Costa Rica at Night: The 18 Best Things to Do After Dark

In Costa Rica the sun sets year round between 5:15pm and 6:00pm. After that, it gets pitch black very quickly. So, the question becomes, “now what?” 

As someone who has been living in Costa Rica for several years I have found my bedtime has been slowly creeping up earlier and earlier. But, night time in Costa Rica doesn’t mean that there is nothing to do. There are plenty of things to keep you entertained from night active wildlife tours to unique dining experiences to bioluminescent kayaking. 

So, get ready to discover our 18 favorite things to do at night in Costa Rica. 

Plus, we included a lot of tips about what to expect in the dark from mosquitos to safety to creepy crawlers. Yay!

Let’s get to it!

1. Go Bioluminescent Kayaking

biolumiscence

Have you ever experienced bioluminescence before? 

If not, the Nicoya Peninsula and the Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica are the two best places in Costa Rica to experience this. 

Bioluminescence is a natural light produced by living organisms in the water.

These organisms create light through a chemical reaction involving a light-emitting molecule called luciferin and an enzyme called luciferase.

This glow serves various purposes, such as attracting mates, luring prey, or deterring predators.

On the Nicoya Peninsula, we strongly suggest taking an evening kayak tour with Bahia Rica to see the bioluminescence. They are located right down the street from the ferry terminal in Paquera

Check Availability and Book Your Nicoya Bioluminescence Tour

On the Osa Peninsula, the best place to see bioluminescence is in Golfito Bay. Our favorite kayak tour departs from Puerto Jimenez

Check Availability and Book Your Biolumiscnece Tour from Puerto Jimenez

Note: It is possible to experience this year-round, but the optics are best during a new moon when there is very little light. 

2. Take a Wildlife Night Tour

monteverde night tour frog

A wildlife night tour is the perfect way to see nocturnal animals.

Typically on a wildlife night tour an experienced guide will take you on a night hike through the rainforest at either a private reserve or a widllife refuge.

You will have a headlamp or flashlight to help guide you.

Along the way, your naturalist guides will point out night active wildlife as well as creatures you would never even be able to see during the daylight hours. 

This fun tour option for nature lovers can be done throughout the country. 

Here are our top tour choices in different towns.

3. See Sea Turtles Laying Their Eggs

One of the coolest things you can experience in Costa Rica is to see sea turtles laying theirs eggs on a beach.

The best places to see this in the evening are in Tortuguero on the Caribbean Coast and just north of Tamarindo on Playa Grande on the Pacific Coast. 

In Tortuguero, the best time to experience this is between July and September. They offer these tours year round, but I really think it is only worth it when the main turtle nesting of the Green Sea Turtles.

Check Availability and Book You Turtle Nesting Night Tour in Tortuguero

On Playa Grande near Tamarindo you can see Olive Ridley sea turtles laying their eggs. The best time of year for this is between November and March.

If you go at a different time of year there is a chance you might not see any turtles.

Check Availability and Book Night Turtle Nesting Tour from Tamarindo

4. Relax in a Hot Spring

If you plan to visit La Fortuna, we highly suggest visiting a hot spring park. Here you can soak in pools of varying temperatures created from volcanic water.

Most of the hot spring parks in town are open until 9 or 10pm at night. So, you can eaisly spend a fun filled evening here.  

A lot of the places have fun multi-color lights, swim-up bars, secluded pools for couples, and waterslides for kids. 

Check out our guide to all the hot springs in La Fortuna to find the perfect place for your interests. 

5. Go to a Bar / Pub

bar san jose

Every town you visit most likely has a few bar or pub options.

Typically, in Costa Rica these are open air places with relaxed vibes.

You can find places that serve craft beers, local spots with national beers, beach bars, or cocktail bars.

You can even find unique bars like El Avion in Manuel Antonio. This is a bar and restaurant in an old plane. The food isn’t the best, but it is a unique place to get a drink.

If you are in Monteverde, check out Treehouse Restaurant. This is a restaurant and bar with a giant tree in the middle. Again, the food isn’t my favorite but the place is unique for a cocktail or beer.  

6. Take a Cooking Class

We love taking a cooking class because it is a great way to get a taste for the culture (literally). It is possible to find private cooking classes or take a class with a group. 

Some of our favorite options are:

7. Try a Unique Dining Experience

san jose at night

Costa Rica is filled with amazing restaurants, but some places just stand out as being completely unique and more of an experience than just a meal. 

A few of our favorite unique dining experiences are:

Adventure Dining in Jaco: This is a dining experience located in the hills above Jaco with beautiful views. It feels a lot like going to a friend’s house and meeting new fun people. Transportation is included from Jaco area hotels. 

San Lucas Tree Top Dining in Monteverde: This is a high end restaurant located in the trees of Monteverde. You will enjoy a 9 course menu in an intimate setting (there are only 8 tables and all are very secluded) in the jungle.

Mirador Ram Luna in San Jose: This is a traditional restaurant in the hills above San Jose with amazing views of the city. I suggest coming here on Wednesdays for their Tierra Tica Show. On this night you can enjoy a buffet, open bar, traditional dancing, and traditional live band.

HiR Fine Dining in Tamarindo: This is a fine dining experience with several courses prepared at the chef’s home. You get a chance to talk to the chef (named Mercy) as she is cooking right in front of you. And, belive me, she is an amazing chef!

8. Check Out Some Live Music

There are so many live music options in Costa Rica to enjoy in the evening.

  • If you are staying in almost any town you can find a bar with live music at night. This is usually acoustic sets or a small band.
  • If you are in San Jose you can check out if any bigger-name artists are playing at the National Stadium.
  • There is a jazz cafe in San Jose that is a mid-size venue. We have experienced some great music here. 

9. Enjoy the Nightlife Scene

Costa Rica is known for having a pretty good nightlife scene. This especially applies to bigger towns such as San Jose, Jaco, Tamarindo, Playas del Coco, and Puerto Viejo

These towns are known for having Latin music and electronic dance clubs. Typically, the weekend nights are best for this, but you can definitely find places to enjoy Costa Rica nightlife any night of the week. 

If you are bit hesitant about doing this on your own, it is possible to join a fun guided bar crawl instead.

Check out the:

  • San Jose Bar Crawl: A 3 hour long bar crawl through downtown San Jose with a local guide. A few drinks are included as well. This is a great way to meet other tourists and safely experience the capital city at night.
  • Tamarindo Bar Crawl: This tour is only available on Friday nights in Tamarindo. It departs from Selina Hotel, so expect a lot of backpackers to be joining. You will visit 3 different venues. Shots are included. 

10. Enjoy Views of the Moon and Stars

costa rica moon

Most of the beach towns and areas in the jungle are free of light pollution. You can get some amazing moon and star views here. 

I have a free star app on my phone called Stellarium which is great for figuring out what stars you are looking at.

If you have a camera with you, try some long exposure shots like the one of the moon that Thomas took above.

11. Farm-to-Table Dinner & Cocktails Class in San Jose

If you are in San José you will have the opportunity to join one of our favorite evening activities.

San Jose Urban Tours hosts a farm-to-table dinner and cocktail-making class.

This activity begins at 4pm and lasts for about 4 hours.

You will walk through a local market, taste traditional drinks, and enjoy 4 tasting menus of traditional food.

This is a really fun tour. I think it is well done and you will have a great time. 

Check Availability and Book Your Farm-to-Table Dinner

12. Take a Night Mangrove Tour in Manuel Antonio

In Manuel Antonio it is possible to take an evening boat tour through the nearby mangroves with an experienced guide. 

This tour departs at 5:30pm and includes transportation from your Manuel Antonio area hotel. 

Along the way you might see crocodiles, turtles, boas, lizards, bats, birds, crabs, raccoons, and more! 

Plus, a tasty traditional dinner is included. 

Check Availability and Book Your Evening Mangrove Tour

13. Go to the National Theater

san jose national theater

If you will be in San Jose, you might want to check the current national theater schedule.

Even if you don’t understand Spanish, you will likely enjoy a performance here.

Plus, the interior of the building alone is worth a visit. 

14. Play Some Games

I suggest bringing a few games with you on your trip.

A deck of cards is always a good idea because it is easy to transport and your game options are endless for those evening when you and your travel companions just don’t know what to do.

15. Hang Out at Your Hotel Pool

hotel pool night costa rica

We love staying at a hotel with a pool and in most towns it stays warm enough in the evenings to still be very pleasant in the water. 

In our experience, you can often end up with the hotel pool all to yourself if you go in the evenings. 

16. Check Out Costa Rican TV

There is a good chance that you will have a TV in your hotel room that has at least the basic Costa Rican channels. 

I personally find it fun to check out the TV stations in another country. I think the news is especially interesting to watch. 

You might not understand all of the Spanish, but it is a great way to practice your language knowledge. 

17. Read a Book

If I don’t feel like going out and there is nothing exciting to do, I usually opt to read a book.

One of my favorite things to do while I travel is to read a book about the particular place I am currently visiting. 

A few good Costa Rican books I’ve read that are available as paperback or ebooks are:

18. Go to Bed Early

I know this is boring. However, the sun rises around 5:30am here and I think that this is the best time of the day. All of the animals are out and everything is beautiful. 

So, I suggest going to bed early so that you can wake up early. 

Plus, after a long day of adventures and warm weather, you might be very ready for an early bedtime. 

Things to Note About Night Time in Costa Rica

  • Don’t forget to bring a lot of bug spray with you. Once the sun goes down the mosquitos can come out in full force here. This especially applies to the rainy season when it is more humid.
  • Even during the rainy season it doesn’t typically rain at night on the Pacific Coast. On the Caribbean Coast or in cloud forest towns like Monteverde it is more common to experience rain in the evenings. 
  • It is a good idea to pack a flashlight or headlamp in your luggage. 
  • Costa Rica is generally safe, but it is not a good idea to walk around alone at night. Petty theft does sometimes happen.
  • If you hear weird laughing noises in your room at night, don’t worry, it’s just geckos. They are cute and harmless.
  • If you hear loud roars as the sun rises in the morning, those are howler monkeys. Also cute and mostly harmless. 
  • You might hear some interesting sounds of the jungle at night. It can be a bit creepy at first to be sleeping in your cozy hotel room and hear nocturnal wildlife scurrying around outside. Don’t worry, it’s all just part of the Costa Rican experience. 😉

Conclusion: Costa Rica at Night

In conclusion, despite the lack of light there are still several fun things to do in Costa Rica in the evenings.

If you have any questions about planning your trip, don’t hesitate to leave them in the comment section below. We are always happy to help you plan!

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Costa Rica Travel Details: What You Need to Know

๐Ÿš— Should I rent a car in Costa Rica?

Having a rental car will give you the most flexibility when traveling in Costa Rica. This will also allow you to take fun day trips on your own.

๐Ÿ„๐Ÿฝ How can I book things to do?

We find that Viator tends to have the most comprehensive selection of activities with secure booking and good cancellation policies.

๐Ÿ I’m overwhelmed with planning. Can you help?

Of course! I suggest joining our Facebook group for specific questions and head to our Start Here Page to get started planning.

โœˆ๏ธ What is the best way to book a flight?

Usually, we have the best luck finding great prices with Skyscanner. Check for flights to both San Jose Airport (SJO) and Liberia Airport (LIR).

๐Ÿ›๏ธ What is the best way to book my Costa Rica hotels?

We highly suggest Booking.com for hotel bookings and typically use VRBO for Costa Rica vacation rentals.

๐Ÿ—ฃ๏ธWhat is the main language in Costa Rica?

The main language in Costa Rica is Spanish. Most people working in tourism speak at least some English.

๐Ÿ’ฐ What is the currency in Costa Rica?

The currency used in Costa Rica is the Costa Rican colรณn (CRC). However, the US dollar is widely accepted in most tourist areas

๐Ÿ“ž What is the best way to stay connected?

An eSIM from Airalo is the easiest way to get 4G data while traveling in Costa Rica.

๐ŸŒด Is Costa Rica safe?

Generally, Costa Rica is considered safe for tourists. However, like any travel destination, it’s best to use caution and be aware of your surroundings.

๐Ÿ›‚ Do you need a passport to go to Costa Rica?

Yes, Costa Rica is its own country. You will need a passport to visit.