Tropical sunshine, Pacific trade wind breezes and cool misty mountains are just a part of Costa Rica's temperate tropical climate. Nestled into Central America, Costa Rica's north of the equator with a climate marked by two seasons: the dry season (Dec.-April) and the wet season (May-Nov.). Despite its proximity to the equatorial sun, average daily temperatures range between 71 and 81 degrees. Elevation and land orientation help keep the daily average temperatures down through much of the country and also affect the amount of precipitation with rainy, misty microclimates adjacent to drier regions.
Dry & Wet Seasons
Characterized by warm, sunny days free of rain and tempered by cool trade winds, Costa Rica's dry season begins in December and continues through April. Trade winds blow in from the northwest primarily in January leaving March and April as the warmest months 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 to 18 degrees.
The wet season runs from May through late November, bringing sunny mornings splashed by bouts of warm afternoon showers. 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 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 dry season (Dec. - April), it's best to schedule in advance. It is also helpful, if not required, to make a deposit by credit card to secure many hotel reservations. Bring along a digital confirmation of your reservations to avoid potential confusion.
Budget-conscious travelers may prefer to visit Costa Rica in the wet season (May-Nov.), when hotel rates are lower and discounts are available on practically everything. Fewer crowds, lush landscapes and inexpensive lodging make August, September and October great months to travel in Costa Rica.