The climate of Costa Rica
has a mainly tropical climate, with year-round warm to hot temperatures. The climate is a tropical rainforest type (Köppen climate classification Af) in the north-central to the eastern belt and the extreme southeastern tip. From the northwest to the southeast diagonally, the climate is tropical monsoon (Köppen Am). The western one-fourth of the country is a tropical savanna (Köppen Aw). A narrow strip from the central part stretching up to the eastern end has a temperate climate, with its variants (Köppen Cfb, Cfc, Cwb, Cwc). Central mountain peaks fall under the alpine zone (Köppen ET). Costa Rica is a tropical country in Central America. Panama lies in the southeast of Costa Rica, Ecuador in the south, the Pacific Ocean in the southwest, Nicaragua in the north, and the Caribbean Sea to the northeast. The tropical location and proximity to large water bodies influence the climate.
Costa Rica lies on the Caribbean Plate, 10°N of the equator. The largest island is Isla Calero, and the remotest is Cocos in the extreme southwest. The Cordillera de Talamanca and the Cordillera Central mountain ranges separate the Caribbean and Pacific drainage basins. The Cordillera de Guanacaste in the north is part of the Continental Divide of the Americas. Tropical moist broadleaf forests cover much of the Cordillera de Talamanca region. The Terraba in the southern Brunca region is the longest river with a length of 99 miles. The coastline is a vast 800 miles, including 635 miles on the North Pacific Ocean and 133 miles on the Caribbean Sea. The Irazu Volcano is the highest volcano at 3431 meters, and Lake Arenal at 33 square meters is the largest lake in the country. Mount Chirripo is the highest point at 3821 meters in Costa Rica.
Costa Rica has a tropical and subtropical climate, with two primary seasons. The dry season lasts from winter in December
to summer in April
. Summers are hot, dry, and cloudy. The wet season is from May
and overlaps the winter towards the end. The conditions are humid and overcast, with frequent rainfall in many regions. Temperature variations are low, and the average annual range in Costa Rica is between 17.2°C (63°F) to 27.2°C (81°F). January
sees the lowest temperatures of the year, while April records the highest. Temperatures above 37.8°C (100°F) frequently occur during the dry season. The average annual temperatures range from 27.2°C (81°F) on the coastal lowlands to 20°C (68°F) in the Cordillera Central, and below 10°C (50°F) on the highest mountain peaks. Costa Rica has several microclimates based on altitude, topography, local geography, and rainfall.
Costa Rica receives an abundant average annual rainfall of 1981.2mm (78"). September
are the wettest months, and the rainy season contributes up to 90% of the annual precipitation. The Caribbean slopes along the Cordillera Central receive the highest rainfall of 5003.8mm (197"), and many places receive at least 2540mm (100") annually. The eastern plains and coasts, and the southernmost part of the Pacific Coast are equatorial, with rainfall throughout the year. The average seawater temperatures remain in the warm range of 27.2°C (81°F) to 28.9°C (84°F) throughout the year. Costa Rica receives annual sunshine between 1650 hours to 2700 hours annually. The average humidity is high and ranges between 74% and 90%.
The highest recorded temperature in Costa Rica is 42.8°C (109°F), set in February
1964 in Puntarenas. The lowest recorded temperature is -8.9°C (16°F), set in Cerro Chirripo.
The best time to visit Costa Rica
The best time to visit Costa Rica
is usually between January
in the dry season. The sunshine is bright on the plains and coasts, and the rainfall is relatively low. A beach holiday is particularly pleasant in February
. The northwest is preferable between December
and April. The southwest is best between January and April. The Caribbean coast has the best weather from February to March. The Pacific coast is warmer than the Caribbean and receives at least 8 hours of daily sunshine in the summer. The eastern coast remains cloudy and rainy throughout the year.
The worst time to visit Costa Rica
The worst time to visit Costa Rica
is during the humid and rainy period from May
in the wet season. The period from September
is mainly cloudy and rainy. Heavy rainfall often occurs in many parts of the country and results in landslides and mudslides. Flooding and roadblocks can become an obstruction. The seawaters are warm at 28.9°C (84°F), but cloudy skies rob the possibility of sunbathing and constant rain that of swimming. San Jose, the capital, receives hardly 4 hours of daily sunshine in the wet season. On the east coast, Puerto Limon is cloudy and rainy, with an average of 4 hours of daily sunlight.
is vulnerable to thunderstorms, floods, landslides, earthquakes, and volcanoes. Excessive rainfall brings floods and landslides in many regions, similar to the one in November
2010. Costa Rica lies in the Central America Volcanic Arc and is prone to volcanic eruptions and earthquakes. Six volcanoes are active out of a total of 14 in Costa Rica. Earthquakes of magnitude above 6.1 and 6.2 struck in 2009 and 2010. The Atlantic Hurricane Season from June
to November is prone to tropical storms. The hurricanes from the Caribbean Sea affect the northern region at the most. Tropical storms and depressions from the Pacific usually do not make landfall. However, intense rainfall from the storms brings floods and landslides.
Weather in January
is usually the coldest month of the year in Costa Rica
, with average temperatures in the 16.1°C (61°F) to 25.6°C (78.1°F) range. San Jose, at an altitude of 1100 meters, is mostly dry in January, with 7 hours of daily sunshine. Weather in January »
Weather in February
is generally the driest month of the year in Costa Rica
, with negligible rainfall. Temperatures during the day are generally in the warm 22.8°C (73°F) to 35.6°C (96.1°F) range. Nights are mild in the zone of 13.3°C (55.9°F) to 22.8°C (73°F). Weather in February »
Weather in March
is dry and sunny in much of Costa Rica
, with 12 hours of daylight. The skies remain cloudy for 45% to 55% of the time in most regions. The average temperatures in the hilly region of San Jose are between a warm 15°C (59°F) to 26.1°C (79°F), and the sunshine lasts for 8 hours. Weather in March »
Weather in April
is the hottest month of the year in Costa Rica
. The average high temperatures along the western coast are in the hot zone of 31.1°C (88°F) to 36.7°C (98.1°F), with 8 hours of daily sunshine. Rio Claro registers between 22.8°C (73°F) to 32.8°C (91°F) and is one of the few wet places, with 279.4mm (11") of rainfall in April. Weather in April »
Weather in May
begins the wet season in Costa Rica
, with cloudy skies and a substantial increase in precipitation. The heat index is high due to the rise in humidity and often reaches oppressive levels. San Jose records average temperatures between a warm 17.2°C (63°F) to 27.2°C (81°F) but sees an increase in humidity up to 80%. The skies are cloudy for 90% of the time, and the precipitation records an average of 231.1mm (9.1") in the month. Weather in May »
Weather in June
is cloudy, humid, and wet in most regions of Costa Rica
. In the north, temperatures in Heredia and Quesada are in the warm range of 15.6°C (60.1°F) to 25.6°C (78.1°F). However, the precipitation is high between 304.8mm (12") and 355.6mm (14"). Weather in June »
Weather in July
is hot and humid in Costa Rica
, with mostly cloudy skies. Puerto Limon receives 439.4mm (17.3") of precipitation during the first peak of the wet season on the east coast. The Caribbean coast has a high average humidity of 87% and average temperatures in the range of 22.8°C (73°F) to 30°C (86°F). The Pacific Coast is a little warmer than the Caribbean, with temperatures in the zone of 22.8°C (73°F) to 32.2°C (90°F) in Puntarenas. Weather in July »
Weather in August
is a wet and humid month in Costa Rica
, with a high heat index. The days are mostly cloudy, and the daily sunshine lasts for less than 5 hours. The precipitation increases significantly in the second half of the month. Alajuela and Heredia register 228.6mm (9") of rainfall, Quesada 368.3mm (14.5"), Buenos Aires 452.1mm (17.8"), Quepos 490.2mm (19.3"), Rio Claro 586.7mm (23.1"), Limon 299.7mm (11.8"), and San Jose 205.7mm (8.1"). Weather in August »
Weather in September
is the wettest month of the year in much of Costa Rica
except the east coast. The average precipitation ranges from 203.2mm (8") to 431.8mm (17") in the north-central region, 228.6mm (9") to 635mm (25") in the west, and 152.4mm (6") to 431.8mm (17") in the central and eastern regions. Weather in September »
Weather in October
receives heavy rainfall in most of Costa Rica
. The skies are overcast at least 90% of the time, and the daily sunshine lasts hardly for 5 hours. The average high temperatures usually register in the warm to the hot range of 26.7°C (80.1°F) to 31.7°C (89.1°F). The average high temperatures remain in the mild to warm zone of 15°C (59°F) to 22.8°C (73°F). Weather in October »
Weather in November
lies in the rainy season of Costa Rica
, with cloudy days that receive 4 hours to 6 hours of sunshine. The precipitation is high in most places, but the possibility of rainfall decrease from 44% to 28% during the month. The average highs remain in the range of 22.8°C (73°F) to 31.7°C (89.1°F). Weather in November »
Weather in December
is the beginning of the dry season in Costa Rica
, with less than 127mm (5") of precipitation in most regions. The only exception is the east coast, which experiences the second peak of the wet season. Puerto Limon on the Caribbean Coast registers average temperatures in the warm range of 22.2°C (72°F) to 30°C (86°F) and registers 449.6mm (17.7"), its highest rainfall of the year. Weather in December »