Climate is an important consideration to keep in mind when choosing a retirement destination. You may find that some potential retirement locations may be much hotter or colder than what you are used to.
There may also be differences in terms of humidity and the number of rainy days each year. This can affect how often you get to enjoy activities like golf, boating, fishing, or going to the beach.
In terms of Costa Rica, the climate is more varied than you might think. Altitude and location create micro-climates, with different temperature ranges and rainfall. You’ll need to know which one suits you best before you decide where to retire in Costa Rica.
Tim Lytle, on his excellent website TheRealCostaRica.com says: “Costa Rica has so many climates that a visitor can be surprised by the need for change of clothing.”
Here is a little more information on Costa Rica’s climate to help you get a sense of what it is like to retire in Costa Rica.
Costa Rica Climate: Temperature
Costa Rica is a reasonably warm country with a tropical and subtropical climate. It has two primary seasons: a wet season, which runs from May to November and a dry season, which runs from December to April.
Temperatures variations are minimal in Costa Rica, due to its proximity to the equator. This means you won’t have to deal with extreme temperature variations as you might in other countries. The average range of temperatures in Costa Rica is 17.2°C (63°F) to 27.2°C (81°F).
It is coolest in January and hottest in April, right at the end of the dry season. During this time, temperatures can reach above 37.8°C (100°F) so being in a location with swimming opportunities is recommended.
Related: How to Get a Costa Rica Visa
Average Temperatures in Costa Rica
As mentioned earlier, there are several microclimates in Costa Rica, which are defined by their altitude, local geography, topography, and rainfall. Each microclimate can have a unique range of average temperatures, so it’s important to do a little research before choosing a destination to retire to.
The average annual temperature in the coastal lowlands, where many retirees settle, is from 27.2°C (81°F) to 20°C (68°F) — depending on the specific location you are residing in. Average day time temperatures in the coastal low lands are over 30°C (86°F). Most retirees find this temperature range to be quite pleasant.
Average night time temperatures can be quite warm in Costa Rica. The average night along the Caribbean coast is about 21°C (70°F) — which feels like a warm day in Ireland.
The most comfortable climate all year round is found in San Jose and the so-called Central Valley. The Central Valley or Meseta Central is not really a valley, but rather a plateau with altitudes between 900m and 1500m (3000 to 5000 feet). With average temperatures between 14 to 27°C (57 to 81°F), you won’t need heating or air conditioning.
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What’s Coldest It Gets In Costa Rica?
Although Costa Rica is a generally thought of as a warm country, there are a few locations which can get quite chilly. The coldest parts of Costa Rica are high in the mountains, where the nighttime temperature regularly go below 10°C (50°F).
What’s The Record Low In Costa Rica?
The lowest temperature ever recorded in Costa Rica is -8.9°C (16°F). This temperature record was set in Cerro Chirripo, which is the highest mountain in the country.
What’s The Record High In Costa Rica?
The highest temperature on record in Costa Rica is 42.8°C (109°F), which was set in February 1964 in Puntarenas. Puntarenas is a port town on Costa Rica’s Gulf of Nicoya.
Related: Cost of Living in Costa Rica
Rainfall & Seasons in Costa Rica
Costa Rica, like many tropical countries, has a distinct dry and rainy season. During the dry season, from December to early May, it rarely rains. Hotels and tours are fully booked, beaches crowded and the kids enjoy their summer holidays from December to February.
The wet season runs from May to November. During this time, conditions are humid and overcast, with most regions experiencing frequent rainfall.
The rainy season is also referred to as the “green season”. During the green season, the weather in Costa Rica goes like this: you’ll wake up to a sunny morning, you watch some clouds build up over noon/afternoon, you get drenched in a good tropical downpour (if you are outside, that is). So, even during the rainy season, you’ll get plenty of sunshine.
The average rainfall increases along the Pacific coast from north to south. Guanacaste often called the “Gold Coast”, receives about 140cm (55 inches) per year and the most hours of sunshine – hence the name. In Puntarenas along the South Pacific coast it can rain up to 500cm (200 inches) per year.
Related: Retire in Uruguay
Is Costa Rica Dry Or Humid?
The Caribbean coast is said to be hot and humid all year long. However, if you look at the Costa Rica rainfall map at Toucan Guides, you’ll notice that some areas along the Caribbean coast receive only 150 to 200cm (60 to 80 inches) of rain per year – not much more than the Guanacaste region. This means that certain locations in Costa Rica are less humid than you might expect.
Related: What’s Costa Rica’s Education System Like?
Best Time To Travel To Costa Rica
Most people say the best time to visit Costa Rica is between the months of January and April. This is the dry season, so you will be able to explore the countryside and make the most of the stunning beaches. The months of February and March are a particularly good time to visit if you are interested in going to the beach, as the weather is usually stunning.
It’s important to note that the best time to visit the different regions of Costa Rica can vary. If you are going to the northwest part of the country, go between December and April. For the southwest, try between January and April.
Locations on the Caribbean coast have particularly stunning weather between February to March. The Pacific coast is warmer than the Caribbean so is a great location if you are visiting Costa Rica during a cooler part of the year.
Worst Time To Travel To Costa Rica
It can get very humid and rainy in Costa Rica between May to November, so avoid this time of year if you want to spend your time laying on the beach. The weather is also more likely to be cloudy between September to October, with heavy rainfall common. This is also the time of year when flooding is most likely.
Related: What’s Costa Rica’s Healthcare System Like?
Costa Rica Climate By Month
Costa Rica Weather In January
The coldest month of the year, with average temperatures of between 16.1°C (61°F) to 25.6°C (78.1°F) range. Despite being colder than the other months, the seawater is still quite warm at 27.8°C (82°F), which makes it a great time of year to head to the beach. Many tourists choose to visit Costa Rica in January as the weather is usually sunny. Being a part of the dry season, there is much less rain in January compared to other months.
Costa Rica Weather In February
February is often the driest month of the year, with barely any rainfall and lots of sunny days. Day time temps are in the 22.8°C (73°F) to 35.6°C (96.1°F) range while nights are between 13.3°C (55.9°F) to 22.8°C (73°F).
Costa Rica Weather In March
March is another dry and sunny month in Costa Rica. Average temperatures in locations like San Jose are usually between 15°C (59°F) to 26.1°C (79°F). Other cities can see higher temperatures, sometimes reaching 36.1°C (97°F). Quepos is a great location to visit during this time of year, with temperatures between 22.8°C (73°F) to 32.2°C (90°F).
Costa Rica Weather In April
April is typically the hottest month of the year in Costa Rica. The maximum temperature along the western coat is typically between 31.1°C (88°F) to 36.7°C (98.1°F). San Jose is more comfortable with temperatures between 17.8°C (64°F) and 25.6°C (78.1°F).
Costa Rica Weather In May
The wet season kicks off in mid-May. Most days will have cloudy skies and there will be higher levels of humidity. During this time of year, cities like San Jose will have temperatures of between 17.2°C (63°F) and 27.2°C (81°F).
Costa Rica Weather In June
If you like rainy weather and cooler temperatures, visit Costa Rica in June. During this time of the year, you can expect to see humid, cloudy, and wet weather on most days. On average, expect about 4 hours of sunshine peeking through the clouds. Expect temperatures of between 15.6°C (60.1°F) to 25.6°C (78.1°F) and rainfall of between 304.8mm (12″) and 355.6mm (14″).
Costa Rica Weather In July
The weather gets warmer again in July and humidity is generally high because of the frequent rainfall and cloud cover. Max temperatures along the Caribbean Coast are between 22.8°C (73°F) to 30°C (86°F). during this time. The Pacific Coast is a little warmer, with between 22.8°C (73°F) to 32.2°C (90°F).
Costa Rica Weather In August
August is still reasonably wet and humid in Costa Rica. Skies are cloudy over 90% of the time and the amount of daily sunshine tends to be less than 5 hours. During this time of year, central locations like San Jose tend to get temperatures of between 17.8°C (64°F) and 25.6°C (78.1°F). The Seawater temperature is beautiful this time of year and many coastal residents cool off on the warmer days with a dip in the ocean.
Costa Rica Weather In September
For most of Costa Rica, September is the wettest month of the year. The only exception is locations on the eastern coast, which get heavier rain earlier in the wet season. Expect anywhere between 200 and 600 mm of rain during this part of the year. Daytime temperatures are typically between 25°C (77°F) and 32.2°C (90°F).
Costa Rica Weather In October
October starts to get a bit warmer with maximum temperatures of between 26.7°C (80.1°F) to 31.7°C (89.1°F). There’s still quite a bit of rainfall across Costa Rica during this month with humidity between 70 to 90%.
Costa Rica Weather In November
In the month of November, the average highs are between 22.8°C (73°F) to 31.7°C (89.1°F). Central provinces like Quesada have minimum temps as low as 15°C (59°F), while San Jose typically has temperatures between in central Costa Rica 16.1°C (61°F) to 25°C (77°F). Expect about 5 hours of sunshine per day.
Costa Rica Weather In December
The dry season officially begins in December. However, the east coast often sees decent rainfall during this month as they experience a second wet season peak. The average temperatures are a very comfortable 22.2°C (72°F) to 32.2°C (90°F) and there is less humidity. Beachgoers prefer this time of year as there are more sunny days.
San Jose Climate
The stable climate is one of the reasons why San Jose is a popular destination for retirees. Temperatures stay in a comfortable range year-round. In January, the coldest month, the temperature range is 66°F (19°C) to 77°F (61°F). In the warmest month, April, temperatures aren’t much different, with an average minimum of 68°F (61°F) and a maximum of 81°F (61°F).
The amount of daylight hours is also very stable, because of the country’s close proximity to the equator. There are 11.5 hours of daylight on the shortest days of the year and 12.5 on the longest days.
However, when it comes to rainfall, there is a substantial difference between the months. Months in the dry season (December to April) tend to have between 0.2 to 1.3 inches of rain. However, in the wet season, this increases to an average of between 7.7 and 13.8 inches.