Dry Season vs. Green Season
Last Updated: Apr 19, 2012
When planning your Costa Rica vacation, consider the pros and cons of visiting during the country's dry versus rainy season (also known as the green season).
- When: For most of Costa Rica, the dry season lasts from mid-November through May. Generally speaking, the Caribbean coast is much wetter than the rest of the country, even during this period as it has an entirely different weather pattern. Its driest months include February-March and September-October.
- Weather: The dry, or "high" season brings blue skies and warm sunshine. Daytime temperatures hover in the low 80's around the Central Valley, while the mid-90's are common for coastal areas. December and January are very windy, and though the constant sunshine ensures comfortable weather, these are actually the coolest months of the year. March and April are the hottest months of the dry season. From late December through mid-March, rain is almost unheard of except in the Caribbean.
- Pros: Ten to twelve hours of glorious sunshine per day make the dry season -- the Costa Rican summer -- ideal for outdoor adventures from sunrise to sunset. These months also witness some of the country's most colorful festivals, horse parades and holidays, including Christmas and Holy Week.
- Potential Negative Aspects: Because the Costa Rican summer is considered tourist high season, you'll pay full price for hotel rooms, transportation and all tours. In beach towns and tourist hotspots, hotels book up quickly and attractions may be crowded. During major holidays like Easter and Christmas, reservations must be made at least 6 weeks in advance.
- When: The green season is also called the wet season, or Costa Rican winter, and lasts from May through November. However, the Caribbean coast typically sees some of the year's driest weather in September and October.
- Weather: It doesn't rain all day during the green season; you'll wake to sunny mornings with blue skies and showers typically roll in between 2 and 4 p.m., sometimes later. September and October are usually the rainiest months, especially in the Central Valley and Pacific. Temperatures are comfortable, averaging in the 70's in the Central Valley and 80's on the coast.
- Pros: The term "green" season perfectly summarizes the country's lush countryside during this time of year. Even the arid plains of Guanacaste province-- Costa Rica's driest region -- come alive with verdant landscapes. National parks and other attractions are much less crowded, and your bargaining power is strong. You can often get fabulous deals on accommodations, transportation and some activities, especially if you wait until the last minute. Green season months are also the best for some of the country's top activities, including turtle watching in Tortuguero, surfing in the Pacific, whitewater rafting, and whale watching along the Osa Peninsula.
- Potential Negative Aspects: You'll need to plan outdoor adventures for mornings and early afternoons to avoid the rains. Heavy downpours can also wash out roads, making travel more difficult, if not impossible, in rural areas. If you plan on driving and your itinerary includes Monteverde, the Osa Peninsula, or other remote locales, you'll need to rent a 4WD vehicle, which may be more costly than a standard transmission.