When is the best time to visit Costa Rica?

Pura Vida! Welcome to the beautiful country of Costa Rica with its lush rainforests, golden beaches, and stunning wildlife. Located in Central America, Costa Rica is known for its ecological diversity, home to over 5% of the world's biodiversity, boasting a huge range of wildlife, from sloths and monkeys to toucans and sea turtles. Costa Rica also has an incredibly diverse landscape, from the surreal and mystical cloud forests of Monteverde to the sunny beaches of the Nicoya Peninsula. With so much to see and do it's no wonder that Costa Rica is such a popular destination for travellers from all over the world. Whether you're a nature lover, a beach bum or an adventure seeker, Costa Rica has something for you.

So when is the best time to visit this stunning location? This blog post will break it down into two main tourist seasons: low and high, sharing some of the best things to do during each one.

Arenal volcano Costa Rica

Low Season

The low season in Costa Rica runs from May to November, and this is generally considered the rainy season. However, don't let that put you off - the rain in Costa Rica is warm and refreshing, and it usually comes in short bursts, leaving the rest of the day sunny and beautiful. The low season is also a great time to visit if you want to avoid the crowds and enjoy lower prices on flights and accommodation.

Best things to do during the low season:

  • Take a dip in one of Costa Rica's many hot springs, which are especially relaxing on a rainy day.
  • Go on a jungle hike - the rainforest is at its most vibrant during the rainy season, with lush green foliage and plenty of wildlife to spot.
  • Visit the Arenal Volcano - the clouds and mist give this majestic volcano an eerie, otherworldly atmosphere.
  • Take a whale-watching tour: The Pacific coast is home to humpback whales during the shoulder season, making it the perfect time to take a whale-watching tour.
  • Visit the beaches: The beaches are less crowded during this time, making it a great time to relax and soak up the sun.

High Season

The high season in Costa Rica runs from December through to April, coinciding with the dry season. This is the busiest time of year for tourism, peaking in the weeks around Christmas, New Year and Easter when visitors from all over the world flock to the country to soak up the sun, enjoy outdoor activities, and explore the natural wonders of Costa Rica.

During the high season, you can expect warm temperatures, clear skies, and plenty of sunshine, the perfect time to hit the beach, go surfing or take a hike through the rainforest. Bear in mind though that prices for accommodation, activities and tours will be higher during this time of year so be sure to plan accordingly.

Best Things to Do During the High Season

If you're visiting Costa Rica during the high season there are plenty of things to see and do. Here are just a few of our top recommendations:

  • Visit Manuel Antonio National Park: Located on the Pacific Coast, this park is home to stunning beaches, lush rainforests, and a variety of wildlife, including monkeys, sloths, and toucans.
  • Go surfing: With its warm waters and consistent waves, Costa Rica is a surfer's paradise. Some of the top surf spots include Jaco Beach, Tamarindo, and Pavones.
  • Take a zip-line tour: Get a bird's-eye view of the rainforest canopy by taking a zip line above the trees
Turtles Costa Rica

When is the Rainy Season in Costa Rica?

The rainy season is between May and November and is also known as the "green season" as the increased rainfall leads to lush, green landscapes. While it can rain heavily at times, the rain usually comes in short bursts and is often followed by sunshine. The rainy season is a great time to visit if you're interested in seeing the country's stunning waterfalls at their fullest or exploring the rainforest when it's at its greenest and most vibrant.

When is the Dry Season in Costa Rica?

The dry season in Costa Rica runs from December to April and is often referred to as the "high season" because of the increased tourism during this time. This is a great time to visit if you're interested in spending time on the beach, as the weather is dry and sunny and the sea is calm making for safer swimming conditions.

Costa Rica Sloth

Quietest time to visit Costa Rica

To experience some peace and quiet the best time to visit Costa Rica is during the country's rainy season, from May to November. Fewer people visit during this time and whilst the rain can put a damper on some outdoor activities, it also means that the rainforests are more lush and green, making it a perfect time to explore the natural beauty of Costa Rica. The rain however is not constant and you can still enjoy plenty of sunshine with pleasant temperatures in between the showers and as the rain usually falls in the late afternoon or evening you can plan your activities accordingly.

The quieter season also means that you'll have fewer crowds to contend with at popular tourist destinations such as Manuel Antonio National Park or Arenal Volcano. This makes it a perfect time for nature lovers who want to enjoy the country's natural beauty in peace and tranquility.

Best time to visit rainforests and jungles in Costa Rica

If you're planning a trip to Costa Rica specifically to explore the rainforests and jungles, then the best time to visit is from December to April, during the country's dry season, when it is easier to explore the rainforest trails without getting too wet and the weather is warm and dry. Take a guided tour or hike through one of Costa Rica's many national parks, such as Corcovado or Manuel Antonio.

Just remember though that you can still expect some rain, so be sure to pack rain gear and waterproof shoes.

The wet season in Costa Rica, from May to November, can also be a good time to visit the rainforests. Although it's more challenging to explore the trails during this time due to the increased rainfall, the rainforests are at their most vibrant and lush, with plenty of new growth and a wide variety of wildlife to see.

Best Time to Visit Costa Rica for Wildlife:

Costa Rica is a paradise for wildlife lovers, with over 500,000 species of animals and plants. The best time to visit Costa Rica for wildlife will depend on what you want to see.

If you're interested in seeing sea turtles, the best time to visit is from July to September when the turtles come ashore to lay their eggs. On the other hand, if you want to see humpback whales, the best time to visit is from December to April when they migrate to the warm waters of the Pacific coast.

For bird watching, the best time to visit is during the dry season, from December to April, when many species of birds are actively breeding and nesting. The rainforest canopy is also less dense during this time, making it easier to spot birds.

If you're interested in seeing monkeys and other mammals, the best time to visit is during the wet season, from May to November. The rainforests are at their most lush and vibrant, and the animals are more active, making it easier to spot them.

Best time to visit the beaches in Costa Rica

The best time to visit Costa Rican beaches depends on your preferences and what you want to do there.

If you want to enjoy sunny and dry weather then the dry season is the best time to visit the beaches as during this time the ocean is calmer, making it perfect for swimming, snorkelling, and scuba diving, water visibility is also better, which is great for observing marine life.

However if you are a surfer then the best time to visit Costa Rican beaches is during May to November, the rainy season as this is when the waves are bigger and better for surfing. The rain also helps to keep the beaches and surrounding areas lush and green.

It's worth noting that some beaches in Costa Rica are more affected by the rainy season than others. For example, the Caribbean coast tends to have more rainfall throughout the year, while the Pacific coast tends to be drier.

So, when is the best time to visit Costa Rica?

Costa Rica is a beautiful country with a diverse range of flora and fauna, and there's no bad time to visit. However, depending on what you want to see and do, some times of the year are better than others. We hope this guide helps you plan your next trip to Costa Rica to experience its stunning rainforests and wildlife.