Don’t pass on visiting Costa Rica during the rainy season.
Most people vacation in Costa Rica during the peak tourism months from December until May. This is partially because most tourists coming to Costa Rica are escaping the bitter cold of the northern winter months. But it is also known that these months are the dry time of year in Costa Rica’s South Pacific tropics, and visitors wanting to enjoy the tropics think that this is a benefit. But it is in fact the rainy season that provides the best environment for enjoying the most intense beauty that Costa Rica has to offer.
Without gold or jewels, Costa Rica (meaning “the rich coast”) is immensely plentiful in biodiversity. This tiny nation is home to 5% of all of the world’s species, most of which would not exist without Costa Rica’s wet weather. And South Pacific Costa Rica is home to some of the most richly biodiverse areas thanks to the abundant rains that provide ample waterways across our wet tropical forests.
The Value Of Visiting During Rainy Season
There is immense value in visiting Costa Rica if you are deciding to move to this country. Not only that, but multiple visits during different times of year are highly recommended by almost anyone who will ask. This is because this tropical nation is highly dynamic in weather and even a small shift in elevation or a different time of year can mean a whole different living experience. And although many of us did move to Costa Rica for the sun and the heat, the longer we stay here, the more that we come to appreciate the rain.
During the rainy season in Costa Ballena, you can obviously expect the weather to be wet. But many who spend their first ‘green season’ in Costa Rica are surprised that they are not living in perpetual downpours. Some days it truly does feel like it couldn’t possibly rain any more… and then it does. But actually, Costa Rica’s rainy season is punctuated with relatively short, intense bursts of inclement weather that refreshes the natural environment, making the abundant plant life even more lush and verdant. The rest of the day is warm and sunny, with most days staying clear until the mid-afternoon.
Rainy Season Weather in Costa Rica
Rainy season in Costa Rica is not like the monsoon or hurricane seasons experienced in other tropical parts of the world. Most rainy season days in Costa Rica begin with sunny, warm mornings that get a little cloudy around midday, which typically evolve into rain showers for ten minutes up to two hours in the mid-afternoon. The evening is balmy and comfortable in time for a relaxing and breezy night.
Although the weather in Costa Ballena never gets cold, it does cool down significantly with each passing storm. The regular bouts of rain during the green season provide lovely pauses of stillness throughout the day – which are best enjoyed from the comfort of indoors, curled up with a good book and a cup of tea.
From pelo de gato (misty rain) to aguacero (heavy downpour), invierno (winter) in the Southern Zone of Costa Rica offers a whole range of wet experiences for all to enjoy. Rain is essential for the local ecosystem, filling our rivers and creeks and their tributaries. If you plan to visit between May and November, you can expect to experience rain – from gentle morning showers to thundering afternoon storms, although the average temperatures during this time remain warm at around the mid 80s (around 30°C).
The Lifestyle Of The Rainy Season
The majority of properties in Costa Ballena are located between 200 and 1000m above sea level. According to the Holdridge life zones system chart, the environment at these elevations in Costa Ballena predominantly consists of tropical wet forest. Despite having a dry season of around 5 months, the Costa Ballena receives a substantial rainfall of between 120” and 160” annually.
By virtue of our mountainous area, the storms cool the air and set up the sky for the most awe-inspiring sunsets filled with colored clouds. And daytime showers are often decorated with brightly colorful rainbows.
Colorful flowers blossom overnight and grass turns moist and lavish. Succulent, tuberous plants will flower and fruit and the natural world feels even more vibrant. The freshness of the rain brings a wider variety of bird and frog species to our lower forests, exposing our ears to a cacophony of new sounds. This is the season to listen to parrots, parakeets, toucans, woodpeckers, and many others call out to their mates with untiring persistence. The yigüirro, or clay colored thrush, is the national bird of Costa Rica who is especially vocal in the rainy season and its song is said to be “asking for rain.”
The smell of the rain quenching the forest is intoxicating as you sit on your patio or balcony during a storm in Costa Rica. Watching lightning from a distance as it strikes the sea in the dark of night is mesmerizing, or hearing the rumble of thunder vibrate the earth around you.
Exciting Rainy Season Activities
Heavy rains are likely to cancel most activities that you could plan to do in Costa Rica. But there are some experiences that are unique to the rainy season that you cannot achieve during the dry, summer months in Costa Rica.
River rafting trips are the fastest, smoothest and most intense during the rainy season when raftable rivers swell with class III and IV rapids. Deep sea sport fishing in Costa Rica is generally very good in the rainy season, too, with prized fish like Wahoo and Yellowfin tuna having their peak months during this season.
The rainy season generally offers stronger wind and rain — and it also brings with it the biggest waves. The South Pacific beaches of Dominical, Hermosa and Chaman get large southern swells during the majority of the rainy season. And the beach lovers can enjoy a quieter beach experience with less tourists in this season.
If you like to play rough and dirty instead, off-road ATV adventures during the rainy season are extra exciting! Splashing through puddings and cutting through knee deep rivers to get to an intensely flowing waterfall can be an exhilarating trip for the thrill seeker in the family.
It is a good idea to schedule all activities in the morning or early afternoon if you fear cancellation due to inclement weather. Driving can be less safe during heavy rains because of diminished visibility and potential for hydroplaning, so it’s best to plan to be home before the rain begins.
Looking for a little less excitement in your daily activities? Spas, wellness classes, and restaurants will all be less busy and will offer a more tranquil experience during this time of year.
Pro tip: Mid-July has what Costa Ricans call “little summer.” For around two weeks, the weather tends to dry up, there are clear blue skies and little humidity. This makes July a slightly more popular month to visit Costa Rica.
Subscribe to our weekly newsletter