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Costa rica medium Costa Rica

For birders, for families, for the adventurous at heart

Cloudforest one minute, the tropics the next - no wonder Costa Rica is so popular. But how to share everything we love about it without sending you on a conveyor belt journey? We take a more considered approach, giving you your own vehicle, shunning the crowded paths and instead tying together brilliant eco-lodges and beach houses, which thankfully continue to escape most visitors’ notice. This is the Costa Rica that has always moved us.

Trip ideas   When to visit   Where to visit

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Costa Rica trip ideas we could tailor to you

Costa rica osa peninsula walking along coast to drake bay c matt power
Hidden gems of Costa Rica's west coast
Spend a night in a ranger's station, lulled to sleep by the sounds of virgin rainforest. Watch Ol...
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Costa rica osa peninsula walking out from drake bay c matt power
Wildlife, landscapes and coast
Wander forest trails in search of toucans and monkeys, sip coffee at source and watch coatis rumm...
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Costa rica playa cativo pacific exterior
Remote lodges and wildlife
It is not without reason that Costa Rica is such a popular destination. For us, this represents a...
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Costa rica pacuare lodge canopy ziplining
Ocean, jungle & mountain adventure
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Costa rica monteverde zipline
Adventure isn't just for the kids
Float down jungle canals watching howler monkeys swing through the trees above, search for tarant...
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Vibrant wildlife, tropical beaches & forest
If there is only one place you go in Costa Rica, let it be the Osa Peninsula. Covering an area ba...
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Nicaragua granada isletas howler monkey sitting in tree
Wildlife paradise
Crowds are the last thing you want when you are looking for wildlife. That’s why this journey up ...
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People, wildlife and beaches
Step through Central America. This journey leads you through six completely different places whic...
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Costa rica tenorio volcano national park walking down to rio celeste waterfall
From Caribbean to Pacific
Float down rivers with monkeys swinging in the trees overhead and watch hummingbirds flitting bet...
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Top 7 things to do in Costa Rica

Spot Quetzals in the cloudforest of San Gerardo

Monteverde is fun. Its adrenaline-pumping activities and cloudforest setting have earned it a place on most standard Costa Rica itineraries, usually along with Arenal. But it’s busy, and there are big tin warehouses in the middle of town, so if you want a more authentic cloud forest experience and a greater abundance of wildlife, there are better places to go. This is why we will probably steer you away from it.

San Gerardo is among the best in the country for birdwatching. And you really don’t need to be a bird aficionado to delight in what can be found here; anyone can appreciate the quantity and quality. From beautiful hummingbirds to regal vultures, graceful swallows to cheerful trogons, it’s incredible. Top of everyone’s list of course, is the Resplendent Quetzal, whose name tells you all you really need to know - and there are more here than anywhere else.

See Costa Rica's vibrant birdlife on our Pacific Uncovered trip »

Skip Arenal for the river canyons of Rio Perdido

Don't believe what the brochures tell you - gone are the days when Arenal would blow rocks into the sky or spit out red hot lava at night. The giant is quiet, for now at least. Around its base, resorts range from flashy to motel type accommodation, which feel about as Costa Rican as Pizza Hut. For the best combination of volcanoes, hot springs and activities, you need to go a bit further north-west.

The Rio Perdido lodge sits between two river canyons. Head to Rio Blanco to swoosh along what is probably Costa Rica's best zip line, or have your first experience of tubing on the foamy waters. The other canyon is the Rio Perdido, whose volcanic vents heat the water to create natural hot springs you'll want to linger in. Sit and admire the gorgeous surrounds or go for a swim, there's plenty of room. You don't even have to leave the lodge to enjoy views out to the Miravalles and Rincon de la Vieja volcanoes.

Our Untouched Costa Rica itinerary can take you there.

Linger for longer on the pristine Osa Peninsula

Sometimes referred to as the ‘most biodiverse place on Earth,’ Osa is the wildlife hotspot in a country famous for its wildlife. The exact number of species per square metre isn't important. It’s enough to hear the bellow of the howler monkey, watch scarlet macaws and parakeets swoop across the trees, and then – as thick rainforests come to a halt at sandy beaches – look out at dolphins swimming offshore.

Despite Costa Rica’s compactness, Osa really is remote: some lodges can only be accessed by boat, while others close for three months each year due to the epic scale of the rains. The adage that anything really worth doing takes effort could have been coined with a visit to the Osa Peninsula in mind. For the best of Costa Rica’s nature, though, look no further. We love it so much we've dedicated an entire trip to the peninsula.

Visit Osa on our exclusive self-drive holiday »

Walk barefoot on Ostional beach

Ostional is like a breath of fresh air, a simple village with a ‘local, local’ bar leading straight onto a 7km long beach with Pacific surf crashing onto its dark volcanic sand. These same sands are nesting grounds to tens of thousands of turtles each year.

There are some questionable spots along the Pacific Coast. Tamarindo’s sports bars and strip malls, luxury gated marinas with golf courses. Ostional stands out as being different, amazingly untouched. But for this stretch of coast, from San Juanillo to Ostional to Guiones, the coast is made up of forest, beaches, an occasional village and the Pacific Ocean. It’s fantastic.

Explore the coastline of Ostional on our Costa Rica Uncovered trip »

Boat through Tortuguero's wildlife-rich waterways

It may well be on most visitors’ ‘must-see’ list, but there is a reason for that. Just getting to Tortuguero is an adventure, whether you arrive by boat or – even better – take in the extraordinary views of mountains and waterfalls on a plane from San Jose. The journey contributes to the feeling that the waterways and gallery rainforest are wonderfully remote.

As you float down the canals with howler monkeys swinging overhead, you might see an alligator sunning itself a few metres away. As you stroll through the grounds of your lodge, you might find a heron ambling along the path or an immense iguana eyeballing you from a tree. The great thing about Tortuguero is that it feels like the lodges have been dropped into the jungle, and the jungle hasn’t noticed.

Get to Tortuguero on our Essential Costa Rica itinerary »

Immerse yourself in the wilderness at Pacuare

An isolated lodge set on the river surrounded by dense hilly rainforest; birds, butterflies and monkeys going about their business. When people try to picture Costa Rica, Pacuare may well be the kind of image they conjure up.

Pacuare is Costa Rica at its best: unsullied nature providing a world-class setting for a lodge you may never want to leave. Friendly, knowledgeable staff and guides introducing guests to different species and experiences. Copious wildlife and perhaps the most fun you can have in the water, all in the hands of passionate experts. Pacuare is the ideal of tropical wilderness brought to life.

You can stay here on our Untouched Costa Rica trip »

Stroll the jungle-fringed beaches of Cahuita

When thinking of Costa Rica, it's common for people to picture lush rainforest rolling down to peaceful golden sands with monkeys and sloths roaming the trees above. It's even more common for most brochures to tell you that Manuel Antonio is where you'll find this idyllic picture.

And they'd be right - if it was still the 1980s. These days you want to be on the other side of the country, in sleepy Cahuita, which has all the beauty and the wildlife, but none of the hordes and garish resorts. It also has Caribbean culture in abundance, from coconut shrimp to reggae bars to Creole patois. We love it.

Take your family on a Costa Rica Adventure »

Our top 5 memories of Costa Rica

Zip line

“Seriously? Upside down?” I wasn’t convinced that this was a good idea at all. But the crew had been amazing thus far as we had slid, swung and hiked over and across the canyons of Rio Perdido in Costa Rica's hot Guanacaste region.

I decided to trust them. “Just pull your knees up and lean back”. Up went my knees, back I leant…off I shot, 750m across a forested canyon. Upside down. Laughing like a drain.

Turtle stalking

I feel like a stalker, a snorkeling one. I have no choice though, these sea turtles can swim like the clappers. After my first couple of attempts to swim close to them, I realise that my only hope is to sneak up on them. Turtles have terrible rear visibility so I am floating along, enjoying the sight of these beautiful creatures, from behind.

Ostional is the world’s most important nesting ground for Olive Ridley Turtles. At night, they move onto the beach to bury their eggs. By day, they keep themselves occupied bobbing about just offshore having a very occasional encounter with snorkeling humans.

Roadside Soda

This one seems to be popular. Locals parked all along the verge wander back to the shack to perch on stools looking into the large open kitchen. This is a Soda, one of Costa Rica’s informal roadside eateries. Inside the kitchen the family hustle and bustle about, creating simple but tasty food on a motley array of dilapidated domestic cookers.

Mildly intrigued by my presence, the father asks me where I am from. When he finds out that I speak English, he is delighted and wheels out his youngest son. “Carlito is learning English at school”. And so it is that Carlos walks me across the road, through a coffee plantation, to show me an amazing view across the Central Valley.

I loved the fact that his family were so proud of his learning, he was so keen to practice and that, even at such a young age, he knew to be proud of the beauty of his country.

Rafting out of Pacuare

There’s white-water rafting, and then there is white-water rafting out of Pacuare. It literally looks like a movie set, with sheer gorges covered in thick green vegetation and mists drifting across impenetrable hillsides.

This was everything adventure travel in comfort should be: I’d woken up in a bed set in front of floor-to-ceiling windows looking out over the rainforest. After a huge breakfast, we’d set off downriver, attacking the white water and using the calmer stretches to soak up the views around us. Exhilarating, remote, beautiful – this was one river I never wanted to end.

Birding in Osa

Frankly I’d never considered myself as really that keen on birds. Really large, or really colourful – absolutely – but otherwise I wasn’t too fussed. That all changed early one morning on the Osa Peninsula, though, when one of the lodge guides took us walking down a track inland.

Yes, we saw some scarlet macaws, and they were spectacular, of course. But it was the sheer quantity of birds, and the guide’s obvious delight, each time he (it was invariably him, not us) spotted a new species which brought it all to life. Although I soon forgot most of the names I was thrilled to have found such pleasure in this isolated part of Costa Rica.

Read our 5-part Expert Guide to Costa Rica Get the guide

Why us?

Because we know just how easy it is to visit Costa Rica and leave without any sense of the ‘real’ country or its character. How easy it is to visit and think, ‘we should have come here years ago, it’s far too busy now.’ And how easy it is to miss out on the best it has to offer.

Given how compact it is, it’s a mystery to us there can be so many unexplored corners. Beautiful lodges in glorious isolation. Hot springs and thermal rivers all to yourself. Rainforest trails peaceful enough that you can actually see and hear the wildlife around you.

If you’re travelling to Costa Rica with us, it’s because you want to experience that famous diversity of landscape, the wildlife and fun activities, but you also want to leave feeling you know something of the country.

Every trip we create in Costa Rica is designed to get you under its skin, take you off the beaten track, and make sure you are as surprised and delighted as we have been by this beautiful country.

Costa Rica at a glance

Capital city

San José

Famous highlights

Tortuguero, Arenal Volcano, Monteverde, Manuel Antonio

Hidden gems

Osa Peninsula, Ostional, Pacuare, Cahuita


Spanish (official)

Food & drink

Gallo pinto, tamales, olla de carne, sopa negra

How far?

11 hours (shortest flight time from London to San Jose)


Colón (US$1 = 530 CRC)


GMT -6 or -7

When to go to Costa Rica

January in Costa Rica

January is one of the best and most popular months for a Costa Rica tour - the weather is relatively dry in much of the country, and everything is still green. Along the Pacific coast and up in Guanacaste in the north, the weather is hot and dry. In central Costa Rica, rainfall is quite light in the rainforests, and the higher-altitude cloud forests will be cool and damp. On the Caribbean side, the weather is more changeable and it can be particularly wet in the north-east around Tortuguero. With early January being the peak holiday season, aim to travel in the second half of the month when it is a little less busy.

Suggested itinerary: Untouched Costa Rica »

Max (°C) Min (°C) Precip. (mm)
Pacific 31 21 0 Best
Central 28 18 8 Best
Caribbean 29 21 263 Good
January events in Costa Rica

Jan 12-18: Alajuelita Fiestas
Jan 12-18: Santa Cruz Fiestas

February in Costa Rica

This is an excellent time to travel to Costa Rica - less crowded than January, so easier to find space in the most popular destinations. It is hot and dry throughout the Pacific coast, and central lowland areas are also very warm. Up in higher-altitude areas of the Central Valley, temperatures are a few degrees cooler and in the cloud forest it can be very cool at night. On the Caribbean side of the central mountains, it is still fairly wet. Costa Rica has a huge range of microclimates, so be prepared for the weather to change due to the local topography and altitude, even if you are travelling short distances.

Suggested itinerary: Costa Rica Pacific Uncovered »

Max (°C) Min (°C) Precip. (mm)
Pacific 32 22 0 Best
Central 29 18 10 Best
Caribbean 29 21 190 Good
February events in Costa Rica

Feb 6-15: Carnival, Puntarenas
Feb 25: Sun Festival, nationwide

March in Costa Rica

Early March is one of the best times to holiday to Costa Rica, especially to the west and central regions, and the Osa Peninsula, where the weather is hot and sunny, with almost no rain. This is one of the hottest months in these regions, though humidity is minimal, so it is an ideal time to enjoy the beaches. On the Caribbean coast, this is one of the drier months though it is never as dry here as it can be elsewhere in Costa Rica. Though Olive Ridley turtles can typically be seen year-round from Ostional, March and April offer the lowest chances of seeing any nesting activity due to the summer heat.

Suggested itinerary: Costa Rica Uncovered »

Max (°C) Min (°C) Precip. (mm)
Pacific 33 23 0 Best
Central 30 18 8 Best
Caribbean 30 22 178 Best
March events in Costa Rica

Mar 15: Dia de los Boyeros, San Jose

April in Costa Rica

Along with March, this is the hottest time of year with very sunny weather – ideal for the western and central regions of Costa Rica, especially the beaches, though very hot and arid up in Guanacaste and Rincon de la Vieja. Though the climate in the southern Pacific and the Carribbean coast is wetter, you will still find the days mostly sunny at this time of year. Any rainfall usually comes as afternoon or evening showers. April and May are peak nesting months for Leatherback turtles on the Caribbean coast around Tortuguero. Plan ahead if you are traveling over the popular Easter break.

Suggested itinerary: Costa Rica Northern Explorer »

Max (°C) Min (°C) Precip. (mm)
Pacific 33 23 6 Good
Central 30 19 45 Good
Caribbean 30 22 171 Good
April events in Costa Rica

Apr 11: Juan Santamaria Day, nationwide

May in Costa Rica

The transition between the dry season and the ‘green’ season usually happens during a week or two in May, when stormy weather comes in, bringing plenty of rain with it. On the Pacific coast there can be a week of solid rain. It may be wet on the Caribbean coast too, but rains are not continuous and tend to fall in the afternoons or overnight. It’s impossible to predict when the storms will come, so it can be a bit of a gamble, but if you time it right this is a lovely time to visit. The green season – as opposed to the October/November wet season – is a very nice, and increasingly popular, time to travel to Costa Rica.

Suggested itinerary: Costa Rica to Nicaragua »

Max (°C) Min (°C) Precip. (mm)
Pacific 31 23 81 Good
Central 29 19 169 Good
Caribbean 30 23 317 Good
May events in Costa Rica

May 1: Labour Day, nationwide
May 29: Corpus Christi, nationwide

June in Costa Rica

The ‘green season’ rains have started on the Pacific coast but this is still a great time to go. There are no crowds and the days are still warm with cooling rain showers in the evening. There is now plenty of greenery as well as wildlife at this time of year. In central Costa Rica, mornings are fairly clear and sunny with heavier rains tending to fall in the evenings. On the Caribbean side, rains are heavier and there is a chance of continuous days of rain. However, with water levels rising, access to Tortuguero improves and you can navigate through waterways deeper into the forest. The Hawksbill turtle nesting season starts around now.

Suggested itinerary: Nicaragua to Costa Rica »

Max (°C) Min (°C) Precip. (mm)
Pacific 30 22 72 Best
Central 28 19 206 Good
Caribbean 30 23 233 Good
June events in Costa Rica

June 29: St Peter & St Paul’s Day, nationwide

July in Costa Rica

Arguably the best month to travel to Costa Rica, especially the Pacific side, with hot sunny days to enjoy the beach and cooling rains later on. From mid-July to early August, there is a 2-3 week window of lovely weather - like a mini dry season but with cooler temperatures and more greenery. It's especially nice up in Rincon de la Vieja. In the centre, there is some rain but temperatures are very nice. On the Caribbean side of Costa Rica, July is firmly within the rainy season, though rains here tend to fall late in the day. Late July and August offer the green season's best weather and, as it's not a peak time for travel to Costa Rica, this is a good-value destination for families on UK school holidays.

Suggested itinerary: Costa Rica Family Explorer »

Max (°C) Min (°C) Precip. (mm)
Pacific 30 22 69 Best
Central 28 19 140 Good
Caribbean 30 23 396 Good
July events in Costa Rica

Jul 18: Virgin of the Sea Festival, Puntarenas
Jul 20-26: Mango Festival, Alajuela

August in Costa Rica

In the Pacific north-west of Costa Rica, the first week or so falls within ‘El Veranillo,’ the mini dry season, so this should be a good time for travel to Costa Rica. In Ostional, the Olive Ridley turtles’ peak nesting season starts. In central lowland areas, temperatures are still hot. Head up into the cloudforests, which can be 5-10 degrees cooler, to get some relief from the heat. On the Caribbean side, August sees plenty of wet weather - expect some rain nearly every night. With rivers nice and full, this is a good time for white-water rafting in Pacuare and Sarapiqui. In Tortuguero, August is one of the best months to see Green Turtles lay their eggs on the beaches.

Suggested itinerary: Costa Rica Southern Adventure »

Max (°C) Min (°C) Precip. (mm)
Pacific 30 23 75 Good
Central 28 18 191 Good
Caribbean 30 23 251 Good
August events in Costa Rica

Aug 2: Virgin of Los Angeles Day, nationwide

September in Costa Rica

On the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, the first half of September may be ok if you can’t travel at any other time, but there will be significant rain most days, often continuously for days at a time. The Osa Peninsula bears the brunt of the wet season and lodges will close from now until November. It is relatively warm and dry up in Guanacaste though. In the central region, expect a significant amount of wet weather too, initially following a pattern of sunny mornings and evening showers, then becoming more persistent as the month goes on. On the Caribbean side, this is one of the drier months of the year, so a bit less wet than usual, especially in the south.

Max (°C) Min (°C) Precip. (mm)
Pacific 31 23 150 Okay
Central 28 18 239 Good
Caribbean 31 23 111 Good
September events in Costa Rica

Sep 15: Independence Day, nationwide

October in Costa Rica

October is one of the wettest months of the year in Costa Rica, especially in the Pacific and central regions. These areas will get persistent rain on most days, with the south being a total washout. Coastal roads can get tricky to pass due to flooding, and rivers will be very high indeed. You may get windows of reasonable weather up in the far north around Rincon de la Vieja, and on the south-east Caribbean coast around Cahuita but let's be honest, there are better months to travel to Costa Rica.

Max (°C) Min (°C) Precip. (mm)
Pacific 29 22 99 Okay
Central 28 18 290 Okay
Caribbean 31 23 159 Okay
October events in Costa Rica

Oct 1-12: Carnival, Puerto Viejo
Oct 12-20: Carnival, Limon

November in Costa Rica

November is another washout throughout Costa Rica, though it should start to dry out by the end of the month. Lodges in the Pacific coast and Osa Peninsula will re-open at some point by the end of November. If you are squeezed for time and must travel at some point in November, aim to start your trip in the last week of the month at the very earliest – even then, some roads and parks are likely to be quite waterlogged so careful planning is needed. The southern Caribbean coast should be one of the drier areas of the country, though rains increase as you move north towards Tortuguero.

Suggested itinerary: Osa Peninsula Uncovered »

Max (°C) Min (°C) Precip. (mm)
Pacific 30 22 48 Okay
Central 28 18 137 Okay
Caribbean 29 22 311 Okay
November events in Costa Rica

Nov 2: Dia de los Inocentes, nationwide
Nov 15: Coffee Picking Contest, Central Valley

December in Costa Rica

In the Pacific and central regions of Costa Rica, rains taper off in early December and the weather improves as the month goes on. Around new moon, the ‘arribada’ of the Olive Ridley turtles in Ostional is the best of the year. The Caribbean side is relatively wet, especially up in the north-east around Tortuguero. Overall though, the transition into the dry season in the first half of December can be a great time to travel to Costa Rica. Try to travel before the peak holiday weeks when crowds descend on the most popular destinations, prices go up and hotel rooms sell out. Plan way ahead if you are travelling over the holidays.

Suggested itinerary: Costa Rica Pacific Uncovered »

Max (°C) Min (°C) Precip. (mm)
Pacific 31 21 12 Best
Central 28 18 44 Best
Caribbean 29 22 347 Good
December events in Costa Rica

Dec 12: La Yeguita Festival, Guanacaste
Dec 31 - Jan 2: Los Diablitos Festival

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Book Subscribe to The Pothole » The startling blue waters of the Rio Celeste in the Tenorio National Park Costa Rica When to Go Map - January Costa Rica When to Go Map - February Costa Rica When to Go Map - March Costa Rica When to Go Map - April Costa Rica When to Go Map - May Costa Rica When to Go Map - June Costa Rica When to Go Map - July Costa Rica When to Go Map - August Costa Rica When to Go Map - September Costa Rica When to Go Map - October Costa Rica When to Go Map - November Costa Rica When to Go Map - December A gorgeous resplendent quetzal guards its nest in San Gerardo de Dota Floating in hot springs in Rio Perdido, Tenorio An anteater with huge feet combs the beach for food Early morning on Ostional beach Guiding by Luis in Tortuguero Walking across a canopy walkway at Pacuare Lodge Caribbean beach in Cahuita National Park Entering the Pacuare River gorge Zip lining at Rio Perdido Roadside eatery on the way through the Central Vallley towards Arenal Baby Olive Ridley turtle on Costa Rica's Pacific coast