A Guide to Costa Rica’s Weather and Seasons
Costa Rica has a richly varied topography, with an abundance of mountains, valleys, and plains, which are very close to each other in a relatively small territory. This is why travelers to Costa Rica enjoy such diverse weather by month and location. You can find microclimates all over the country with unique temperatures and conditions.
Costa Rica’s Two Seasons
Due to its proximity to the equator, Costa Rica has a tropical climate. This means that there are not four seasons like in much of the world, but rather two seasons. There are roughly six months of the dry season (December to April) and six months of the rainy season (June to November).
The Costa Rican Dry Season
The dry season generally runs from December to April, and is sometimes referred to as Costa Rica’s summer. Not only will travelers find the driest months, but also the coldest (December and January), especially in areas far from the coasts. The temperature during the so-called summer can range between 68°F (20°C) and 86°F (30°C). The lack of rain and moisture is also noticeable in the lower humidity.
The Costa Rican Rainy Season
The rainy season in Costa Rica normally begins at the end of April and is, as its name suggests, characterized by a marked increase in rain. September is considered the rainiest month of the Costa Rican winter while July and October each have 20 rainy days per month. In June, you can experience what is called the Veranillo de San Juan, which consists of about 10 days without rain during the end of the month.
The rainy season in Costa Rica is considered by some to be winter, due to the presence of rain more than temperature. It’s also called the green season, since the water wakes up Costa Rica’s plants and forests, especially in the hotter, drier parts of the country, like Guanacaste.
El Niño and La Niña Influence on Costa Rica’s Weather
The El Niño and La Niña phenomena affect how long the seasons last in Costa Rica. This climate phenomena actually refers to a change in Pacific Ocean temperatures that affects the Pacific region across the globe.
Since El Niño corresponds to the warmer ocean temperatures, temperatures tend to rise across Costa Rica during those years. On the other hand, La Niña years are when the ocean is colder than usual. This can lead to an increase in rain and wind throughout Costa Rica.
Weather in Different Regions of Costa Rica
The topography of the Costa Rican mountains and mountain ranges determines three main climatic regions.
Atlantic Humid Tropical Region
This region consists of the northern plains, the Caribbean coast, and the Atlantic slope of the mountain ranges where they pass through Guanacaste, the Central Volcanic region, and Talamanca. This region experiences rains almost all year round, especially in the foothills of the mountains, and the temperature does not drop below 71°F (22°C). Rain tends to decrease in February, March and October, though it can rain up to 200 inches (5,000 mm) per year.
Central Intermountain Region
This mountainous region in the middle of the country is characterized by high altitudes of 2500 to 3200 feet (800 to 1000 meters). Travelers will find cooler temperatures than in most of the rest of the country, between 50°F (10°C) and 78°F (26°C), although in the summer months temperatures can reach 88°F (31°C) or sometimes up to 95°F (35°C). The most extreme temperatures recorded in the country were 24°F (-4°C) on Irazú volcano and 104°F (40°C) at Orotina. This region experiences close to 80 inches (2000 mm) per year.
Tropical Pacific Region
This region extends along the entire coast of the Pacific Ocean. The two seasons are clearly defined with a tropical rainy season and dry season, with maximum temperatures of up to 86°F (30°C) in winter and 100°F (38°C) in summer. The rainy season in the area is short with an annual rainfall between 60 inches (1,500 mm) and 80 inches (2,000 mm).
Does Costa Rica Get Hurricanes?
Recorded history shows that although the possibility of a direct effect of a hurricane occurring is low, it is not entirely zero. However, Costa Rica’s geographical position and small size make hurricanes much less common than in neighboring countries, such as Nicaragua.