The climate in Costa Rica is hot all year round in the plains and along the coasts, while it's milder in the plateau, that is, in the so-called tierras templadas.
Temperature variations are low because the country is located near the Equator, so the main difference between the seasons is found in the rains. Anyway, most of the country is so rainy that it is covered with rainforests.
On the Pacific coast and the plateau, there are a dry season from December to April and a rainy season from May to November, during which rainfall is abundant. In contrast, in the eastern plains and coasts (but also in the southernmost part of the Pacific coast) the climate is equatorial, with abundant rainfall throughout the year.


Caribbean coast

The east coast and the plain overlooking the Caribbean Sea are rain-soaked, and receive more than 3,000 millimeters (120 inches) per year; here the climate can be defined as equatorial, that is, with no dry season. This happens because the north-east trade winds that blow from November to April directly hit this area. However, there are two peaks, in July and December, both with about 440 mm (17.5 in) of rain per month, and two relative minima in September-October and February-March, both with about 150/200 mm (6/8 in) per month. In this area, December is even the wettest month, and January is wetter than February and March. South of this coast, on the mountain slopes of the Braulio Carrillo National Park, precipitation reaches up to 5 meters (16.5 feet) per year!

Puerto Limón

Along the coast of the Caribbean Sea, the weather is hot and humid all year round, since the winds blow constantly from the sea. Here are the average temperatures of Puerto Limón.
Limón - Average temperatures
Min (°C)212121222323232222222221
Max (°C)292930303130303031303029
Min (°F)707070727373737272727270
Max (°F)848486868886868688868684

In Puerto Limón, 3,500 mm (140 in) of rain fall per year. Here is the average precipitation.
Limón - Average precipitation

The sun on the east coast does not shine very often, as cloudy and rainy days are frequent all year round. Here are the average sunshine hours per day in Puerto Limón.
Limón - Sunshine

Pacific coast

The Pacific coast is slightly warmer than the Caribbean coast, especially in winter, when the north-east trade winds descend from the mountains and become hot and dry: the average daytime temperatures are around 30/32 °C (86/90 °F) in the least hot period, in October and November, while they can reach 34/35 °C (93/95 °F) in March and April, before the rainy season.
Here, there is a well-defined dry season from November to April, at least in the central-northern part, while going south, the dry season becomes progressively shorter (it rains fairly often even in December and April), and in the southernmost part the climate is even equatorial, like on the coast of the Caribbean Sea.
The north-central part (province of Guanacaste, canton of Puntarenas) is particularly hot from February to April; moreover, it is the least rainy area of the country, with average rainfall around 1,300/1,600 mm (51/63 in) per year and savanna-like vegetation.


Here is the average precipitation in Puntarenas, located in the north-central part of the Pacific Coast.
Puntarenas - Average precipitation

Here, the heat is intense throughout the year, and from February to May it is scorching in inland areas, with highs around 37 °C (99 °F), while on the coast it is a bit less intense. Here are the average temperatures of Puntarenas.
Puntarenas - Average temperatures
Min (°C)222223242424232323232322
Max (°C)343434353332323232323232
Min (°F)727273757575737373737372
Max (°F)939393959190909090909090

In Puntarenas, the sun shines in the dry season, while in the rainy season the sky is often cloudy in the afternoon, when thunderstorms often break out, while in the morning you can still enjoy a few hours of sunshine.
Puntarenas - Sunshine


Further to the south, the Pacific Coast becomes more rainy, but in return, it is less hot, especially in spring. Here are the average temperatures of Quepos, located on the coast, south of San José.
Quepos - Average temperatures
Min (°C)222223242323232323232323
Max (°C)313232323131313030303031
Min (°F)727273757373737373737373
Max (°F)889090908888888686868688

In Quepos, 3,500 mm (140 in) of rain fall per year; as you can see, the rains are very abundant from May to November, but in December, they still amount to 160 mm (6.3 in).
Quepos - Average precipitation

In Quepos, the sun shines especially from February to April, but all in all, it shines for a few hours a day even in the wettest months because the rains, however intense, usually occur in the afternoon or in the evening.
Quepos - Sunshine

Near Quepos, we find the Manuel Antonio National Park.
Further south, in the Osa peninsula and in the Golfo Dulce, it rains even more: in Golfito, 4,100 mm (161 in) of rain fall per year, and there is no real dry season, even though the rainfall drops to around 100 mm (4 in) per month from January to March. In the Corcovado National Park, a tropical rainforest is found.
On the Cocos Island, which is located in the Pacific Ocean, far to the south of the continent, the climate is equatorial as well.

Sea temperature

The sea in Costa Rica is warm all year round, as we can see in the following table, relative to the sea temperature near Quepos, which, as we said, is on the Pacific coast (but on the coast of the Caribbean Sea, the sea temperature is similar).
Quepos - Sea temperature
Temp (°C)282829292929292928282828
Temp (°F)828284848484848482828282

Hills and mountains

In inland areas, between the two coasts, we find two mountain ranges, the Cordillera Central and the Cordillera de Talamanca.

San José

The capital city, San José, is located in the central part, on the plateau that separates the two Cordilleras, at 1,100 meters (3,600 feet) above sea level, and therefore in the so-called Tierras templadas, thus it has pleasant temperatures throughout the year, with cool nights and warm days. Here are the average temperatures.
San José - Average temperatures
Min (°C)141415171717171616161614
Max (°C)242426262726252626252524
Min (°F)575759636363636161616157
Max (°F)757579798179777979777775

In San José, there is little rain from December to March, and it almost never rains in January and February. The rainy season runs from May to November, and the wettest months are September and October, with around 300 millimeters (12 inches) per month. Here is the average precipitation.
San José - Average precipitation

The sun frequently shines in the dry season, while it does not shine very often in the rainy season, when the sky is often cloudy. Here are the average sunshine hours per day.
San José - Sunshine

San José

At high altitudes, in the so-called tierras frìas, above 2,000 meters (6,600 feet), the temperatures are low, especially in the winter months, and even more so on the slopes of the highest mountains and volcanoes, such as Cerro Chirripó, 3,820 meters (12,532 feet) high, or Irazú volcano, 3,431 meters (11,257 feet) high. Above 3,500 meters (11,500 ft), at night, it can freeze throughout the year.


Costa Rica is almost always spared by the hurricanes of the Caribbean Sea, whose path is usually located to the north of the country; in fact, sometimes they can affect nearby Nicaragua. Consequently, the area most at risk is the northern one, which may sometimes be affected by them, maybe indirectly. The hurricane season runs from June to November (though they are most likely in October and November), that is, during the rainy season, which in any case is generally not recommended for a holiday.
The first hurricane to hit directly Costa Rica was Otto in November 2016, although Hurricane Nate, which formed on the sea to the east of the country in October 2017 and then moved north, has brought even more serious damage.
There are also depressions and tropical storms which can be formed on the Pacific. They are usually not intense because they affect the country in the early stages of their formation, and then move northwestward without making landfall; however, they can still bring heavy rains, which can cause landslides and floods.

Best Time

The best time to visit Costa Rica, either for a beach holiday or for exploring the rich nature of the country, runs from January to mid-April, and in particular the months of February and March. In the lowlands, it's hot, the sun shines and there is little rain, except on the east coast, which as we mentioned is rainy throughout the year.
The capital can also be visited in December.
In the north-west (province of Guanacaste, canton of Puntarenas), where in December it rains already little, while the spring is very hot, you may prefer December and January.
In the south-west (southern part of the province of Puntarenas, see Quepos and Golfito, and Osa Peninsula), where in December it still rains quite frequently, you can go from January to mid-April.
On the Caribbean coast you can go in February and March.

What to pack

For San José and the tierras templadas: all year round, bring light clothing, a sweatshirt or sweater for the evening; a raincoat or umbrella from May to November.
For plains and coasts: bring lightweight clothes; in the rainy season, you can add a light sweatshirt and a light raincoat for thunderstorms.
For the high mountains: bring warm clothes, a jacket, hiking boots.