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Costa Rica Time Zone: Current Local Time Guide

Are you wondering, “What time is it in Costa Rica?” 

Whether you’re planning your Costa Rica dream vacation, scheduling a virtual meeting with colleagues, or simply curious about the current local time in this Central American country, understanding time zones is essential. 

In this blog post, we will answer all your Costa Rica time zone questions and provide you with the knowledge you need to determine the accurate time. 

From navigating daylight saving time practices to uncovering the time differences with major cities worldwide, let’s dive into the world of Costa Rican time and ensure you’re always on schedule.

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What is the Current Time in Costa Rica?

Check out this handy clock to see the exact current time in Costa Rica.

What is Costa Rica’s Time Zone?

Costa Rica is part of the Central Standard Time Zone. Also known as UTC-6. 

However, the country does not observe daylight savings time. 

This means that the country never advances the clocks by one hour in March, as most of the rest of the world does. 

In other words, the country observes Central Standard Time all year round. While most places in the United States and Canada that are in the Central Time zone will change their clocks one hour ahead from mid-March through mid-October, the time in Costa Rica will not change. 

The entire country is part of the same time zone. That means that the time in San Jose, Costa Rica is the same as the time in Guanacaste, the Caribbean coast, the Osa Peninsula etc. 

I know, this is a bit confusing.

It always messes with my head living in Costa Rica that for half the year it is only a one-hour time difference to talk to my parents in Massachusetts and for the other half of the year it is a two-hour time difference.

Let’s go through some time differences to help clear that up.

Costa Rica Time Differences

What is the time difference between Costa Rica and New York City, New York?

New York is one hour ahead of Costa Rica. During daylight savings time, New York is two hours ahead.

New York is part of the Eastern Time Zone.

What is the time difference between Costa Rica and Chicago, Illinois?

Chicago is located in the same time zone as Costa Rica. This is the Central Time Zone. During daylight savings time (from mid-March through mid-October) Chicago is one hour ahead of Costa Rica’s time. 

What is the time difference between Costa Rica and Phoenix, Arizona?

Phoenix, Arizona is one hour behind Costa Rica. During daylight savings time both countries have the same time. 

Phoenix is in the Mountain Time Zone.

What is the time difference between Costa Rica and Los Angeles, California?

Los Angeles is two hours behind Costa Rica’s time. During daylight savings time, Los Angeles is one hour behind in time.

Los Angeles is part of the Pacific Time Zone.

What is the time difference between Costa Rica and London?

During Standard Time (winter months) London, UK is 6 hours ahead of Costa Rica’s time

During Daylight Saving Time (summer months) London, UK is 7 hours ahead

What is the time difference between Costa Rica and Berlin?

During Standard Time (winter months) Berlin, Germany is 7 hours ahead of Costa Rica’s time

During Daylight Saving Time (summer months) Berlin is 8 hours ahead.

Berlin, Germany is part of the Central European Time Zone (CET)

Does Costa Rica Observe Daylight Savings Time?

No, the country does not observe daylight savings time. That means that people here never change their clocks one hour ahead or back. Central Standard Time is observed all year round. 

Why Doesn’t Costa Rica Observe Daylight Savings Time?

The country does not observe daylight saving time for several reasons. 

– Due to the country’s geographical location (not too far north of the equator) the country experiences relatively consistent daylight hours. This makes it so there is really no need for time adjustments.

– Environmental sustainability and energy conservation is a priority here. By not participating in daylight saving time, the country is able to avoid potential disruptions in energy consumption patterns. 

– The decision not to observe daylight saving time helps to promote one of the largest industries in the country, tourism. Consistency in time simplifies travel arrangements and communication for visitors. This helps to minimize confusion and potential inconveniences caused by time changes.

– The tradition of not observing daylight saving time has become ingrained in Costa Rican culture and lifestyle. The population is used to a consistent time system

What Hemisphere is Costa Rica in?

Costa Rica is in the northern hemisphere. The capital city of the country (San Jose) is approximately 686.33 miles north or the equator. 

What Time Does the Sun Rise and Set in Costa Rica?

Typically you will experience about 12 to 13 hours of sunlight every day in Costa Rica. 

Here is a breakdown of the approximate sunrise and sunset times throughout the year. 

I used San Jose as my destination when figuring this out because it is centrally located. 

Just note that these times will vary slightly depending on where your visit in Costa Rica. 

December to February Sunrise and Sunset

Sunrise: Around 5:45 am to 6:00 am

Sunset: Around 5:30 pm to 5:45 pm

March to May Sunrise and Sunset

Sunrise: Around 5:30 am to 5:45 am

Sunset: Around 5:45 pm to 6:00 pm

June to August Sunrise and Sunset

Sunrise: Around 5:15 am to 5:30 am

Sunset: Around 6:00 pm to 6:15 pm

September to November Sunrise and Sunset

Sunrise: Around 5:30 am to 5:45 am

Sunset: Around 5:30 pm to 5:45 pm

So, as you can see, the sun rises early here and sets relatively early as well. When visiting, I suggest starting your day as early as possible. 

Most of the wildlife tends to be the most active right after sunrise and you can enjoy activities before the rest of the tourists finish eating their breakfast. 

I also suggest planning your dinners (especially in the beach towns) for right at sunset. I think it is such a nice typical Costa Rican experience to enjoy a fresh fish dinner while watching the sun go down.

Just be warned, the mosquitos can get bad after sunset. We always bring bug spray to dinner. 

Is Nicaragua in the same Timezone as Costa Rica?

Yes, Nicaragua is in the same time zone as Costa Rica. 

Both countries follow the Central Standard Time (CST) throughout the year. They do not observe daylight saving time, so the time remains consistent between them.

Is Panama in the same Time Zone as Costa Rica?

No, all of Panama follows the Eastern Standard Time Zone. Panama also does not observe daylight savings time. 

This means that the time in Panama is one hour ahead of the time in Costa Rica.

This is always a bit confusing. So, if you are crossing the border from Panama don’t forget to adjust your phone or watch. 

You will need to change the time one hour back if going from Panama into Costa Rica and one hour ahead if going from Costa Rica into Panama.  

What are the Seasons in Costa Rica?

The country has two distinct seasons; the dry season (also known as the high season) and the rainy season (also referred to as the green season).

The dry season runs from mid-December through late April.

The green season runs from early May through mid-December. 

During the dry season, you can expect sunny days, warm temperatures, and a lot of tourists.

During the rainy season, you can expect afternoon rain showers, some thunderstorms, more humidity, and fewer tourists.

However, some areas in the country (such as on the Caribbean side) have different climates and weather patterns.

You can find out more about the weather by month and location in our Complete Guide to Costa Rica Weather

What is the Best Time to Travel to Costa Rica?

The best time to travel to Costa Rica really depends on what you are hoping to experience in the country. 

Typically, people prefer to travel during the dry season to have the absolute best weather. But, the rainy season also has its perks such as lower prices, and fewer tourists. 

To help you with planning your trip, check out our complete step-by-step Costa Rica vacation planning guide

Conclusion

In conclusion, Costa Rica is in the Central Standard Time Zone. Daylight Savings Time is not observed here and you can expect about 12 hours of sunlight every day.

It’s never a bad time to visit this Central American paradise, but there is a distinct rainy and dry season to consider when planning your travels. 

I hope this article helped to answer your questions on what time it is in Costa Rica and what you can expect for sunrise and sunset patterns on a typical day in the country.

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🚗 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.

🏄🏽 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.

🍍 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.

✈️ 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).

🛏️ 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.

🗣️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.

💰 What is the currency in Costa Rica?

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

📞 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.

🌴 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.

🛂 Do you need a passport to go to Costa Rica?

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