Last Updated: Feb 28, 2012
Located just north of the equator, Costa Rica has a temperate tropical climate marked by two seasons: the dry (December-April) and the wet (May-November). The average temperature throughout the year is between 71°F and 81°F. Elevation and orientation of the land also affect precipitation with rainy, misty microclimates sitting adjacent to much drier regions.
Dry & Green Seasons:
The dry season begins in December and continues through April. Warm and sunny days are free of any rain and tempered in January and February by cool winds. The warmest months are March and April, coinciding with the end of the dry season. The coolest temperatures are found from November through January, mostly due to the mild northeasterly trade winds, which flow through the mountains. As a general rule, the dry season brings greater temperature variations between the days and nights, with fluctuations as much as 14°F to 18°F.
The rainy season runs from May through late November, bringing sunny mornings splashed by bouts of warm afternoon rain. Also known as the green season, these months are punctuated by a brief dry spell that occurs in July and August. In September and October, look for dramatic downpours that drench the hillsides and fill the rivers. If you plan to drive backcountry roads during these months, rent a 4WD and always ask about road conditions before setting out.
Trip Planning Alert:
If you choose to visit Costa Rica during the high season (December - April), schedule everything well in advance. It is also helpful, if not required, to make a deposit by credit card to secure many hotel reservations. Bring along a faxed confirmation of your reservations to avoid potential confusion.
Budget-conscious travelers may prefer to visit Costa Rica in the rainy season, when hotel rates are lower and discounts are available on practically everything. Fewer crowds, lush landscapes and inexpensive lodging make August - October wonderful months to travel in Costa Rica. The country experiences a mini-high season in June and July, with the influx of many European and North American tourists.