Gorgeous views, hidden beaches, wildlife encounters, life changing nature experiences and adrenaline filled adventures. These are just a few of the many reasons why people choose Costa Rica as their next vacation destination.
Though majority of visitors want to see Costa Rica in all its sunny glory, there’s something magical about Costa Rica in rainy season that isn’t there in dry season.
If you’re worried about visiting Costa Rica in rainy season (roughly May to November), don’t. Even if it isn’t sunny and 95 everyday you’re here, you will still have that enchanting, incredible trip you’ve been dreaming about.
Not convinced yet? Here are our reasons why travelers should visit Costa Rica in rainy season. Take it from a Tico who’s been in Costa Rica all his life and me, a Washingtonian girl yearning to escape the rain. “Winter” in Costa Rica is still every bit the pura vida tropical paradise as it is in summer.
6 Reasons Why You Have to Visit Costa Rica in Rainy Season
Wildlife Watching Galore
Wildlife watching is obviously available all year round in Costa Rica but there are certain times of the year where you can witness natural phenomenons that only happen during rainy season.
If seeing baby sea turtles hatch or the massive laying of turtle eggs (like the arribadas at Ostional) is high on your list of things to do, then you must visit Costa Rica in rainy season. The Ostional arribadas are world famous for attracting thousands of mother turtles laying their eggs on the beach and the shore gets so full, it’s hard to walk!
Or if you’re lucky like us, you’ll see the beginning of it all: the turtle matings. Go boating out at sea and you may catch a glimpse of turtles doing the deed and this is something not everyone is lucky enough to witness.
If you’re more of a mammal lover, then you can’t miss the humpback whales which are most abundant in August and September. It’s fairly common to see these majestic creatures out at sea and many of them are with their babies.
So even though both humpback whales and laying of turtle eggs happen in Costa Rica year round, the very best times to see them are during August and September, right in the heart of rainy season.
It’s So Green!
There’s a reason why they say green is nature’s color and makes people feel refreshed and calm. When we lived in Playas del Coco, we would go months and months without a drop of rain meaning all the grass and hills were yellow and dry like a desert. But as soon as we got a few good hard rains, Coco transformed into this lush, verdant beach town.
Colorful flowers blossomed overnight, grass turned moist and lavish and you could almost hear the trees sigh with relief. Everyone who lives in Coco prays for rain, completely opposite of what the tourists wish for and when it does, we are elated and thankful.
Talk to a Tico during dry season and they’ll express how much they can’t wait for the rains to come, especially the farmers. As agriculture and farming is an important part of the industry, rain is essential to their livelihood. Costa Rica in rainy season is unbelievably green!
Whenever we talk to travelers who have only been to Costa Rica in dry season, they are shocked to hear how green it gets as this is their normal view in Guanacaste.
I don’t know about you but I prefer to see vibrant green forests.
If you’re planning on traveling in Costa Rica on a budget, rainy season is definitely the best time to visit. Hotels in Costa Rica normally have three different seasonal rates: low, high and peak. Low is rainy season, high is dry season and peak is during Christmas/New Years and Semana Santa (Easter week).
Low season rates can be as much as $30-50 less than high season, car rental rates are significantly lower and even restaurants and tour companies offer special deals. If you plan on getting your scuba diving certification, rainy season is a great time to do it since it is also cheaper in most places.
Be aware that mid-summer break in July (second week of the month) is also considered high season for some areas such as La Fortuna. When we traveled to Arenal with my parents, it was hard to find hotels since many of them were full. But generally for the months of rainy season, rates are lower and it’s easier to travel on a budget during that time.
Don’t forget to bargain in rainy season! Companies are willing to bargain and lower the price than not get any business at all.
Rivers and Waterfalls are Fuller
Water levels are obviously much lower during dry season and water sports such as rafting and tubing aren’t quite as exciting. We’ve gone white water rafting and white water tubing in both dry and rainy season and we have to say hands down, rainy season is way more fun! The rapids are much more thrilling to raft through with gushing waters and dark green jungles surrounding you.
Same with tubing. With low water levels you don’t bounce around nearly as much as rainy season when the rivers are full. Still fun in dry season but definitely more in rainy!
Likewise with waterfalls. There’s nothing more breathtaking than seeing a huge waterfall dropping from a tall cliff. It’s not quite as impressive when it’s a tiny stream.
However, one downfall to visiting waterfalls in rainy season is the color. La Fortuna waterfall is actually a pretty bright green/blue but in the photo it looks grey. The color change is due to the sediment and dirt run off from the rain. Keep this in mind if you plan to visit Rio Celeste, when rainy season gets under way it’s not the beautiful, blue color anymore.
We all love sunny days and clear skies but sometimes (and I mean many times), it can get way too hot. Guanacaste is one of the hottest areas in Costa Rica and it stays in the high 90’s -100’s for months. Roads get super dusty, the air feels incredibly dry and it is just damn hot.
As soon as the rain starts falling, it immediately feels cooler and is much more comfortable. One of our favorite things to do is to lay on our hammock either at the beach to watch the sunset or on our balcony, listening to the raindrops. Costa Rica in rainy season almost doesn’t feel like its a tropical country!
Dry season makes the landscapes look like a desert, but once it rains everything turns so lush and feels much cooler!
Enjoy Beaches All to Yourself
Low season means less tourists and Yeison and I have had beautiful beaches all to ourselves many times. In fact, it’s what we’re used to now! It has kind of skewed our idea of “crowded” so whenever we see more than 10 people on a beach, we claim there are “so many people!”
But hey, when we have beaches like this just for us majority of the time, we can’t help but feel cramped!
A Few Extra Reasons
- The fishing is much better. According to the locals, sport fishing gets way better after the first rains.
- You will experience the typical humid tropical climate and you’ll really feel like you’re in the jungle!
- You can see intense lightning storms. I have never seen such crazy lightning strikes before!
- If you’re a scuba diver, some of the best sites are only accessible in rainy season or have the best visibility during that time.
- It’s a good time to visit the Caribbean side which doesn’t exactly follow the May to November rainy season pattern. October is actually a great time to visit the Caribbean.
Tips for Visiting Costa Rica in Rainy Season
- First read our guide to weather in Costa Rica to find out exactly what months is rainy/dry season and what it’s like.
- Bring mosquito repellent. Mosquitoes are absolutely awful in rainy season so no matter what, bring repellent. Read our post about our favorite bug repellents for Costa Rica.
- Pack accordingly. Be prepared for sudden rain so it’s best to bring gear such as waterproof backpacks and phone protectors so you don’t ruin your electronics. You can read our complete guide to packing for Costa Rica during rainy season.
- Don’t forget sunscreen. Even if it’s cloudy, the sun is still strong here and you can still burn. Here’s our sunscreen recommendations.
- If you plan on renting a car, consider renting a GPS or definitely use Waze. It’s pretty hard to see road signs when it’s pouring and the last thing you want to happen is getting lost or stuck in a thunderstorm. Get 10-25% car rental discount and 33% off GPS here.
For more tips, check out our Costa Rica rainy season travel guide.
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