Weather in Costa Rica
From Costa Rica Travel Guide: Vacation and Travel tips
Costa Rica Climate/Weather
Your time is valuable and at TravelCostricaNow we believe in the KISS method of writing- Keep It Simple Stupid. So here goes.
When people research a potential travel destination, they only view the weather section of a particular website in order to figure out the best time to visit, depending on what it is they want to do. So are you a beach bum surfer water sport type or an adventure, wildlife, naturalist, “I wanna see a poison dart frog,” type? So forget about going into detail about trade winds, atmospheric pressure and other meteorological mumbo jumbo- we’ll just tell you about the rain. Seems easy considering Costa Rica is about the same size as West Virgina, but it’s not.
Costa Rica has two seasons, each known by a variety of names:
• The Winter/Rainy/Low/Green Season. This season runs May thru November.
• The Summer/Dry/High Season. December thru April.
Winter-Summer indicates the season. Rainy-Dry obviously refers to the amount of rainfall. Low-High is used in regards to the perceived popularity of visiting the country as far as tourism is concerned, and the word ‘Green’ was created by slick Costa Rican tourism marketers because they understood the importance of words and perceptions. What sounds better- “Let’s visit Costa Rica during the rainy season.” or “Let’s visit Costa Rica during the green season.”
The ONLY difference between the two seasons is the amount of rainfall. Keep in mind, the temperatures in Costa Rica are fairly constant year round, with variations more a function of altitude than season.
The Winter/Rainy/Low/Green Season- May thru November.Caribbean slopes, and in the southwest area of the country. If you’re heading to remote areas such as the Osa Peninsula, the rains may turn unpaved roads into impassable stews of mud and streams into raging rivers. If you’re an adventure and naturalist type, well everything is just so damn beautiful and the rain shouldn’t stop you from participating in the adventure of your choice. It is called the rainforest for a reason.
The Summer/Dry/High Season- December thru April
The main appeal of the high season is the weather. Although it can rain in certain parts of the country at any given time, it is less likely too, and in Guanacaste and on the Nicoya peninsula, the dry season is bone-dry, hardly a drop falls between December and April. If you’re a naturalist, there’s an added bonus- wildlife can be easier to spot as it concentrates around shrinking water sources and the deciduous trees drop their leaves thinning the camouflage. Conversely, Arctic storms drive ocean swells southward and the surf tends to be more reliable in high season for you surfer types. Although some of the more popular tourist destinations can get quite crowded, even the crowds have their benefits. Everything is open and running extended hours, bars and nightclubs are much more fun and you’re more likely to catch good live music and other performances during this time.
The following is provided for those of you who would like a little more specific breakdown.
The Central Valley includes parts of San José, Cartago, Heredia and Alajuela. The climate in the Central Valley varies from warm and dry to humid and chilly depending on which side of the valley you are on. For example, Pavas, a western suburb of San Jose, has an elevation of 3,280 ft (1,000 mts) and averages 71 degrees Fahrenheit (22 Celsius) with the lowest temperatures in December and January (64 F, 18 C) and the highest in March and April (80 F, 27 C). On the other side of the valley, at the foothills of the Poás Volcano, the elevation is 6,070 ft (1850 meters), and the yearly average temperature is 62 F (17.4 Centigrade) with the lowest temperatures recorded in December and January (53 F, 12 C) and the highest in March and April (73 F, 22.9 C). Rainfall also varies considerably. Pavas receives an average of 77 inches of rainfall per year, but at the foothills of the Poas Volcano, the average yearly rainfall is 127 inches. Even during the rainy season however, long rainy days are rare in the Central Valley. Mornings are generally clear, followed by a few hours of heavy downpour in the afternoon. During the dry season, especially during late December and January, expect dry windy conditions with cool nights.
North PacificNorth Pacific has an average annual rainfall of 55 inches (1400 mm) with January through April being its sunniest months.
This coastal region includes parts of the provinces of Puntarenas and San José starting from the Tárcoles River down to the the Barú River. This area includes the popular destinations of Jacó, Dominical, Uvita, Manuel Antonio and Puntarenas to the north. In Puntarenas, daytime temperatures may reach the low nineties (above 32 degrees Centigrade) throughout the year. March, April and May are usually the hottest months, although at the beaches, refreshing breezes help with the heat. The dry season in this area lasts from about January through April, which means rain showers will occur most afternoons at other times of year.
Part of the province of Puntarenas, this region boasts some of Costa Rica’s most varied topography including high mountains and vast tracks of pristine rainforest (Corcovado National Park) located on the Osa Peninsula. This area has a very distinct dry (January to mid April) and rainy season (May through December). Temperatures near the coast do not vary much and average from the low 80’s through low 90’s (upper 20’s to low 30’s Centigrade) throughout the year. In the Valle del General (General Valley) expect more moderate temperatures (high 70’s to low 80’s) and morning temperatures as low as 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 C) in the higher elevations. Precipitation varies widely from 120 inches in the Valle del General to 200 inches or more in the Osa Peninsula.
This region includes the entire Caribbean coast of Costa Rica- Tortuguero, Limon, Cahuita and Puerto Viejo. Due to the constant humidity blown in from the Caribbean Sea, downpours occasionally last for days. Temperatures in the coastal areas and southern Talamanca Mountains average in the low 80’s (upper 20’s Centigrade), with May, June and October being the hottest months. Slightly lower temperatures may be experienced from December through February. Although it rains throughout the year, you can usually count on clearer conditions during September and October (the rainiest months in the Central Valley). In the Turrialba region (about an hour and a half from San José), the rainiest months are June and November. Expect temperatures here to be slightly cooler (upper 70’s to low 80’s year around).
The northern region includes parts of the provinces of Guanacaste, Alajuela and Limón, but tourist destinations include Arenal/La Fortuna area and the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. Temperatures vary depending on altitude. In the higher elevations, temperatures average in the low to mid 60’s (mid to upper teens Centigrade) while in the lowlands, such as in San Carlos, expect temperatures in the upper 70’s to low 80’s (mid to upper 20’s Centigrade) year around. Like the Central Valley, the months of April and May are considered to be the hottest while December and January the coolest. Lowland rainfall averages about 100 inches a year while in the mountains expect approximately 140 inches or more.