costa Rica has a tropical climate. Expect it to be warm and humid.

Best time to visit Costa Rica: final thoughts

The best time to visit Costa Rica depends a lot on what you want to do. If you want to spend time on the beach, the dry season is likely the best time for you. If you want to surf, then it depends on the region. If you want to experience the lush vegetation and smaller crowds, rainy season might be your best bet. 

One thing is for sure, though, your vacation in Costa Rica will be an incredible experience you’ll never forget!