When travelers first consider visiting Costa Rica in the rainy season, they imagine dark clouds hanging over their precious vacation days – thunder, lightning, and torrential downpours condemning them to the confines of their hotel rooms. So they write off the idea and choose somewhere else. But that’s really not the case!
Even though it may not seem like it, the rainy season is actually the best time to visit Costa Rica.
If your travel dates fall inside the wet window of the Costa Rica rainy season, don’t worry! From better prices and less crowds, to the most beautiful scenery and unforgettable wildlife encounters, the green season is truly magical.
In this post, you’ll discover why the rainy season is the BEST time to explore Costa Rica. Plus, you’ll learn some must-know information and top tips to make the most of your trip!
Costa Rica’s Rainy Season: What You Need to Know
Costa Rica may be a small country, but there are actually 12 different climate zones across the country – spanning majestic, sky-high volcanoes, mystifying cloud forests, lush tropical rainforests, dry forests, and two different coastlines… And there are even more microclimates! So, in other words, it’s difficult nail down exact weather patterns and a one-size-fits-all rainy season.
So, let’s speak generally about Costa Rica’s rainy season… And break it down from there.
When is Costa Rica’s Rainy Season?
Also known as the green season or the wet season, Costa Rica’s rainy season generally spans from May through November. Ticos (Costa Rican people) refer to the wet season as “winter.” On the flip side, you have the dry season (AKA “summer”), which runs from December through April.
The rains usually grow heavier as the rainy season gets underway. Here’s what I mean.
Generally speaking, in early rainy season (May and June) you can still expect a lot of sun: beautiful, sunny mornings and afternoons; maybe some afternoon showers; possibly overnight rains. Many days, it won’t rain at all.
In mid-rainy season (July through August) it starts to rain more. The clouds roll in earlier in the afternoons and the rains grow heavier in the evenings. Generally, though, there’s still plenty of sun in the mornings. Some days, it can rain all day.
And in late rainy season (September and October), it rains a lot. Often, all day and all night.
After that, the rains start to taper off and are usually all gone by mid-November.
Mini Dry Season (Little Summer)
Here’s a big and very important secret!
A dry spell phenomenon known as veranillo or “little summer” usually hits Costa Rica in July, bringing roughly two weeks of blissful, endless sunshine. So if you visit in July, you may not see even a drop of rain!
The Caribbean coast is the main exception to Costa Rica’s general rainy season, because the seasons there are opposite. The driest months on the Caribbean coast are September and October, so this is a great time to visit! You can expect dry, sunny days pretty much every day.
Guanacaste, the popular northwestern province of Costa Rica, is known for its tropical dry forests, beautiful Pacific-coast beaches, and good waves. This arid region enjoys less rain than other parts of the country, so the rains tend to come later in “winter” and the storms are lighter.
La Fortuna & Arenal Area
A trip to Costa Rica isn’t complete without visiting La Fortuna. Compared to Guanacaste, you can expect to see more rain in La Fortuna, but it won’t ruin your trip by any means. The rains usually don’t stop until the end of December. But rain is what makes the La Fortuna area so magical. It’s the rainforest, after all!
Read more: 19 AMAZING Things to Do in La Fortuna, Costa Rica
7 Reasons to Visit Costa Rica During Rainy Season
The green season is, by far, the BEST time to visit Costa Rica!
Here are my top 7 reasons why you should visit Costa Rica during the wet season.
#1. Costa Rica is lush, green, and beautiful in the rainy season.
If you visit Costa Rica toward the end of dry season (April), you may be shocked by what you see! In a word: brown. In the dry season, everything is dry, dead, dusty, and brown. Not what you had in mind, huh?
The rainy season is another story entirely. Because the first rains bring life back to the rainforest. And all of a sudden, everything is green, lush, vivid, and thriving. All of the animals are happy as can be. The birds are chirping, frogs are ribbitting, monkeys are swinging through the treetops. And then the flowers bloom. And it’s more (no… way more) beautiful than you can even imagine.
Simply put, the rainy season is spectacular. It’s the most beautiful time of the year.
Quick note: If your dream is to stay at a luxurious jungle retreat – high up in the treetops, surrounded by endless greenery, fully immersed in the sights and sounds of nature – then there is no better time than the rainy season. I highly recommend Tierra Magnifica in Nosara, Tabacon Thermal Resort & Spa in La Fortuna and Makanda by the Sea in Manuel Antonio.
#2. There are less crowds.
The rainy season is the low season in Costa Rica. So, in other words, there are way less people visiting!
Even though Costa Rica only receives about 3 million tourists every year (excluding COVID lows), there’s a very noticeable difference in busyness between the dry season and the rainy season.
Want the whole beach to yourself in Nosara? How about the hiking trails in La Fortuna? Well, the rainy season is the only time of year when that’s going to happen!
Visiting Costa Rica during the rainy season pretty much guarantees an all-around better experience – whether you’re relaxing in the hot springs at Tabacon Thermal Resort & Spa, kicking back on a lounge chair at Tierra Magnifica, or driving your rental car down bumpy dirt roads.
Read more: ULTIMATE NOSARA TRAVEL GUIDE: 14 EPIC THINGS TO DO IN NOSARA
#3. Everything is cheaper.
Less crowds mean way less demand, obviously! Hospitality companies can’t charge the same prices that they can during the dry season. Therefore, everything is cheaper. Cheers to that.
(And this is a big deal, since Costa Rica isn’t exactly cheap – especially compared to neighbor countries like Nicaragua and Guatemala!)
From flights to Costa Rica, to the hotels, tours, car rentals, and scooter/golf cart/surfboard rentals when you arrive, the rainy season brings lower prices. Compared to the high season, you can save you up to 50%. That’s crazy savings.
Hot tip: From hotels and restaurants to shuttle services, pretty much every tourism-based company you’ll deal with charges in USD (but will accept cash in colones or dollars). So, depending on where you’re from, the USD exchange rate may also be a factor to consider!
Ready to book your Costa Rica trip now? These are my go-to sites to snag the best deals!
#4. It doesn’t rain that much.
As I mentioned above, it does not rain all day, every day. (Especially from May through August! September and October are another story.)
Some days are hot, dry, and sunny. Some days bring rain, all day and all night.
But most days, it’s sunny in the morning. If clouds do roll in during the afternoon, they’ll bring the humidity with them. The clouds will get darker and darker. Then, it’ll rain. Maybe only for 30 minutes. And maybe all night long. But when you wake up, it’ll usually be to the sounds of birds chirping and howler monkeys roaring, welcoming you to another beautiful, sunny morning in Costa Rica!
And obviously, if you’re over on the Caribbean side, you may not see any rain at all!
Quick note: Sometimes, storms come. (That’s life.) It is entirely possible that an ugly tropical storm will roll in during your trip. So, bring a reusable poncho, a good book, a fun game (like Monopoly Deal or Catan Traveler!), and a good attitude.
#5. The waves are great.
If you surf, then the rainy season is an epic time to visit Costa Rica. And not only because there are less people in the line-up.
Thanks to its tropical climate, Costa Rica boasts consistent swells and warm water all year. But the rainy season is a particularly good time for a surf trip, since the Pacific gets hit with a big helping of southwest, south, and northwest swells. Expect consistently good and consistently big waves in the wet season – especially from June through September.
#6. Whales and sea turtles arrive.
The rainy season is an amazing time to witness marine life doing its thing.
In the rainy season, humpback whales travel up from the south, seeking warmer waters to mate and calve. The Osa Peninsula, the Gulf of Papagayo, Uvita, and Tamarindo are all amazing places to go for a whale-watching tour.
From surfing next to turtles to seeing babies hatching and running toward the shoreline under the moonlight, there’s a lot of sea turtle magic to experience in Costa Rica year-round! But a particularly incredible experience occurs during rainy season, at Ostional National Wildlife Refuge. There, thousands upon thousands of Olive Ridley turtles return to lay their eggs in the sand at once. This phenomenon is known as las arribadas (the arrivals) and occurs between late July/early August through December.
#7. The thunderstorms are fierce and incredible to witness.
If a big storm rolls in during your trip, then you’re in for a wild ride. Why not sit back, crack open an Imperial, and watch the show?
The storms in Costa Rica – the dark, heavy clouds (that seem to appear out of nowhere sometimes!), the cracking lightning, the earth-shaking thunder, and the torrential downpours – are wild. Like nothing I’ve experienced, the world over. Sometimes inconvenient, but always an adventure, a Tico thunderstorm is always a thing of wondrous beauty.
Ready to book your Costa Rica trip now? These are my go-to sites to snag the best deals!
9 Tips for Costa Rica Rainy Season Travel
Tip #1: Bring natural, eco-friendly bug spray.
Rain brings mosquitoes. Keep them away – and protect yourself and the precious nature from all the harmful chemicals – by using an all-natural bug spray!
Tip #2: Rent an SUV.
Planning to rent a car? Costa Rica is famous for its dirt roads and shocking potholes – especially during the rainy season. (Wait, is that a road? Or a river?) Make sure that you rent a car that’s suited for the roads; if possible, rent an SUV with high clearance! You may also want 4WD, especially if you’re heading to notorious Nosara.
Click here to find the best deals on rental cars in Costa Rica.
Tip #3: Pack a poncho.
If it’s raining, just throw on this sturdy, reusable, lightweight poncho and go about your day. Don’t miss that epic volcano hike over a little rain!
Tip #4: Bring a dry bag.
For obvious reasons, you’re going to want to bring this waterproof dry bag along, in case you get caught in the rain.
Tip #5: Bring waterproof hiking boots.
If you’re planning on hiking, bring some proper hiking boots to keep your feet happy and dry. This is more about having a good grip and being able to cross streams than anything else! These hiking boots are my all-time favorites.
Tip #6: Bring some rainy-day activities.
If it’s seriously down-pouring and it’s better to stay inside, you’ll be happy to have something to do. So, bring a plain ol’ deck of cards, or up your game with Monopoly Deal, Catan Traveler, or Exit: The Game (the best games to travel with!). Bring a good book. And maybe your laptop (Hello, Netflix).
Tip #7: Book a room with air conditioning.
Even though it’s not as hot as the dry season, trust me, you’re going to want air conditioning! For the sake of your comfort, and protecting your belongings* from the humidity (which, eventually, turns everything moldy), you need AC. We lost a brand-new MacBook Air to the humidity of a non-AC accommodation. Ugh!
*These rechargeable desiccant packets are also super handy to keep in enclosed places (inside suitcases, camera bags, laptop bags) to suck up any extra humidity.
Tip #8: Stay a little longer.
Have a little wiggle room in your schedule? The longer you stay in Costa Rica, the higher chance you’ll have to experience perfect weather… In case you were looking for an excuse to stay in paradise longer!
Tip #9: Leave your expectations at home.
If you’re traveling from a more developed country, it’s a good idea to leave your expectations there. Things are different in Costa Rica. Sometimes, the power goes out for no apparent reason. Or the water in the tap stops running. Or a river rises, making a road impassable. Understand that things may not go to plan 100% of the time. Especially in the rainy season. Be patient. Be flexible. Be ready for an adventure. (If you can be sure of one thing in Costa Rica, it’s that an adventure is on the way.)
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Costa Rica Rainy Season FAQs
Generally speaking, Costa Rica’s rainy season (green season) spans from May through November. The Ticos (Costa Ricans) refer to this time as “winter.” The main exception to this rule is the Caribbean side, whose seasons flip-flop, enjoying little to no rain during this time.
Thanks to Guanacaste’s arid climate and dry topical forests, Guanacaste’s rainy season is a lot more mild than other regions of the country. The early rainy season tends to start a bit later than other areas and, overall, there is a lot less rain. Especially compared to the southern Pacific coast. The rainy season in Guanacaste typically kicks off in June and starts tapering off in November.
While the rest of the country endures a deluge of rain during September and October, the Caribbean coast is dry. If you’re in Costa Rica during this time, why not head over to Limón, Puerto Viejo, Tortuguero, Punta Uva, or Cahuita?
No! It does not rain every day during the rainy season in Costa Rica. The weather in Costa Rica can be unpredictable, and quick and sporadic downpours occur often. Many mornings and early afternoons enjoy clear skies and sunshine, with storms rolling in during the afternoons.
There are still plenty of perfectly sunny days in the green season – especially early on, in May and June. As the wet season progresses, the thunderstorms become heavier and more frequent, with the heaviest rains occurring in September and October. An exception to this rule, the Caribbean side is a great place to visit during September and October. You’ll find sunshine and clear blue skies every day.
There is also usually a dry spell known as “mini summer” (or veranillo) that starts sometime in July and lasts for about two weeks!
Absolutely, yes! Contrary to what you might think, the rainy season is the best time to visit Costa Rica – especially from May through October. Visiting Costa Rica at this time comes with many perks: most notably, cheaper prices, less crowds, thriving wildlife, greener jungles, and more beautiful landscapes.
Rainy Season in Costa Rica: The BEST Time to Visit
Before I spent my first rainy season in Costa Rica, I was a little nervous! The weather app on my iPhone claimed there would be thunderstorms every day. I dreaded it. But when I arrived, I was amazed at how little it rained. And how incredible the green season truly is, compared to Costa Rica’s dry season.
I promise, if you visit Costa Rica during the rainy season, you will not regret it. Because you’ll find… Empty beaches. Affordable prices. Thriving fauna. Incredible landscapes of lush greenery. And endless adventure.
Costa Rica is a true tropical paradise. And to fully understand what that means, you’ve got to fully immerse yourself into the magic that is Costa Rica’s rainy season.
Your dream vacation awaits!
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