Costa Rica in May is the start of the rainy season throughout most of the country. It is a great time to visit, but there are a few things you should know as you plan your trip.
Thomas and I created this post to detail the pros and cons of May in Costa Rica. We have lived in Costa Rica since 2016, so we are somewhat experts on the weather you can expect each month of the year. We also included tips on what to pack, the best areas to visit, and the pros and cons of this time of year.
Should You Travel to Costa Rica in May?
We say definitely! It’s actually one of the best months of the year to visit Costa Rica (in our opinion).
Pros of Visiting Costa Rica in May
– The weather should be good. We go into the weather details further in this post, but in general, you can expect perfectly sunning days, afternoon rain storms, and warm evenings.
– Everything will be open at this time. Sometimes later in the year tour companies and hotels close because there are just not enough tourists for there to be a reason to stay open.
– Everything starts turning green again after the dry season, and it is so beautiful!
– There are still a lot of tourists, but it is not as busy as peak high season (January – April).
– You can expect what is referred to as “mid-season prices”. That means rates aren’t as high as in peak season, but not as low as later in the year when the chance of rain is higher.
– Hotels, activities etc, aren’t as full.
– Wildlife can be more active because the temperatures cool down a bit. It’s a great time to visit national parks!
Cons of Visiting Costa Rica in May
– You may have to contend with afternoon rain.
– Rates go down a bit, but not as much as later in the year
– The mosquitoes tend to be worse in the rainy season versus dry season
Costa Rica Weather in May
May is the start of the rainy season in many parts of Costa Rica, which means you can expect some wet weather during your visit.
The weather can vary significantly depending on where you are in the country.
The sun rises daily around 5:15 am and sets around 5:50 pm.
Expect hot sunny days (mid 80’s Fahrenheit) and afternoon rain storms. These storms typically roll in around 2 pm and last for an hour or two.
This is a great time to take a little siesta.
After that, the weather tends to cool off a bit. But, “cools off” is a relative term. Really, it typically gets down to the mid to high seventies, so not really cold.
The evenings tend to be clear with nice sunset views.
After sunset, you will need bug spray.
San Jose & Central Valley
San Jose is always bit cooler than the Pacific coast. Expect daytime temperatures in the low eighties during the day and mid-seventies at night. There is a high chance you will experience brief afternoon rain storms.
The days should be clear enough that you will be able to enjoy good views in mountain towns. For example, Arenal Volcano should be mostly clear for viewing.
In Monteverde, you may have more rain. Usually, it is not super heavy, but the rain can occur more throughout the day and tends not to be limited to only the afternoons.
May is typically not the best time to visit the Caribbean coast. There are some heavier rains. Usually, the rain is the worst overnight, but you never know!
What to Pack for Costa Rica in May
Lightweight, breathable clothing is always good for this climate.
In May, layers are also a good idea because it can get cool in the evenings after the daily rain.
And don’t forget your rain jacket!
As far as gear, we suggest:
– A good sun-blocking hat
– A glasses strap to keep your sunglasses secure
– A filtered water bottle just to block out any additional bacteria
– Motion sickness pills (for boats and for curvy drives)
– Bug spray
– A microfiber beach towel
– A day pack (preferably a waterproof one for beach days)
The Best Places to Visit / Places to Avoid
I would consider avoiding the Caribbean coast. The prices are lower and there are far fewer tourists, but the weather won’t be the best.
Really, anywhere else in the country will be great!
As always, you can expect more tourists in the bigger towns (La Fortuna, Monteverde, Playas del Coco, Tamarindo, Jaco, Manuel Antonio) but it shouldn’t be too crazy.
Fun Activities at this Time of Year
This is a great time of year for pretty much all activities. When booking your Costa Rica tours, keep in mind that there may be afternoon storms. We like to try and schedule as much as we can in the morning to avoid the possibility of being rained out.
We always suggest renting a car as the best way to easily get around. In May, demand isn’t as high, but it is still best to book somewhat early because things can still book out.
We like to use Booking.com and reserve places with free cancellations up to a certain date. This will give you the most flexibility if your plans change or if you find a better option. Just make sure to remember to cancel in time!
We also really like VRBO for booking villas or houses. Again, we suggest filtering by places that allow free cancellation if you are concerned about your plans possibly changing.
When booking a place make sure it has AC. sometimes you might be fine with just an electric fan, but we have definitely learned to give preference to places with AC because the evenings can stay semi-warm.
Holidays and Festivals
There is one national holiday in May.
Labor Day: May 1st is celebrated as Labor Day in Costa Rica, and it is a public holiday. Many businesses and shops are closed, and there are often parades and demonstrations in the major cities.
Our Travel Tips for Visiting Costa Rica in May
– Check out flying into both the San Jose and Liberia Airport for your trip to Costa Rica in May. More and more flights are flying into Liberia Airport and sometimes you might find great deals.
We like San Jose because it is very centrally located, but Liberia is a lot less hectic and great if you are planning to visit the Guanacaste Province or Northern Mountain region.
– If you need more info, we have a complete guide to Costa Rica weather with more details of what to expect in every month.
– Don’t forget travel insurance. Since we suggest booking everything as early as possible. It is always good to have travel insurance if your travel plans change.
FAQ: Costa Rica in May
Is May a good time to visit Costa Rica?
If you enjoy lush landscapes, wildlife, and a laid-back atmosphere, May is a great time to visit Costa Rica. It is the start of the rainy season. The rain typically lasts for two hours a day in the afternoon.
Is Costa Rica too rainy in May?
Typically, no, it is not too rainy. The rain tends to roll in around 2:00 pm and lasts for an hour or two. The rest of the day is typically sunny and warm.
What is the best place to go in Costa Rica in May?
The Pacific coast or central part of the country are great to visit. The Guanacaste Province is typically the driest area.
Is it better to visit Costa Rica in May or June?
May is better for less rain. June is better for a more lush and green climate throughout Costa Rica. Both months have a decent number of tourists and mid-season prices.
Conclusion: Costa Rica in May
In conclusion, visiting Costa Rica in May offers a unique experience. Get ready for sunny days, afternoon rains, and lush landscapes!
While May is part of the rainy season, don’t let the occasional showers dampen your spirits. Just remember to pack lightweight rain gear, insect repellent, and you’ll have an amazing experience!
So what do you think? Are you ready to plan your Costa Rica vacation in May and enjoy the start of the green season? If you have any questions about visiting at this time of year, just leave them in the comment section below. We are always happy to help you out!