If you think “rain in a tropical country,” you might be discouraged to plan your trip to that destination. Let’s be honest, when you take a vacation all you want is perfect weather and amazing experiences. The thing is that Costa Rica during the rainy season can be precisely that, perfect weather and amazing experiences if you look at it with the correct approach.
And even though it does rain a lot, it doesn’t rain all day long so you can have enough time during the day to explore, enjoy and relax, with the correct planning.
The rainy season in Costa Rica is actually the perfect time to visit if you are looking to rest, discover the forest at its best, get the best value for your money and feel you are the owner of a tropical paradise.
- What is the rainy season in Costa Rica?
- When is the rainy season in Costa Rica?
- How long is the rainy season in Costa Rica?
- What is the rainiest month in Costa Rica?
- What’s the weather like in Costa Rica during the rainy season?
- Why visit Costa Rica in the rainy season?
- Where to stay in Costa Rica during the rainy season?
- What to bring to Costa Rica during the rainy season?
What is the rainy season in Costa Rica?
Costa Rica’s weather patterns are very particular. Because of its topography, one can not generalize about a specific pattern within a specific time of the year. Depending on the time of the year you can find rainy-season-like weather in one part of the country and dry-season-like weather in another, which means that with the correct travel itinerary you can actually have the best of both worlds!
When is the rainy season in Costa Rica?
The rainy season in Costa Rica goes from late April to early December. This season is termed by the weather patterns in the Pacific coast and the central valley of the country.
But rainy season means a heavy rainfall for a couple of hours during the day, and a beautiful clear or partially cloudy time the rest of the day. If there is rain all day long during those months in Costa Rica, it would only be because a tropical storm or a hurricane is happening in the Atlantic sea, but those do not happen that often.
How long is the rainy season in Costa Rica?
In the Pacific coast and the central valley of Costa Rica, the rainy season starts and finishes more or less at the same time. It is common to see the first rains fall during Easter, but it doesn’t really start to rain every day till around mid to late May. Those constant rains will go on until early November when one can start enjoying full days with no rain here and there.
Now, the Northern zone of Costa Rica and its Caribbean coast have a completely different pattern. In this part of the country, it could rain at any time of the year.
There is a drier time in the Northern zone during the dry season (December to April), but it is not strange to experience rain during those months, especially during December and January.
In the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica it actually rains the most between December to September, and some of the lovely dry months of the dry season, like January and February, can be very rainy in this part of the country.
What is the rainiest month in Costa Rica?
This is an easy question to respond for any Costa Rican. Nobody would doubt to tell you that October is the rainiest month of the year anywhere in Costa Rica, except if you visit the south Caribbean coast, where October is actually the driest month.
The Pacific coast sees a lot of rain during October, and it is common to have floods and road problems in that area. If you decide to come to Costa Rica in October, head for the Caribbean and you will have a fantastic time.
What’s the weather like in Costa Rica during the rainy season?
The rainy season in Costa Rica is a lovely time of year. Let’s start by pointing out that the rainy season is not as hot as the dry season, therefore it makes it very comfortable to hang around and relax. It is true that it will be a lot more humid, and your clothes will not dry as fast as during the rainy season, but if you don’t mind moist as much, it is very nice.
The rain usually only comes for a couple of hours a day in the afternoon. Mornings are generally sunny and bright, giving you plenty of time to enjoy outdoor activities wherever you are. Also, if the rain starts early, it is common to have good weather to enjoy a beautiful colorful sunset, especially if you are staying somewhere on the Pacific coast.
One funny fact is that Ticos have the saying “Mañana oscura, tarde segura,” which is defined as dark mornings, reliable afternoons) meaning if you wake up and is dark and rainy, you are almost guaranteed a lovely sunny afternoon.
Why visit Costa Rica in the rainy season?
Three reasons: lower cost, less-crowded, and the same activities as the dry season. That should convince you to consider visiting Costa Rica during the rainy season! Let’s get into more detail.
1) The costs for visiting Costa Rica during the rainy season is less compared to the dry season
Because the demand for lodging during the rainy season in Costa Rica is considerably less than during the dry season, you can always find great deals on accommodations and activities all around the country. In fact, just to start, every lodge has a different set of pricing for the high season and what many call the green (shoulder) season, but on top of that, it is common to get even more deals. Because of this, you can then consider that fancy lodge that you always wanted to experience or flying instead of driving.
2) Costa Rica is significantly less crowded during the rainy season
Fewer crowds experienced when you visit Costa Rica during the rainy season will make you feel like a king or queen of your own paradise! It’s at this time of year that you can find isolated beaches, footprint-free rainforest trails and open prime hours for different activities.
Also, if you think about it, you would not only be avoiding crowds in Costa Rica but also in your own country, since it is vacation time in the USA, Europe and most of the northern hemisphere countries.
3) There’s almost all the same activities you could do in Costa Rica during the dry or rainy seasons, plus a couple more in the dry season!
You might get wet during the activity (and maybe a bit cold), or you might have to be flexible and reschedule an activity, but you will enjoy it just as much, and you will also have a totally different perspective on Costa Rica’s natural environment compared to those who visit during the dry season. It is lush!
Also, there are some activities that you can do only during the rainy season, like sea turtle nesting, which is a natural wonder you can enjoy in Ostional Beach in the Pacific, and Tortuguero beach in the Caribbean, with an almost guaranteed sighting.
Where to stay in Costa Rica during the rainy season?
During the early rainy season months (May to July) make sure to include the northern Pacific coast of Costa Rica as one of your destinations. Rains will have just started, therefore rivers are still low, and roads are still in good shape. This is also an excellent time to visiting the highlands and the southern Pacific coast.
Now, if you want to come during July or August, consider including the central Pacific coast of Costa Rica, because even if it rains a lot, you won’t be stuck inside or in one place for too long. The access to these areas is easy and well kept, and the facilities understand rain, so they are prepared to offer you comfort while you watch the water fall from the sky.
Another thing to consider is that Costa Rica has a “veranillo” or little summer for approximately two weeks right around the northern hemisphere’s summer solstice. When that happens, you can actually go anywhere in the Pacific coast, Central Valley and Northern zone without experiencing too much rain.
If you decide to come during September and October, definitely plan on staying on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. You will experience great weather, little rain, and calm oceans. If you go anywhere else in Costa Rica, there is a good chance you will see rain almost all day, every day. Also, be aware that some touristy destinations close during October, since the demand is so low it is an excellent time to give staff and owners a well-deserved vacation time.
What to bring to Costa Rica during the rainy season?
Now that you have decided, here is what you should definitely bring in your luggage:
- Mosquitoes repellent
- Rain jacket
- Closed-toe, water-resistant or waterproof shoes (rubber boots are not a bad idea if you plan on hiking)
- Fast drying cloths
- Fast drying towel
- Waterproof day pack backpack
- Lots of ziplock or dry bags to protect your belongings, especially if you are bringing camera gear and other electronics.
- A couple of good books to read, or any other thing that could keep you entertained while it rains
We have actually prepared a general packing list that you should also review before closing up that luggage 🙂
Embrace the rainy season in Costa Rica
As experts on traveling in Costa Rica, we always want to remind you that once you set foot on that plane to come to Costa Rica, you should open your mind to new experiences and surprises, and make sure you will embrace every opportunity that comes with the trip.
Of course, we believe in planning as well as possible that trip, and we want to remind you that we are here to help you do that. Another beautiful thing about the rainy season in Costa Rica is that you can be sure there will be at least one little surprise that will remind you that you are in one of the most biodiverse places in the world!
John Rabenau has been working in the eco-tourism & adventure travel industry in Costa Rica since 2002. He has worked in a variety of capacities from Outdoor Educator & Principle Guide to Itinerary Design Manager & Business Owner for numerous organizations. He has grown Costa Rica Escapes into one of the most reputable Costa Rica travel agencies since its creation in 2006, hosting more than 5,000 people with custom vacation itineraries.