The high season in Costa Rica runs from early December through April. Locals refer to this season as *verano* (summer), and although it can rain at any point of the year, these months offer the driest weather. If you’re looking for sunny beach time or rain-free hikes, this is the best time of the year to visit.
These are the coldest months in North America and Europe, and more travelers come to Costa Rica during this season. This being the case, crowds are more common and hotel prices go up. Making advance reservations for lodging is recommended—booking hotels at least three months prior to travel will give you the best options. It’s also important to note that Costa Rican schools are on vacation from December to February. There will be more locals at popular destinations during these months.
The Pacific coast, central valley, and Pacific slope of the Continental Divide (including Monteverde) are reliably dry during the high season. That said, it still may rain. If you plan to travel to Costa Rica during this season, plan for sun but be prepared for unexpected rainfall. The weather along the Caribbean coast is much less predictable and rain is common. In Costa Rica, temperature is primarily related to elevation. Lower coastal areas are warmer, while mountainous regions are colder. This weather map helps make sense of Costa Rica’s climate.
In terms of activities, this is the best time of year to hike and hit the beach. Leatherback turtles nest along the Pacific coast during April and May, and November through April is the best time of year to spot resplendent quetzals. In Guanacaste, shrinking watering holes draw out additional wildlife, giving travelers a better chance of seeing animals. Fishing is good during this season, especially for roosterfish, marlin, and sailfish in Guanacaste and along the Pacific coast. Check out this Costa Rica map for more detailed information.
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