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Costa Rica in May: Guide to Weather, Where to Go, What to Do

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.

So, let’s get to all the tips to make sure you have an amazing experience while visiting Costa Rica during the month of May.

Costa Rica in May at a Glance

  • This is a transition month between the end of dry season and the start of rainy season. Weather will be hot and sunny with occasional afternoon rain showers on the Pacific Coast.
  • Typically tourism starts to go down a bit at this time of year. That means prices also get a bit lower.
  • Focus on sun-blocking clothing, high SPF sunscreen, bug spray, rain protection, and lots of water for hydration. This time of year is humid!

Should You Travel to Costa Rica in May? 

dominical nauyaca

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 sunny 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

  • This is the beginning of the green season and 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

rio celeste

​​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. 

One thing to keep in mind is that the weather forecast online is never correct during the rainy season. They typically predict rain showers all day long. This is luckily all lies.

Pacific Coast

On the Pacific Coast, we suggest getting up as early as possible. Usually, you won’t really be able to sleep in anyway because the however monkeys and other loud wildlife will make sure you are up early.

In our opinion, the early morning hours are the very best time of the day. It’s beautiful!

You can expect hot days (mid 80’s Fahrenheit) with plenty of sunshine until the early afternoon.

Around 2pm the afternoon rain storms usually roll in. These storms typically 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 Fahrenheit. 

The evenings tend to be clear with nice sunset views. 

After sunset, you will need bug spray.

On the northern Pacific Coast in the Guanacaste Province, you can expect even less rain. Typically this area tends to stay dry a bit longer.

San Jose & Central Valley

San Jose and the Central Valley area is always bit cooler than the Pacific Coast.

The average daytime temperatures range from around 75°F to 80°F (24°C to 27°C), while nighttime temperatures usually drop to around 60°F to 65°F (16°C to 18°C).

Just note that temperatures can vary depending on the specific location within the Central Valley. Higher elevation areas tend to be cooler.

Northern Mountains   

The Northern Mountains region consists of La Fortuna and Monteverde.

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. 

Caribbean Coast

The Caribbean Coast has the opposite rainy and dry season the Pacific Coast. May in the Caribbean can mean heavier rains. In our experience, usually, it rains more in the evening than during the day, but you never know.

Average highs range from 80°F to 85°F (27°C to 29°C) and lows from 70°F to 75°F (21°C to 24°C).

What to Pack for Costa Rica in May

In May, layers are also a good idea because it can get cool in the evenings after the daily rain. 


  • Lightweight and breathable clothing (shorts, T-shirts, tank tops). We suggest opting for moisture-wicking clothing that also blocks UV rays. 
  • Long-sleeved shirts and lightweight pants for cooler evenings and sun protection
  • Swimsuits for beach and water activities
  • Comfortable walking shoes or sandals for exploring
  • Rain jacket for occasional showers during the transition to the rainy season
  • Sunglasses for sun protection

Weather-Specific Items:

Outdoor and Adventure Gear:

Electronics and Accessories:

  • Camera or smartphone for capturing the stunning landscapes and wildlife
  • Portable charger to keep devices powered during outdoor excursions

Health and Safety:

  • Travel first aid kit with basic medications, bandages, and any necessary prescriptions
  • Motion sickness tablets if you’re sensitive to travel on winding roads or if you plan to take boat trips
  • Hydration tablets or electrolyte supplements for staying hydrated in warm weather
  • Hat with a wide brim for added sun protection. We have this one from Columbia and are slightly obsessed with it.

Miscellaneous Items:

  • Copies of important documents (passport, travel insurance, itinerary)
  • Zip lock bags to separate wet items in your luggage

Check out our complete packing list for women and packing list for men for more ideas of what to bring.

The Best Places to Visit and Places to Avoid

pacific coast

There is nowhere I would suggest completely avoiding. You will likely have more rain on the Caribbean Coast, but it is a beautiful area to visit.

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. 

Things to Do 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. 

Some of our favorite activities are:

  • Visit a Waterfall: The water levels will be a bit higher than during the dry season, so you can enjoy a better experience.
  • Go Hiking in a National Park: We love it when everything turns lush and green again. Plus, with fewer crowds, the national parks are super enjoyable. This is a great time to go to Corcovado National Park or Manuel Antonio National Park.
  • Go Zip Lining: Again, with everything starting to turn green and vibrant in May it is a great time to get overhead views of the jungle canopy with a zip-lining adventure. We suggest this activity in Monteverde or La Fortuna.
  • Take a Catamaran Sunset Tour: This is a fun activity to do after the brief afternoon rain shower. A catamaran tour typically includes a fun time out on a nice boat, Usually, these tours are a bit cheaper than in the high season.
  • Visit the Beautiful Beaches: It is always a good time to visit the amazing beaches. All beaches in Costa Rica need to have free public access by law. That means there is thousands of miles of coastline for you to explore.

Booking Transportation

Typically, we think renting a car is 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.

Our #1 Car Rental Choice
Costa Rica in May: Guide to Weather, Where to Go, What to Do

Adobe Rent-a-Car

  • 10% discount for Costa Rica Vibes readers
  • Free second driver
  • 0% deductible on Liability Protection Insurance
  • Excellent customer service
  • New fleet of well-maintained vehicles

Some other transportation options you might consider are:

Booking Hotels

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 Costa Rican 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.

Another fun festival is, Día de San Isidro Labrador on On May 15th. This event is observed in various towns near San Jose such as San Isidro de Heredia, Perez Zeledon, and Atenas.

This festivity pays homage to the patron saint of farming. It features vibrant parades, traditional cuisine, and a ceremonial blessing of the crops.

Our Travel Tips for Visiting Costa Rica in May

santa teresa beach
  • 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 Airport 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. 

Do You Have Travel Insurance?

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Conclusion: Costa Rica in May

In conclusion, May is a great month to visit Costa Rica for a fun and 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!

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Costa Rica Travel Details: What You Need to Know

🚗 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.

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