Costa Rica Weather FAQs

Costa Rica is praised for its tropical clime, which varies from 65 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit depending on the region.  Due to its altitudinal variations from highland mountains to low-lying coastline, temperatures can fluctuate as much as 15-20 degrees within just a few hours’ drive. Most vacationers prefer to visit during the country’s “summer” months (December through April), though rainy season visits offer plenty of advantages for the budget-minded traveler.

Beautiful beaches of Costa Rica

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Is the rainy or dry season better for a Costa Rica vacation? 

Both seasons have benefits and drawbacks. The dry season (early December to mid-April) marks the start of Costa Rica’s peak tourism period, when beach vacation rentals, hotels and hostels begin booking up weeks in advance. Visitors are nearly guaranteed 12 hours of daily sunshine, but prices are higher and popular attractions often crowded. Though it can rain daily in the green season, thunderstorms typically roll in later in the day. Perks of a rainy season holiday include fewer tourists, major savings on accommodations and increased flexibility with your travel plans, since advance reservations aren’t necessary.

What are Costa Rica’s weather zones?  

The Central Valley, Central Pacific region, Southern Pacific, Caribbean, Northern Zone (includes Arenal/LaFortuna) and the Northern Pacific (Guanacaste region). Generally speaking, Guanacaste is the nation’s hottest and driest region, while the Caribbean and Northern Zones have consistent rainfall throughout the year.

How is the Central Valley weather?

Costa Rica tropical rain forest weather changes drastically in different zones

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Encompassing the metropolitan San Jose area, Grecia, San Ramon, Alajuela, Atenas, Cartago and other towns, the Central Valley enjoys annual spring-like temperatures that typically range between 70 and 75 degrees.  This part of the country gets very little rain from late November through April, while September and October are the wettest months.

Is weather on the Caribbean coast different?

The Caribbean zone, which includes tourist hotspots like Tortuguero, Puerto Viejo and Cahuita, has a distinct microclimate and different weather patterns than the rest of the country.  This region is much more humid and prone to regular rains thanks to constant trade winds. As such, there is no set dry season, though March-April and September normally see less rain.

What are summer temperatures like on the beach?

During Costa Rica’s summer months, coastal temperatures can reach the lower to mid-90s in Manuel Antonio, Jaco, Dominical, Tamarindo and other heavily-touristed beach towns. If visiting during December-January however, northerly trade winds keep day-time temperatures much more pleasant – usually around 85-88 degrees.

How cold does it get in the highlands of Costa Rica?

Travelers to Arenal and Monteverde should expect day time temps hovering between 72-84 degrees, depending on altitude. Chirripo Mountain is Costa Rica’s tallest peak at 12,533 feet, and definitely warrants thermal gear with temperatures rarely exceeding 65 F during the day, and dropping below freezing at night.

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