Costa Rica

Reasons to Visit Costa Rica in Winter

Reasons to Visit Costa Rica in Winter

Exotic, wild and simply made for adventure, Costa Rica is a wonderful winter destination. The increasingly warm and dry weather at this time of year is ideal for enjoying a whole host of outdoor activities so in terms of where to go and what to do, the sky’s the limit. Cast yourself away on the idyllic beaches of the Nicoya Peninsula or plunge into the rapids of the Pacuare River on an epic white-water rafting trip. Climb to the top of an active volcano before bathing in the hot natural springs. Surf the waves of the Pacific or spend time soaking up the festival atmosphere in the capital, San José. Here are our favourite reasons to visit Costa Rica in winter.


  1. Snorkelling, Surfing and Sunny Beaches
  2. Tracking the Winter Wildlife
  3. River Rafting and Rappelling
  4. Valleys and Volcanoes
  5. Cloud Forest Fun
  6. Winter Events and Festivals

Snorkelling, Surfing and Sunny Beaches

On the Pacific Coast, the tropical beaches of Guanacaste and the Nicoya Peninsula are some of the best places to visit if you’re planning a trip to Costa Rica in winter. There’s amazing snorkelling and diving on Isla del Cano and we can set you up with expert instructors to explore the underwater world and see technicoloured fish, sharks and manta rays up close. And when you’re ready to kick back and relax, Santa Teresa and Tamarindo are just two of the dreamy destinations where you can lounge under palm trees and soak up the sun.


Tracking the Winter Wildlife

Costa Rica is small but mighty and if you’ve got some time on your hands, you can see a wealth of wildlife in a single trip. Playa Grande, just north of Tamarindo, is Costa Rica's go-to destination to spot leatherbacks, the world's largest sea turtle. Reaching lengths of up to six feet and weighing in at a whopping 500kg, these big beauties are a real sight to behold. The beach lies within Las Baulas National Marine Park, and nesting season lasts from October through March. Corcovado National Park, which lies on the Osa Peninsula, is another go-to for wildlife lovers, with an abundance of wildlife, including the rare jaguar, which you may spot if you are very lucky, and very patient. January is also a good month for watching humpback whales on the Caribbean and Pacific Coast.


River Rafting and Rappelling 

One of our favourite ways to cool down in Costa Rica is by taking a white-water rafting or kayaking trip down the Pacuare River that flows into the Caribbean Sea. Enjoy gorgeous waterfalls along the way, in addition to exotic wildlife, such as monkeys, ocelots, and jaguars. With water levels at a perfect balance, winter is the time to get out and explore this magnificent river and the surrounding jungle. Canyoning and rappelling are more adrenalin-fuelled ways to experience the cascades and canyons in Arenal or Turrialba.


Valleys and Volcanoes

Most of the rest of the year, Costa Rica’s volcanoes are shrouded in high-altitude clouds, but lots of sunshine and cool northern breezes make winter – February in particular – a great time to explore them. Central Valley, the stunning setting for the famous Arenal Volcano, is especially beautiful at this time of year and there are plenty of incredible things to do at this top-rated destination, like hiking, ziplining, and birdwatching. Visitors can also enjoy relaxing activities, such as soaking in the area’s hot springs (we love Tabacon for its picturesque natural pools).


Cloud Forest Fun

Monteverde is an idyllic town nestled in the central mountains, within easy reach of Arenal. Ranked among the best places to visit in Costa Rica, it features awesome scenery, abundant flora and fauna, and luxurious lodgings. The high-elevation cloud forests are a sight to behold at any time of the year, but if you’re planning to visit Costa Rica in winter, you can enjoy adrenaline-filled activities like hiking, canopy tours, and ziplining through the trees without worrying about rainstorms.


Winter Events and Festivals

Winter is a busy time on the Costa Rican events calendar. Festival de las Luces (‘Festival of Lights’) is a month-long celebration in San José that begins in early December and features parades, light shows, live performances, and more. Costa Rica is big on Christmas, with celebrations all over the country, and it’s a great place to ring in the New Year, when the stroke of midnight triggers fabulous fireworks. The evocative Fiesta de los Diablitos (Festival of Little Devils) – Costa Rica’s most famous indigenous ceremony – is held in early January near San Isidro de El General. Exciting February fiestas include Mardi Gras, with processions, live music, and family-friendly activities, and the Sun Festival marking Mayan New Year.