Costa Rica in November: Weather & Travel Tips

a dirt hiking trail leads off into lush rainforest around Arenal Volcano in Costa Rica in November weather
Hiking Trails around Arenal Volcano in November

Costa Rica in November is a hidden gem, offering the best of both worlds: the tail end of the rainy season and the beginning of the dry season.

This month is ideal for experiencing the country’s lush green landscapes without the high tourist volume of peak season. On my trip to Costa Rica in November, I fell in love with the vibrant foliage and the tranquil atmosphere, perfect for those seeking both adventure and relaxation. If you aren’t afraid of a little rain and occasion muddy trail, combined with beautiful bursts of sunshine, November in Costa Rica is for you.

November is a time when the natural beauty of Costa Rica is on full display, making it a prime time to visit (especially near the end of the month).

*This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. Please see my full disclosure for further information.

Should You Visit Costa Rica in November? My Opinion

Visiting Costa Rica in November is a unique experience, striking a perfect balance between weather and crowdedness. While it isn’t the driest or warmest month, it also isn’t the wettest or most humid. This middle ground means fewer tourists, making it a peaceful time to explore.

Sure, the drier months might be more predictable weather-wise, but they also come with higher prices and more crowds. November offers lush, green landscapes from recent rains, lower accommodation rates, and vibrant cultural experiences like Día de los Muertos and the beginning of the coffee harvest season. This makes November a special time to immerse yourself in Costa Rican culture and nature without the usual tourist rush.

Pros & Cons of Visiting Costa Rica in November

Pros on Visiting Costa Rica in November:

  • Lush Landscapes: November is the perfect time to see Costa Rica’s flora in full bloom after the rainy season.
  • Lower Prices: With fewer tourists, you’ll find more affordable accommodation and tour rates.
  • Mild Weather: The weather is generally pleasant with temperatures ranging from 70°F to 81°F (21°C to 27°C).

Cons on Visiting Costa Rica in November:

  • Rain: While rainfall decreases significantly as the month progresses, there can still be sporadic showers, especially in the first half of November.
  • Accessibility: Some remote areas, particularly those with unpaved roads, might still be challenging to access due to residual mud and water from the rainy season.
a woman wearing black and a white hat stands in front of a lookout point over a misty rainforest in November in Costa Rica
Misty Monteverde Cloud Forest in November

Costa Rica in November Weather

November weather in Costa Rica is diverse, influenced by the country’s varied topography and dual coastlines. Average temperatures range from 70°F to 81°F (21°C to 27°C), offering a warm and comfortable climate.

The Pacific coast tends to be hotter, while the Caribbean side experiences more humidity. In mountainous regions like Monteverde, temperatures can drop to around 60°F (15°C) at night.

Rainfall decreases significantly throughout the month, with early November seeing more frequent showers, especially in the afternoons. By late November, the weather becomes more stable and dry, making it an ideal time for outdoor activities.

For instance, the Nicoya Peninsula and Guanacaste province are typically sunnier and drier compared to the lush, rainforested areas of the Caribbean coast. This transition period provides a unique opportunity to enjoy Costa Rica’s natural beauty, with lush landscapes from the recent rains and increasing sunny days perfect for exploring.

Is Costa Rica Rainy in November?

Yes, Costa Rica is rainy in November, particularly in the first half of the month as it transitions from the rainy season to the dry season. The amount of rainfall decreases as the month progresses, especially on the Pacific coast. While you can expect afternoon showers, they become less frequent and intense.

The Caribbean coast remains wetter due to its year-round rainfall pattern. Despite the rain, November offers lush, green landscapes and fewer tourists, making it a favorable time to visit if you’re prepared for occasional showers.

rainforest sits in the foreground with a lake and cloudy sky above in Costa Rica Arenal
Typical variable weather in November in Costa Rica

Is November Hurricane Season in Costa Rica?

No, November is not typically considered hurricane season in Costa Rica. The official hurricane season in the Atlantic runs from June to November, but Costa Rica is located in a relatively protected area in Central America, and it rarely experiences direct hits from hurricanes.

Instead, the country may experience heavy rains and strong winds as a result of nearby storms. The Pacific side of Costa Rica has its rainy season, but it is less affected by hurricanes compared to the Caribbean side and regions further north.

What to Pack for Costa Rica in November

When packing for a November trip to Costa Rica, it’s crucial to be prepared for variable weather conditions. Here’s a detailed packing list to ensure you’re ready for all adventures:

Essential Clothing and Gear:

  • Lightweight, Breathable Clothing: Opt for moisture-wicking fabrics to stay comfortable in the humid weather.
  • Waterproof Jacket and Sturdy Hiking Boots: Essential for the occasional rain shower and exploring rugged terrains.
  • Swimwear and Sandals: Perfect for beach days and lounging by the pool.
  • Bug Repellent and Sunscreen: Protect against mosquitoes and the intense tropical sun.

Tips for Different Weather Scenarios:

  • Layering: Bring a mix of short-sleeve and long-sleeve shirts, as well as light sweaters for cooler evenings, especially in higher elevations like Monteverde.
  • Waterproof Bag: Handy for keeping your electronics and important documents dry during sudden rain showers.
  • Comfortable Daypack: Useful for day trips and excursions, ensuring you can carry essentials comfortably.

What to Do in Costa Rica in November

Exploring Nature

National Parks and Wildlife Reserves:

Costa Rica’s national parks are lush and full of life in November. Manuel Antonio National Park is famous for its stunning beaches and rich biodiversity, featuring monkeys, sloths, and vibrant birds.

Corcovado National Park, known as one of the most biologically intense places on Earth, offers sightings of tapirs, jaguars, and numerous bird species.

The Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is a paradise for bird watchers, home to the elusive resplendent quetzal. Tortuguero National Park on the Caribbean coast is the place to witness green sea turtles nesting, providing a unique wildlife experience.

lush rainforest with misty clouds above in Costa Rica in November weather
Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Preserve

Bird Watching:

Bird enthusiasts will find November to be an excellent time for spotting various species in Costa Rica. Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is particularly notable for sightings of the resplendent quetzal, toucans, and numerous hummingbirds. Palo Verde National Park in the Guanacaste region is another hotspot, especially for migratory birds.

In the Southern Zone, Los Cusingos Bird Sanctuary offers a chance to see rare species in a serene environment. These areas are lush and teeming with life due to the end of the rainy season, making bird watching a rewarding activity.

Adventure Sports

Surfing Spots and Conditions:

November marks the tail end of the rainy season, making it a prime time for surfing on the Pacific coast. Tamarindo and Jaco are popular destinations, offering consistent waves suitable for all levels. Advanced surfers might prefer the challenging breaks at Playa Hermosa or Santa Teresa.

The weather is typically warm, with water temperatures around 82°F (28°C), and the surf is often less crowded compared to peak season, providing a more relaxed experience for catching waves.

a girl with a surfsuit and beige surfboard walks out to the water with rocks behind on a clear day in Santa Teresa Costa Rica November
Surfing in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica

Hiking Trails and Volcano Tours:

Costa Rica’s diverse landscapes offer spectacular hiking opportunities in November. Arenal Volcano National Park features trails that traverse lush forests and lava fields, with the iconic Arenal Volcano as a backdrop.

The Rincon de la Vieja National Park offers a mix of volcanic activity and wildlife, with trails leading to waterfalls and hot springs. Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve provides misty, enchanting trails perfect for exploring the unique flora and fauna. The cooler temperatures and reduced rainfall make November an ideal month for hiking and volcano tours.

Cultural Experiences

Coffee Plantation Tours:

November is the beginning of the coffee harvest season in Costa Rica, making it an ideal time to tour coffee plantations. In the Central Valley, plantations like Doka Estate and Hacienda Alsacia offer guided tours where you can learn about the coffee production process from bean to cup.

Visitors can participate in coffee picking and enjoy tastings of freshly brewed coffee. These tours provide a deep insight into the cultural and economic significance of coffee in Costa Rica, along with picturesque views of the plantations.

a wood tray holds raw, medium roasted and dark roasted coffee beans
Taking a Coffee Plantation Tour is one of the best things to do in Costa Rica in November

Local Festivals and Events:

November in Costa Rica is rich with cultural events. The Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is celebrated with altars, flowers, and family gatherings, reflecting the country’s deep-rooted traditions. San Jose, the capital, often hosts music and dance festivals, showcasing local talent and folklore.

The start of the coffee harvest season also brings various regional festivities celebrating the coffee culture. These events offer a vibrant glimpse into Costa Rican life and are a great way to immerse yourself in the local culture.

November Events in Costa Rica

Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead):

Observed on November 2nd, Día de los Muertos is a time when Costa Ricans honor their deceased loved ones. Families create altars adorned with photos, flowers, candles, and favorite foods of the departed. Cemeteries become vibrant with color and activity, as families gather to remember and celebrate the lives of those who have passed.

This cultural event provides a profound insight into Costa Rican traditions and beliefs about death and the afterlife, offering visitors a unique opportunity to witness and participate in local customs.

Día de la Independencia (Independence Day):

Although Costa Rica’s official Independence Day is celebrated on September 15th, November often hosts events that commemorate the country’s history and culture.

These events include parades, traditional dances, and musical performances in various towns and cities. In San José, the capital, you might find educational exhibits and reenactments highlighting Costa Rica’s path to independence from Spanish rule. These celebrations offer a festive atmosphere and a chance to experience the national pride and heritage of Costa Rica.

Coffee Harvest Season:

November marks the beginning of the coffee harvest season in Costa Rica. Coffee plantations across the Central Valley and highland regions come to life with the activity of harvesting ripe coffee cherries. Visitors can join guided tours at plantations like Doka Estate and Hacienda Alsacia, where they can learn about the coffee production process and participate in coffee picking.

This season is crucial to Costa Rica’s economy and cultural identity, and it provides a fascinating and immersive experience for coffee enthusiasts and tourists alike.

Blue Morpho Butterfly Season:

The Blue Morpho butterfly, known for its stunning iridescent blue wings, is particularly visible in November. This time of year is ideal for spotting these beautiful creatures in various locations such as the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve and Tortuguero National Park.

Guided tours and butterfly conservatories offer educational insights into their lifecycle and the conservation efforts in place to protect them. Observing these butterflies in their natural habitat is a magical experience that highlights Costa Rica’s rich biodiversity.

a blue butterfly with black edges sits on a large fern leaf
Blue Morpho Butterfly in Costa Rica

National Parks Week:

In November, Costa Rica often celebrates National Parks Week, emphasizing the importance of conservation and environmental protection. Many national parks and reserves host special activities, including guided tours, educational workshops, and community events. Some parks might offer free or discounted entry, making it an excellent time to explore Costa Rica’s natural beauty.

This week-long celebration encourages both locals and visitors to appreciate and support the country’s efforts in preserving its diverse ecosystems.

One Drawback: Rainy Season Challenges

While November marks the end of the rainy season in Costa Rica, the first half of the month can still experience significant rainfall. This can impact travel plans, particularly for outdoor activities and access to remote areas.

Unpaved roads might be muddy and difficult to navigate, and some hiking trails could be slippery or closed for safety reasons.

However, with proper preparation, these challenges can be managed. Bring waterproof gear, including jackets and bags, to protect yourself and your belongings. It’s also wise to have flexible plans and backup activities for rainy days. Embrace the rain, as it keeps the landscapes lush and vibrant, enhancing your overall experience. Rainy afternoons can be perfect for enjoying a hot cup of local coffee at a cozy café or indulging in spa treatments at your hotel.

Despite the potential for rain, the benefits of visiting Costa Rica in November—lower prices, fewer tourists, and stunningly green scenery—often outweigh this drawback.

panoramic of a tall waterfall splashing into a pool below surrounded by rainforest in Costa Rica November weather
Gushing La Fortuna Waterfall in Costa Rica

Costa Rica in November Final Thoughts

November is an excellent time to visit Costa Rica for those seeking vibrant landscapes, cultural experiences, and fewer tourists. The mild weather and lush environment make it perfect for both relaxation and adventure.

Plan ahead, pack appropriately, and you’re in for a memorable trip!

More Things to Do in Costa Rica

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *