Contact us today
01273 676 712
Contact us Request a callback Latin America Antarctica Argentina Brazil Carretera Austral Chile Costa Rica Crossing Borders Ecuador Galapagos Islands Nicaragua Peru Spain Inn to Inn Holidays Explorer Self-Drive My Pura Who we are What we believe Our customers Consumer protection Terms & conditions Business to business Health & safety Pictures & social media How we work Privacy policy Independent reviews

Costa-rica-medium Costa Rica

Welcome to adventure country

A cloudforest one minute, the tropics the next - Costa Rica has ecological diversity unlike any other. It has head turning wildlife literally everywhere, from humming birds over breakfast to sea turtles at night. But we also love Costa Rica for being just such fantastic fun. As one client recently wrote about their guide, José, “a huge smile, a welcoming handshake, an easy going manner and you just couldn’t help but warm to him instantly.” We think that sums up Costa Rica perfectly!

Feefo-gold
Book Send me exclusive content »

Read our 7-part Expert Guide to Costa Rica Get the guide

Costa Rica at a glance

Capital city

San José

Famous highlights

Tortuguero, Arenal Volcano, Monteverde, Manuel Antonio

Hidden gems

Osa Peninsula, Ostional, Pacuare

Language(s)

Spanish (official)

Food & drink

Gallo pinto, tamales, olla de carne, sopa negra

How far?

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

Currency

Colón (US$1 = 530 CRC)

Timezone

GMT -6 or -7

When to go to Costa Rica

January weather in Costa Rica

January is one of the best and most popular months to travel to Costa Rica - 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.

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 weather 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.

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 weather 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.

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 weather 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.

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 weather 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.

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 weather 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.

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 weather 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.

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 weather 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.

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 weather 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 weather 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 weather 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.

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 weather 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.

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

Read our 7-part Expert Guide to Costa Rica Get the guide

Top 7 things to do in Costa Rica

Explore 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.

Boat through Tortugero'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.

All of this is, of course, before you start exploring or meeting the locals. 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 come across 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.

Play at Monteverde cloud forest

Monterverde is fun. Yes, it’s busy and yes there are big tin warehouses in the middle of town but sometimes it’s OK to simply enjoy playing. And for that, Monterverde is brilliant.

The cloudforest reserve is right there though of course, the whole town is embedded in the forest so there are birds everywhere anyway. At night you can go on a guided walk to find things like snakes and tarantula. During the day there are zip lines, a frog pond, even a cheese factory.

If you want the wildlife of a peaceful cloudforest, there are better places to go but for a bit of variety and a dose of adventure, Monteverde does the job brilliantly.

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 of Costa Rica. Tamarindo’s sports bars and strip malls, luxury gated marinas with golf courses.

Ostional stands out as being different, amazingly untouched by the hordes further to the north. 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.

Find the quiet bit of Arenal Volcano

Up it looms out of the flat agricultural landscape. The massive black and green cone of Arenal really does look as though it has risen up from the middle of a field. Gone are the days when Arenal would constantly smoke and occasionally blow rocks into the sky, even spit out red hot lava as a treat for night time viewing. The giant is quiet, for now at least.

As odd as this might sound though, Arenal is about more than the volcano. It is definitely a place to be handled with care, there are miles of motel type accommodation which feel about as Costa Rican as Pizza Hut.

However, to the south side of the cone, the tarmac runs out and the land starts to rise, there is much to recommend Arenal. From the phenomenally varied bird life to the beautiful walking to the delights of a soak in a hot spring.

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.

See Manuel Antonio at first light

These days it is as well-known for its nightlife as its wildlife, which makes it easy to overlook the reasons why it became popular in the first place: its impossibly pretty beaches fringed by lush rainforests that teem with life.

Which is why our advice is that if you go, go early. Before the crowds arrive with beach balls and coolers, and you can enjoy the beauty and, perhaps more importantly, the wildlife. Because the wildlife is still here, there is no doubt of that. From crab-eating raccoons to capuchin monkeys, sloths and toucans, there is still no shortage of fauna – it’s just much easier to enjoy it when few other people are around.

So set the alarm clock and head into this beautiful pocket of tropical nature before it starts to fill up. Then continue your journey on the road to quieter parts of the country.

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.

Our holidays to Costa Rica

Costa-rica-caribbean-selva-bananito-teen-girl-rappelling-waterfall
Ocean, jungle & mountain adventure
Rappel down waterfalls and look for turtles nesting on the beach. Raft through jungle gorges and ...
Read more »
Costa-rica-tortuguero-aerial-view-of-waterways
From Caribbean to Pacific
Float down rivers with monkeys swinging in the trees overhead and watch hummingbirds flitting bet...
Read more »
Costa-rica-osa-peninsula-puerto-jimenez-punta-preciosa-beach
Remote lodges and wildlife
Stay in the finest properties in some of the least visited parts of Costa Rica as you experience,...
Read more »
Costa-rica-tenorio-rio-perdido-canopy-tour-setting-off-on-zip-line
Volcanoes, wildlife and beaches
Float down jungle canals watching howler monkeys swing through the trees above, search for tarant...
Read more »
Costa-rica-manuel-antonio-white-faced-cappucin-monkey-pursed-lips-copyright-alison-thomas
Wildlife, landscapes and coast
Wander through peaceful bird-filled cloudforest of San Gerardo, cross the bay to see the rich rai...
Read more »
Costa-rica-pacific-osa-peninsula-drake-bay-walking-on-beach
Hidden gems of Costa Rica's west coast
Discover the beautiful variety of Costa Rica’s Pacific regions, from cloud forest to wide open be...
Read more »

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.

Get our 7-part Expert Guide to Costa Rica

Enter your email address below and over the next 7 days we will send you our free Expert Guide to Costa Rica:

  • Day 1 - An introduction to the tastes of Costa Rica
  • Day 2 - An informative yet lighthearted guide to driving in Costa Rica
  • Day 3 - Our guide to Costa Rica's mammals
  • Day 4 - Costa Rica's best adventure activities & where to do them
  • Day 5 - Why your Costa Rica holiday should include the south
  • Day 6 - Costa Rican lodges we'd happily revisit tomorrow
  • Day 7 - Costa Rica without the crowds

We will never share your email address or spam you.

2015-facebook
7,717
2015-twitter
3,474
2015-googleplus
2,075
Rio Celeste waterfall in Volcano national park, Tenorio Costa Rica When to Go Map - February Costa Rica When to Go Map - June Costa Rica When to Go Map - July Costa Rica When to Go Map - September Costa Rica When to Go Map - January Costa Rica When to Go Map - March Costa Rica When to Go Map - April Costa Rica When to Go Map - November Costa Rica When to Go Map - May Costa Rica When to Go Map - October Costa Rica When to Go Map - August Costa Rica When to Go Map - December Walking across a canopy walkway at Pacuare Lodge The sandy beaches of Manuel Antonio National Park Ziplining through the cloud forest of Monteverde Ostional beach, Nicoya Peninsula Arenal volcano seen from the Monteverde cloud forest White-faced capuchin monkey at Manuel Antonio in Costa Rica Navigating the wildlife rich waterways of Tortuguero Zip lining at Rio Perdido Sea Turtle swimming off Ostional beach, Nicoya Peninsula Friendly locals in the Central Valley Entering the Pacuare River gorge Macaws flying overhead on the Osa peninsula