Costa Rica

Autumn in Costa Rica

Autumn in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is known for adventure, with epic surfing, active volcanoes, lush jungles and wildlife that will take your breath away. A common misconception is that Costa Rica is not worth visiting during the rainy season, which means missing out on some of the best that this beautiful country has to offer. Plus, low season travellers enjoy less crowds, reduced rates and increased availability. Indeed, there are lots of great reasons to spend autumn in Costa Rica.

  1. Costa Rica Weather in Autumn
  2. Dive and Snorkel on the Caribbean Coast
  3. Surf the Swells
  4. Wild Whitewater Rafting
  5. Holiday in Halves
  6. Cloud Forests and Culture in Central Costa Rica
  7. Autumn Events and Festivals


Costa Rica Weather in Autumn

Head to Costa Rica’s Caribbean Coast in September and you’ll experience beautiful weather. While the rest of the country is stormy and soggy, this region enjoys sunshine and calm seas. Another place to visit is northwest Costa Rica, particularly the coast (Playa Flamingo, Playa de Coco) and the northern Nicoya Peninsula (Tamarindo, Nosara). Although it’s still wet, this area is much less rainy than the rest of the Pacific Coast and the surrounding mountains.

October is the rainiest month of the year on the Pacific Coast. That said, the amount of rain varies significantly by location and northern beach towns like Tamarindo and Playa Flamingo experience much less rain than places further south. Costa Rica’s mountains, meanwhile, can be wet and chilly, so you’ll need to pack accordingly. But on the gorgeous Caribbean Coast — home to some of Costa Rica’s finest beaches — October is one of the driest, sunniest months of the year.

November can be a great time to visit Costa Rica. The best place to visit is the North Pacific Coast, it’s the driest region in the country. The Central Pacific (Uvita, Manuel Antonio) and South Pacific (Corcovado, Drake Bay) are more of a gamble with a mix of sunny mornings and wet afternoons. The rainy season lingers longest in the mountain towns such as Monteverde. During El Niño years, Costa Rica’s rainy season starts later and ends earlier, whereas during La Niña years, the rainy season starts earlier and ends later.


Dive and Snorkel on the Caribbean Coast

Costa Rica’s scuba scene is strong during the rainy season. As the seas are warm year-round, you won’t need a wetsuit to enjoy the underwater world, and the rainfall coincides with whales migrating here in order to give birth (Uvita and the Osa Peninsula are widely regarded as the best spots for whale sightings during a dive). Turtles are also reliably found during the wet season. Over on the sunny Caribbean side, the green sea turtles are nesting in Tortuguero National Park through October and the calm water means great snorkelling on the famous reefs. The country also has several sanctuaries, which care for turtles all year and therefore guarantee sightings.


Surf the Swells

Autumn in Costa Rica is a great time of year for killer waves. Travellers staying on the Pacific side can enjoy plenty of options including current hotspot Santa Teresa. At the far tip of the Nicoya Peninsula, this jungle-backed surf town is making a name for itself with its hip restaurants, youthful atmosphere and beautiful beaches. On the Caribbean side, experienced surfers can try riding Salsa Brava – one of the world’s top surf breaks.


Wild Whitewater Rafting

If rafting on fast and furious rapids sounds thrilling, autumn in Costa Rica is ideal. Whether you’re a first-time rafter or a world-class kayaker, Costa Rica’s got a river for you. Water levels rise and fall with the rain, but you can get wet here any time of year. Unlike the calmer waters of the dry season, autumn visitors can enjoy heart-jolting class III, IV and V rapids from coast to coast.


Holiday in Halves

Costa Rica is a compact country and those with the time should consider a bi-coastal trip. In November, the famous beaches of the Nicoya Peninsula (Tamarindo, Playa Hermosa) are just heating up, while the Caribbean Coast is still in the throes of its mini summer season. Pacific Coastal locations such as Manuel Antonio are also highly regarded for offering exceptional biodiversity and beautiful views, even on wet days.


Cloud Forests and Culture in Central Costa Rica

Year-round activities include hiking in the Monteverde Cloud Forest and soaking in Arenal’s hot springs. You could also take a coffee plantation tour and visit a working farm to learn more about Costa Rica's famous arabica beans. Incidentally, if you find yourself in the capital of San José during the first week of November, consider visiting the Cementerio General. It’s full of impressive mausoleums, plus you’re likely to see people decorating resting places to mark the Day of the Dead.


Autumn Events and Festivals

  • 12th September: Día de las Culturas (Day of the Cultures) celebrates Costa Rica’s ethnic and cultural diversity
  • 14th September: El Desfile de Faroles (Parade of Lanterns) children parade through the streets with red, white and blue lanterns
  • 15th September: Independence Day celebrates Costa Rica’s independence from Spanish colonial rule with parades, dancing and drums
  • 31st October: Dia de la Mascarada (Day of the Masquerade) features a colourful parade of giant masks. The largest celebration is held in Cartago
  • 2nd November: Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) families spend the day visiting and decorating the graves of their loved ones