Costa Rica is a beautiful Central American country known for its lush rainforests, stunning beaches, and diversity of wildlife. However, the weather and crowds do vary throughout the year. While there is no truly terrible time to visit, there are certain times that are considered the worst for travel to Costa Rica.
Rainy Season (May to November)
The rainy season in Costa Rica lasts from May to November, with the heaviest rainfall typically occurring between September and October. During this time, it rains almost daily, especially on the Caribbean coast and central mountain regions.
While the rain provides a lush green landscape, it can put a damper on beach days and outdoor activities. Flooding and washed out roads are also common during the peak of rainy season.
Peak Tourist Season (Mid-December to April)
The peak tourist season aligned with the dry season sees the most crowds and highest prices in Costa Rica. Mid-December to April is when North Americans flock to Costa Rica to escape the winter weather.
As a popular tropical destination, things get busy and hotels fill up fast during these drier months. Prices for accommodations, flights, and activities also surge.
Major holidays like Christmas, New Year’s, and Easter are very busy in Costa Rica. With locals on vacation and international visitors coming for the holidays, tourist destinations get crowded and hotel rates jump. Theme parks like the Parque Viva Park may require reservations many months in advance for Christmas or Easter celebrations.
Peak of Dry Season (March and April)
As the end of the dry season, March and April in Costa Rica are prone to very hot and dry conditions before the rainy season starts up again in May. Temperatures regularly reach over 90°F, especially on the northern Pacific coast. With little rain, the landscape dries out and dusty conditions prevail. For beach goers, this hot and arid weather may be less ideal compared to the shoulder seasons with milder temperatures.
Semana Santa Week
Known as Holy Week in English, Semana Santa is the week leading up to Easter. It is one of the busiest travel weeks in Costa Rica, as both international visitors and locals take vacations. Many businesses and attractions may be closed for the holiday. Getting transportation and lodging last minute is very challenging due to the high demand.
Shoulder Seasons (May & November)
The shoulder seasons of early May and November in Costa Rica can be considered worst times to visit solely due to the weather. May still sees wet weather as the rainy season ramps up. November transitions to occasional rain showers during the end of wet season. With unpredictable weather, outdoor activities may be impacted. However, shoulder seasons have their perks like smaller crowds and lower prices.
What is the Absolute Worst Time to Visit?
Overall, the absolute worst time to visit Costa Rica is likely during the peak of rainy season in September/October. This period combines heavy rainfall with still-high tourist crowds of the high season before Americans retreat for the holidays. The rain is frequent and intense, potentially ruining beach days and adventures.
(https://www.two weeksincostarica.com/costa-rica-rainy-season/). Milder rainy season months like June or July may be a better alternative.
Planning Your Visit
While Costa Rica is a year-round destination, visiting during the peak crowds and rain of September/October is not ideal for most. Aim for the dry season between December and April, while accepting prices will be higher. Or consider shoulder seasons for smaller crowds and lower costs, prepared for some rain. No matter when you visit, the natural beauty and biodiversity of Costa Rica shine through!