Costa Rica Weather

by Kristy Annely

The Central American country of Costa Rica has a tropical and subtropical climate with two major seasons: a dry season (known as ‘verano’) from December to April, and a rainy season (known as ‘invierno’) from May to November.

Located between 8° and 11° North latitude, Costa Rica is quite close to the equator and the average annual temperature is between 21.7°C (71°F) and 27°C (81°F), though it might get cooler in the mountains. The coolest months across the country are from November to January, while the hottest months are March to May.

Though temperatures show hardly any variation between seasons, location and altitude do have some effect on temperatures across the country. The capital San José, situated at 1,150 m (3,772 ft), and the Central Valley in which it is situated, have a mild, pleasant climate through the year, which the locals call the ‘eternal spring,’ The mean annual temperature is around 20.6°C (69°F) and the region sees a lower than average rainfall.

Mountain ranges divide Costa Rica into a Caribbean slope and a Pacific slope, and the timing of the dry and rainy seasons varies slightly on each side. The rainy season on the Caribbean slope is from late April to December, while that on the Pacific slope is from May to November. On both slopes, a rainy day will begin sunny, with the rain only starting by afternoon. The southern half of the Pacific slope gets more rain and has a shorter dry season.

The coastline sees hotter weather, with the Caribbean averaging over 30°C (86°F) during the day, and the Pacific side getting even warmer. The Northern Pacific Region, called the Gold Coast or Guanacaste Area, has a drier and sunnier climate, while the Central Pacific area is greener. As you travel southwards it rains more and humidity rises. The windward side of both slopes is very wet. Rain in Costa Rica is warm and tropical. October is the rainiest month though annual rainfall can vary between 4 ft to 18 ft across geographical areas.

Costa Rica experiences strong northeasterly trade winds known as ‘alisios’ from December to April. Every few years Costa Rica is struck by El Niño (The Child), which tends to considerably disrupt normal weather patterns.