Costa Rica gets mixed reviews during November. While external tourism websites warn vacationers of the potential of a Costa Rican rainy season, locals and long-term expats know that November is absolutely the best time of year in this tropical country. The truth is, November is a transition month that ends the rainy season and starts the next 8 months of dry, temperate climates. The rain will be ceasing, but the country will still be in full bloom, boasting the biodiversity and beauty that can only be seen after months of heavy hydration.
The countryside comes alive again during the rainy season. For November vacationers, the beauty and animal activity is all within view but without the hassle of washed-away roads and canceled jungle excursions. You’re going to get the best of both worlds during your November trip, and we can tell you exactly what to expect throughout the country.
Best of all, November is still a low-season for tourism. You will be enjoying a discount in both hotel rates and tour group fees while enjoying the most beautiful and comfortable season of the year.
The Pacific region is finally starting to dry out after months of heavy rain. The skies will be blue for longer and any storms you experience will be short lived. Fortunately, the zone will still be receiving all the benefits of a fresh rainfall. The surf will be ideal, temperatures will be the lowest of the year (still in the low to mid 80s range), and the National Parks and jungles will be like you’ve never seen them. November is the ideal month for a visit from a group with mixed interests. The adventurers among you will have the absolute best excursions possible. Your jungle trails will still be muddy, but you’ll see colors like never before. Jungle thrush takes on an almost luminescent green and tropical flowers bloom from every nook and cranny. You’ll see more tropical birds and more mammal activity during your November excursion. The beach bums in your group won’t be left out either. Skies will start to clear up, especially near the end of November, and long beach days will be especially comfortable with lower temperatures and bluer waters. Most people take advantage of the variety of activities possible during this beautiful month. They will start off with an active tour in the morning, when they are sure the skies will stay clear, and leave the afternoon for any beach sports or storm watching. The few afternoon showers you see will lead to incredible, tropical sunsets later in the evening.
When it does storm, however, you can expect a rather entertaining display. November is a transition month in terms of climate, so the changing pressure and weather patterns can clash in vibrant, furious storms. These storms typically last less than an hour, but will put on a natural light display like you’ve never seen it. During these times, beach bars fill up with tourists hoping to enjoy a local beer while watching Costa Rica’s natural display of force.
Southern Zone and Southern Pacific
The southern zones typically receive the grunt of the Costa Rican rainy season, so while many destinations may have been closed or unreachable in October, November will start to see renewed activity. You will still experience rain in the south of Costa Rica, but it will be short lived and won’t cancel any of your plans. November can be the most unpredictable time of year in the southern zones, so if you plan on visiting early in the month, it’s a good idea to call your hotel ahead of time to see what the weather has in store for you. Mid-month will be unpredictable, but by the end of November you can expect to see clear skies again.
Many people with an itinerary full of active excursions choose to skip the southern zones during November. While they understand that the natural views will be at their best, they don’t want to chance any canceled plans. Those looking for an escape from the rat-race, however, find their perfect relaxation spot. Hikes and activities will be fit in during breaks in the rain, and even the long, rainy afternoons will hold a lot in store. You’ll find the perfect place to un-plug and relax. Yoga retreaters often find open-walled cabañas to practice their exercise and meditation routines, breathing in the fresh air and enjoying the vibrant tropical colors.
In the north, the rainy season will still be in full force during the first week of November, and it be almost totally completed before the month ends. If you stay in this zone throughout the entire 4 weeks, you’ll be able to sit and watch as a climate transitions. November brings cool temperatures, daytime highs in the 80s but chilly nights in the low 60s. If you have come to Costa Rica to observe the extreme biodiversity, the northern zone during November will be your dream come true. Both plant and animal life will be in full force. It may be a good idea, however, to call any eco-hotel or tour agency ahead of time to ask about washed out roads or canceled trips.
In recent years, the force of El Niño has made the northern zone difficult to predict during this transition month. When planning your trip, you’ll need to keep a close eye on weather forecasts. Regardless, you can expect a combination of both rainy days and sunny skies, and will need to adjust your itinerary as you go.
The Central Valley will be recovering from a very rainy October. During November, you can expect storms to shift to late afternoon, leaving your mornings free for any outdoor activities. You can expect highs in the mid-70s and a quickly transitioning weather pattern as the month progresses. Even for those of you planning to stay in big cities during your time in Costa Rica, you can expect to see tropical flowers, exotic birds, and green flowing from every road side. The rainy season will have completely changed the face of the Central Valley, and even those in Costa Rica just for a business trip will have a chance to experience the famed biodiversity.
The Caribbean Coast is experiencing an opposite weather pattern than the rest of the country in November. While the entire country transitions from wet to dry, the Caribbean will be seeing the first rains of the year. It will still be far from a wet month, but those frying under the searing heat of October will get a break from the sun as November progresses. During November, the Caribbean will still be the best part of the country to enjoy tropical beaches. Temperatures will remain in the low 90s and any rain will be infrequent and will probably hold off altogether until the end of the month.