Jungle path surrounded by trees during Costa Rica rainy season

Understanding the Costa Rica Rainy Season

If you’re thinking about visiting Costa Rica during the green season, we have one piece of advice: do it! 

At this time of year, from April to November, the country’s surf spots come to life with epic swells perfect for all levels of surfers, and the already gorgeous natural landscapes turn even more jaw-droppingly beautiful. 

The Costa Rica rainy season truly is one of the best times for a surf trip- especially to our lush, beachfront surf and yoga retreat on the Golfo Dulce. We have unfettered access to sheltered, rolling waves around the camp that are perfect for beginners- along with access to bigger, faster waves for intermediate and advanced surfers.

Sure, the Costa Rica green season is also known as the rainy season, and there’s no doubt that you’ll encounter some rain during your trip at this time of year, but don’t let that deter you. Expect short, sharp downpours and rainy periods in the late afternoon or evening, with the rest of the day clear, sunny and ready for you to explore.

With some advanced planning, and armed with the tips from this blog post for traveling to Costa Rica during the green season, you’re bound to have an unforgettable trip.

Table of contents:

When is Costa Rica’s Rainy season?

Horseback riding down the beach next to the jungle on the Osa Peninsula

The Costa Rica rainy season typically lasts from around the end of April until the end of November, but it’s important to remember that the country has several different microclimates. This means that the weather you find in one region of the country could be the total opposite of another region! 

Depending on where you are in the country dictates when the rainy season begins, and how intense it’ll be. Additionally, the start of the Costa Rica rainy season varies from year to year. Some years, the rains come in early April. Some years, early rainy season doesn’t even start until June in some areas!

If you’re surfing in Costa Rica during the rainy season, the main difference you’ll want to note is that the spots on the country’s Pacific coast (like Tamarindo) and those on its Caribbean coast (like Puerto Viejo de Talamanca) have totally different weather patterns you’ll need to keep in mind since they’re on opposite ends of the country.

The Costa Rica wet season is also the peak surfing season for intermediate and experienced surfers. For beginner surfers, the far mellower waves of Costa Rica’s dry season, from December to April, are popular, especially at beginner-friendly spots like Tamarindo, on the Pacific coast. 

With that said, the rainy season in Costa Rica is still a fantastic time for beginners to plan a surf trip to Costa Rica, because some of the smaller, more sheltered breaks work at this time of year. Plus, lineups are typically less crowded in the rainy season, which makes learning to surf even easier!

Osa Peninsula

Aerial view of the ocean meeting the Osa Peninsula jungle during the Costa Rica rainy season

You’ll find the Osa Peninsula in the southwestern corner of Costa Rica, and it’s one of the few parts of the country’s coastline that still feels exhilaratingly wild and undeveloped. 

October is usually the rainiest month here, with an average of 18.5 days seeing some rainfall. Despite this, mornings typically bring clear blue skies and sunny weather before the rain sets in during the afternoons and evenings.

Surprisingly, one of the driest months of the year here in the southern region is April, when the rainy season is typically getting started in other parts of the country. The rainiest months here are October and November, with the average high temperature during these rainy months hovering at 82°F, cooling off to average lows of 66°F at night.

Caribbean Coast

Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast is located on the eastern side of the country and experiences a different rainy season than the rest of Costa Rica.

In fact, the weather patterns here are almost the opposite, with the rainiest months being December and January, a time of year that firmly belongs to the dry season for the rest of the country! The Caribbean coast also has more year-round rain than the Pacific coast, though it does have mini dry seasons from September to October and from February to March.

The temperatures here stay consistently warm and humid year-round, with average rainy season highs of 82°F and lows of 73°F.

Guanacaste/ Nicoya Peninsula

Guanacaste and the Nicoya Peninsula, in Costa Rica’s northwest, are located on the Pacific coast and is the driest region of the country. 

For this reason, the rainy season here is a bit less intense than the rest of the country, with more dry days and the rainy season starting a bit later, in May. The wettest month is usually October, with bright and sunny mornings and the rain coming in the late afternoon and evening. 

The temperatures here, like the Caribbean coast, also stay consistently warm year-round, with average highs of 88°F and lows of 75°F during the rainy season.

Mountains and rainforests

Steam rising from the cloud forests during the Costa Rica rainy season

Costa Rica’s mountains and rainforests, including the captivating Monteverde, and the ever-popular town of La Fortuna by the Arenal Volcano, are some of the wettest parts of the country. There’s a very noticeable rainy season in this central part of Costa Rica which lasts from April until November. 

Thanks to the higher altitudes and dense vegetation in these areas you’ll find that it rains harder, more frequently, and longer than the coastal areas of the country. Because of all that rain, the humidity is also higher here. Thankfully, though, the increased elevation in this region means temperatures are cooler than the coast, with highs of 77°F and lows of 62°F during the rainy season.

Although this isn’t a surfing destination, it’s the top hotspot when it comes to Costa Rica’s ecotourism thanks to its year-round dense and lush rainforest and the huge range of wildlife you can see here. It’s a must-visit!

Why you should visit Costa Rica during the green season

It’s true – the “rainy season” doesn’t exactly sound appealing, but there are actually plenty of reasons that this time of year is the best to visit Costa Rica. Here are a few of the things that make traveling to Costa Rica in the green season well worth getting wet: 

The Costa Rica green season offers a cooler climate

During the Costa Rica rainy season, it’s a good 5-6 degrees cooler than it is during the dry  season, which feels amazing. Those few degrees are the difference of being sweaty at 10am in the shade, vs feeling very comfortable and pleasantly warm.  The rainy season also brings cool nights where you can even cozy up with a light sweater, and it’s also easier to sleep during this time of year! You might even need a blanket at night to curl up with.

Crowds are lower during Costa Rica’s rainy season

Most people don’t want to vacation in the rain. Do you know what that means, though? Less crowds! Not only will you find fewer travelers in town, which means you’ll have more choice when it comes to snagging awesome accommodation, but you’re also likely to share the lineup with fewer surfers. Nice!

More affordable

Typically, the rainy season means prices in Costa Rica are usually lower. The rainy season is the off season for travel to Costa Rica, which means there are far less tourists this time of year compared to the high season. With fewer travelers comes less demand for accommodation, activities, and tourist attractions, meaning you can find some amazing deals and discounts if you visit during this season. 


Mother and baby howler monkey in the Osa Peninsula jungle

Surfing and great deals without the crowds aren’t the only reasons to visit Costa Rica in the rainy season. In fact, this lush and lovely time of year is actually the best time to spot Costa Rica wildlife like whales and sea turtles, and there are plenty of eco-conscious tours you can join to check out these magnificent creatures.

Surf Expedition boat trip with a whale next to the boat in Costa Rica

Everything is lush, green, and beautiful during the green season

Costa Rica is world-famous for its gorgeous greenery and rainforests, but it’s never quite as beautiful as in the rainy season, when it feels like the entire country is bathed in different shades of green, from the cloud forest to the palm trees!

Consistent surf

Left wave breaking during the Costa Rica green season

Many visiting surfers and locals alike claim the Costa Rica rainy season is the best time of year to paddle out thanks to the super-consistent green season swells.  Especially here in Pavones- the rainy season is the perfect time for surfers to come and score some of the best, longest waves of their life while staying at our all-inclusive surf camp just steps away from a premier surf spot.

Surfing in Costa Rica during the rainy season

Surfing during the Costa Rica rainy season is amazing! At this time of year, the Pacific Coast is slammed with bigger and more powerful waves than in the dry months, which greatly increases your chances of scoring incredible waves during your Costa rica surf trip. In fact, the rainy season is a great time for surfing in Central America in general with the consistent swells.

The Golfo Dulce really stands out during the wetter months, especially here in Pavones, a spot that’s famous for having one of the longest left-hand breaks in the world. 

Aerial view of left breaking waves on the Osa Peninsula

Don’t be mistaken – you’ll need solid wave reading and paddling skills to head out to some of the more intense and famous Costa Rica surf breaks, but if you’re ready, you’re going to love the consistent swells this time of year brings. 

If you’re a beginner surfer, don’t be intimidated by the green season. There are still plenty of more sheltered surf breaks that are perfect for a beginner surf trip, and catching your very first waves in Costa Rica. In fact, we have a few sheltered, incredible beginner surf breaks just steps away from our beachfront surf camp.

Don’t forget about the mini dry season

Sunny day during Veranillo with the ocean and trees at sunset

Did you know that there’s a mini dry season in Costa Rica? Also known as veranillo, Spanish for “little summer”, July, rather bizarrely, often sees dry and sunny weather in Costa Rica. This makes it the perfect time to visit during the rainy season for a quick summer vacation, or if you don’t mind the rainy season, but don’t want that much rain.

To learn more Spanish and Costa Rican slang words like veranillo, check out our post detailing the meaning of Pura Vida– one of the most important phrases in Costa Rica.

Tips for traveling to Costa Rica during the rainy season

There’s no reason you can’t have just as epic a trip to Costa Rica in the rainy season as the dry season. With the right prep and just a few extra items packed in your suitcase, you’ll know exactly how to make the most of the country’s lush wetter months.

Here are our top tips!

Pack a rain jacket

This one goes without saying, but a rain jacket is essential during the rainy season in Costa Rica. If you have a decent rain jacket and shoes you don’t mind getting wet, it doesn’t even matter if you get caught in the rain! 

Bring plenty of bug spray

Like in most tropical destinations, Costa Rica has its fair share of mosquitoes, and they’re typically a bit more active in the green season.  It’s also worth buying mosquito lotion and using this in addition to the spray. The lotion seems to last slightly longer when you’re sweating a lot, and, luckily, it’s not greasy, so it doesn’t add to that “sticky” feeling you can get from the humidity. Fortunately, compared to other regions, the mosquitoes are pretty mellow at and around our surf retreat in the south of Costa Rica.

Pack a pair of light pants and a long sleeve

While it might seem counterintuitive to pack layers for Costa Rica, it’s a good idea to bring along a pair of lightweight, breathable pants and a long sleeve. These will come in handy for keeping away bugs in the evening, and long bus or shuttle rides with heavy AC.  Breathable, moisture-wicking fabrics like linen or merino wool are best. 

Expect rain showers in the evenings

Of course, rain can fall at any time during the Costa Rica rainy season, but more often than not it’ll come in the evenings, leaving the majority of the day dry for you to explore.  Plan to do any important outdoor activities in the morning, when it’s most likely to be dry and sunny, and carefully plan when you head out in the evening to dodge the downpours.

Bring a dry bag

A dry bag is an absolute lifesaver during the rainy season in Costa Rica, and also one of our favorite surf gear essentials. This is basically a thin waterproof bag that you can store your belongings in to keep them dry – even if the bag is totally submerged in water!  You can get dry bags in different sizes, so consider whether you just want one to store your valuables, or whether you’d rather get a bigger one that can contain your entire backpack if a downpour strikes.

Expect power outages

If there’s a lot of rain or storm you might experience a power outage. These don’t normally last longer than a few hours, at a maximum, but it’s best to be prepared. Have a good book with a reading light or a journal packed in case the power and wifi are out, just in case. 

Have some rainy day activities planned

Although the rain in Costa Rica most frequently comes down in heavy, but brief, downpours, there’s always the chance that it could rain all day long during the green season. For this reason, it’s a good idea to come prepared with some rainy day activities at the ready. 

If you’re planning to surf, this is no big deal, as you’ll be wet anyway, and there’s nothing better than stretching and practicing yoga with the relaxing sound and the fresh breeze of the rain under the yoga shala.

Having a traveling guitar is also a nice way to spend a rainy day inside.

Rent an SUV to handle muddy road conditions common during the Costa Rica rainy season

Loading surfboards into an SUV on the beach to surf

SUVs are also perfect for exploring hidden surf spots during our Costa Rica surf camps

If you’re driving during your trip to Costa Rica, the season will influence the type of vehicle you’ll need. Roads will be muddy, especially if you’re heading to the lesser-known surf breaks on the Pacific coast like the Osa Peninsula. 

Spending a little bit extra to get an SUV is well worth it for the added safety- and the increased opportunities for exploration!

Wear quick-dry clothing

In the rainy season, everything takes longer to dry thanks to the ever-present humidity. That’s why sporty, quick-dry clothes will be your best friend in Costa Rica. 

Not only do these materials keep you comfortable during wet hikes or after getting caught in a downpour, but they also mean you won’t get stuck with a bunch of damp, gross clothes for your entire trip.

Leave your leather at home and take care of your electronics

Belts, wallets and other leather made accessories will most likely get moldy during the rainiest months of September, October and November. If you are traveling with your laptop, bring a large ziploc bag and buy some rice to store your laptop in there when you are not using it.

Final thoughts on the Costa Rica rainy season

Wrapping up, Costa Rica’s rainy season really is the best time of year to visit if you want to catch some of the best waves of your life, challenge yourself, and have a blast in one of the world’s most beautiful countries on a budget.

So, pack your rain jacket, prepare yourself for the humidity, and get ready to experience Pura Vida, and the most magical and beautiful time of the year in Costa Rica without the crowds!