Don’t get the rainy season blues – make the most of Costa Rica’s downpours. Our favorite season in Costa Rica is from June through November, the rainy season. We love it as everything is green, lush and beautiful. Costa Rica converts from a sunny tropical paradise to a an overcast, grey sky, and though the 2016 rainy season was uncharacteristically dry, this sunny weather is unlikely to last. However, while much of the country may be slowly descending into the green season there are plenty of things to do in Costa Rica during the rainy season so don’t let a little rain dampen your spirit. It doesn’t rain every day and it’s usually in the afternoon, stopping by dinner time.
1. Get out for mini-summer
For two weeks every rainy season, Central America gets a small break from the constant storms. Known as the veranillo de San Juan, this meteorological phenomenon causes a small interruption in the rainy season, creating a two-week summer. The mini-summer got its name because it often falls on the 24th of July, coinciding with the Catholic festival of St. John the Baptist (San Juan in Spanish). This is also spring break time for Costa Ricans.
- Take advantage of the deals
Fewer crowds and cheaper prices are the chief advantages of traveling in Costa Rica during the rainy season. Lodging prices during this season are usually 10-40 percent cheaper, and many hotels offer deeper discounts for residents to encourage local travel during the low months. Though tour prices generally remain the same, the lower volume of travellers makes it easier to negotiate deals with smaller companies.
Thousands of Olive Ridley turtles arrive at Playa Ostional on Costa Rica’s Pacific during an arribada.
- Go see the turtles
Sea turtles come to nest in Costa Rica throughout the year, but the rainy season is when larger groups of mother turtles arrive at the country’s shoreline all at one time. There are three main beaches to see turtles, each with a different species of turtle and a slightly different season.
Playa Ostional, on the country’s Nicoya Peninsula on the Pacific side, gets mass nestings – known locally as arribadas — of Olive Ridley turtles in the days surrounding the full moons in mid-June through December. During an arribada, thousands of turtles may be at the beach all at one time.
Farther north up the coast is Las Baulas National Park, home to the largest nesting colony of endangered leatherback sea turtles on the Pacific Coast of the Americas. The leatherbacks will begin their Pacific nesting season in October and continue through December. Unlike Playa Ostional, Las Baulas does not see an enormous number of turtles all at once, but seeing just one leatherback — the largest species of sea turtle, weighing up to 2,000 pounds — is enough for most wildlife enthusiasts.
The final rainy-season nesting beach is on Costa Rica’s northern Caribbean Coast. Tortuguero, which literally means Land of Turtles, is the most important nesting site for endangered green sea turtles in the entire Western Hemisphere. Green turtles begin nesting in Tortuguero in July and continue through October.
Some of Costa Rica’s best dive sites are only accessible during the rainy season. The northern Pacific scuba diving hub, Playas del Coco, has several dive sites that are best in the rainy season; chief among these is the Bat Islands. Less than an hour boat ride from Playas del Coco, the Bat Islands is one of the best spots in the Pacific for spotting bull sharks.
Though conditions are highly variable, many dive shops recommend going to the famed Cocos Island during the months of June, July and August for the best chance of calm sea and large wildlife encounters. Located more than 300 miles from Costa Rica’s Pacific shore, Cocos Island is famous for its abundance of hammerhead sharks. Diving at the nearby Malpelo island is also best during the rainy season.
There are likely more canopy tours in Costa Rica than there are jaguars, and the activity seems to be at the top of every tourist’s list during a visit to the country. Though it may be tempting to check off ziplining through the Costa Rican jungle off your bucket list, a canopy tour in the rain is rarely any fun. Take it from someone who knows first-hand: there is nothing enjoyable about being smacked in the face with water as you speed through the rain forest. Schedule your zip lining for early morning as it usually just rains in the afternoon.
- Go to the Caribbean
In October, most of Costa Rica is in the midst of the absolute worst of the rainy season. Roads wash out, mudslides and flooding abound and it can rain all the time without stopping. The country’s Caribbean side is the one gleaming exception. In fact, the September – October weather on the Caribbean is so good that locals sometimes refer to the month as ‘summatime.’
The Caribbean’s tourism hot spots are concentrated in the coast’s southern zone in Puerto Viejo and Manzanillo.
- Surf some really big waves
Costa Rica has consistent waves at different beaches year-round. Though the rainy season generally offers worse conditions — cold weather, strong winds, rain — it also has the biggest waves. The country’s northern Pacific gets large southern swells during the entire rainy season, but the central and southern Pacific have better conditions through the beginning of the rainy season. Not a surfer? No Problem! We have surfing classes for you.
Several of Costa Rica’s rivers are raftable year-round, but low water levels can make river rafting bumpy and uncomfortable. River rafting trips are the fastest, smoothest and most intense during the rainy season when most of the country’s raftable rivers swell with class II, III and IV rapids. Some rivers have class V rapids. The most popular rivers for rafting are located around Arenal Volcano and toward San Jose.The most well-traversed white water river is the Pacuare River, which has trips leaving primarily from Turrialba in the Central Valley. Whatever level you wish to raft, Bill Beard’s has a river for you.
Sublimely beautiful Costa Rica has something for everyone. The treats range from exciting adventure to leisurely relaxation, and everything in between that we can add to your diving package. Furthermore, tourists can sample the laid-back national lifestyle that ticos (the name the Costa Ricans call themselves) refer to as ‘Pura Vida’ – ‘pure life’: no stress, no hassle. All this, combined with unsurpassed natural beauty and a developed and accommodating tourist industry, makes Costa Rica a wonderful place to visit and vacation.
Our agents can set up the all inclusive or al a carte vacation package and itinerary you want throughout the country. There is no charge for our service and we’ll save you money and lots of time and you’ll get the vacation you want.
*We have a wonderful NEW DVD, it is 23 minutes: LEARN MORE
To see all the adventure tours that Bill Beard’s operates Throughout Costa Rica: CLICK HERE
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Our Reservation Office Is Located In La Fortuna, Costa Rica In The Shadow Of Arenal Volcano, behind the Catholic Church, Near The World Famous Hot Springs.
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IMPORTANT NOTE – Please be advised that every reasonable effort has been made to keep all prices up to date and free of errors or omissions. Prices and policies from our vendors and the Costa Rican government are subject to change without notice. Invoices will be issued at the time of booking to confirm all final rates and offers.