Costa Rica is a destination that deals almost completely in extremes. It attracts adventure enthusiast with its countless jungle excursion opportunities and volcanos just begging to be climbed. On the other end of the scale, beach bums and relaxation vacationers are just as attracted to this tropical destination. With white sand beaches and resort style condos lining both oceans, the most meditative of tourists will find endless options for relaxation spots. When looking for a travel destination to satisfy people of all interests, Costa Rica hits the mark. Visiting in September, however, will add yet another extreme into the mix.
September is considered the most extreme month in terms of weather. While one side of the country will be experiencing heavy rainfalls, the other side will be enjoying the driest and sunniest season of the year. This climactic change will bring even more biodiversity and geographical interest into your sight-seeing trip, but also may require an extra hour of planning. Logistics and packing can be tricky during September, but the sights you’ll see will last a lifetime. Be prepared for what September will bring in order to take full advantage of your tropical vacation.
During September, the Pacific zone will be experiencing almost daily rainfall. This is the most popular zone for tourists, but fear not, the rainfall actually brings added benefits to a tropical vacation. Recuperating from past months of absolutely no rainfall whatsoever, the Pacific zone in September will finally be in full bloom again. Your National Park excursions will be bursting with color, animal life will be more active, and new tropical flowers will be creeping out of every nook and cranny. You’ll also have the advantage of cooler temperatures. Daytime highs will settle in the mid 80s, cool enough for comfortable hiking but still warm enough to satisfy your tropical cravings. The surf will be ideal, the water will be bluer, and palm trees will be emitting an almost luminescent green color.
For the beach bums, fortunately the rainy season does not mean you’re out of luck. September brings heavy rains to the Pacific, but they are rather predictable. Every day you will have an intense, short-lived shower in the early afternoon, and a steady, longer rainfall in the late evening or night. This means you will still have time for hours of beach relaxation. Typically, instead of planning their trips around the weather, people work the rains into their daily itineraries. They’ll manage a morning beach routine, complete with beach-front coffee, water sports, and plenty of time for reading in the sand. By lunch time, these groups will find shelter under an open-walled ranch to enjoy a traditional meal, drink a cold, local beer, and enjoy a tropical storm. By the afternoon, the adventurers will set out on their hike while the relaxation crew will mosey around the beach town, enjoying tropical fruit smoothies and watching for exotic birds. Night time will bring another impressive rain, just in time to find a bar and enjoy a meal with fellow travelers.
The Northern Zone is a common destination for eco-travelers and wellness visits. Often, these travelers take the rain in stride and choose to visit during September, while many tourists avoid the region. Rain will be an issue, but the cloud forests and jungles will be like never before. If you can deal with some rainfalls, you’ll have the trip of a lifetime. The Northern Zone in September is cooler, and even a bit chilly in the night. You’ll need to pack a jacket, an extra pair of shoes, and poncho for the inevitable rainfall. The natural surroundings with be alive and active, and both flora and fauna will be easily observable from your eco-hotel. Any cloud forest adventures will bring endless biodiversity and a chance to see a more active animal life.
Typically, the Northern Zone visitor plans yoga and meditation retreats during September. Hiking opportunities will be fit in during dry mornings, and the afternoons will bring an opportunity to visit spas, yoga classes, and eat healthy, local meals. The rain will be part of the added adventure as the coffee gets better and meditation advances to a whole new level.
Southern Zone and South Pacific
During September, the southern zones, both mid country and near the Pacific, will be the rainiest regions of all. While it attracts scientists and students looking to observe the ecosystem and advanced biodiversity of the region, many vacationers choose to avoid the region altogether. If you’re in for some muddy hikes and don’t mind changing around your itinerary as your trip goes on, feel free to give this southern adventure a try. If you have an itinerary crammed with adventures, however, it may be best to wait until your next trip to explore this area. Some roads will be hard to access, and any planned tours are in risk of being delayed or canceled. You’ll have a steamy, tropical heat in the upper 80s and higher humidity than the rest of the country.
Unfortunately, many lodges on the Osa Peninsula will be closed until the rain ceases in November. While the landscape of the Southern Zone will be breathtaking, it will make any tourism significantly more difficult.
The Central Valley will be experiencing similar conditions to the Pacific Zone, with heavy yet predictable rains. These rains will not interrupt your itinerary significantly, as they are regular and usually short lived. Regardless, you’ll want to pack a poncho for any park visits or hiking excursions, because the adventurous traveler will get caught in at least one downpour during some part of the trip.
While external tour agencies often discourage tourists from visiting Costa Rica during the rainy season, this “green season” actually tends to be the favorite of locals and long-term residents. The heat subsides, the countryside comes to life, and the dust settles as the air becomes crisp and clean. Rainy afternoons mean you will need to plan some down-time activities into every day, but you’re on vacation, so you deserve these moments of relaxation as well. You came to the tropics, and these types of monsoon-style rains are part of the adventure.
The Caribbean Coast brings out the other side of the extreme for a Costa Rican explorer. When you reach this zone, you can put away your hiking shoes and poncho, all you’ll need is a swimsuit and sunhat from here on out. This is the most popular time of year for a Caribbean adventure. This zone will be experiencing its sunniest season of the year, with clear skies and a tropical breeze. Temperatures are in the lower 90s and if you do experience any rain during your trip, it will probably just be one nighttime rainfall, leaving the area refreshed in the morning. You’re going to want to hit up the Caribbean during your September trip.
A Costa Rican trip in September means extra packing as you’ll need both sun bathing outfits as well as extreme trekking gear. But all your extra work will be rewarded. This may be the only time of year where you can experience both ends of the tropical spectrum, from warm Caribbean beaches to steamy tropical storms over the Pacific. Your trip will come full of adventure, natural sights, and extreme weather patterns, and we know it will be a trip you’ll never forget.