I’m often asked, “When is the best time to visit Costa Rica?” The short answer is – any time is a great time to go to Costa Rica. But you probably already figured that out, so let me break it down for you.
To understand when you should go to Costa Rica you need to answer 5 fundamental questions.
Is cost important to you?
You will see on Google and other sites that the best time is from mid-December to April (the dry season). It’s also the peak tourist season. And we travelers know what that means. Higher rates!
The cost for flights does not always coincide with Costa Rica’s high and low seasons. However, I have never seen a time where flights around the holidays in November and December were lower than they would be in September. If you’re looking for cheap airline tickets, your best bet is to try for September, October or the first part of November.
Do you enjoy being around other tourists?
While you might (keyword might) get plenty of sunshine during the dry season, you’re also going to get an influx of people around you. This southern girl likes her quiet time, so if you’re like me, you will want to avoid the peak season.
The caveat to this is that crowds do tend to thin out after Easter, but come back with a vengeance in June and July for summer vacation.
When can you travel?
As stated before we wouldn’t advise you not to go to Costa Rica in the rainy season. The rainy season covers seven months of the year! It’s known as the “green season” so you’ll see some rain. However, being a tropical country, there’s always a chance of rain in Costa Rica anyway.
Costa Rica enjoys a highly varied landscape and huge variety in its geography. It brings two very different coastlines and everything from dense tropical rainforest to cloud forest and mountains. This landscape creates a broad range of weather patterns across the country, which means you are likely to experience a vast range of weather on any trip at any time of year. Average temperatures range from 86ºF on the Pacific and Caribbean coasts to a milder climate in the cloud forest areas of Monteverde, where it can dip to 50ºF at night.
Are you looking to see specific animals?
It seems strange to me that most people don’t touch on this subject at all when talking about visiting Costa Rica. The animals and being in nature is one of the many reasons to go to Costa Rica. I broke it down into sections below the questions.
However, animals that can be seen year around include dolphins, sloths, monkeys, frogs, bats, anteaters, insects and so much more!
What activities do you want to do?
There are so many activities to do in Costa Rica! While surfing, fishing, and whitewater rafting have peek times (more details below), other activities such as Kayaking, Rappelling, Horseback Riding, Mountain Biking, and Ziplining can be enjoyed year around, weather permitting.
When to See Whales in Costa Rica
Costa Rica is home to an estimated 25 whale and dolphin species, which migrate, mate and make their home in the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea. Each group arrives in Costa Rica at the beginning of their respective winter and stays until spring comes to their home.
Dominical/Uvita and Osa Peninsula are the major stomping ground of Costa Rica’s whale and dolphin species. Humpback whales migrate through the region between late July and November and again between December and March. The nation’s most iconic and oft-spotted whale, the humpback, spends more than eight months a year in these waters – the longest humpback whale season in the world!
The Osa Peninsula is home to more than just humpback whales – visitors to the region can see more than 25 species of whales that either migrate through the area or live there permanently. Local species include bottlenose and spotted dolphins, which are particularly common in Drake Bay. Drake Bay is also home to a marine life center, which carries out important research and offers tours to travelers.
When to See Sea Turtles in Costa Rica
Olive Ridleys – To see the nesting behavior of Olive Ridleys called arribada (when as many as 20,000 turtles arrive on the beach in one night) you need to be in the right place and the right location like Ostional in Guanacaste and Nancite beaches near the new moon between August-December. The turtles lay their eggs on the beach one – five times a month, ten days or so before the new moon between 8 pm and 4 am.
Loggerhead Turtle – A few nests have been documented in the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica between the months of May and August.
Hawksbill Turtle – In Costa Rica, it nests mainly in the Caribbean at Cahuita National Park (although also in the Pacific) coast between the months of May and October.
Green Turtle – Green Turtles nest along the beaches of Tortuguero National Park from July to October.
Leatherback Turtle – In Costa Rica this species nests on both coasts; on the Caribbean side, they nest between March and July along most of the coast. On the Pacific side, they nest between September and March, mainly in Playa Grande.
For a visual look at where you can see sea turtles click here
When is the Best Time to Visit Costa Rica
The answer to that question lies in what you want to get out of your vacation. There is no wrong time to visit Costa Rica! Costa Rica is a small country, but offers more than a lovely landscape and beautiful weather – this tropical country is steeped in rich history and boasts a community-centric lifestyle.
Surfers, history buffs, birders, and nature enthusiasts will find that a Costa Rican vacation can provide something amazing to explore.
This post is linked at Weekend Wanderlust