Weather in Costa Rica is a conundrum. Whatever you think you know about it is probably just theory. When you live here, and especially when you have lived in several different areas of Costa Rica you will find that predictions in the tropics are mere guesses of what may happen. And mostly all the time, they will be wrong.
A lot of people that come to Costa Rica think that because they are coming in the sunny season, they are not going to see a drop of rain, or! That they will save some money coming in the rainy season, but then, again, they will have to put up with the rain.
Both assumptions are wrong.
The bottom line is: “We are in the tropics”
Weather in Costa Rica goes by other rules, some still hidden from humans. However we locals we have learned to read the signs that can tell us a bit of the how the weather is going to be like in the following hours
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You may have pouring rains in the sunny season and gorgeous sunny days in the rainy season.
Although, yes… there will be more sunny days from November to May than from May to November.
So, in order to learn a bit about what to expect, bust myths and tell truths, let’s start with some hints of the weather in Costa Rica
Weather in Costa Rica Myth #1: The weather in Costa Rica is predictable
“The forecast says that….” To think that the weather in Costa Rica can be foreseen. Sometimes.. but in general the word is unpredictability. A beautiful sunny morning can bring a pouring rain for five minutes and go on after that, being a perfect sunny morning.
Weather in Costa Rica Myth #2
Rainy season in Costa Rica is from May to November and the sunny season is from December to May.
This is true concerning for example Guanacaste, in the North Pacific. Although, for instance all the regions affected by the Caribbean Sea (The Caribbean coast, Arenal Volcano, Sarapiqui River, etc.) go by complex rules: Sunny season happens twice a year at different times: In March and April and in September and October, with exceptions like when “El NIño” is happening and it doesn’t rain much during the year.
Weather in Costa Rica Myth # 3: Rainy season is like the monsoon season… days and days of rain.
Actually in the rainy season usually it is sunny half a day mostly in all regions. Two or three hours of rain and that’s it! (Except when there is what we call “Temporal”. A “temporal” in Costa Rica means that there is a low-pressure system in the Caribbean (Or in the Pacific) that is causing a lot of rain all day long.)
Weather in Costa Rica Myth #4: “When the rainy season in Costa Rica stops, the rain stops. When the sunny season in Costa Rica stops, it stops”
Well no… November and May are actually called “transition months”. Their days are brighter than the usual in the rainy period and are rainier than usual in the sunny season. But these are great months to come, as they are both in low season and the weather is quite pleasant.
Weather in Costa Rica Myth #5: Volcanoes in the sunny season are visible
Well! Yes… sometimes. In the sunny season, it happens quite frequently that the clouds get stuck in the mountains and the rest of the valleys have blue skies. But then, again, volcanoes are mountains.
Weather in Costa Rica Myth #6: We should be careful in the hurricane season in Costa Rica
Costa Rica received the first hurricane ever in history last year. The geographical position of Costa Rica avoids hurricanes in general. Interestingly the Caribbean hurricanes hit Costa Rica on the Pacific side. What it happens is that hurricanes get stuck in the peninsula of Nicaragua and sucks up the water from the Pacific Ocean and pours it over the country.
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Weather in Costa Rica Myth #7: Costa Rican weather is hot everywhere…
Ummm… no. The higher the mountains the cooler the temperature. Up to the point that there are regions in Costa Rica where the temperature may drop to the thirties (F°) and even lower. (No snow, however)
Weather in Costa Rica Myth # 8: When it rains animals don’t come out.
That is true… up to a certain extent. There are animals (For instance toucans that actually come out in the rain. And seemingly the best time to see animals is when it pours and then the sun comes out. Wow! Every creature in the forest comes out to get dry!