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Costa Rica: When to Go

Costa Rica is a year-round destination with temperatures varying due to elevation rather than seasons. Cool off from sweltering temps along the Caribbean and Pacific coasts with a dip in the sea, and be sure to pack rain gear for the rainforest and long sleeves for cooler nights in the mountains.

The drier season, from December through April, is considered the best time to visit Costa Rica. May through November brings the rainy or “green” season and slightly cheaper rates with fewer tourist crowds. If visiting in these months, keep in mind that travel can get treacherous as remote roads sometimes become impassable from the heavy downpours.

Bird enthusiasts will enjoy feathered wonders all year, but catch a glimpse of the legendary, colorful quetzal between November and April. The leatherback and green turtles arrive for nesting on the Caribbean coast from late February to October, with peak season for leatherbacks in April and May and for green turtles in August and September. Meanwhile, leatherbacks nest on Pacific shores from October to March. Additionally, surfers can take to the waves in the Pacific from late June to October, while the Caribbean coast experiences better swells from November through May.

Costa Rica predominantly is a Roman Catholic country and holidays such as Christmas, New Year’s and Easter are celebrated over several days. Travel gets a bit tedious around these times as a result of reduced transportation services and closed government institutions, banks and businesses. The beaches get crowded for Semana Santa (Easter week), one of the country’s biggest holidays.