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Costa Rica in September: Weather and What to Expect

Costa Rica in September is often one of the wettest months in the country. 

But, don’t let that stop you! There are still plenty of fun things to do including some fun activities that can only be enjoyed at this time of year.  Plus, it is usually one of the cheapest times to travel here. 

We have lived in Costa Rica since 2016, so we have been through our share of rainy Septembers. We know all the best places to go and things to do.

This guide is designed to give you all the best tips on Costa Rica in the month of September. So, let’s get to it!

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Should You Visit Costa Rica in September?

costa rica in September

Pros of Visiting in September

  • Fewer crowds: September is considered the low season for tourism in Costa Rica. With fewer tourists around, you’ll have a more intimate and relaxed experience at popular attractions, beaches, and national parks.
  • Lower prices: Due to the low season, you can often find discounted rates on accommodations, tours, and activities. This can make your trip more budget-friendly compared to visiting during the peak tourist months.
  • Lush greenery: September falls within the rainy season in Costa Rica, and while this may be seen as a con by some, it also means that the landscapes are incredibly lush and vibrant. The rain brings out the best in the flora, creating stunning scenery for nature enthusiasts and photographers.
  • Wildlife sightings: With the abundant rainfall, wildlife thrives during this time of year. You’ll have better chances of spotting various animals, including monkeys, sloths, and colorful tropical birds, as they come out to feed and play.
  • Surfing opportunities: If you’re a surfer, September is an excellent time to visit. The rainy season brings bigger swells and good wave conditions along both the Pacific and Caribbean coasts, providing great surfing experiences.

Cons of Traveling to Costa Rica in September

  • Rainy weather: September is part of the rainy season (also known as the “green season”) in Costa Rica. Expect frequent showers and heavy downpours, which can sometimes disrupt outdoor activities and limit your beach time.
  • Hurricane risk: September is also peak hurricane season in the Caribbean, and while Costa Rica is generally less affected than other Caribbean countries, there is still a risk of tropical storms and heavy rainfall.
  • Limited accessibility: Some remote areas and smaller attractions may close or have limited access during the low season. It’s essential to check the availability and operating hours of places you wish to visit in September.
  • Muddy trails and transportation challenges: Heavy rainfall can lead to muddy and slippery trails in national parks, making hiking more challenging and potentially dangerous. It may also cause road closures and transportation delays in some regions.
  • Variable weather conditions: While the rainy season is generally characterized by rain, it’s worth noting that weather patterns can be unpredictable. There might be occasional sunny days or periods of clear weather, but it’s tough to predict in advance.

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Our Opinion

I think that if you go into your trip with the mindset that you might have several rainy days, then it will be OK.

Costa Rica is always beautiful, but it can be disappointing to visit and have all gray and wet days on a vacation that you have saved for and diligently planned.

We have a lot of experience traveling in Costa Rica in September and it is such a toss-up of what you might expect. 

Costa Rica Weather in September

costa rica in september

The weather in Costa Rica in September is usually not the best. The rain can be not too bad or nonstop in September. It is hard to predict. 

Let’s go through every area of the country to give you a better idea of what to expect.

Guanacaste

When visiting Guanacaste, Costa Rica in September, you can expect a lush and green landscape, a break from the scorching heat of other months.

It is a great time to enjoy the beauty of the region as the sea turtles come ashore. Guanacaste has two good places for spotting female turtles laying their eggs. These are Playa Grande near Tamarindo and Playa Ostional near Nosara. 

While it is generally sunny, there may be occasional periods of cloudy and overcast skies. September is considered the height of the rainy season, but Guanacaste tends to be drier compared to other areas in Costa Rica.

Nicoya Peninsula

When visiting the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica in September, you can expect a mix of sunny days and occasional showers. The weather during this time is typically warm, with average temperatures ranging from 79°F to 86°F.

In my opinion, the rain brings out the vibrant greenery and creates a picturesque backdrop for hiking, wildlife spotting, and enjoying water activities.

Central & South Pacific

The Central and South Pacific are known for hot days and warm evenings. In the afternoon you will likely have rain for an hour or two, sometimes longer.

Usually, these are just rain showers, but sometimes they can be really heavy rains with thunder and lightning. 

We like to get up early, enjoy the day, take a little afternoon siesta during the rain, and head back out for the epic Pacific coast sunset views. 

Keep in mind that the mosquitos tend to be bad here once the sun sets. 

Central Valley

The Central Valley area encompasses San Jose, the capital city, as well as the nearby hills and valleys.

This region tends to be slightly cooler than the coastal towns, with daytime temperatures typically hovering in the pleasant mid-70s °F and evenings in the mid-60s.

Rainfall usually begins around 2pm and lingers for an hour or two.

This is where we live and occasionally, we are treated to torrential downpours accompanied by thunder and lightning, but more often it is a steady rain.

It’s worth noting that during heavy rains, driving becomes a challenge for a few hours due to potential flooding of the streets.

Northern Mountains

When you visit La Fortuna, you can look forward to sunny days with stunning views of the Arenal Volcano, especially in the morning.

However, don’t be surprised if you encounter a rainstorm in the afternoon or early evening that lasts for a few hours.

As for Monteverde, get ready for constant rain. But don’t worry, that’s part of the charm of this area! Just make sure to bring your rainproofing gear and enjoy the unique experience.

Caribbean Coast

The weather on the Caribbean Coast of Costa Rica in September is generally characterized by beautiful sunny days. The daytime highs range from 80 to 88 °F (27-31 °C), while the overnight lows are about twelve degrees lower, around 68 to 76 °F (20-24 °C).

While September is part of the rainy season in other parts of Costa Rica, the Caribbean coast tends to experience reduced rainfall during this time.

It is important to note that occasional periods of cloudy and overcast skies can occur, but overall, September on the Caribbean Coast offers beach weather with warm temperatures and plenty of sunshine.

What to Pack

Shop All The Rainy Season Essentials Here

  1. Lightweight and breathable clothing: Pack comfortable and lightweight clothes like t-shirts, tank tops, shorts, and skirts for the warm weather.
  2. Rain jacket or poncho: September falls within the rainy season, so it’s important to have a waterproof layer to stay dry during occasional showers.
  3. Quick-dry pants: Opt for convertible quick-dry pants that can be transformed into shorts for versatility and ease of movement.
  4. Hiking shoes: Bring a good pair of hiking shoes for outdoor activities and exploring the lush landscapes of Costa Rica.
  5. Hat and sunglasses: Protect yourself from the sun by packing a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses.
  6. Insect repellent: Mosquitoes can be prevalent in certain areas, so pack a reliable mosquito repellent to avoid mosquito bites.
  7. Sunscreen: Don’t forget to pack a high SPF sunscreen to protect your skin from the strong tropical sun.
  8. Microfiber towel: A compact and quick-drying microfiber towel is useful for beach visits and outdoor activities.
  9. Portable battery pack: Ensure you have a portable battery pack to keep your electronic devices charged while on the go.
  10. Insulated water bottle: Stay hydrated by carrying an insulated water bottle to keep your drinks cool in the hot weather. 
  11. Waterproof Backpack: To use as a day pack when hiking
  12. An Umbrella: We usually never use umbrellas here except for in San Jose. So, totally your call on this one. I personally prefer to just use my rain coat.
  13. A glasses strap to keep your sunglasses secure
  14. Games (for when you’re stuck inside) 

Check out our Complete Rainy Season Packing List on Amazon for All the Essentials

Fun Things to Do in Costa Rica in September

costa rica september

Surfing in Dominical and Pavones

September brings some of the biggest waves of the year, making it an ideal time for experienced surfers to catch some thrilling rides. Dominical and Pavones are renowned surf spots in Costa Rica.

Visit Waterfalls

Since the rain is so heavy in September the waterfalls are usually very full with water. The downside is that the water can be a brown color due to sediment.

Whale Watching Tour

whale watching tour uvita

September is the perfect time to take a whale-watching tour in Uvita, Costa Rica. From July to October, humpback whales migrate through the waters off the coast of Uvita, making it an ideal spot for whale watching.

During this time, you can often catch glimpses of mother whales and their calves swimming close to shore.

Tours typically depart from Marino Ballena National Park and take passengers out into the bay to observe Humpback whales as they swim gracefully through the water.

Tour guides will explain interesting facts about these incredible animals and help passengers spot them in their natural habitat.

The best way to view these gentle giants is from a boat, so make sure you bring along your camera or binoculars so you don’t miss any of the action!

Book your Uvita Whale Watching Tour

Tortuguero National Park

Tortuguero National Park in September is an absolute must-visit. With its remote location on the northern Caribbean coast, just a stone’s throw from the Nicaragua border, accessing this gem requires a boat ride.

Yet, this only adds to its charm.

This park is a haven for Green Sea Turtles, as they flock here each night to nest. And let me tell you, these magnificent creatures are colossal, weighing anywhere between 300 and 350 pounds! If you haven’t witnessed them in action, now is your chance.

Embark on an evening sea turtle tour with a knowledgeable guide for an unforgettable encounter.

They are most active in August, but it is still possible to see them in September as well.

In my opinion, this ranks as one of the most remarkable experiences I’ve had during my time in Costa Rica. Trust me, a visit to Tortuguero National Park is an absolute must.

Activities in the Rain

costa rica beach rain

If it is raining all day while we are traveling in Costa Rica we tend to do a few different things. 

– Stay at your hotel or villa and play games. We always bring a deck of cards.

– If you are in La Fortuna, head to the hot springs. I mean, you’re going to get wet in the water anyway. This is great as long as there is no lightning.

– If you are in San Jose, head to the museums, the mall, or the cinema. I know you didn’t really come all the way to Costa Rica to go to the mall and see a movie, but sometimes you’ve just got to stay entertained.

– Head to a restaurant where you can have a long leisurely meal and some drinks. 

– If you are staying at a villa, sometimes we like to go to the grocery store and just cook elaborate meals. 

– Read a book. I always bring my Kindle when traveling. Sometimes it’s nice to sit inside and read with the sound of the rain.

– Work on your photography skills. Thomas loves to bring the camera outside and try to capture some cool rainy pictures.

– Just deal with it and get out to do fun things anyway. 

Check out our guide to Rainy Season Activities for more ideas.

Booking Transportation for September

We suggest renting an SUV or 4×4 if visiting in September.  The roads can be unpredictable, and the terrain is not always forgiving.

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Costa Rica in September: Weather and What to Expect

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Booking Hotels for September

In September you will have mostly free reign of choosing hotels because this is not a popular time to visit. Plus, you can expect lower prices than during the rest of the year.

Just keep in mind that some hotels close down in September because there is just not enough demand. Hotel owners take this as a good time for them to take a vacation. 

Holiday & Festivals

independence day san jose costa rica

September 15th is Costa Rica’s Independence Day and a national holiday with businesses closed and children off of school. 

This day commemorates the country’s independence from Spain.

Festivities typically begin on the evening of September 14th, known as the “Eve of Independence.” People gather in towns and cities across the country to participate in parades, concerts, and traditional dances.

The streets are adorned with patriotic decorations, and you can expect to see the Costa Rican flag proudly displayed everywhere. Schools and communities organize cultural events showcasing traditional music, costumes, and food.

The raising of the national flag is a significant part of the celebration, and many public institutions hold symbolic flag-raising ceremonies.

Overall, Independence Day in Costa Rica is a vibrant and joyful celebration of national pride and unity.

Travel Tips for Visiting in September

beach costa rica in september

The Weather Forecast is Always Wrong

If you check the weather forecast in Costa Rica for September it will likely say non-stop rain and thunderstorms every day.

This is just not true.

I am convinced that the meteorologists just take a long vacation during rainy season and say that there will be rain all day every day.

Be Careful of Flash Floods

If you are in a river and see it turn brown suddenly, get out. This is a good sign that a flash flood is coming.

Unfortunately, it seems like very few years a tourist gets killed by a flash flood, so please use caution.

Along the same lines, if you are planning to go kayaking, take a rafting tour etc. and you are worried about the conditions, always trust your instincts.

Rip Currents

When the weather changes quickly the water can become unpredictable. Be aware of rip currents and exercise caution in the water.

Other Times to Visit

If you are still unsure about visiting in September, check out our complete Costa Rica weather guide. This will give you all the details of what you can expect year-round in the country.

Conclusion: Costa Rica in September

In conclusion, if you are looking for the very best weather for your vacation to Costa Rica, you won’t find that in September. You will likely have to contend with daily rainstorms.

However, this time of year comes with several perks such as saving money and fewer tourists.

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!

You Might Also Like:

Costa Rica Weather in August

Costa Rica Weather in October

Costa Rica Weather and Climate Guide

The Rainy Season in Costa Rica: What to Expect

The Complete Rainy Season Packing List

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.