It is December 7 as I write this post, and we’re just coming out of the rainy season. Some locals and expats tell me that it hasn’t rained this hard in years. Others say this is normal for Costa Rica. For me, I’m not exactly sure because this is my first full rainy season here, but I do know that we got a lot of rain this season. Don’t get me wrong: I love the rainy season just as much as I enjoy the dry season.
Costa Rica is a tropical country with two distinct seasons: dry and wet. However, within these seasons and in different parts of the country there are lots of variations. The weather is diverse due to Costa Rica’s proximity to the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea; the two areas are separated by the mountain ranges and different elevations. As a result, Costa Rica has many different micro-climates. It can be a bit cooler and rainy in the Central Valley while being hot and humid on the Pacific Coast and Caribbean region.
The dry season lasts from December through April. Referred to as verano (summer) by locals, this season is marked by days that are typically rain-free. That being said, rain can fall during this season, particularly along the Caribbean coast. Where I live, on one of the 5 ridges in Grecia, we tend to get lots of windy days and nights during the dry season, which is uncommon in some of the other areas.
The rainy season, also called the green season, lasts from May to early November. Costa Ricans refer to this period of the year as invierno, or winter. During this season, the mornings are usually sunny, with rainfall occurring in the afternoon.
Weather by area:
- Guanacaste (Liberia, Tamarindo, & Playa del Coco) experiences little rain and consistent heat from November to April, while the wet season lasts from late May to November.
- The Nicoya Peninsula (Montezuma & Samara) is best visited from January to April. In May, a mellow rainy season follows, which the tourism industry has dubbed the Green Season.
- In the South Pacific (Dominical & Corcovado), average temperatures vary barely at all. Considering the humidity, the temperatures feel nice most of the year, excluding some hot weeks in the summer, and there is a fair chance of rain about half of the year.
- In the Northern Lowlands (Arenal), summer is the most popular time for travel, as most of the days are sunny and warm.
- The Central Highlands (Monteverde & San Ramon) are known for their moderate temperatures and cool nights. They have cloud forests.
- The Central Valley (San Jose, Grecia, Atenas, & Santa Ana) has a mild spring-like climate, with temperatures ranging between 72 and 75 degrees. The Central Valley has the mildest climate in the whole country.
- The Caribbean Coast (Puerto Viejo de Limon & Tortuguero) has hot and humid lowlands with rainforests. The Southern Caribbean is a region of vast contrasts in weather. Temperatures remain the same nearly year-round, with average daytime highs in the low 90s and nighttime lows in the upper 70s. Precipitation varies by month, with February, March, September, and October being the driest.