Costa Rica Weather

What sort of weather can a first time visitor expect? Although Costa Rica is slightly smaller than West Virginia, it has several distinct climate types. What you can expect from Mother Nature depends on where you are and when you are there.

Because it is close to the equator, temperature does not vary greatly from the warmest month (May) to the least warm (January). Temperature is much more dependant on altitude than time of year. At or near sea level, the temperature seldom drops below 70F. In some mountain areas, the temperature never reaches 70F. Seasonal variation in temperature is generally in the 4 to 8 degrees F range from warmest to least warm months.

Rainfall is more variable than temperature. For most areas, the locals divide the year into two seasons, “dry” and “wet”, which they call “Verano”(Summer) and “Invierno” (Winter), although the dry season tends to be cooler than the wet. The dry season typically runs from mid November until sometime in May. The wet (or green) season runs from May to mid November.

The largest percentage of Costa Rica’s population lives in the Central Valley (Mesita Central) where the altitude keeps temperatures cooler than along the coast. San Jose, Alajuela, Heredia and Cartago are all located in the Central Valley. Rainfall varies greatly between the seasons.

The Caribbean Lowlands, including Puerto Limon, Tortugero, Puerto Viejo Talamanca and Cahuita, are warm and wet year-round.

The southern Pacific Lowlands are similar to the Caribbean Lowlands, but the further north you go the less rainfall you will get during the dry season.

Heading northwest from the Pacific Lowlands is Guanacaste, which is the driest, sunniest and warmest area of the country. In normal years rainfall is adequate during the “wet” season, but droughts do occur. This area includes Liberia and the northernmost beaches.

It should be noted that there are transitional areas between regions, and a few special areas (like cloud forest and high in the mountain) but as a rule of thumb, east of the Central Valley (and central mountains) is wetter than west and the higher you go, the cooler it gets. For more information see WorldHeadquaters.

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