Costa Rica Weather in December

Being the start of the country's dry season, December is an interesting month to visit Costa Rica. 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 glorious national parks. However, it's important to note that the weather in Costa Rica in December can vary from region to region. Read on to find out more, including the answer to that all-important question: is December a good time to visit Costa Rica?

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. As this time, 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.

Editor's tip: to make the most of your trip, connect with our local experts.

Is Costa Rica warm in December?

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 to be high, too.

While the amount of sunshine varies by region, in general, you can expect 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

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 to 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, making it the ideal time for outdoor activities such as hiking through Arenal National Park.

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

December 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. In addition, the country’s white sand beaches, like those in Manuel Antonio National Park, look resplendent this time of year.

And now for the flipside. This being peak season, many of the best places to stay will be booked solid during the North American winter months. In addition, bargains are few and far between. 

Tempted to visit? Our tailor-made trip to Northern Costa Rica will see you discover why they call Costa Rica the land of Pura Vida — pure life! — from Arenal volcano and the Monteverde cloud forest, to the beaches of Guanacaste.

Average rainfall in Costa Rica in December

December is part of the dry season in Costa Rica, so there's usually very little rainfall during this month. 

In December, the Pacific coast tends to be drier, with little to no rainfall, while the Caribbean coast receives more rain.

On average, the total rainfall in Costa Rica in December is around 50-100mm (2-4 inches).

corcovado-costa-rica-shutterstock_257689762

Beautiful beach in Corcovado National Park © Shutterstock

Festivals and events in Costa Rica in December

Several festivals and events take place in Costa Rica during December. Here we highlight a few 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, contact our local experts, who can help you plan your perfect trip itinerary.

Ready for your dream trip to Costa Rica in December?

Our tailor-made trip service allows you to enjoy the trip of your dreams without the hassle of planning. All our itineraries are created by local travel experts, and can be tailored to your specific needs.

Here are a couple of examples:

  • Costa Rica Eco Adventure (12 days): Come to Costa Rica for its compact jungle, tropical beaches, forests, wildlife and national parks. The country may be small but it’s a land of stunning natural diversity and the perfect backdrop to a veritable eco-adventure.
  • Discover Northern Costa Rica (10 days): Unveil the Central and Northern highlights of Costa Rica on this self-drive adventure. Witness the might of Arenal, the active volcano, wander through the enchanting cloud forest of Monteverde, and relish the surf and yoga on the pristine beaches of Guanacaste.

Browse more Costa Rica itineraries.

Rough Guides Editors

written by Rough Guides Editors

updated 24.01.2024

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