So when is the best time to visit Costa Rica? It’s time to consider staying in the off-season, better known as the “Green Season”. The Green Season spans from May to November and offers unique experiences and advantages to travelers. While we don’t pass up any opportunity to visit Costa Rica, Anna and I LOVE traveling to Costa Rica in May and September. The crowds are minimal, lodging and rental cars are much cheaper, and everything is lush and vibrant.
The Beauty of Fewer Crowds
During the Green Season, Costa Rica has fewer visitors compared to its high season. It’s a much more enjoyable travel experience when the beaches are empty in major tourist towns like Tamarindo and Playa Flamingo. Instead of fighting crowds of tourists on the beach, you can relax on your empty patch of sandy paradise. Hotels and restaurants are less busy and often half the price of the peak season, which is December into April.
One negative is that many businesses close completely in October when tourism slows down. They’ll begin their off season maintenance projects to get things cleaned up before the busy holiday time.
Playa Flamingo in September
The term ‘Green Season’ is as literal as it gets. Many assume that all of Costa Rica is green and lush year round. Unlike the central and southern regions, Guanacaste is home to a huge amount of dry tropical forests that turn brown over the course of the peak season. During these months, the regular rain showers breathe life into some northern parts of the country.
The rainforest truly comes to life during this period, providing stunning sights and wildlife, making it the perfect backdrop for your next adventure.
Las Catalinas in May after the dry season
Keeping Costs Down
Traveling during the off-peak Green Season often means cheaper flights and accommodations. Many airlines, hotels, and vacation rentals offer substantial discounts during this period. You can enjoy the same beautiful destinations for a fraction of the peak season cost. So, if you’re traveling on a budget, the Green Season might be the best time for you to visit.
Green Season Travel Tips
Rent a 4×4
If you’re planning on renting a car for your trip, opt for a 4×4 vehicle. The extra power and traction can be a lifesaver when navigating the wetter road conditions, which are often washed out due to rain. Our favorite rental vehicle is the Hyundai Tucson AWD and it’s normally the midsize option at Economy Rental Car. Check out some of our tips to renting a car in Costa Rica.
Don’t Forget a Rain Jacket
This period sees a significant amount of rain and occasional tropical storms. Pack smart and make sure you have the right waterproof gear. The Patagonia Torrentshell 3L Jacket is our go-to Costa Rica rain jacket. Its 3-layer waterproof shell will keep you protected in the heaviest downpours. Shake it off afterwards and it’s near dry again. The weather can change quickly, so stash it in your bag before heading out for the day.
Choose Weather Tolerant Activities
Some activities are more weather tolerant than others. Visiting Manuel Antonio in the Green Season? Check out river rafting with Amigos Del Rio. In Tamarindo? We love a day trip to Liberia to hike to the La Leona Waterfall. These tours typically operate rain or shine, and you’ll get wet either way. Have fun with it!
Be Flexible with Your Travel Plans
While rain might lead to tour cancellations or travel delays, don’t get too bummed out. This downtime can be a great chance for a rainy ocean swim, an extended meal at a local “soda”, or simply enjoy the refreshing rain from the comfort of your hotel. We crack a beer, get the travel backgammon board out, and cross our fingers for thunderstorms when the evening rains start.
Flexibility allows you to adapt and make the most of whatever the Green Season throws your way. Instead of seeing weather shifts as obstacles, view them as part of your Costa Rican adventure. Who knows? These unplanned moments might end up being the highlights of your trip!
Rafting is a great rainy day activity
So is backgammon while watching the lightning ⚡️
While some may be deterred by the idea of traveling in the off season, don’t let a little rain dampen your spirit. Visiting Costa Rica during the Green Season lets you experience the country the most vibrant, authentic, and budget-friendly time. So why not swap the crowds and dry landscapes for a peaceful, lush, and cost-effective trip? Embrace the Green Season!