November can be an ideal month to visit Costa Rica. On the Pacific side of the country, the weather is transitioning to more and more sun, while the Caribbean is still experiencing its mini-summer. And save for the increasingly popular Thanksgiving holiday week, the month is still virtually devoid of tourists so there can be some deep discounts in prime locations. Read on to learn more about planning a trip to Costa Rica in November.
What the Weather is Like in Costa Rica in November
The month of November has some of the lowest temperatures of the year, which can be a pleasant reprieve for the hotter coastal zones. Also, average precipitation levels take a nosedive from almost 18 inches/month in October to 5 inches/month. Additionally, most Ticos associate November with the fresh breezes that carry in Christmas decorations and end-of-year parties.
Cooler temperatures, drier days, and fresh breezes may sound like the ideal scenario, but the changing pressure and weather system can also create the perfect storm (literally). Therefore, just as with most of the year, November’s weather is unpredictable. The luckiest travelers are not actually the ones who don’t get wet at all, but rather, the ones who get a little bit of both sunshine and rainstorm.
Photo Gallery “Glimpse” of Costa Rica in November
Holiday, Festivals & Places to Visit in Costa Rica in November
Day of the Dead / Dia de los Muertos (November 2nd)
Many parts of Latin America take this day (also called All Saint’s Day in the United States) to recognize those who have died by going to Catholic mass or visiting the local cemetery to clean the gravestones and leave a bouquet of flowers. In general, the holiday is not nearly as popular as in Mexico or Guatemala.
Thanksgiving / Dia de Accion de Gracias (4th Thursday in November)
While this is not a Costa Rican holiday, it is important to mention because it has begun to mark the onset of the Costa Rican high season in most places. Increasing numbers of travelers from the United States are foregoing the crowded and expensive accommodations over the Christmas/New Years holiday, for the more peaceful Thanksgiving holiday week. Hotels and tour providers are taking note and prices and availability will reflect this.
What to Pack for a November Trip
Given the unpredictable nature of weather in Costa Rica, it’s always wise to travel with sun gear and raingear. High-quality sunscreen, sunglasses, UVA/UVB-protected clothes, and a hat with a large brim are crucial. Likewise, a sturdy, but a compact travel-friendly umbrella is always smart to have on hand. Given the low temperatures in November, it is also wise to bring a lightweight, quick-dry jacket and a few long sleeve shirts; you may not need them if you are going to the coastal lowlands, but if traveling anywhere else in the country, it is likely that you’ll need them. For more information on what to pack for a visit to Costa Rica, visit our detailed Costa Rica Packing List article.
Pros to Visiting Costa Rica in November
- There’s a 50% chance that it’s a beautiful, sunny month!
- The second half of the month traditionally welcomes in the dry season; sun, fresh breezes and cool temperatures
- There are very few national or international visitors so you’ll have the beach to yourself
Cons to Visiting Costa Rica in November
- There’s a 50% chance that it’s a beautiful, rainy month!
- If the rainy season has been especially heavy, some roads and hotels will be closed
- The weather is hard to predict and so it can be hard to plan activities far in advance
Top 5 Things to Plan for a Trip to Costa Rica in November
- Go on a Guided Coffee Tour – If you like coffee, chances are you’ve tried a cup of Costa Rica’s Golden Bean coffee back home. Let a trained guide take you through the fruiting fields of shade-grown coffee being grown in Costa Rica and find out about the origins of your cup of joe.
- Soak in the Hot Springs – Soaking in the geothermal hot springs that dot the volcanic regions of Costa Rica is a definite way to make sure you return from your vacation well-rested.
- Voluntour – There are plenty of incredible organizations to lend a hand to during your next trip to Costa Rica. Just half of a morning at a local orphanage or planting a few trees on a sustainable farm can make all of the difference on your vacation.
- See the Majestic Waterfalls – As heavy rains in the mountains travel down the slopes of the country, they leap over rocky cliffs and create some of the most majestic waterfalls in the world. Don’t miss this beautiful sight.
- Get Up and Close with Some Wild Cats – Visit a wild cat rehabilitation center and get a chance to see jaguars, pumas, ocelots, margay cats and jaguarundis in their natural environment.
The Bottom Line on November in Costa Rica
Despite the unpredictability of the weather in November, it can be an ideal month to visit Costa Rica due to the low prices, low crowds, and a high likelihood that you’ll have at least a few tastes of sun along with your fair share of once-in-a-lifetime rainstorms. The second half of the month May tends to have more sun and higher prices as high-season is ushered in with the North American Thanksgiving week.