NOTE: The content on this page was last updated on May 18th, 2017.
Yes! Costa Rica is a tropical environment – not only is rain inevitable, but it plays a significant part in keeping the country as beautiful as it is.
This being said, it does not rain ALL of the time, even during the rain/wet season as the weather here in La Fortuna is both predictable and unpredictable. Although this is quite an ambiguous statement, give me a chance to explain – there is method to my madness. La Fortuna is known for being rainy – especially during Costa Rica’s wet season – however the rain regularly goes as quickly as it comes. The weather here is indecisive – one minute the town is fresh, smothered by cloudy patches and showers, and the next it is overcome by sunshine and a surprisingly muggy heat. This can happen a handful of times per day, which is why visitors should never judge what the day’s weather will be like first thing in the morning from their hotel window. This is true year-round in La Fortuna, when one can wake up to a bright and sunny morning and an exposed Arenal Volcano only to watch the clouds march in from the east until they swallow the volcano whole. The upside to this disappointment? Half an hour later you can be viewing the same volcano you swore did not exist a few minutes earlier as you looked up the main street in downtown La Fortuna and saw nothing but puffs of grey and white where the volcano now stands. Of course, La Fortuna’s sunny weather is much more consistent during the dry season (hence, the summer season), however one should not make the mistake of assuming that the sun is in hibernation between May – December (Costa Rica’s wet season).
So what does all of this mean for travel? For one, any time of year is a good time of year to visit Costa Rica. That is, if you are up for an adventure. For those who aim to visit coastal destinations only (think all-inclusive resort vacations), you would be best visiting during the dry/summer season. This being said, many spots along the coasts receive great weather year-round, so if you dream of relaxing on a beach for your entire vacation, you will have amble opportunities to do so. For the majority of visitors – those who choose Costa Rica as their trip destination in order to experience the rainforest, rivers, mountains, volcanoes, national parks, and more (leaving the all-inclusive resort vacations to other destinations like Mexico, the Dominican Republic, the Bahamas, and so on) – come visit at any time! I would guess that if you are the type of person who has selected Costa Rica above all other countries, you are also the type of person who is open to experiencing everything that the country has to offer… potential rain and all!
Secondly, this also means that relying on weather reports for the La Fortuna region is nearly impossible. Brief periods of rain (whether torrential downpours or light and warm showers) are frequent throughout the year and unpredictable. Perhaps the best way to plan for the weather in La Fortuna is to predict the unpredictable – visit with the idea that it may or may not rain while you are here. This will allow you to plan for the worst (with rain poncho in hand) while hoping for the best. In the very least, it will save you from disappointment and surprise if you arrive to find rain, and perhaps even prepare you for the Costa Rican rainforest with an attitude towards rain that it will not hinder your experience. Fortunately, there are plenty of rain-friendly activities to participate in while here (think white water rafting or waterfall rappelling/canyoning activities where you get wet anyway, or else covered boat tours such as that offered to the Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge where you are protected from the rain), so by no means will your vacation be ruined, put on hold, or a waste of time simply because of the weather. Of course, for those who have no interest in “singing in the rain”, I recommend reserving morning tour/activity times as opposed to those offered during the afternoon. Most locals will tell you that it tends to rain more often in the mid-afternoon here in La Fortuna, and although this is not always the case, travellers are often more likely to catch the sunshine they are looking for and/or avoid the rain they wish not to encounter by stepping out earlier in the day.
QUESTION TO COMMENT ON: Although a hindrance, would rain be enough to negatively affect your overall travel experience?