When is the Best Time to go to Costa Rica?
Costa Rica is divided into 4 biodiversity areas, each with their own different climate and ecosystem. Rainforest, cloud forests and dry forest all sit alongside one another in this country of contrasts.
As each region has a different season, the best time to visit Costa Rica depends on which areas you want to explore. We generally recommend avoiding September and October though, as many regions see heavy rainfall during these months.
No matter when you go, you’ll be rewarded with the chance to discover some amazing ecosystems and see fascinating wildlife all year round.
What are the seasons in Costa Rica?
Dry and rainy seasons
There are two main seasons in Costa Rica: the dry season (called “verano” or high season) and the rainy season (called “invierno” or green season). The dry season goes from December to April and the rainy season from May to November. September and October see the heaviest rainfall, and we usually encourage travellers to avoid visiting during these two months. That said, many parts of the country don’t subscribe to the notion of two distinct seasons and are great to visit pretty much all year round, so when to visit largely depends on where you want to go.
Costa Rica in the green season
If you’re travelling to Costa Rica during the green season (May to November), we recommend visiting the cloud forest in the central highlands and the Caribbean Coast. Tortuguero National Park is popular during this season, as it’s peak nesting season for many species of animals including sea turtles. It’s also a great time to do some of the fun adventure activities on offer in Costa Rica, such as sport fishing, zip lining, and hiking through the rainforest of the Arenal Volcano National Park.
Best time to spot wildlife
Costa Rica is a great place to visit throughout the year for bird watching because it has four major ecozones as well as numerous microsystems. The country is home to more than 900 species of birds (about 10% of the world’s population), and migratory birds also pass through from August to early May, many of which stay on. In the fall, from August to December, you can spot the northern birds as they migrate south for the winter. Then in the springtime (usually March to May), you can catch them again on their way back up north to breed. The Resplendent Quetzal is probably the most famous in Costa Rica but tough to spot. Scarlet Macaws, Emerald Toucanets, Egrets and Hummingbirds are some of the more popular targets for bird spotters as well.
As with most of the amazing wildlife in Costa Rica, spotting turtles depends on the species and the region you’re in.
Leatherback are the largest species of turtle in the world (and can grow up to 7-feet long), so they are an absolute must-see. From the Caribbean side, leatherbacks can be spotted from March to July. From the Pacific Ocean, you can see them between September and March.
Green sea turtles, on the other hand, nest around the Caribbean coast from June to October. Tortuguero is the best place to catch a glimpse of them during this time.
To see both the spinner dolphin and the common dolphin from the Pacific side, the best time to go is between November and May. The bottle nosed dolphin can be spotted all year round.
Humpback whales hang around the central Pacific and are most likely to be seen from December to March or August to October.