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Costa Rica in September – Is It The Best Time To Travel?
As we head into the fall, or the Green Season down here in San José, Costa Rica, I wanted to share what it is like to be in Costa Rica during some of the rainiest months. When you think of the rainy season, muggy days and thunderous nights probably flood your brain. But in Costa Rica, things are a bit different during September.
Do not misunderstand me, though. Costa Rica is a tropical area, so it can be a bit humid, but it is not all day, and it is not unbearable. In fact, when I lived in Virginia a few years ago with my family, the humidity there was almost a bit worse! And besides, humidity is great for naturally curly hair!
So, kick up your feet and get your favorite tropical drink while I walk you through one of the best times of the year in Costa Rica.
Cool Things Happening All Over Costa Rica in September
Green Season / Rainy Season
Technically, the Green Season spans from May through November in Costa Rica. You can feel how alive nature is while showing off the beautiful green colors of the trees and other tropical plants.
And although the Green Season, also known as the Rainy Season, spans most of the year, the months can also differ. And I find it the best in September.
July and August are considered the “mini-summer” of the season. The rain slows, and it is a bit warmer. This is when a lot of tourists come to visit the country.
September is the peak of the Green Season–which is why I like it the most. The rainy days are heavy but peaceful. Luckily though, it typically rains in the late afternoon, so you can expect to be able to get out in the morning to explore. You may get a little rain during the day, but not enough to ruin your vacation.
Because of the frequent rain showers and slightly lower temperatures, there are usually fewer tourists, making for fewer crowds and lower prices. Many locals also call this time the low season.
Costa Rica’s Independence Day
If you are lucky enough to visit Costa Rica during September, you are in for a fun and patriotic holiday! Every year, on September 14th and 15th, Costa Ricans, also known as Ticos and Ticas, celebrate their Independence Day.
This is in celebration of Costa Rica being granted its independence from Spain in 1821 along with the rest of Central America. The days leading up to the 14th and 15th of September are full of traditions and fanfare.
The Torch of Liberty Run
On the 9th of September, the people of Guatemala celebrate the occasion by lighting the Torch of Liberty and begin to carry it by foot through multiple countries in this order: Honduras → El Salvador → Nicaragua → Costa Rica. This is where the Independence Flame is lit with it. The Flame is symbolic and is meant to watch over the following celebrations.
These are lanterns that are lit only for Independence Day celebrations. They are usually handmade and are tributes to Dolores Bedoya. In 1821, she took a lantern around Guatemala, letting everyone know that they were now an independent nation.
Children and parents create these lanterns for the next two days and parade them around their towns in her memory. There is also a ton of food and fun!
During these parades, Costa Rica’s national anthem is often sung:
“Noble Patria, tu hermosa bandera
expresión de tu vida nos da:
bajo el límpido azul de tu cielo,
blanca y pura descansa la paz.”
Translation: “The national flag faithfully expresses the life of Costa Rica, characterized by always seeking conciliation, as well as by the virtuous purpose that guides its destiny.”
“En la lucha tenaz de fecunda labor
que enrojece del hombre la faz,
conquistaron tus hijos – labriegos sencillos –
eterno prestigio, estima y honor.”
Translation: “Here, the virtues of the Costa Rican are exalted, particularly the will to work and the sense of national honor. This stanza refers to Ticos as labriegos sencillos, simple farm hands, whose pride is earned by operating plows and shovels rather than arms and ammunition.”
“Salve oh tierra gentil
Salve, oh madre de amor
Cuando alguno pretenda tu gloria manchar,
verás a tu pueblo valiente y viril,
la tosca herramienta en arma trocar.”
Translation: “Costa Rica is a welcoming land for nationals and foreigners. But when Costa Rica is threatened, Ticos will transform their tools into weapons to defend their way of life and independence.”
“Salve, oh Patria
Tu pródigo suelo
dulce abrigo y sustento nos da.
Bajo el límpido azul de tu cielo,
Vivan siempre el trabajo y la paz.”
Costa Rica’s fertile soil provides its people with sustenance and shelter. In Costa Rica, peace and work are inseparable because they originate from the same source: freedom.
The Central Valley
Also known as the Valle Central, this is a relatively flat piece of land in Costa Rica that is surrounded by mountains and volcanoes. And this is the area where almost three-quarters of the Costa Rican population resides—including us!
We have a rainy season; normally, it rains in the evening, almost like everywhere else in Costa Rica. So we can still get out during the day to do fun activities and explore. The temperature usually stays around the mid-70s or so during the day.
Puerto Viejo in September has some of the best weather of the year! It is located on Costa Rica’s Caribbean Coast and this time of year, unlike the rest of Costa Rica, is the dry season for this area. In fact, September is the peak of the dry season for Puerto Viejo.
There are many small villages on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica that you can also visit during this time! Visiting Puerto Viejo, Cahuita, And Tortuguero are all popular destinations during the driest months of the year. And do not forget to visit Tortuguero National Park while you’re there!
The Osa Peninsula, like the rest of Costa Rica, is a beautiful area, especially during the rainy season. It is obvious that it gets pretty wet during this time of year, but the foliage is lush and green.
And with the temperature hovering around the upper 80s, the beach is a perfect spot to relax. Many come to surf during September due to it experiencing the biggest waves of the year. If you want to do something a bit less physically active, the best views of Humpback Whales happen during this time of year too!
Corcovado National Park
This is the national park for which tourists and locals tend to visit the Osa Peninsula! It is one of the most diverse tropical rainforests in the world!
While you are visiting, you will probably see the Scarlet Macaw, all four species of monkeys, both species of sloths, as well as jaguars and pumas! Have no fear, though. The tour guides can keep you safe.
Central Pacific Coast
During the month of September, the rain seldom stops on the Central Pacific coast. It is continuous rain for days or even weeks! Because of this, the rainfall is usually measured in feet instead of inches.
Unfortunately, this means that the hotels, lodges, and tours are closed until the rain lets up in November. This weather is great for the fauna and flora, but for tourists, not so much.
The Northern Guanacaste Region in September is also lush and green during the rainy season. The average temperature reaches the low to mid-80s during the day, with clear skies until the evening.
As mentioned above, the wildlife is easily observed (from a respectful distance). If you decide to visit this area, it is a great month to see the turtles nesting on multiple beaches, such as Ostional Beach, Camaronal Beach, and Grande Beach. If you want to scuba dive, playa del coco is the perfect place to visit during even the “coldest months”.
Pacific Coast of Costa Rica
Last but not least is the South Pacific Coast. This is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Costa Rica. Only a hop, skip, and a jump from San José, this area is chop full of things to do–even during September.
The rain showers in this area are significant. The mornings are known to be sunny, but the rain begins and lasts until the evening. During this time, hurricanes are also very likely.
If you’re still up for it, though, the beaches are plentiful in this area and beautiful! The white sand is abundant, and the views are breathtaking. And if you decide to visit the beach, you and your family can book a smooth catamaran cruise to check out the whales! With the rain usually starting in the evening, the days can be full of fun.
Manuel Antonio National Park
Like the rest of Costa Rica, the rainy season months are the perfect time to observe the wildlife. This is because the tourist count is lower than usual.
The lush tropical rainforest of the area meets the serene calm of the beach in this park. While here, you can view the stunning array of birds and whales right from the coastline! You may even be lucky enough to view some of the other wildlife, such as sloths, iguanas, squirrel monkeys, white-faced monkeys, and millions of colorful little crabs.
But remember that it is still a park, and you must purchase tickets online before your visit. It opens every day except Tuesdays from 7 am to 4 pm. You can purchase your tickets on this website.
Quick reminder: pets are not allowed in the parkland neither are drones.
Don’t Like the Rain?
Although most of this article has focused primarily on visiting Costa Rica in September (during the Rainy Season), I wanted to add a small section for those who do not want to deal with the rain at all.
The dry season in Costa Rica is usually from December to April, with May acting as a transitional month. The weather varies, but you can expect it to average around the mid to high 80s.
If you visit during December, you may still have a chance to see Humpback Whales during your trip! But there is more of a chance of rain. If you enjoy birdwatching, your hopes may be dashed.
The Dry Season is also known as the High Season because many birds fly off to more tropical locations during this time. However, if you don’t mind fewer birds to view while you visit, the sky in Costa Rica during the dry season is always clear, with nothing but sunny days promised.
But because of this, it makes Costa Rica more expensive time to visit. And you are dealing with a lot more tourists. So, if the dry season is more of your speed, and you do not mind the extra cost, go for it! Just be sure you book your hotel and tours way ahead of time!
Costa Rica is a beautiful place to visit no matter when you and your family decide to visit. Funnily enough, Chris and my family have all visited multiple times of the year, and we have always had a great time with them, no matter the weather outside.
Some of our favorite memories were crossing the Arenal Hanging Bridges in La Fortuna, visiting the hot springs near the Arenal Volcano, and visiting the beautiful beaches, even during the “coldest months” of the year!
Having an abundance of rain is always good for the many regions of Costa Rica. In my previous article, I noted how the coffee industry greatly benefited from the heavy rains during the Green Season. And I cannot live without my daily cup of joe! So, we tend not to complain much about many different weather patterns throughout the year.
Moving to Costa Rica has taught us so much about making your own fun! So do not worry about your visit being a washout—you will always find something amazing to do while you are here.
Have you ever visited Costa during its Green Season or visited a different foreign country during its rainy season? Please share with us in the comments down below.