I’ve heard many visitors to Costa Rica during the months of August to October get asked the same question: “Why would you go to Costa Rica in the rainy season?”
And yes you might be a bit dismayed when you arrive off the plane in San José to be greeted by a literal thunderstorm but all in all, the rainy season is a great time to visit Costa Rica.
You don’t have to contend with the crowds of peak season and the weather, especially along the Pacific coast, is warm and sunny. Yes, it tends to cloud over in the afternoon and you will experience a couple of pretty crazy rain showers but if you get up and out early you can embrace the best part of the day.
Broadly speaking, Costa Rica has two distinct seasons; a rainy season roughly from May to November and a dry season from December to April. There is some leeway around the fringe months of these seasons but in general this is how weather tends to go in Costa Rica.
The wettest seasons (and therefore some of the quietest months for travellers) tends to be August through October. The best weather and therefore the busiest time in Costa Rica is December and January with many U.S travellers venturing down for the holidays.
I, of course, arrived in late August and unknowingly spent six weeks here during the wettest months of the year. I unfortunately did not have the capacity to extensively travel but I can say that you will get some great deals and a great time if you head to the right places.
Here’s five reasons to take the plunge and venture to Costa Rica during rainy season.
The obvious benefit of travelling during this time is that you basically miss the hoards of crowds that descend on Costa Rica’s shores during peak travel times.
From a backpacking perspective, I never had to deal with over-crowded buses, long queues for attractions or packed beaches and towns. Everything was mellow which is the true Costa Rican way. Pura Vida!
Easier to barter
You have better scope for securing a great deal on transport fares, entry fees and tours during the rainy season. Peak travel season means peak travel costs and so in many cases you will see prices adjusted to suit the time of year.
Less people means more competitive prices so avoid booking directly through a hotel or hostel and instead shop around for great value.
Predict the weather
If, like me, you are planning to head here during the wettest months of the rainy season, it is vital to do some research! Some resort areas do largely shut down completely during this time and you don’t want to arrive to a ghost town.
Central areas such as Monteverde are pretty guaranteed rain for most of the day so be prepared for this eventuality. During this season, most travellers seem to flock to the Pacific coast where you can still enjoy some great weather even in September and October.
In fact, in many places across the country you can predict the weather but this is especially true of the Pacific coast. In the coastal regions such as Jaco, Manuel Antonio right across to the Nicoya Peninsula and places like Santa Teresa, most days follow a similar pattern. You can enjoy sunny weather and blue skies from early morning to late afternoon. After this, storm clouds tend to roll in and there will be rainfall for the evening and usually the night too.
All this means is that if you do your research and get up early to enjoy the best parts of the day whilst also always being prepared for rain, you can get a great holiday in Costa Rica during rain season. There is always travellers around especially it seems in these coastal regions on the Pacific where the weather is more favourable.
Finding travel companions
For backpackers and solo travellers, we are always seeking out the locations where we can meet and befriend other people on similar adventures to us. It is possible during rainy season to show up in locations and find very few other people and so again it is best to do your research.
Ensure that you are not turning up to resorts that have closed down and pick top-rated hostels with lots of reviews. Smaller hostels are likely to run at very low capacity during these seasons. Stick to places that still attract large amounts of visitors and you will no doubt make endless travel pals.
I am convinced that the rainy season is the only time of the year that you will actually be able to enjoy a completely deserted beach all to yourself in Costa Rica. Owing to the sheer amount of people who frequent Costa Rica in other parts of the year, this is the time you can head to a busy area and still enjoy some privacy on the beach.
I headed to Manuel Antonio National Park which is a huge tourist attraction in Costa Rica. I arrived before nine am and enjoyed the peaceful serenity of the beaches all to myself before more people arrived. Also if you delve deeper into the park, you could find secluded parts of smaller beaches at all times of the day.
Would you visit Costa Rica during rainy season?