By Claire Parsons
Senior Travel Consultant at Travel Nation
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Costa Rica’s rainy season is something that seems completely misunderstood. It doesn’t rain everywhere, it’s doesn’t rain for prolonged periods, and it doesn’t rain THAT much. In fact, there are many reasons that so-called rainy season is the best time to visit Costa Rica. Confused? I was too…
Costa Rica was high on my list of destinations for a very long time, but the timing was never quite right. Every time I had the opportunity to travel, it turned out to be rainy season in the Caribbean and Central America. Now that I’m a mum, I’m restricted to travelling in the school holidays, and the summer break collides head-on with the rainy season in Costa Rica.
However, this year our summer holiday plans went awry at the last minute, so I immediately began looking into a Plan B. I started looking into Costa Rica’s climate in more detail and, boy am I glad I did! It turns out that August is a wonderful time to visit Costa Rica, especially if you’re travelling with kids.
You can read all about planning the perfect family holiday to Costa Rica here.
Running from May to November, the rainy season has now been rebranded as ‘green season’. This makes far more sense and sounds more appealing already, right? Also, despite its small size, Costa Rica is made up of lots of tiny micro-climates, so the weather varies throughout the country. The UK summer is actually the best time to visit some areas of Costa Rica.
On top of this, Costa Rica experiences a phenomenon called “veranillo”, which is a mini-summer that occurs within the Tico winter. This often happens for a several weeks in July or August, and suddenly the weather becomes pretty good all over the country. Confusing, huh? No wonder we’ve all got the wrong idea about rainy season.
It has quickly become obvious that rainy season isn’t a straightforward thing in Costa Rica, so don’t let it put you off. The biggest benefit of travelling in green season, as the name suggests, is that you’ll experience Costa Rica at its most vibrant. Lush emerald views will surround you at every turn, and the tropical flora and fauna spring to life. This is Costa Rica as you’ve always imagined it. Arguably, it’s Costa Rica at its best.
For wildlife lovers, green season offers a handful of once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. In Tortuguero National Park, you can watch in silent wonder as sea turtles lay their eggs in the sand. In August, the sea turtles arrive on the beaches to nest, and it’s something magical to see firsthand.
Over in Marino Ballena National Park, you spot the magnificent Antarctic humpback whales that arrive in June to breed in the warm waters.
The UK summertime is also the peak time to spot the Morpho butterfly in Costa Rica. Its vivid blue colour is only on show when its wings are wide open and I got excited every time I saw one, a true Costa Rican icon.
It’s dry season on the Caribbean coast during the UK summer, so the sun is shining, and the water is at its clearest. This makes it the perfect time to don your snorkel and explore the coral reef of Cahuita National Park or grab a surfboard to catch some Caribbean waves. If you’re craving adventure, the rivers are in full flow during green season, so you can hop in a kayak or go white water rafting.
As more and more people realise that summer is a great time to be in Costa Rica, the days of seeing very low “out of season” prices are disappearing. While you’ll definitely still get a better deal for travelling in green season, it’s important not to expect a huge reduction in cost.
Our local guide told us that he is seeing very little difference in traveller numbers from month to month, especially post-COVID. However, there are no cruise ship arrivals in July, so tourist hotspots will certainly be less crowded. Less expensive and more relaxed – what could be better?
We were very lucky and, in general, we experienced lovely weather throughout our trip. The exception was our first day, when we were hit by biblical-style rain on our drive from San Jose to Monteverde. I remember sitting in a silent panic, wondering whether I’d made a huge mistake. What if it rained like this every day? What if we can’t see the sloths in the torrential rain?
Thankfully, my worries were soon dispelled. In fact, we didn’t see any further rain, other than a couple of storms in the middle of the night. In Monteverde and Arenal, the mornings were clear and sunny, followed by slightly cloudier afternoons. In Tortuguero National Park and along the Caribbean Coast, we had beautiful weather all day every day – magic!
My advice for travelling in green season is to be prepared. The locals told us that it was more likely to rain in the afternoons, so we planned our activities, such as the hanging bridges at Selvatura Park in Monteverde and the volcano walk in Arenal, during the morning.
We also took plenty of books and games with us, in case of a rainy afternoon. As luck had it, we mostly spent our afternoons by the pool or exploring the grounds of our hotels, all of which had expansive gardens and trails to discover.
Certain parts of the country see the rains peak in August, so I would recommend avoiding these regions if you’re planning an itinerary at this time of year. The Southern Pacific region, which includes the Osa Peninsula and Manuel Antonio National Park is likely to be extremely wet, so it’s best to stick to the Caribbean Coast.
There are pros and cons to travelling in green season, but if you’re careful about planning your trip, it can be the best time to visit Costa Rica. The wildlife and scenery are simply out of this world. Of course, there is always a risk you’ll be unlucky and travel during a particularly rainy patch, but the odds are relatively small.
Personally, I am so glad that we decided to visit Costa Rica in August. There are plenty of places that see good weather and there’s more than enough to keep you occupied for two, three or even four weeks. Don’t let green season put you off – just pack a raincoat and a good book!
We are experts at creating tailor-made Costa Rica holidays of all shapes and sizes. Whether you’re setting off on a family holiday or planning your honeymoon, we can help. Simply get in touch on 1273 320 580 or send us a quote request by email, and we’ll get to work.
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