Best time for a family vacation in Costa Rica

temperature & rainfall

Although Costa Rica is petite, the climate varies quite a lot, due to the Pacific and Caribbean influences with elevated, volcanic landscape in between. And rainforest. The clue is in the name, so you can get rain showers at any time, but late Dec-Apr are the driest, sunniest months and the northern Pacific coast generally experiences the least rain. You can get rain during European summer vacations, however, but it is often a relief. The worst of the rain comes October and November. It is always cooler in the cloud forests.

Best time to go to Costa Rica with the family


With so much wildlife and rainforest, it is not surprising really that the rainy season lasts from May through to November. July, August and early September often just experience showers,swith the worst rain hitting in October and November. During these months you will get plenty of green and vacations are cheaper. However, you will still get crowds in certain places due to the school vacations.

October half term is not great, and small group tours don’t run during this time. Many destinations, such as the Osa Peninsula, just shut up shop. However, the worst of the rain is on the Pacific side during that time and you can get gorgeous, sunny dry days on the Caribbean coast. It’s much quieter too, and a lot cheaper.

The dry season varies too. The north Pacific coast is warm and dry November until May, so February half term and Christmas are gorgeous. For the south Pacific, give Christmas a miss and head there during February half term as sunny, rain free days are at their most dependable from January to March.

To see nesting green turtles, July to October is best, with August being top time – making this a highlight of any family summer vacation. Leatherbacks lay their eggs from February to April so you might catch them at half term. Olive ridley turtles nest from August to December at Ostional.

Humpback whales visit both coasts between August and October, and again December to April, so you have a few family vacation windows to catch them. Luckily, dolphins hang out all year round.

Easter is a huge public vacation locally and everything books up really far in advance, so take heed. Hotspots such as Tortuguero or Arenal will be crowded. However, the weather is wonderful at this time, as you may get an afternoon or evening downpour but apart from that it is gorgeous.

If your kids finish school in June, as is the case for Scottish or Irish families, then this is considered a shoulder month for travel and a much cheaper time to go. Rain is still low, the prices are cheap and the tourist numbers are still mellow. Time to make Costa Rica go Celtic.

What happens when in Costa Rica


Daniel Pawlyn is from our supplier, Intrepid Travel. He went on a small group vacation to Costa Rica with his own family: “We went during the summer vacations and so there was a bit of rain on the Caribbean coast, although we also had the green turtle season then too so that was fantastic. But towards the Pacific coast it gets drier, as there is a bit of watershed from the mountains. So we had lovely sunny days there.”
Natasha Preston from our supplier, Exodus Travels: “It’s very hot and humid so very young children may find it a bit uncomfortable. It can rain at any time in short, sharp showers. It can rain at any time – there’s the rainy season and the rainier season, which starts in May onwards.”

Festivals & events


Did you know about...?

Fiesta de los Diablitos

Translated as Festival of the Little Devils, if you want to get really off the beaten tourist path during the busy Christmas season in Costa Rica, head inland to Boruca, home to the indigenous Brunka people. Also known as the Festival of Ancestral Spirits, there is much dancing, prancing, masks and moonshine during this three day festival at the end of December. Certainly beats Jools Holland’s Hootenanny again.
Photo credits: [Tempchart: Roy Luck] [RT recommends - Daniel: Mark Spangler] [Festivals: Razvan Orendovici]
Written by Catherine Mack
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