The adventure capital and environmental champion of Central America
Costa Rica is an adventurer's paradise densely packed with incredible wildlife. It literally means 'rich coast' which given the amazing biodiversity here, is a perfect description.
Lying between Nicaragua and Panama, Costa Rica was discovered by Columbus in 1502, and remains as magical and mysterious now as it was then. A true tropical paradise that is also an adventure playground.
Zipline through a cloud forest, raft down one of the ten best rivers in the world, surf world-class breaks, see turtles nesting in Tortuguero or hike one of the most active volcanoes in Central America in Arenal. if you're looking for adventure, Costa Rica has it by the bucket load.
But Costa Rica offers much more than adventure. it is a biodiversity hotspot. While the country has only about 0.03% of the world's landmass, it contains 5% of the world's biodiversity; monkeys, tree frogs, sea turtles, dolphins, jaguars, sloths and the most extraordinary variety of birds - over 850 species in total. To help protect it, there are 20 national parks, such as Manuel Antonio and 8 biological reserves such as the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve - approximately 52% of the country's land has been set aside in protected areas, earning Costa Rica a reputation as an environmentally sensitive country and leader in ecological conservation.
Rainforests, waterfalls and whales
- San Gerardo de Dota Valle
- 10 Days
- £4819 PP
- View Trip
Adventure highlights of Costa Rica
- Pacuare River
- Arenal Volcano
- 7 Days
- £3320 PP
- View Trip
Volcanos, hot springs and turtles
- Poas Volcano
- Arenal National Park
- Tenorio National Park (Rio Celeste)
- 8 Days
- £3443 PP
- View Trip
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When to go to Costa Rica
Discover the best time to visit Costa Rica with our helpful guide.
January is the dry season in Costa Rica (although you can still expect the odd tropical shower) and so a fantastic time to visit, the only downside is it is peak season and so you can expect some crowds and peak season prices.
The dry season is ideal if you want to walk through the jungles of Manuel Antonio National Park. It is also an excellent time to visit the soft sandy beaches as you can see humpback whales, as well as green and leatherback sea turtles in the Pacific Ocean.
The dry season continues in February with hot, dry conditions but fewer visitor numbers than in January making it a wonderful time to visit Costa Rica.
If you're hoping to see turtles or humpback whales you want to head to the Pacific Coast, or if you are looking to surf, both the Atlantic and Pacific Coast are great this time of year.
March is still the dry season in Costa Rica, and with fewer crowds, it is a fantastic time of year to visit. March kicks off with Monteverde Music Fest where National and international musicians gather in the cloudforest town for a month of song and dance.
You can see Loggerhead turtles at Parque Nacionale Tortuguero and Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Reserve from March to May.
April is the final month of the dry season, and also one of the hottest meaning many visitors prefer the breezy Pacific coast or visit higher mountainous areas. Easter holidays mean that Costa Rica does get busy, but it quietens after Easter.
Every two years (even numbers), San José plays host to the International Arts Festival where you can expect ten days of theatre shows, concerts, dance performances and art exhibitions.
May is the start of the rainy season, but with it, you benefit from fewer visitors, lower prices and still plenty of good weather. Although there are rain showers, these tend to be in the afternoon, meaning you've bright, sunny mornings to explore - watch wildlife for longer, uninterrupted by other tourists.
Surfers will love this time of year with an increasing swell on the Pacific coast and empty beaches.
June is still part of the rainy or green season, meaning there are tropical showers, but also plenty of lush, vivid vegetation. June is when surfing is at its peak on the Pacific coast.
Whilst July is still part of the rainy season, there is a letup in the volume of rain making it a fantastic time to spot wildlife without the crowds and with amazing plush vegetation.
July is also when green turtles return to their favoured nesting grounds in Tortuguero, with some turtles travelling 2000km to reach their breeding beaches. More turtles can be found at Playa Nancite in Santa Rosa and Ostional Wildlife Reserve, where olive ridleys lay millions of eggs in the black sand, often in the middle of the day.
August still forms part of the wet season, but this doesn't put off families visiting Costa Rica who bring children during the school holidays for the plethora of activities available.
It is a good month to see both green and Hawksbill turtles nesting around Tortuguero. Further up the Pacific coast, olive ridley turtles storm the sands in a synchronized mass nesting event known as arribada which will continue until November. The northern part of the Pacific coast receives the least rain so is ideal for those hunting sunshine.
If you're looking to party, the Virgin of the Seas Fiesta takes place in the Gulf of Nicoya to remember a time when the desperate prayers of storm-shocked sailors were answered.
September and October are the wettest months of the green season meaning that remote areas of Costa Rica can become inaccessible due to the roads and spotting wildlife can be more challenging. The East of the country is the driest so visitors willing to brave the rain head to Tortuguero National Park.
Independence Day occurs on the 15th September which is a big fiesta - across the country, you can expect big patriotic parades celebrating the country’s independence from Spain in 1821.
October is another very wet month in Costa Rica, especially on the west coast which is the best place to see whales and turtles at this time of year.
October is an important month for festivals with Limón Carnival happening. Expect week-long celebrations to mark Christopher Columbus’s landing at Isla Uvita, but be aware these can have an impact on local services.
November marks the end of the wet season - although the exact end date can be difficult to pinpoint, so travel this month can be a gamble, with the upside being lower prices and fewer crowds, plus the potential for glorious sunshine! If you get lucky, November can be the best month to visit.
The Caribbean Coast on the East gets the dry weather first, and if there is rain, it tends to fall in the afternoon so you can easily plan your day around it.
December marks the return of the dry season with visitors flocking to the beaches of sea, sun and sand.
It also means wetter areas of the country reopen with Arenal National Park being one of the most popular for its volcano, hanging bridges and zipwire through the forest, and its magnificent waterfalls.
On the 27th December, there is San José Carnival where you can see huge parades with colourful floats, vibrant music and lots of dancing.
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