By Evelyn Gallardo
Seasonal terms can be confusing in tropical places like Costa Rica where online resources and guidebooks may describe them in different ways. To add to the confusion, some terms refer to the weather itself, while others refer to tourism.
Honestly, there are really only two seasons in Costa Rica, dry and rainy. There are no seasons with snow or drastic changes in temperature. The average temperature year round is between 71F and 81F degrees (21.7C-27C). One thing to keep in mind is elevation. The higher up you go, the cooler it gets. If you’re planning to visit Costa Rica you’ll want to optimize your experience by knowing what clothes to pack and what to expect weather-wise. No worries. The seasons in Costa Rica are about to become crystal clear.
Dry/High/Summer Season: December 1-April 31
Dry and summer terms refer to less rainfall. Generally March through May are the hottest months of the year with temperatures between 80F and 90F degrees (27C-32C). The landscape is still green in some areas but may turn brown in others. High refers to the amount of tourist traffic. What this means to you is you’ll want to book your reservations in advance. If you’re staying at a vacation rental home, you’ll want your concierge to book your tours and activities in advance to secure your spot.
Rainy/Wet/Winter/Green/Low Season: May 1-November 31
Rainy, wet, winter and green season refer to the time of year when there’s more rainfall. During the rainy season everything is lush and green. Low season refers to the drop in tourism because fewer tourists visit during the rainy season. The average yearly rainfall is 100 inches but can top 25 ft. in the mountains. Higher and mountainous elevations are cooler and may require a sweater or light jacket. September and October tend to be the rainiest months of the year.
There are benefits to traveling during the rainy season especially if you’ll be spending time at the beach. It’s warm year round on the coast with temperatures around 75F-90F degrees (21C-32C). The weather cools down a few degrees during the rainy season but it’s still warm enough to walk around in shorts and flip flops. A typical rainy season day would be a sunny morning with rain in the late afternoon or evening. Vacation rental home rates are lower, there are no lines to get into restaurants and you’ll have your pick of all the tours and activities. Gotta love it!
Peak Season: Easter/Christmas and New Years Weeks
Peak season refers to Easter, Christmas and New Years weeks when the demand for vacation rental homes is so high that the rates nearly double. Guests often book 6-12 months in advance. But don’t be discouraged just make your reservation by July for the best options.
Mid Season June 1-August 31
There’s one last season that may occasionally be referred to on some web sites and that’s Mid-season. This season has nothing to do with the weather in Costa Rica but more to do with when students in the U.S.A. are on are summer vacation and their families are likely to travel. Rates may or may not vary from high and low season rates depending upon the homeowner and/or the rental agent.
Now that you’re clear on what the different seasonal terms mean and the benefits of traveling during each one, you won’t let the “rainy season” in Costa Rica scare you off. Lower rate, temperatures and no lines may outweigh cooling afternoon showers.
The wonderful thing about Costa Rica is there’s sunshine all year round. Keep in mind that some vacation homeowners may define their seasons with some minimal variations on the dates above. You’re now better prepared to make your vacation plans.