Green Season Travel
Green season is Costa Rica’s off-peak tourism period and coincides with North America’s summer. From May-November, you should expect sunny mornings, afternoon rain showers or thunderstorms, and lots of lush, green scenery. During this period most hotels offer deep discounts, generally in the neighborhood of 10-40% off their high-season (December-April) rates. You’ll enjoy fewer crowds, which means more one-on-one time with your naturalist guides, surf waves all to yourself, and opportunities for quiet contemplation in the rainforest.
There are several Costa Rica destinations that hit their peak during this time. Travel smart: take advantage of fabulous deals and the country's seasonal activities that are best enjoyed from May-November. In most cases, green season weather will not disrupt your plans, since many adventures are unaffected by warm rain showers. So get ready for a good time and pack a full-length parka – we promise you won’t look silly; everyone wears them in Costa Rica!
Known as the adventure capital of Costa Rica, Arenal offers exhilarating outdoor adventures and diverse nature activities. Test your skill at cave spelunking in the Venado Caverns, go wildlife watching on a Cano Negro safari float, or enjoy a volcanic mud spa treatment. On rainy afternoons, head to where extra water doesn’t matter – feel the rush on one of the area’s famous waterfall rappelling tours, lounge in volcano-fed hot springs, or swim at the base of La Fortuna waterfall. For those who love wild Class IV-V rapids, whitewater rafting is a must during the green season, when water levels rise on the Balsa and Toro Rivers. Take it from the experts - September and October are actually the best months to see Arenal Volcano and its red lava flows.
Cloud forests, or high-montane rainforests, dot Monteverde’s lush mountainside; their green pockets of rich biodiversity are a nature lover’s paradise. Resplendent quetzal sightings are best from March through June, when the colorful birds arrive for mating season. Sightsee on a guided hike or horseback riding excursion, or spend the afternoon on a scenic ride on the Trainforest railroad, a tourist train that winds its way through four miles of pristine cloud forest. The Monteverde Cloud Forest and Santa Elena Cloud Forest split their acreage between the Pacific and Caribbean sides of the Continental Divide, so the area has no distinct wet season.
The Osa Peninsula’s remote southern Pacific location equates to real adventure for those in search of spectacular snorkeling and dramatic wildlife encounters. Anglers should head down from May through November, the southern Pacific’s best season for sport fishing – wahoo catches are high in May and June and tuna and marlin hit peak season from August to December. Wildlife enthusiasts should book their trip July through November, when several species of whales can be seen breaching in the bay. Cano Island’s crystal clear waters deliver some of Costa Rica's best diving year-round.
For some serious sun, head up to Costa Rica’s extreme northwest, near the Nicaraguan border – Santa Rosa National Park has one of the best right point surf breaks in the world, as well as Olive Ridley turtle nesting July through November. Drive an hour south to the famous Papagayo and Playa del Coco, where you’ll find fine sand, clear waters and the country’s most spectacular sunsets. Scuba diving in Costa Rica's north Pacific is best in June and July, when winds are low and visibility is at its highest. To the east, explore Rincon de la Vieja, where you’ll have access to an active volcano, miles of horseback and hiking trails, and diverse outdoor adventures.
Test your surfing skills on Puerto Viejo’s Salsa Brava, Costa Rica’s biggest surf break, during the June-July surf season. If you’re a nature lover, you can’t miss a night hike to the Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge, where endangered leatherback turtles nest between March and July. September and October are the best months to dive the 20 plus sites between Cahuita and Manzanillo, which are home to Costa Rica’s only two living coral reefs.
Tortuguero is a major nesting site for several species of sea turtle. Glimpse these lumbering giants on an evening turtle tour as they make their annual egg-laying journey. Toward the tail end of each turtle-nesting season, fortunate visitors can view newborn hatchlings scampering to the sea. Take a leisurely boat or kayak excursion through the area’s winding network of dark-water canals and spot tiger-throated herons, jacanas and caimans. Due to strong ocean currents, swimming is not advised, but travelers can stroll the north Caribbean’s deserted cocoa-sand beaches.
Turtle Nesting Seasons:
- Green Sea Turtle: July-October
- Hawksbill: March-October
- Leatherback: March- May
- Loggerhead: July-October
Tip: With the exception of hotels and restaurants that list prices in USD, always pay with local Costa Rican currency (colones). You’ll get a much better exchange rate.