The weather in Costa Rica gets a bad rap in rainy season. Personally, it’s my favorite time of year.
But read any traditional tourism report and it will tell you the best time to visit Costa Rica is from December to April when most of the country experiences dry season – except for the Caribbean which has a different climate. Sure, it is hot and sunny and that’s why this time is called “Costa Rican summer”, but it is also dusty, windy, and the landscape burns into brown.
Rainy season isn’t called “green season” for nothing. Rain transforms the landscape into vibrant lushness positively bursting with life. From the end of May to mid-December, Costa Rica once again looks like the tourism posters with emerald green countryside and flowing rivers and waterfalls.
Let’s get a few things straight. Rarely does it rain all day, every day. Mornings are usually warm and sunny or partly cloudy, and it tends to rain in the afternoon or at night. Or it could reverse and be misty and rainy in the morning, followed by a glorious afternoon and sunset. Like anywhere, different regions have different weather patterns.
Many days it doesn’t rain at all. For instance, at the very end of June there is usually a “little summer” called El veranillo de San Juan that lasts from a few days up to two weeks.
And the rain helps cool things down to much more moderate temperatures – 70s in the Central Valley and low to mid-80s on the Pacific Coast.
See why visiting and living in Costa Rica during rainy season is pure bliss.
10 Reasons you will absolutely love Costa Rica’s rainy season
1. Fewer crowds. Nearly 3 million tourists visited Costa Rica in 2016, and most of those came between Christmas and the end of April, escaping winter months in the north. During rainy season, you can have the beaches and rainforest almost all to yourself, especially after everyone goes back to school and work in September.
2. Great deals. Less people visiting in rainy season means you can often save big with great deals on places to stay, tours and even flights. One caveat is that Costa Rican schools let out for a two-week vacation at the beginning of July, and most Ticos from the Central Valley head for the beaches, creating a mini-high season.
3. The weather is great. There is still plenty of sunshine, and the rain cools down temperatures pleasantly.
4. It’s lovely being green. There are more shades of green in Costa Rica rainy season than you can possibly imagine. Plants grow in measurable inches and feet, trees are full and leafy, flowers bloom, grass grows anywhere it can, and clouds intensify stunning sunset colors.
5. Birds, bees and butterflies. They’re everywhere enjoying the bountiful blossoms, fruits and seeds that the rain brings. Get your camera ready!
6. Time to relax. Enjoy the outdoors in the mornings and a cup of rich Costa Rican coffee, a good book and a hammock with a tarp (or a nap!) when it rains. You came to Costa Rica to relax, right?
7. Sea turtle time. July to November are great months to see nesting sea turtles in the Tortuguero National Park on the Caribbean Coast, the Ostional National Wildlife Refuge on the Pacific’s Nicoya Peninsula, and on less traveled beaches along the Central and Southern Pacific Coast.
8. Whale watching. The end of July through the end of September is prime whale-watching season in Costa Rica during humpback whale migration. Best places to go are in the Southern Pacific region at the Ballena Marine National Park by Uvita, and in the gulf of Golfo Dulce by the Osa Peninsula.
9. Adventure tours are more exciting. Lots of water in the rivers creates adrenaline-filled whitewater rafting trips. And canopy zip line tours are more mysterious and gripping as you fly through the trees in the mist after a rain shower.
10. Secret Caribbean Summer. Most people don’t know that during peak rainy season in Costa Rica’s Central Valley and Pacific Coast, it is sunny summertime on the Caribbean Coast. The Caribbean has a completely different climate from the rest of Costa Rica. Most of the year, it maintains its forever-green landscape from regular tropical rain showers. But in September and October, the sun shines brightly over its beautiful gold and black sand beaches and turquoise Caribbean Sea.
By Shannon Farley
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