Costa Rica Travel Information
Where to go?
There’s something for everyone in Costa Rica – one of the reasons that more than 1 million tourists from all over the world visit every year. You have steamy rainforest, chilly and misty cloud forest at high elevations, Central Highlands with dairy farms and coffee plantations, dry tropical forest in the northwest, active and dormant volcanoes making naturally bubbling hot springs, lowland marshes and mangrove estuaries, rushing rivers providing world-class whitewater rafting, and marvelous beaches in a rainbow of colors – waters ranging from light turquoise to deep azure with golden, black, white and even pink sand! The Pacific Coast and Caribbean Coast differ from one another as much in topography as in culture, and even language.
It’s important when planning your visit to note how much time you have and prioritize the main places you’d like to see. Because unless you have the big bucks to charter a private plane or helicopter, you can easily spend all of your time traveling to destinations without really seeing a thing. Costa Rica is small, but it is mountainous, with most of its roads only two lanes, narrow and winding.
When to go? What’s the weather like?
Costa Rica lies in the tropics between 8 and 11 degrees north of the equator. There are only two seasons in Costa Rica – “Verano” (summer) and “Invierno” (winter) – which correspond to the dry summer season from December to April and the rainy winter season from May to November. The hottest months are March, April, and May, and the wettest months are September and October. Temperatures fluctuate significantly based on elevation and microclimate. Beaches are substantially hotter and steamier, for instance than going up in height to the Central Highlands and lower range mountains, or even higher to the chilly and foggy cloud forest.
Costa Rica’s rain falls mainly on the Caribbean coast, giving the Pacific a much more arid climate. Even in the rainy season, rain will not fall during the whole day, every day. Each season has its beauty and unique characteristics. In the rainy season, the landscape is green and lush; dry season is perfect for orchids, bougainvilleas, and colorful trees that only flower then.
Central tourism time stretches from Christmas to mid-April, and again in July and August, tying in with the dry, sunny season and northern countries’ winter and later summer vacations. Christmas week is the most expensive time to travel. A “secret” time to visit Costa Rica away from the tourist crush, when many places have dropped prices, and the weather is still kind, is from late-April to late-May and the first two weeks of December.