Beautiful rain over the ocean in Puntarenas, Costa RicaBeautiful rain over the ocean in Puntarenas, Costa Rica

A vacation isn’t just about relaxing on a beach the entire time, especially in Costa Rica! There is a lot to explore, and sometimes abundant sunshine isn’t what you are looking for during your trip. In Costa Rica, the season from May to mid ­November is often referred to as the rainy season. It is personally my favorite time of year for many reasons. While the term “rainy” may turn off some travelers, consider that the locals more often refer to it as the green or tropical season. During this season, the landscape is lush with greenery, but there isn't constant, miserable rain (I’m looking at you Seattle!). Instead, there is often plenty of sunshine during the day, so you can actively explore all that Costa Rica has to offer.

Low Prices

If I was asked to relay one piece of advice that I've learned from speaking to visitors over the years, I’d say that the most fluent travelers know that they can get lower prices during the rainy season. This encompasses everything, from their airfare to their hotel rental rates and all the tours and activities that they plan to do in Costa Rica. Even local markets and transportation will have lower rates. Overall, if you are looking to travel to my beautiful country but have a limited budget, rainy season can be your saving grace. Try to plan your trip for the beginning or end of the season, which would be May or November. If you have a decent budget already, traveling during rainy season could mean that you can double the amount of places you visit, the amount of activities you can do, and it might even mean that you can upgrade for a night or two to a nicer hotel! You may be able to spring for a stay at the spa, or you could afford a round of golf on one of Costa Rica’s award­winning courses. If you are looking to spend your budget on others, traveling during rainy season definitely means that you can afford to buy more souvenirs for your sad friends that weren’t able to travel to my beautiful country.

Clouds engulfing the Monteverde Cloud ForestClouds engulfing the Monteverde Cloud Forest

Guanacaste Escape Adventure Tour
7 Days / 6 Nights
Starting at $779 per person

Less Crowds

While it can be nice to talk to other visitors that you meet during your travels, it is also nice to visit a place when there is less tourist traffic. With less crowding, you can travel a little more freely, with more spontaneity, since you won’t necessarily have to make all of your reservations ahead of time. Since there are more hotels with open rooms, you can basically stay wherever you happen to land for the night. You can research what there is to do in the area, and just go ahead and do it. You can also get more time with local "Ticos", since there are less people demanding their time. Stop and talk to shop and restaurant owners and learn more about the local culture. Ticos are the most happy and most friendly people in the world, and the more time you spend with them, the more your Costa Rican experience will be enhanced.

No Lack of Activities

There is no reason that your trip to Costa Rica during the rainy season has to be anything short of magical. There are a lot of eco­tour experiences that are heightened during this time due to the rivers running higher and the general landscape being more lush and alive with local life. Guanacaste, which is typically brown with dry forests, even boosts a vibrant color green during this season. Rainy season can take your white water rafting or kayaking adventures to the next level, since the rivers have a better flow. Rainy season doesn’t mean that it is rainy all day, every day. It just means that the climate is wetter in general. That means that there are still plenty of opportunities for you to be outside, exploring and enjoying Costa Rica.

Crossing a River in an ATV near Tamarindo in GuanacasteCrossing a River in an ATV near Tamarindo in Guanacaste

Travel Tips

Pay attention to the patterns of local weather. You will start to notice that the rain starts and ends around the same time each day. This will make it easier for you to build a daily itinerary that maximizes your use of the dry times of day. Plan to head out on your adventure right when you see the rain is letting up, so that you are onsite and ready to get exploring as soon as the rain stops. If it usually rains in the afternoon, plan to stop for lunch at that time. It is also important to note that navigating the terrain during rainy season might be tricky, so you may want to consider using local, professional services for your transportation. If you do rent a car for travel, make sure you are prepared for the roads to be a little rough, and consider purchasing additional insurance to help cover you in the case of an emergency. Also, make sure you have a phone that works and a list of emergency numbers.

A Downpour of Rain at the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve
A Downpour of Rain at the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve