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All You Need to Know to Plan Your Trip

Written by Tamarindo News

Costa Rica’s weather is the typical tropical climate with a rainy and dry season. However, there are many micro-climates in the country! So in this post you will learn about Costa Rica’s weather, the tropical seasons, reliable forecasts and more.

Costa Rica Weather

Costa Rica’s tropical dry season is December through end of April. Rainy season is beginning of May to beginning of December.

Breakdown by Months

costa rica weather months

Costa Rica Weather January

January is well in the dry season but may still have some short random on and off sprinkles in the high elevation areas and rainforest. Windy, dry and sunny on the coasts, very comfortable temperatures in the Central Valley and mountains.

Costa Rica Weather February

Generally the driest month of the year. Good swells for surfing. February has the best weather as it’s not quite as hot as March and not as humid like in rainy season. Lots of sunny days and clear skies throughout the country.

Costa Rica Weather March

March is usually the driest month of the year. Expect sunny and hot days. On the coasts, March is extremely dry with clear blue skies all day long on the coasts. Even the Caribbean has dry weather in March.

Something to know is that water temperatures are cold in March for snorkeling, scuba diving and surfing. March is a very busy month for tourism.

Costa Rica Weather April

April is generally the hottest month of the year. Although it’s at the end of dry season, there may be a random rain here and there, particular in the Central Valley. Mid to end of April generally starts getting very humid.

Something important to note is that April is also the second busiest time of year as it coincides with the Northern Hemisphere spring break and the week of Easter which is a major holiday in Costa Rica. Prepare for a busy and crowded visit in April.

Temperatures in March and April can get up to 95-100F (35C – 38C) on the coasts. In the Central Valley and rainforests, temperatures are around 75 – 85F (24C – 29C). So don’t forget your sunscreen!

Costa Rica Weather May

May is the transition month from dry to rainy season. Be prepared for high humidity. Can have random hard rains here and there but generally still hot with sunny mornings. It is hard to predict the weather as rains may be intermittent and sporadic so don’t forget your rainjacket. May is a quiet month in Costa Rica with few tourists.

On the Caribbean coast, May is one of the rainier months.

Costa Rica Weather June

June starts acting more like the proper rainy season with cloudy but dry mornings on the coasts. Random rains in evenings and nights. In the country side and mountains, it may rain off and on. Beginning of June is normally very quiet, by mid June, lots of families start coming down for summer vacation. Water clarity is very good in June normally.

Day time rainy season temperatures don’t vary too much from dry season. It may get a bit cooler at night, particularly up in the mountains.

Costa Rica Weather July

Around mid July, Costa Rica gets something called “little summer” or veranillo. The weather dries up and it seems like dry season with clear blue skies and beautiful sunsets. July can get big swells, great for surfing. Also a good time for other water activities like rafting as rivers are fuller but not crazy.

Costa Rica Weather August

Starts raining more consistently. Tropical waves become more frequent, so there may be some days where it rains in the morning and almost all day. When there isn’t a tropical wave, it’s beautiful and sunny with possibilities of intermittent rain in the late afternoons.

In the Central Valley, it is very common to rain in the evenings and nights in August. Try to schedule all your activities in the morning as mornings are generally still dry and then it’ll start getting cloudy, dark and rainy in the afternoons.

Costa Rica Weather September

September and October are the peak rainy season months. Expect rain wherever you are in the country so bring your rain jacket!

The North Pacific Coast may still have drier days than the rest of the country. On the Caribbean coast, it starts to dry up and start getting more dry, sunny and clear days.

If there’s a tropical storm, it can rain extremely hard in areas like Sarapiqui, Arenal, the Central Valley and South Pacific.

Costa Rica Weather October

October is the summer month on the Caribbean coast so expect full on sunshine. For the rest of the country, October is the rainiest month. Be prepared for rain, thunder and lightning storms. Always be prepared for rain whenever you go out.

October is the lowest month for tourists due to the rain, so it’s a good time to visit if you don’t mind getting wet as you’ll avoid all the crowds.

If you visit in October, try to stick to just one or two destinations and avoid rural areas as landslides and road closure are common for the rain storms. You may want to avoid the South Pacific like Osa Peninsula for these reasons.

Costa Rica Weather November

November is the transition month from rainy to dry season. On the North Pacific coasts, rains become less frequent. Still be prepared for rain on the Central and South Pacific coasts and country sides.

November is our personal favorite month in Costa Rica. It’s lush, green and fresh all throughout the country and there aren’t many tourists yet compared to December.

November is a tricky month for water adventures like white water rafting because river levels may be too high. For safety, tour operators will not run if water levels are too high.

Additionally, November is one of the rainiest months for the Caribbean coast.

Costa Rica Weather December

In December, the transition between rainy and dry is more apparent. The “Christmas winds” start and can still rain in high elevation areas and the South Pacific coasts. But by about mid December or so, rains become much less frequent and normally occur only at night throughout the country.

It is super windy in December so be careful of any activities like parasailing, ocean kayaking, surfing and catamaran cruises.

The Caribbean coast is still rainy in December, as it is influenced by the cold fronts from the Northern Hemisphere.

Best Weather in Costa Rica

Many people ask us “When is the best weather in Costa Rica?” The time for the best weather in Costa Rica is January – April due to the dry season.

If you’re not sure when to visit Costa Rica for the weather, read our post “Best time to visit Costa Rica.”

Locations

Central Valley Weather (San Jose, Alajuela, Heredia, Cartago)

The Central Valley experiences a typical tropical climate.

Average dry season temperatures are mid 70s F (24 C) during the day, cooling down to the 60s F (18 C) at night.

In rainy season, temperatures can drop all the way down to 50s F (12-14 C) at night.

Known for having the most comfortable weather in Costa Rica.

Can rain in April.

Guanacaste Weather (Liberia, La Cruz, Tamarindo, Samara, Nosara, Gulf of Papagayo)

Hottest and driest months are March and April, temperatures can reach 100 F (38 C). Rainiest months are September and October. Gets very humid in rainy season. The Guanacaste province tends to have a longer dry season.

Nicoya Peninsula Weather

The Nicoya Peninsula like Santa Teresa and Montezuma similarly experiences the same weather patterns as Northern and Southern Guanacaste.

La Fortuna Weather

Dry is mid December to end of April. Rainy is May to beginning of December.

Temperatures in dry season during the day are around low to mid 80s F (27 C) and low to mid 70s at night (23 C). About the same in rainy season.

Rainiest months are May, June, September and October. Hottest months are March and April. Can rain sporadically in March or April.

Carribbean Weather (Tortuguero and Puerto Viejo)

Experiences different weather than the rest of Costa Rica.

Does have the possibility to rain throughout the year. Doesn’t have a clear distinction between dry and rainy season.

Drier months are February, March, September and October.

Rainier months are November – January, April – August.

Temperatures are usually in mid 80s F (27 C) and cool down to mid 70s F (25 C) at night.

Always humid.

Jaco and Manuel Antonio Weather

Experiences typical tropical weather.

Very humid all year long

Day temperatures reach around mid 80s F (27 C) and cool off to mid 70s F (25 C) at night. Driest months are March and April and the dry season is mid December to end of April.

Rainy season is from beginning of May to beginning of December. Temperatures stay about the same as dry season. Rainiest months are September – November. Generally is still sunny in the mornings but starts raining mid afternoon or so.

Costa Ballena Weather (Dominical, Uvita, Ojochal)

Similar weather, seasons and temperatures to Manuel Antonio (hot, humid). Tends to be a bit more rainy so it can still rain in January, February and December.

Osa Peninsula Weather (Drake Bay, Puerto Jimenez, Corcovado National Park)

This area is extremely humid all year long.

Dry season temperatures are similar to the Caribbean and Jaco/Manuel Antonio. The Osa Peninsula is generally around mid to high 80s F (27-32 C) during dry season.

The dry season months are mid December to end of April. Driest months are March and April.

Rainy season is usually May to beginning of December. This area can rain a lot and it rains hard! Especially June and September – November. During those months it can start raining early afternoon through the night.

Monteverde Weather

Monteverde sits around 1500 meters (4900 feet) in elevation so weather is fresh mountain weather. However this area does tend to rain more being high in elevation.

Dry season months are January – end of April.

Dry season temperatures average around high 70s (26 C) and cools off at night down to mid 60s F (18 C). Can have light showers and sprinkles during dry season which is why you will see lots of rainbows in Monteverde. Driest months are March and April.

Rainy season is end of April/beginning of May until end of December. Fairly rainy in May, June, August – November. Can still have sunny and dry mornings but will start raining by noon or mid morning in August – November. Rainy season day temperatures are around low 70s F (20 C) and high 50s F (10 C) at night.

Monteverde’s weather is also similar to San Isidro del General, Bajos del Toro, Vara Blanca and San Gerardo de Dota as they are all high in elevation.

Costa Rica Weather Things to Know

  • Costa Rica is 8-12 degrees from the equator
  • It doesn’t snow in Costa Rica.
  • It does get cold (around 50-60s F at night, 12-16 C in some areas during rainy season.
  • There are no four distinct winter, spring, summer and fall seasons.
  • The sun sets and rises around the same time all year long. Sunrise is generally 530 AM, sunset is generally 530 PM. Also Costa Rica does not participate in daylight savings time.
  • There are over 20 micro-climates in Costa Rica.

Average Temperatures in Costa Rica

Generally, the average temperature in Costa Rica does not vary greatly. For example, temperatures in November don’t differ too greatly from February despite it being in rainy and dry season. The average temperature in Costa Rica is between 72 to 82 F (22 to 28 C).

For most of the country, the hottest months in Costa Rica are March and April. January and February are also very hot and may only differ by a one or two degrees (Celsius).

The rainiest months are generally September and October (except for the Caribbean) so you will find that this depends on the region.

Dry Season

Dry season is generally from beginning of December to end of April in Costa Rica. Some characteristics of dry season are:

Temperatures rise up to low to high 90s F (35 C) on the coasts. Average temperature in San Jose and cities are around low to mid 80s (29 C). Nights cool off.

High winds in some areas, big swells on the Pacific and Caribbean coasts December, January and February.

Sun for weeks!

The Pacific coast gets extremely dry. It turns yellow like a desert, rivers and waterfalls dry up and it gets really dusty. This is in Guanacaste and the Nicoya Peninsula.

Costa Rica weather - dry season
Guanacaste coast in dry season (February). Trees are dead, hills are brown and yellow. Super dry like a desert.

The hottest months are March and April for most of the country. On the coasts, temperatures soar into the low 100s (38 C). Up in the mountains like the Central Valley and Monteverde, temperatures hover in the high 80s F (30-31 C).

Dry season also correlates to the high tourism season thanks to the snowbirds and vacationers who want to get away from the intense winters up north. End of December through April is very busy.

How to prepare for dry season:

Wear lots of sunscreen, at least SPF 30-50.  Make sure to re-apply frequently and do not forget chapstick with SPF!

Drink lots of water. We recommend bringing an insulated water bottle so you can always have cold water and you don’t waste plastic.

Bring after sun gel

Shorts, tank tops and flip flops will be your outfit for most of the country. We recommend clothes that dry fast like Nike dri-fit. You’ll be very sweaty!

What to know about dry season:

It can still rain in some parts of the country like the South Pacific or Osa Peninsula as those areas are more humid. We visited Dominical in February and it poured for 5 days straight.

There are still mosquitoes in Costa Rica during dry season. Bring repellent.

The Caribbean does not have a distinct dry season. There is a dedicated section to the Caribbean weather in Costa Rica below. Read it if you’re visiting Tortuguero or Puerto Viejo.

The dry season doesn’t just all of a sudden start as if someone turned off a faucet of rainy season. It will gradually stop raining less and less in December but it may still be cloudy, have random light sprinkles or rain at night. Usually by end of December, there isn’t much rain and days are clearer and sunnier. That is why we call November, December, May and June our transition months.

Dry season is what locals call their summer.

Rainy Season

Rainy season is generally from beginning of May to mid December. Characteristics of rainy season are:

Normal rainy season days are sunny in the mornings and rainy in the afternoon and evenings.

It is even more humid than dry season. It’s common to see the weather say “current temperature is 32 C but feels like 38 C due to humidity).

In Guanacaste and Puntarenas, the mountains turn green after the first few rains.

It can start raining/storming randomly. It’ll be sunny one second and storming the next. Rains can last for just 10 minutes and then it’s sunny again. Prepare for sporadic periods of rain.

Costa Rica weather - rainy season
Rainy season in Guanacaste. Mountains are so lush and green.

Raininest Months

The rainiest months are September, October and November. May and June starts seeing the first showers, July lets up a bit (I will talk about that in the “Little summer” section) and from August on, it starts raining more consistently, particularly in the evenings.

Rainy season is what locals call their winter. This also correlates to Costa Rica’s low tourism season. It gets busy in July and August for summer vacation but September, October and November are the lowest tourism season months for most of the country. September and October is high season for the Caribbean.

How to prepare for rainy season:

Even though it may be cloudy out, still put on sunscreen. Being so close to the equator means the sun rays are intense even if it’s cloudy.

Bring lots and lots of mosquito repellent. Mosquitoes thrive during rainy season since they breed in stagnant water.

Bring waterproof/water repellent equipment, especially if you have any electronics. Be prepared because rain storms start suddenly and unexpectedly!

Bring a warm jacket, waterproof jacket and long pants if you will be anywhere up in the mountains.

Get travel insurance! I recommend this for any time of the year in Costa Rica but especially rainy season. Rainy season brings more slippery roads, more mosquitoes and more possibilities of incidents.

The weather during rainy season can change in a blink of an eye. It can be incredibly sunny one minute and then pouring down rain with lightning the next. Always be prepared when visiting in rainy season to protect your equipment, especially your electronics.

Read our packing list for rainy season in Costa Rica and our packing list for Costa Rica to be prepared.

How much does it rain in Costa Rica?

How much it rains in Costa Rica depends on the location. Additionally, El Niño and La Niña both affect Costa Rica.

The important thing to note is that during rainy season, it can rain very hard. If you’ve ever experienced any type of tropical climate, you will know what I’m talking about.

The Coasts

The Pacific Coast stays quite hot even in rainy season. Guanacaste is doesn’t experience a heavy rainy season until August or so.

And when it rains, it rains hard! You can see in the video below how hard it’s raining in Playas del Coco in October.

Generally on the coasts it is sunny in the morning and rains in the afternoon and night. The South Pacific and Osa Peninsula are more humid areas so it tends to rain more down there. It can rain in January or February and it can rain from morning until night in September – November.

The Mountains

If you are in the city like San Jose or the cloud forests of Monteverde, it is a lot colder since you are at around 1000-1500 meters (3200 – 5000 feet) in elevation. In rainy season, temperatures are high 70s (25 C) and can get down to the low 60s (16 C).

It is normal for it to rain all day in rainy season or be very cloudy with off and on showers. These areas can also start having sporadic rains in April.

“Little Summer” and Shoulder Months

Though rainy season is generally from end of May to beginning of December, there sometimes is a “little summer” in the middle of July. It becomes very sunny and dry like dry season. Just remember that it’s tropical weather which is unpredictable so you should still come prepared for rain.

Costa Rica weather - little summer
Little summer in La Fortuna. Very cloudy but no rain.

Shoulder months are May, June and end of November/beginning of December when the weather is transitioning from dry to rainy and vice versa. You may run into rain when it is transitioning from rainy to dry on December and you’ll start getting some rain in May and June.

These are our favorite months in Costa Rica because it starts getting super green in May and June after the first few hard rains. It does get more humid though which also means more mosquitoes.

Caribbean

The Caribbean experiences a very different climate than the rest of Costa Rica. It doesn’t have the typical dry and rainy season. Instead, the Caribbean side may rain any time of the year and it is always humid.

The summer months on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica are September and October. The rainiest months are June and November. January – March are generally drier.

Costa Rica weather - Caribbean
Caribbean coast in mid-November. It was very cloudy and windy for 5 days but no rain. We got blue skies and lots of sun for 2 days.

We visited Tortuguero in November and had short heavy showers in the late afternoon but beautiful sunny mornings and early afternoons. In September we ran into storms, had off and on sunny days in November and cloudy days in December.

Costa Rica Weather Forecast

It is hard to find an accurate forecast for Costa Rica in rainy season since the weather changes sporadically. And weather apps like to show thunder and lightning storms everyday in rainy season so it makes people think it’s pouring rain all day everyday!

There are a couple of sites that can give you a very close prediction. Wunderground is one we like to use. We also like Windy.com.

Another site that is super useful and can give you more local information is the IMN (Instituto Meteorológico Nacional de Costa Rica). They have stations throughout the country and has more detailed information for specific places (regional locations).

Instagram

I like to check Instagram to see what weather is like in Costa Rica at the places I’m going. I look at the hashtag or the location on Instagram to see recent photos posted by other people so I can get an idea of what the weather is like.

Best Activities to Do During Dry Season

Dry season is perfect for those who want to soak in the sun all day long. Beach lovers will love dry season! It’s also great for hiking because you won’t have to worry about getting rained out or going as early as possible to avoid rain.

The best activities surfing, hiking, beach hopping, canyoning, boat rides, waterfalls and ziplining. You won’t have to worry about rain at the beach at all.

However, January and February are usually very windy. Due to these winds, the water can get very cold in March, but the cold does bring more wildlife since it stirs up the nutrients.

If you love birds, February – July are excellent months to see the Resplendant Quetzal in Monteverde as it is their mating months. Wildlife watching on rivers is also the best during this time because all of the migratory birds are in Costa Rica. This is the best time to go to Palo Verde National Park, Rio Tarcoles, Sierpe Mangrove and Rio Tempisque.

Best Activities to Do During Rainy Season

Wildlife watching is best in rainy season. Peak turtle egg laying season is August – December in Tortuguero National Park and Ostional Wildlife Refuge. Peak humpback whale watching season in Costa Rica is August and September.

Costa RIca weather - turtles in rainy season
Mating and turtle laying season is best in July – November.

Water activities are also very good. White water rafting is incredible because the water level is high. In dry season, it is normal for rivers to turn into Class 2 and 3 rapids and in rainy season, they turn into Class 3 and 4!

However, if it’s been raining a lot, the rivers and waterfalls may be too full so the tour may have to be canceled, which is one downside.

Tip for activities and tours during rainy season: Schedule activities in the morning. Since average rainy season days are sunny in the morning and rainy in the afternoon, you will have better weather in the morning.

Since I know not everyone is stoked about rain, I wrote a post about 6 reasons why you should visit Costa Rica in rainy season. I’m a little biased because I actually love the rain but Costa Rica is still as magical and amazing in the rain as it is in dry season.

Want to know more about Costa Rica? Check these posts out!

Costa Rica Facts

Getting around Costa Rica

Taking public transportation in Costa Rica

Best places to visit in Costa Rica

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