Costa Rica Weather in December

Tailor-made Travel

December is an interesting month to visit Costa Rica, as it is the start of the country's dry season, which typically runs from December to April. During this time, the weather is generally warm, sunny, and dry, making it an ideal time for outdoor activities like hiking, surfing, and exploring the country's many national parks. However, it is important to note that Costa Rica's weather can vary significantly depending on the region. The best time to visit Costa Rica is between mid-December and April, but what is the weather like in Costa Rica in December? Is it warm? And is it a good time to visit?

What is the weather like in Costa Rica in December?

December is the summertime in Costa Rica and the month marks the beginning of the dry season too. The weather is typically warm and dry with occasional rain showers, especially towards the end of the month.

Temperatures vary based on the region, with coastal areas like Jaco, Puerto Viejo and Tamarindo generally warmer than mountainous areas like Arenal Volcano and Cerro Chirripò.

Rough Guides tip: a trip to Costa Rica is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Do you want to get the best out of your trip? Connect with our local experts.

Is Costa Rica warm in December?

Yes, Costa Rica is warm in December, especially in the coastal regions. Generally, the average temperature in the coastal areas is around 30°C (86°F), while in the mountains, it's around 18-22°C (64-72°F). Expect high humidity levels too.

Many of the best places to stay will be booked solid during the North American winter months as this is now peak season. Bargains are few and far between. The amount of sunshine varies by region, but in general, there are around 8-9 hours of sunshine per day.

Did you know December is a great time for whale watching in Uvita?

Beautiful aerial view of Tamarindo Beach and Town in Guanacaste Costa Rica © Shutterstock

Is December a good time to visit Costa Rica?

December is considered one of the best times to visit Costa Rica. As it’s the beginning of the dry season, the water is reliably warm and sunny, so it’s the perfect time for outdoor activities such as hiking through Arenal National Park.

Birdwatching in higher elevations like Monteverde and the Cordillera de Talamanca is good in December too. In these areas, you might spot the quetzal among the 900 or so species of bird found here.

The last month of the year is also an excellent time to go surfing in Costa Rica. Both the Caribbean and Pacific coasts offer great waves, try Naranjo or Boca de Barranca. The country’s white sand beaches, like Manuel Antonio National Park, look resplendent this time of year too.

As December is also a peak tourist season, expect crowds and higher prices for accommodation and activities. Book in advance to secure the best deals and tables at restaurants.

This tailor-made trip to Northern Costa Rica allows you to explore the Central and Northern highlights of Costa Rica: from the active volcano Arenal to the cloud forest of Monteverde and the beaches of Guanacaste with plenty of surf & yoga - discover why they call it the land of Pura Vida - pure life!

Average rainfall in Costa Rica in December?

December is part of the dry season in Costa Rica, so there is usually very little rainfall during this time. The amount of rainfall also varies by region.

In December, the Pacific coast tends to be drier, with little to no rainfall all month. The Caribbean coast receives more rain. On average, the total rainfall in Costa Rica during December is around 50-100mm (2-4 inches).

Beautiful beaches in Corcovado National Park

Festivals and events in Costa Rica in December

There are several festivals and events that take place in Costa Rica during the month of December. Here are some of them:

  • Fiestas de Zapote: This festival takes place in San Jose and runs from mid-December to early January. It is a large fair with rides, games, and traditional food and drink.
  • Festival de la Luz: This festival is a Christmas parade that takes place in San Jose in mid-December. It features brightly lit floats, marching bands, and dancers.
  • Tope Nacional: This is a horse parade that takes place in San Jose on December 26th. Thousands of horses and riders participate in the parade, which is a celebration of Costa Rican culture and tradition.
  • Fiesta de Santo Tomás: This festival takes place in San Isidro de El General from December 20th to December 22nd. It features traditional dances, music, and food.
  • Festival de los Negritos: This festival takes place in Boruca from December 30th to January 2nd. It is a celebration of the indigenous culture of the area, featuring traditional music, dance, and food
  • Festival de la Yeguita: This festival takes place in Nicoya on December 28th. It is a celebration of the town's patron saint, featuring a parade and traditional dance performances.
  • Christmas Day: on December 25, many families will go to the beach. Two days later, on December 27, the San José Carnival means a huge parade with colourful floats and plenty of music.

For more practical guidance that will help you make the most of your trip, have a chat with our local experts, who can help you plan your dream trip.

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updated 3/27/2023
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