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You Seasonal Travel Guide to Costa Rica

Boasting more than 20 micro climates and an eclectic array of landscapes, Costa Rica is very much a year-round destination. Having said that, there are some instances when a particular month is more enticing for a particular activity so the best time to visit will highly depend on whatever fun adventures you wish to have in Pura-Vida-land. The western and eastern halves of the country, moreover, tend to boast opposing ‘dry’ and ‘wet’ seasons so when it’s pouring down on one side, you’ll likely enjoy dry days in the other.

We’ve divided our Seasonal Travel Guide to Costa Rica into the most coveted activities and destinations, to make it easier for you to ascertain when you should be planning your own adventure vacation.

Best Climate (Less Rain)

Dry season on Costa Rica’s most visited side (the western Pacific coast side) falls between December and April and, given the first two months coincide with the Christmas holiday period, and the last with the busy Easter holiday, it also makes it the busiest and most expensive time of year to travel. Dry days are quite blissful here because, given the sheer wild nature of the country, rain can seriously disrupt extensive road travel. Busy season means you must book your trip, your activities and accommodation way ahead of time if you hope to nab your favorite preferences: you can always ‘swing’ a trip to Costa Rica at the last minute, as long as you’re happy to simply accept the choices available during high season.

The good news however, if you’re not a fan of big crowds and higher prices, is that there’s always a corner of the country that’s just perfect at whatever time you wish to visit and that, even in rain season, you can have a magical trip, mostly if you choose to explore only two areas thus reducing your need to cover long distances.

Wildlife Watching

Animal spotting is generally much better during rain season and this is especially true if you’re dreaming of marine life watching. The Ostional beaches in the Nicoya Peninsula welcome mass arribadas of nesting turtles in September and October whilst on the Caribbean side, you can catch them nesting at Tortuguero National Park from as early as May. For exceptional whale watching boat trips, you’ll want to head to the Marino Ballena Marine Park in August and September, when migrating humpbacks (and more) sail by for a few months on their way south.

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Luscious Landscapes

There’s no denying that rains have a refreshing and nurturing effect on the wilderness of Costa Rica and although the effects of the rains do remain for a couple of months after rain season ends, they don’t extend much beyond that. February may be a perfect month to soak up the sun on pristine sandy beaches but for resplendent foliage in rainforests and all national parks, rainy season tours just can’t be beaten.

Particularly beautiful is the month immediately following the first rains, when wildflowers bloom, wildlife is out in force and it seems every single bird in the country is singing its little heart out in absolute delight.

Best Value For Money

The rainy season also wins this round, offering amazing value for your adventure money. Fewer crowds and lower prices mean you can stay longer or upgrade your usual ‘luxury level’ so you can splurge on luxury lodges for just a portion of their usual, high-season prices. Visitors also love the fact that rainy season offers options for last-minute trips and even last-minute changes to the itinerary, once there. Plus, when you fly outside of the Christmas, Easter and Summer holiday vacation times, you can save a neat bundle on airfares too. Just keep an eye out for July and August travel: it may still be rainy season here but this is prime vacation period for North Americans and Europeans, so expect a slight surge in crowds and prices during these two particular months.


Zip-lining is one of the many activities in Costa Rica that can be enjoyed all year long: if you happen to be visiting during the quieter rainy season, however, you might just want to ensure you’re up and flying early in the morning. Tropical downpours usually occur in the early afternoon, so your mornings will likely be just fine. Moreover, there are zip-lining tours on offer in just about every corner of the country

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Surfing & Beach Combing

To be honest, we love beach combing in Costa Rica at any time of year but it’s true that if you only have a week to spend down here, you’ll want the highest chances of perfectly clear skies and good underwater visibility for water sports. Head here from mid-November to April to ensure perfectly clear skies and pristine beach conditions – just the ideal antidote to freezing northern-hemisphere winter blues. Do note that this is very much a tropical country: dry season means there’s usually little chance of rain but you’ll always run the chance of a refreshing downpour, occasionally. Trust us, you’ll love it!

Many people recommend visiting during the rainy season because, although you’ll possibly have fewer hours of pristine beach conditions, you’ll find beaches uncrowded and peacefully quiet. Whilst that’ll all well and true, Costa Rica is actually home to so many beaches off the beaten path, that finding a quiet nook is really not all that difficult. Yes, even in dry season.

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Oh, now here’s a lovely conundrum: hiking, in general, is best done when trails are dry (so head here in dry season) however, given that the most spectacular hiking trails are to gorgeous waterfalls, you’ll enjoy more overwhelming water flow if you head here during the rainy season instead. Muddy trails and gushing waterfalls? Or dry trails and milder waterfalls? You decide!

By and large, however, hiking is best done during the dry season yet considering this means higher temps, you’ll really want to have your boots laced up straight after an early breakfast. Dry season is dreamy in a lot of ways but in some areas of Costa Rica the temps can get into the high-90s, so you will want to be at your most active early in the morning.

Less Humidity

The rains between May and October do bring the temps down quite a bit but they also increase the humidity levels to at-times overwhelming levels. Whilst the dry season months are somewhat easier on the body, it isn’t too hard to get used to the humidity: simply pack plenty of bug repellent and enjoy your (literal) immersion into jungle life. The pros of rainy season travel are so many that bypassing a trip at this time for a bit of extra humidity is simply not worth it!


Wilderness Trips

While it’s true that rainier months can cause havoc on Costa Rica’s roads, it’s also true that regional airports make it easy to reach remote regions that have been temporarily cut off, like the Osa Peninsula. This incredible wild haven of wildlife is just a peach of off-grid adventures, with rainy months offering magnificent wildlife watching. If you’re more into wilderness rather than laying-by-the-beach trips, then the Osa is quite perfect for rain season trips, especially if you can opt to fly in. Just note that September is about the best month to visit whilst October the rainiest one of all. Given that the Osa is remote and somewhat more expensive, this can also make for a much cheaper indulgence in a gorgeous eco-lodge – you may even get the whole place all to yourself. How magical would that be?






Caribbean Coast

The eastern Caribbean coast typically sees a lot more rain all year round although for two months, in September and October, things dry up pretty well. Puerto Viejo makes for a wonderful base to explore the coast and nearby national parks and, in October, it enjoys its short and sweet dry season. Given this is a remote region of the country and lesser visited anyway, it’s just perfect to visit at this time. Dodge the rains of the west and explore a pristine part of Costa Rica? Win-win!

Whitewater Rafting & Kayaking

River-based adventure sports like rafting and kayaking are best enjoyed when rivers are flowing healthily so head to Costa Rica during the rainy season to enjoy thrilling adventures. Having said that, however, lower river levels are quite ideal for slower and more laid-back adventures, perfect for beginners.

Most people will often worry excessively about the rain in Costa Rica, probably because they obsess over weather apps that’ll show a rain cloud for an entire day when, in reality, it only rains for 2 hours of an afternoon. Even in dry season, if we get a 10-minute sprinkle, our weather app will show a rain cloud, all day long. How crazy! There’s something to be said for some (technological) blissful ignorance here: just plan your adventure vacation in Costa Rica at a time of year when it suits you best and we promise to help you plan an AMAZING adventure in this crazy playground of ours.

See our complete collection of adventure vacations in Costa Rica and don’t forget that we can help you plan a custom-made itinerary, set to your desires and budget, t whatever time of year you wish to visit.

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Costa Rica’s Most Instagrammable Hot-Spots

Costa Rica is not a country that’s short on spectacularly photogenic spots yet a few have become almost ‘legendary’ in social media circles. Adventure vacations chasing Costa Rica’s most Instagrammable hot-spots tug at the heart of those who not only cherish delivering a heavy dose of Insta-envy (because isn’t that just a little bit fun?) but also those who simply want to discover the most outrageously beautiful spots in the country.

Our list of favorite Insta-worthy spots in Costa Rica don’t just look good on camera but also require an adventurous spirit to capture. Because, after all, what’s the point of planning an adventure vacation in Costa Rica if the best Instagrammable hot-spots are just outside your hotel door?!

So get over here, strap on your boots, slap on the sunscreen and come see what photogenic gems Costa Rica has in store.

The Hanging Bridges of Monteverde

There’s something utterly surreal about the rustic bridges seemingly suspended in the clouds of Monteverde. The vibrant green of the forest mixed in with the mist of the low clouds lends this landscape a fairy-tale vibe like few others.










What, Where & How: Halfway between San Jose and the Liberia International Airport, the Monteverde Cloud Forest is one of Costa Rica’s most distinctive wilderness highlights. Explore the biological reserve on foot it by following a complex maze of walking trails which include several hanging bridges, and immerse yourself in this unique ecosystem right at the top of the continental divide. Costa Rica feels like another world at this altitude (pack some warm clothing!) the distinct climate nurturing an array of unique flora and fauna you simply won’t find anywhere else.

Rio Celeste Waterfall in Tenorio Volcano National Park

Costa Rica’s many waterfalls are among the most Instagrammable hot-spots of all and among them we’d rate the Rio Celeste Waterfall as perhaps the most photogenic of all. The iridescent color of the water is said to have inspired Photoshop (probably) creating a surreal Insta-worthy snap that’ll blow you away. The best part of capturing this startling sight? The heart-pumping hike to get there!










What, Where & How: Nestled in the heart of the Tenorio Volcano National Park in Guanacaste, the Rio Celeste Waterfall sits at the end of a short and sweet one-mile hiking trail through wilderness and, at the end, a very picturesque staircase that descends almost 500 feet. The stairs are unarguably the toughest challenge on the legs but if you’re after a little adventure in Costa Rica, consider this a stellar warm up. You can continue through the western section of the walking trail after ascending the stairs, which will guide you to a beautiful viewpoint over the rain-forest (just watch your feet on the uneven platform) and then onward to a turquoise lagoon and bubbling sulfur hot springs. The end of the trail is the confluence of the two rivers and one of the most unmissable parts of the park – where the celeste waters begin their journey!

Irazu Volcano

Volcanoes are about the only Instagrammable competition to waterfalls in Costa Rica, with the country’s #1 attraction, Arenal, taking out the first photo-price across the board. Yet whilst Arenal is indeed a spectacular sight, we do cherish the otherworldly view of Irazu, the highest volcano in Costa Rica and one basting three mineral-enriched caldera lakes of astonishing colors.










Santa Teresa Beach, Nicoya Peninsula

Waxing lyrical about waterfalls and volcanoes doesn’t hide the fact that the most photographed of all Costa Rica’s highlights would surely be its beaches. This country is defined by its exceptional stretches of postcard-perfect beaches and if anything could induce a case of Insta-envy then a glorious sunrise or sunset photo of a Costa Rica beach would have to do the trick. To this end, head to the western shores of the wild Nicoya Peninsula and cast your eyes on Santa Teresa, one of the most magnificent stretches of coast in the entire country.









What, Where & How: The Nicoya is often dubbed the ‘wild west’ of Costa Rica and it is here that you’ll find the most remote and unspoiled beaches on the Pacific coast. The town of the same name is just a cool surfer’s hangout, attracting discerning travelers who wish to get away from it all and have a few more days up their sleeve. Santa Teresa is a white sandy beach framed by palm trees, one that seems to stretch out forever. You won’t find any mega mall or huge resort hotels here but you will find is one of the best surfing spots in the world, a laid-back vibe that just screams Pura Vida and endless chances for that perfect Instagram pic.

Nesting turtles at Gandoca Manzanillo National Wildlife Refuge

Let’s be honest: snapping a close-up shot of an iconic turtle is pretty much equivalent to winning the Instagrammable lottery in Costa Rica and knowing where to go and when will help you achieve that goal. Whilst the Pacific is the more famous (and visited side to visit for nesting turtles) we absolutely love the remote and pristine Gandoca Reserve on the Caribbean side, one of the least-known corners of the country.

What, Where & How: Gandoca is one of our favorite Instagrammable hot-spots because this wild reserve doesn’t just serve up sloths, turtles and other wildlife on a silver platter: you still need to hike, you still need to look and you still need to pray it happens but, if you go with a specialized local guide, your chances of spotting and photographing a turtle in the wild are absolutely brilliant. Plus, chasing turtles in Gandoca means you’ll head to the lesser visited Caribbean Coast, where fewer tourists and more wildlife combine to create a magnificently remote adventure. Just south of Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, Gandoca is one of Costa Rica’s hidden treasures, where idyllic beaches, dense tropical forests and a multitude of wildlife await. The plus side? You’ll literally be among very few lucky folks that’ll hashtag Gandoca on Instagram.









Ruinas de Ujarra

In Costa Rica, it’s not just Mother Nature that creates the most the most Instagrammable hot-spots although, in the case of the Ujarra church ruins, she certainly plays a big hand in framing the picture.






What, Where & How: The remnants of the very first church ever built in the country date back to the 1500’s and are set amidst a verdant garden right in the heart of the Orosi Valley, a short distance southeast of San Jose. Built by missionaries and boasting a troubling history, the church ruins are both fascinating to discover and amazing to photograph.

Lake Arenal

Well, it’s not like we could really leave the star Costa Rica Instagrammable attraction off our list but, in this case, we’ll hone in on the most photographic side of Arenal Volcano and that’s from its namesake lake. Taken at the right time of day, with the right condition, the reflection of the peak on the lake is simply spellbinding.








What, Where and When: Arenal is Costa Rica’s premier attraction, one that’s easy to get to and super easy to enjoy. A multitude of resorts, some with their own private hot-springs (imagine THOSE Insta pics) as well as plenty of adrenaline-pumping activities like zip-lining, mountain biking and horseback-riding, make this a very comprehensive destination for singles, families and honeymooning couples alike. The extensive lake sits on the western side of the volcano so best plan for an early-morning visit to the lake to snap the sensational scene with a rising sun.

La Bruja Waterfall, Turrialba

Turrialba is one of the lesser-visited corners of Costa Rica. This adventurous playground hides many hidden treasures and, among them all, is where you’ll find the Witch’s Waterfall, one of the country’s most Instagrammable hot-spots.









What, Where & How: If you’re after an off-the-beaten-path adventure to one of the least photographed and known waterfalls in Costa Rica, then set your sights firmly on La Bruja. You’ll need to be in good physical shape and be ready to hike a few miles in untouched wilderness to reach it but, when you do, you’ll no-doubt consider it well worth the effort. This is one of the most off-beat destinations in the entire country and the waterfall one of the rarest sights of all.

Turrialba is Costa Rica adventure capital and it’s no coincidence that this is our backyard. At Costa Rica Rios, we can help you find an infinite array of Instagrammable hit-spots way off the beaten path, whilst dishing up a sensational week of unforgettable adventures in one of the world’s wildest countries. Check out our Adventure Vacations Packages and contact us when you’re ready to take your Instagram account to a whole other level.

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