The Costa Rica Travel Blog is the current traveller, will-be traveller, has-been traveller, and should-be traveller's guide to everything Costa Rica. Information, stories, news, and advice written by the Pura Vida! eh? Inc. team; Costa Rican insiders, outsiders, and everywhere-in-between-siders.

When Is The Best Time To Go To Costa Rica?

When Is The Best Time To Go To Costa Rica?

NOTE: The content on this page was last updated on July 5th, 2017.

Like all Costa Rica trip planning, the “best” anything (whether it be the best Costa Rica destinations to visit, the best things to do in Costa Rica, or the best time to go to Costa Rica) can only be determined by the traveller asking the question. Trip planning is an incredibly individual process, and since every traveller differs from the next according to their trip interests, preferences, needs, and budget, it would be impossible for us to suggest that any one facet of the country (or travel throughout the country) is better or worse than another. This being said, as experienced as we are with travel and tourism throughout Costa Rica, we have developed recommendations and advice that can help travellers come to their own conclusions about the country. Today we aim to focus on applying our knowledge to the question: “When is the best time to go to Costa Rica?”

best time to go to Costa Rica
Costa Rica’s Rain Season: A little rain never hurt anyone… it may even create a rainbow!

When travellers ask us when is the best time to go to Costa Rica, we respond by asking them to prioritize the following three trip influences for us:

1. Cost
2. Trip Duration (a.k.a., available vacation time)
3. Weather

Sure, we’d all love to be able to vacation without limits–spending as much as we’d like, travelling for as long as we like, and with perfect weather the entire time–but the reality of trip planning is that usually one or more of these influences has to give. Some travellers have the flexibility to travel at many times throughout the year, but on a restricted budget. Other travellers are more flexible with their pocketbooks, but can only travel during particular months or weeks throughout the year. For those who are fortunate enough to have both the freedom to plan a vacation at any time of year and at any cost, perhaps travel at a time when the local weather is most desirable is the greatest priority.

Since answering the question “when is the best time to go to Costa Rica?” is a balancing act between managing cost, trip duration, and weather, consider the following pros and cons of each when you attempt to prioritize the three for yourself.

WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO GO TO COSTA RICA IF YOUR PRIORITY IS THE COST

Costa Rica’s seasons not only indicate weather changes, they also reflect increases and decreases in tourism throughout the country. As a result, prices for various accommodations (and in some cases, attractions) fluctuate between the low season (when the least amount of foreign visitors come to Costa Rica) and the high season (when a large number of foreign visitors come to Costa Rica). Furthermore, additional price changes may be enforced during the shoulder season (a time of year that sees less tourism than the high season but more tourism than the low season) and/or during the peak season (otherwise referred to as the holiday season–the time of year when tourism is at its absolute highest). In general, Costa Rica’s high season runs from December to April (with some companies enforcing high season pricing from December 1st onward and others waiting until mid-month to make the change) and the low season runs from May to November/mid-December.

In sync with this cycle, Costa Rica tourism costs are at their lowest between May and November (in some cases, mid-December). During this time, travel during May, June, September, October, and November is the least expensive as some accommodations/attractions classify July and August as shoulder/high season travel (given the increased amount of tourism during these two months) and increase prices for the 60-day period in the middle of Costa Rica’s 7-month low season.

It is also important to watch and factor in pricing for international flights to and from Costa Rica. Airlines change their flight prices frequently, and their price increases and decreases do not typically follow suit with Costa Rica’s high and low seasons. In general, the airlines increase their rates when air-travel volume is at its highest, typically coinciding with popular holidays and breaks such as spring break and/or summer break when family-travel is booming. This may mean that international airfares are at their highest during months when tourism in Costa Rica is least expensive, or alternatively, that international airfares are at their least expensive during months when Costa Rica tourism is at its highest. If maintaining a tight budget is your priority, we recommend limiting your travel scope to the months of September, October, or November (when Costa Rica’s low season most often corresponds with the lowest international airfare prices), followed by May and June (when Costa Rica’s low season most often corresponds with reasonable international airfare prices). If you prefer to travel during July or August, you will likely be able to access a mix of low, shoulder, and high season Costa Rica tourism prices (as companies vary in their price offerings during these months), although international flight prices will likely be at their highest. Lastly, travel during December (from mid-month on), January, February, and April will offer a variety of international flight prices, although Costa Rica’s high and peak season tourism prices will apply.

WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO GO TO COSTA RICA IF YOUR PRIORITY IS TRIP DURATION (A.K.A., AVAILABLE VACATION TIME)

Many travellers are not only limited in the number of days they are able to travel for, but are also restricted to travel during particular months or weeks during the year. If this is the case for you, there may be little room for outsiders’ recommendations as your holiday time might already be determined for you. If this is the case, don’t sweat. You’re still planning to visit Costa Rica, even if it is for a shorter visit than you would like and/or at a time of year that you are not convinced is the best for travel. Here’s a secret–the country is beautiful, whether you are able to experience it for 5 days or 50 days, rain or shine. Furthermore, there is no bad time to visit Costa Rica. There are less expensive times to travel, and times of year when there is less rainfall, but the quality of experiences to be had are worth the cost and can brighten even the cloudiest, drizzly day.

For those travellers who have control over the duration of their trip and the time of year of travel, you may want to consider travelling during the low season (or shoulder season) if doing so would create an opportunity to increase your overall trip experience and/or extend your trip length. Since a similar vacation experience can be had regardless of the season you wish to travel during, why not opt to travel during the low season to take advantage of lower tourism rates? If you are fortunate enough to have a loose budget, travel during the low season will simply allow you to save more off your total trip cost, which can then used to upgrade particular trip items (i.e., your accommodations or in-country transportation arrangements) and/or add additional days/nights to the trip length.

We often work with families who prefer to travel during March break, Christmas break, or July/August in order to avoid having their children miss school. We are regularly asked whether a vacation over the the March or Christmas break would be better or worse than a vacation over the July/August break. When cost is a concern, we recommend July/August for the reasons outlined in the COST section above, however if price is not an issue, we ask whether or not the number of days the family would have to travel for would be limited in either case. For example, while March break typically offers an opportunity for a 7-8 day vacation, travel during the July/August months invites the possibility of a lengthier trip (provided the adult travellers are able to secure additional vacation time). If the family’s trip duration is limited to a specific number of days (such as 7 or 8), then travel at any time of year would be possible. However, if the family has an opportunity to explore Costa Rica for longer, they may prefer to travel during July/August when they can take a few extra days to spread out their activities, add in more beach relaxation time, and/or give themselves a day at the start and end of their vacation to prepare for their international flights. In this case, although the addition of days/nights to any vacation will increase the overall cost, the added expense could be off-set by savings earned as a result of choosing to travel during the July and August months (low/shoulder season travel) instead of during March/Christmas break (high/peak season travel).

WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO GO TO COSTA RICA IF YOUR PRIORITY IS THE WEATHER

If your budget and vacation time are free from restrictions, let the weather be your guide! Costa Rica’s high and low seasons are defined by the weather, as the start of the green/wet/rainy season in May marks the beginning of the low season and the start of the summer/dry season in December marks the beginning of the high season. As a result, most classify travel during January (as early as the end of December), February, March and April as the ‘best’ as the forecast typically calls for sunshine and little rain during this time. This 4-month stretch of the year offers Costa Rica’s best climate and is ideal for travellers looking for the utmost tropical experience.

This being said, given that Costa Rica is a rainforest-inhabited country, rain is common throughout the year. For this reason, the lushness that many travellers flock to Costa Rica for is available year-round, and depends more on the locations you plan to visit than the time of year you plan to travel. For example, the Monteverde and La Fortuna (Arenal) inland areas are lush throughout the year. Naturally, they are wetter during the green/wet/rainy season, but both areas are fully green year-round. In contrast, the Guanacaste coast is Costa Rica’s driest area. It is brown throughout most of the year, and although it is greener between May and November (when rainfall is at its highest), the area never comes close to offering the same lush, rainforest experience that other areas of the country offer on a continual basis.

Read our related blog post:

Where To Go In Costa Rica: Determining The Best Places To Visit During Your Trip

If weather is your greatest priority and sunshine (coupled with little chance of rain) is what you are looking for, than travel during January, February, March, or April is what you should aim for. If you are unable to travel at this time of year (or Costa Rica’s high season prices are more than what you feel comfortable spending), then opt to visit in July or August. Although in the middle of the green/wet/rainy season, these two months offer better weather than May, June, September, October, and November, and are a less expensive alternative to summer/dry season travel.

Read our related blog post:

Costa Rica (La Fortuna) Weather: Does It Rain In The Rainforest During The Rain Season?

COMPARE THE ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF VISITING COSTA RICA DURING DIFFERENT MONTHS

Is the best time to go to Costa Rica JANUARY? Here’s what to expect if you plan to visit Costa Rica in January:

  • high season tourism pricing (with peak season tourism pricing in effect at the start of the month)
  • international flight prices at increased rates
  • summer/dry season weather
  • busy time of year creates issues with vacation item (accommodation, tour, and transfer service) availability

Is the best time to go to Costa Rica FEBRUARY? Here’s what to expect if you plan to visit Costa Rica in February:

  • high season tourism pricing
  • international flight prices at average rates
  • summer/dry season weather
  • busy time of year creates issues with vacation item (accommodation, tour, and transfer service) availability

Is the best time to go to Costa Rica MARCH? Here’s what to expect if you plan to visit Costa Rica in March:

  • high season tourism pricing (with peak season tourism pricing in effect during Easter week, if the calendar calls for this in March)
  • international flight prices at increased rates
  • summer/dry season weather
  • busy time of year creates issues with vacation item (accommodation, tour, and transfer service) availability

Is the best time to go to Costa Rica APRIL? Here’s what to expect if you plan to visit Costa Rica in April?

  • high season tourism pricing (with peak season tourism pricing in effect during Easter week, if the calendar calls for this in April)
  • international flight prices at average rates
  • summer/dry season weather
  • busy time of year creates issues with vacation item (accommodation, tour, and transfer service) availability

Is the best time to go to Costa Rica MAY? Here’s what to expect if you plan to visit Costa Rica in May:

  • low season tourism pricing
  • international flight prices at average rates
  • green/wet/rainy season weather
  • less busy time of year avoids issues with vacation item (accommodation, tour, and transfer service) availability

Is the best time to go to Costa Rica JUNE? Here’s what to expect if you plan to visit Costa Rica in June:

  • low season tourism pricing
  • international flight prices at average rates
  • green/wet/rainy season weather
  • less busy time of year avoids issues with vacation item (accommodation, tour, and transfer service) availability

Is the best time to go to Costa Rica JULY? Here’s what to expect if you plan to visit Costa Rica in July:

  • low/shoulder season tourism pricing
  • international flight prices at increased rates
  • green/wet/rainy season weather (although offering more favourable weather than other green/wet/rainy season months)
  • moderately busy time of year can cause some issues with vacation item (accommodation, tour, and transfer service) availability

Is the best time to go to Costa Rica AUGUST? Here’s what to expect if you plan to visit Costa Rica in August:

  • low/shoulder season tourism pricing
  • international flight prices at increased rates
  • green/wet/rainy season weather (although offering more favourable weather than other green/wet/rainy season months)
  • moderately busy time of year can cause some issues with vacation item (accommodation, tour, and transfer service) availability

Is the best time to go to Costa Rica SEPTEMBER? Here’s what to expect if you plan to visit Costa Rica in September:

  • low season tourism pricing
  • international flight prices at average rates
  • green/wet/rainy season weather
  • less busy time of year avoids issues with vacation item (accommodation, tour, and transfer service) availability

Is the best time to go to Costa Rica OCTOBER? Here’s what to expect if you plan to visit Costa Rica in October:

  • low season tourism pricing
  • international flight prices at average rates
  • green/wet/rainy season weather
  • less busy time of year avoids issues with vacation item (accommodation, tour, and transfer service) availability

Is the best time to go to Costa Rica NOVEMBER? Here’s what to expect if you plan to visit Costa Rica in November:

  • low season tourism pricing
  • international flight prices at average rates
  • green/wet/rainy season weather
  • less busy time of year avoids issues with vacation item (accommodation, tour, and transfer service) availability

Is the best time to go to Costa Rica DECEMBER? Here’s what to expect if you plan to visit Costa Rica in December:

  • high season tourism pricing (with peak season tourism pricing in effect at the end of the month)
  • international flight prices at increased rates
  • summer/dry season weather
  • busy time of year creates issues with vacation item (accommodation, tour, and transfer service) availability

QUESTION TO COMMENT ON: What time of year do you think is the best to travel to Costa Rica? Why?

Pura vida!

Nikki and Ricky

DIY Costa Rica

Costa Rica tour discounts



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