Costa Rica in October

While October tends to be the wettest month of the year in Costa Rica, it’s also one of the least crowded. October is the last month of heavy participation during the rainy season. Expect slightly cooler temperatures, accompanying daily rains, and a vivid, green landscape that dominates life in Costa Rica. Everywhere from San Jose westward will experience daily rainstorms, while the Caribbean coast enjoys a miniature dry season. If you don’t mind a little rain, October is an excellent time to bop around the Pacific coast with fewer crowds, although some smaller hotels and eco-lodges do close for the short “offseason.” If you plan to travel to the Caribbean in October, book your hotel months in advance to avoid the peak season rush.

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What the Weather is like in Costa Rica in October

In October, Costa Rica’s weather exhibits two distinctive patterns due to the mountain chain running down the central part of the country, creating two vast slopes: the Pacific watershed and the Caribbean watershed. On the Pacific side, which includes areas from the capital, San José to the west coast, October is firmly within the rainy season. It is common for it to rain daily, with the chance of rain increasing later in the day. Conversely, the Caribbean side of the country experiences a respite from the rain in October and tends to be sunnier and drier. The Caribbean, including regions such as Puerto Viejo and Cahuita, often enjoys such favorable weather that high-season pricing and availability come into effect.

Rainfall

Rainfall in October is substantial, particularly on the Pacific side of Costa Rica. For example, Guanacaste (Northern Pacific) can receive up to 15 inches of rain, with about 24 rainy days in the month. San José typically experiences up to 13 inches of rainfall over approximately 25 rainy days. The Central Pacific region, including Quepos, sees around 12 inches of rain and about 26 rainy days. Meanwhile, the Caribbean coast, such as Limón, receives around 7.5 inches of rain over 15 rainy days, benefiting from a drier period than other regions.

October on the Caribbean Coast

The Caribbean side of Costa Rica experiences a mini-dry season in October, making it an excellent destination for fall travel. Visitors flock to the charming towns of Puerto Viejo and Cahuita, enjoying clearer skies and the vibrant Caribbean culture.

Temperature

Despite the frequent rains, temperatures across Costa Rica remain warm and inviting. Coastal areas typically see highs in the upper 80s to low 90s Fahrenheit (30-33°C) and lows in the mid-70s to low 80s Fahrenheit (24-27°C). In higher elevations, such as Monteverde or the Central Valley, daytime temperatures range from the mid-70s to low 80s Fahrenheit (24-28°C), with nighttime lows dropping to the 60s Fahrenheit (15-20°C).

Wildlife and Activities

October is a great month for wildlife enthusiasts. The increased rainfall on the Pacific side brings out a variety of animals, while the drier Caribbean coast offers excellent birdwatching opportunities. Visitors can witness the end of Tortuguero’s green sea turtle nesting season. On the Pacific Coast, October is a prime time to visit Parque Nacional Marino Las Baulas, located on the Pacific coast near Tamarindo, to witness endangered leatherback sea turtles nesting. Guided night tours allow visitors to observe the nesting process while ensuring minimal disturbance to the turtles.


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Holidays, Festivals & Places to Visit in Costa Rica in October

Carnival / Carnaval (Early October)

Carnival is a lively, week-long festival held in the Caribbean city of Puerto Limon, near Puerto Viejo and Cahuita. The festivities lead to the Day of the Cultures, which celebrates all things Afro-Caribbean in Costa Rica. Parades with floats and dancing women move through town, and food vendors bring out all of Limon’s best dishes, such as coconut battered rice and beans, escabeche de pescado (marinated fish), pan bon (sweet bread), and ale (lemon fruit drink with ginger and sugar cane). While the Carnival celebrations were cut in recent years due to municipal budget limitations in Limon, they returned in 2023 and are expected to take place in 2024. If you visit during Carnival, book your reservations months in advance, as many national and international travelers make their way to the Caribbean coast for this event.

Columbus Day or Day of the Cultures / Dia de la Raza o Día de las Culturas (October 12)

Costa Rica recognizes the arrival of Christopher Columbus to the Americas on October 12. Formerly called Dia de la Raza (Day of the Race) by Spain, Costa Rica has recently changed the name of this holiday to Day of the Cultures in a nod to the diverse cultures of Costa Rica now. Though not an official Costa Rican holiday, most schools and businesses close for the day.

Halloween (October 31)

As recently as a decade ago, most Costa Ricans still view Halloween as a devious celebration. However, enough children have eagerly adopted this evening of candy, scary clothes, and running loose in neighborhoods that their parents have slowly begun to relent. These days, it’s possible to see children celebrating a Halloween-themed activity in their schools or, to a lesser degree, trick-or-treating at night. Halloween celebrations are much more common in areas with large expat communities.

National Day of Masquerades

Costa Rica’s National Day of Masquerades falls on October 31st each year. Learn more in our video below.

What to Pack

Packing for a trip to Costa Rica in October is all about prepping for the rain. We suggest travelers pack a lightweight travel umbrella, a rain jacket, water-resistant shoes, and quick-dry clothing. See our detailed Costa Rica Packing List article for more information on what to pack to visit Costa Rica.

Why Visit Costa Rica in October

Despite the rainy season, October offers visitors a unique and rewarding experience. The country’s landscape is most vibrant, teeming with wildlife drawn out by the abundant rain. The Caribbean coast, particularly, enjoys a reprieve from the rain, providing sunny, pleasant weather perfect for exploring, just in time for unique events like Carnival. The Monteverde cloud forest is stunning as the rainfall enhances the verdant scenery, making it a prime time for hiking and canopy tours. Visiting Arenal Volcano offers the chance to soak in hot springs amidst the misty ambiance. Despite the rain on the Pacific side, the tropical temperatures remain enjoyable, and the quieter tourist scene offers a more serene and intimate Costa Rican adventure.

Pros to Visiting Costa Rica in October

  • The Caribbean side of the country enjoys endless sunshine during October (most of the time)
  • October can be a great time to rent a cabin in the rainforest, bring a book, and listen to the bird song that proceeds rainstorms.
  • There are virtually no crowds.

Cons to Visiting Costa Rica in October

  • Some hotels on the Pacific coast closed down for October due to the heavy rains.
  • High-season pricing may be in effect on the Caribbean coast
  • Rain. Rain. Rain. More rain.

Top 5 Things to Plan for a Trip to Costa Rica in October

  1. Visit Las Baulas National Park – Young and old alike will be amazed by the sight of the 2,000-pound leatherback turtle nesting in this magnificent national park. A bilingual naturalist guide will be able to give you all of the unique information you need to understand this majestic creature.
  2. Go scuba diving – Although runoff during the rainy season can affect underwater visibility, many spots off Costa Rica’s shores are only accessible during this time.
  3. Surf Costa Rica’s Waves – October can mean huge waves in Costa Rica if you know where to go.
  4. View Northern Birds Migrating South – A trained ornithologist can help you spot migrating birds as they head south across Costa Rica’s majestic canopy.
  5. Head to Tortuguero – Tortuguero, which means “turtle land,” is an up-and-coming tourist destination in the northern Caribbean region. More excellent days and nesting turtles make October a great month to explore the mangroves, watery canals, and exotic wildlife of this region of the country.

The Bottom Line on October in Costa Rica

It’s no secret that Costa Rica tends to be wetter than usual in October. However, the light crowds and abundant wildlife make October an excellent time to visit, as long as you come prepared. The Caribbean region typically experiences a dry season from August to November, making it an ideal destination, especially during Carnival. If you’re a wildlife enthusiast keen on observing nesting turtles, you want to explore Caribbean culture, or see the Costa Rican landscape at its most lush, plan your trip in October. Contact us if we can help you plan a trip!

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