Everybody knows that living near the equator = hot hot hot! And Costa Rica certainly lies very close to the equator, in fact just 8 and 12 degrees north of it. So with a year round tropical climate, you can probably guess what the weather in Costa Rica is like but actually it all depends on the topography of the region.
There are several micro-climates within the country that may surprise you. It doesn’t snow but it does get fairly cold in some areas up in the mountains. The weather is not as straightforward as some may think – there is actually quite a big range!
Weather in Costa Rica
There are only two seasons in Costa Rica: dry and rainy. That’s right, no winter, no fall. If you love seeing autumn leaves unfortunately you won’t see any of that in Costa Rica. No snow or spring cherry blossoms either.
Dry season is generally from December to April. Some characteristics of dry season are:
- Temperatures rise up to 95F on the coasts. Lower in the Central Valley
- Nights cool off as low as 80F degrees.
- High winds in some areas.
Rainy season is generally from May to November. Some characteristics of rainy season are:
- Thunder and lightning storms
- Temperatures up to 85F on the coast. Lowest can get down to 50F in the mountains
- Common to have sunny mornings and rain in the late afternoon/evening
- When it rains, it rains hard
Some regions rain more or less than others. Guanacaste has the longest season of dry months whereas the Caribbean side has more months of rain and it doesn’t really follow the Dec-April schedule. October is generally the dryer month in the Caribbean side so take note if you plan to visit.
If you go up to the mountains near Poas Volcano or the cloud forests like Monteverde, it is colder than the Pacific coast.
Always research what the weather in Costa Rica will be like for the area you are going to. With so many micro-climates, it is impossible to give an accurate description for every province. This is why locals and expats never bother checking the weather anymore, we know it’s either going to be hot or rainy most of the time – there isn’t that much variation as opposed to non tropical climates.
One thing you can count on though is that the weather is really quite unpredictable here!
How to prepare for dry season:
- Wear LOTS of sunscreen (sweat proof preferable)
- Drink lots of water
- Bring after sun gel (most people burn the first day since Costa Rica is so close to the equator)
- Bring a hand towel or sweat band
How to prepare for rainy season:
- Still need to bring sunscreen
- Bring lots of mosquito repellent. Mosquitoes thrive during rainy season
- Make sure your equipment is waterproof/water repellent. We love waterproof items and review the ones we recommend here.
- Bring a rain jacket
If you’re not sure what to bring, here is our ultimate packing list for Costa Rica, both seasons, all microclimates, men and women.
The weather during rainy season can change in a blink of an eye. It can be beautiful and incredibly sunny one minute and then pouring down rain with lightning the next. Always be prepared when visiting in rainy season to protect your equipment, especially your electronics.
Read our packing list for rainy season in Costa Rica to be prepared!
Best activities to do during dry season
Everything. Just make sure you are properly lathered with sunscreen before going out in the open ocean!
Best activities to do during rainy season
You can still do all the activities in dry season but come properly dressed. If it is raining too hard, they will not run the ziplines (canopy tour). Be extra careful when hiking as many hikes through the forest are without a trail like Cerro Chato. We did that hike in August during a downpour!
The peak of turtle egg laying season is rainy season, especially the month of November. Ostional Wildlife Refuge hosts the most Olive Ridley sea turtles where you can see thousands of mothers laying their eggs. Arribadas happen year round but rainy season is the best.
Not sure if you want to visit in rainy season? Here are 6 reasons why you should.
Want to know more about Costa Rica? Check these posts out!
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