The pura vida (pure life) spirit that characterizes Costa Rica is wonderfully contagious. It's one of the many reasons this Central American country is so popular. Travelers who yearn to slow down and be one with nature will find themselves at home among its cloud rainforests, scenic mountains and beautiful beaches.

With an average temperature of around 80℉ (26℃), it’s possible to enjoy Costa Rica all year round, but to get the most out of your trip it’s essential to know which season is best for the activities you want to do. Here are a few things to know about choosing the best time to travel to Costa Rica.

View from under palm tree of woman and child heading to the sea, Costa Rica
Costa Rica lives up to its name thanks to its wide collection of beautiful beaches © Jordan Siemens / Getty Images

December to April: Best time for beach vacations

If your main goal is to spend time in the sun, plan your trip around the country’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 coastline. 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.

Image behind a Woman hiking Arenal volcano trail, Costa Rica
Visit in May and June and you could have the hike up Arenal Volcano to yourself ©MB Photography/Getty Images

May and June: Best time for fewer 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 the time when much of Costa Rica’s plant life comes into bloom.

This time 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: Best time 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: Best time 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: 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 March 2021 and updated October 2023

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