One destination on most everyone’s must-see travel list is tropical Costa Rica. This Central American country is home to wild jungles, incredible national parks, cascading waterfalls, and more.
With a booming tourism industry and tons of things for everyone to enjoy, anyone who’s been to beautiful Costa Rica will tell you – you’ve got to see it to believe it. But the country’s two seasons (dry and rainy) mean the weather there swings wildly throughout the year.
But don’t worry — we’ll show you the best time to visit Costa Rica no matter what your goal is – the best overall trip, the cheapest, the least busy, and more. Let us be your guide!
The Best Time to Visit Costa Rica
The best time to visit Costa Rica is between July and August — the “little high season”. You get it all when you visit at this time of year!
The weather is amazing with little rain to ruin your outdoor plans, crowds are moderate, and pricing for airfare, accommodations, and car rentals are lower than in the true high season.
No wonder July and August are highly regarded as the best time to visit Costa Rica by travel agencies and experienced travelers in the know! In July and August, Costa Rica is in the drier part of the rainy season – Costa Ricans call it veranillo or ‘little summer’.
Rains typically pass quickly at this time of year, delivering much-needed hydration to the lush jungles and rain forests without sticking around long enough to make your beach trip a waste.
The light rains during July and August are nothing compared to the deluges common in September through December. And it’s much less rainy at this time of year than during May and June (other popular times to visit).
If you decide to go during July or August, you’ll get the best of both worlds with sunny, warm temperatures, fewer crowds, and cheaper pricing than the peak season. And the only tradeoff is a little short-lived rainfall during your stay!
Cheapest Time to Visit Costa Rica
The cheapest time to visit Costa Rica is between September and mid-December (the low season). November and early December are traveler favorites for cheap prices and fewer tourists.
Crowds are thin, so the pricing for airfare, accommodations, and rentals is much lower at this time of year. But you should know that this period is also the height of the Costa Rican rainy season.
When you visit at this time of year, you’ll only get glimpses of the “ideal” Costa Rican weather because there’s so much rainfall. But there are certainly bonuses to traveling here during the low season.
While there’s more rainfall from September through mid-December than any other part of the year, you also benefit from cheaper prices and fewer crowds. Be sure to plan your stay before mid-December, because prices (and crowds) pick back up for Christmas break near the end of December.
Many report that November and early December are the best times to go on a budget. As the heavy rainfall begins to wrap up in mid-December, it’s also one of the best times of year to spot wildlife on land and in the ocean.
You’ll see sloths, monkeys, humpback whales, sea turtles, and migratory birds in abundance in November and December – sounds like an ideal vacation!
Least Busy Time to Visit Costa Rica
The least busy time to visit Costa Rica is between October through early December. This is the low season in Costa Rica due to the heavy rainfall (it’s the peak and tail end of the rainy season).
With fewer demand for airfare, accommodations, and rentals, prices are also cheaper during the low season. So you’ll also save a lot of money if you plan your visit during this time of year! Don’t think your trip is doomed to heavy rains all day, every day if you visit from October through early December.
While there’s considerably more rainfall during these months, the rains in Costa Rica move through quickly and will still leave you with plenty of time to enjoy the sunny beaches and outdoor exploration.
You’ll have an easier time booking a last-minute vacation at this time of year with fewer crowds and less tourists choosing to visit. And with fewer crowds, you’ll feel that you’ve got the beach, park, or town to yourself.
For anyone who appreciates exploring new countries “off the beaten path,” this is arguably the best time of year to go for authentic experiences. The cheaper pricing is just a bonus!
Worst Time to Visit Costa Rica
First, let us say that there’s truly no bad time to visit Costa Rica. Even if you go during the height of the rainy season or peak tourism times, you’re going to appreciate the natural beauty and cultural vibrancy of this country.
But if we had to single out the worst time to visit Costa Rica, it would be late December through January. That time period shifts slightly depending on your goals for the trip.
- The worst time to visit overall is late December through January. Prices and crowds are at their peak, making this the most expensive and crowded time to visit. You’ll pay more, deal with bigger crowds, and less availability for rooms, flights, and rentals, but hey – it’s peak season for a reason. The weather is great and wildlife is abundant at this time of year.
- If budget is your main concern, late December (Christmas and New Year’s) and Easter (usually late March through mid-April) are the worst times to visit. With Christmas and Easter holidays drawing thousands of tourists to Costa Rica during these times, prices for flights, rooms, and rentals jump and nearly double.
- If avoiding big crowds is your goal, the worst time to visit Costa Rica is during the peak season from December through January. This is the busiest time of year for tourism and prices are also at their peak.
Whether you book your trip during the best time to visit Costa Rica or during the “worst,” you’re going to have an amazing tropical experience. Some of the worst times to visit are also the best in terms of weather, little rainfall, and wildlife spotting opportunities!
Costa Rica by Month: Climate & Activities
Still unsure about the best time to visit Costa Rica? Take a look at our summary of the weather and climate by month below:
Winter temperatures in Costa Rica range from 68-82°F. It’s the dry season on the Pacific coast, making it an ideal time for beach activities, wildlife watching, and exploring national parks.
Similar to January, February maintains pleasant temperatures between 68-82°F. It’s an excellent month for exploring rainforests, taking canopy tours, and enjoying outdoor adventures.
As spring begins, temperatures range from 69-83°F. March offers opportunities for bird watching, visiting volcanoes, and experiencing local culture, including traditional festivals.
Spring continues with temperatures between 70-83°F. While it’s the end of the dry season, April is a great time for eco-tourism, with lush green landscapes and vibrant flora.
May sees temperatures ranging from 71-84°F. It’s the start of the rainy season, but mornings often remain dry, providing time for outdoor activities like hiking and exploring Costa Rica’s diverse ecosystems.
Summer arrives with temperatures between 71-83°F. June marks the beginning of the green season, offering lower tourist numbers and opportunities to experience Costa Rica’s natural beauty.
In July, Costa Rica maintains mild temperatures from 71-83°F. Despite occasional rain, it’s an excellent time for turtle nesting tours, exploring cloud forests, and enjoying the gorgeous beige-sand beaches.
Temperatures in August range from 71-83°F. It’s a popular month for whale watching on the Pacific coast and experiencing the lush landscapes of Costa Rica’s national parks.
In September, Costa Rica sees temperatures between 70-82°F, with more consistent rainfall. While it’s the rainy season, it’s an excellent time for surfing, river rafting, and enjoying the country’s unique biodiversity.
Rainy season persists in October, with temperatures ranging from 70-81°F. It’s an off-peak month, offering lower prices for accommodations and the chance to explore Costa Rica’s natural wonders with fewer crowds.
November marks the end of the rainy season, with temperatures between 69-81°F. It’s an ideal time for wildlife photography, hiking, and enjoying the beauty of Costa Rica’s national parks.
Winter returns with temperatures ranging from 68-80°F. December is a popular month for holiday travelers, offering a festive atmosphere, opportunities for water sports, and the chance to explore Costa Rica’s rich biodiversity.
So, What Is the Best Time to Visit Costa Rica?
If you want an unforgettable tropical vacation, Costa Rica is one of the best destinations. The best time to visit Costa Rica overall is July through August – you get the best, most balanced experience during this time, called “the little high season.”
Prices are slightly cheaper, crowds aren’t bad, and the weather is excellent because this is the veranillo or “little summer” in Costa Rica.
It’s even cheaper if you visit during the low season, September through mid-December (especially November and early December). With annual tourism at its lowest point, the prices for airfare, hotels, and rentals plummet and you can score the cheapest Costa Rican vacation.
If avoiding big crowds for a serene, peaceful getaway is your main goal, the best time to visit Costa Rica is anytime during October through mid-December.
This period is during the low season, so you’ll deal with fewer tourists and may feel like you’ve got the place to yourself. This coincides with cheaper rates and prices, so think of it as a bonus!
While there’s really not a bad time to go to Costa Rica, the “worst” time to plan your first visit is during late December through January. This is the peak tourism season, so prices are steep and crowds are deep.
The weather is phenomenal and rainfall tapers off considerably, so there are still reasons to go during this time. But be aware that your trip will be more expensive and a little less serene!
Now that you know the best time to visit Costa Rica and have a few seasoned traveler tips under your belt, you’ll be able to plan the perfect tropical vacation. Happy travels!