Are you planning your post-Covid-19 getaway to one of the most beautiful and sustainable destinations our planet has to offer? Great! Then there is only one question left: What is the best time to visit Costa Rica?
Costa Rica. The name barely escapes pen and paper when visions of tropical beaches, lush forests, diverse wildlife and “Pura Vida” come to mind.
Home to 29 national parks, 19 wildlife reserves and 5% of Earth’s biodiversity, it has not always been this way.
Farmers had deforested much of the land to make it more productive, and much of the wildlife started disappearing until the government introduced several programs to protect the environment.
Costa Rica is now one of the world’s leaders in ecotourism and sustainable tourism growth. It is ecotourism’s pop star.
With excellent national parks, a stable democratic government, excellent healthcare, one of the highest living standards, one of the highest literacy rates, a pleasant climate, and a lush landscape, it is an ideal vacation destination.
Costa Rica has achieved a healthy balance between a protected environment, a strong economy and a dynamic society. Most tour operators and businesses are rated on how well they support environmental measures and the local communities.
This rating system is a good way for tourists to decide where to visit, and there is no shortage of tours and attractions to keep you busy year-round.
Now, you just have to choose when to go.
Weather or Not
Costa Rica is a tropical country, which means there are two seasons. The wet rainy season lasts from May to early December and the hot, dry season from December to March or early April.
During the rainy season, the mornings are usually sunny, and afternoons are rainy. The average temperature is around 76 °F (24° C).
Generally, there are twelve hours of sunlight each day.
There can be many variations from region to region due to the difference in geography. The highlands are colder and misty.
The lowlands are the driest areas. The Caribbean coast has unpredictable weather, and the Pacific coast can be hot year-round.
Tour activities are offered throughout the entire year, being unaffected by the weather (except in severe thunderstorms). More than the weather, the activities you wish to engage in will factor into your decision about when the best time to visit Costa Rica is.
Here is a summary of some of those activities and the best time to enjoy them.
Explore Costa Rica’s National Parks
December and January are the two nicest months to explore, with the lush vegetation still vibrant from the rainy season, and the weather is sunny.
If rafting is part of your plan, you will find moderate to high flowing rivers at this time of the year. Wildlife viewing is still excellent around this time as well.
By the way, the best time to visit Costa Rica for hiking is always. Pack your hiking shoes (and in the wet season a rain coat) and go!
Best Time to Visit Costa Rica for Birdwatching
You will not be disappointed if you choose to go birdwatching in Costa Rica at any time of the year. But generally, the dry season is the better time to spot birds due to a lack of foliage in the nesting trees. In fact, there are over 850 species of birds that live there.
The resplendent quetzal is considered one of the world’s most beautiful birds, it is best spotted from November to April.
You can spot the beautiful hummingbirds in the hummingbird garden located in the Monteverde cloud forest anytime between December and April. Migratory bird species will be more numerous in spring and autumn.
Costa Rica is known as a surfing hotspot. With the incredible climate and beautiful beaches, surfers can engage in this activity all year round.
Still, if you are after the bigger swells, then the best surfing conditions can be found on the Caribbean coast during the dry season from November to March.
The Pacific Ocean produces bigger swells during the rainy season, especially August, September and October.
Best Time to Visit Costa Rica’s Beaches
Enjoy relaxing on miles of white sand stretched out before you in the peak season for dry, sunny weather, which runs from November to April.
If you want to avoid the crowds, consider booking in the green season when temperatures are still lovely, and the landscape explodes with vibrant colors, blooming flowers, and fruit trees in bud.
The workaround solution is to enjoy your morning or early afternoon activities before the usual daily afternoon showers.
The Pacific coast can be hot year-round, so you can be confident booking a beach vacation at one of the many resorts along that coastline throughout the year.
Support the Turtles
First and most important, you may only go turtle watching on a guided tour as this is the only legal way to watch sea turtles in Costa Rica.
A good tour operator will keep the nesting sites safe and protect the new hatchlings. Know that you cannot walk on turtle nesting beaches on your own as these species are very vulnerable and feel the impact of environmental damage.
Five main species live in Costa Rica: The Leatherbacks, the Olive Ridley, the Loggerheads, the Hawksbills and the Green Sea turtles.
The high season for turtle viewing is during the rainy season, with slight variation for each species. The turtles will arrive along the Caribbean and the Pacific coast to nest anytime between May and November.
August seems to be the peak month.
TIP: If you are interested in helping to protect the sea turtles, there are volunteering options as well.
The Best Time to Visit Costa Rica
Costa Rica has beaches, forests, wildlife, grand adventures, and a great climate. Wrap up your vacation plans in one neat little package called Costa Rica.
With so many activities to choose from, you will want to return year after year at different times (or just stay forever?). Costa Rica will always be ready to impress you with its unique biodiversity and welcoming people.
This is a country that is moving forward with ecotourism and sustainable growth. Find the best time to visit Costa Rica for your unique travel plans to see the best that it has to offer!