Is February Good Month to Visit Costa Rica?
February in Costa Rica: Peak Sunshine and Celebrations
If you're planning a February vacation to Costa Rica, congratulations! You've picked what’s probably the best month of the year to come down. If you're from the frozen north, Costa Rica in February offers the perfect escape from all that ice and snow. Up north, February feels to many like a drag—that final month before the first green shoots of spring, when Mother Nature hurls her worst at you. The shortest month can feel like the longest.
Not so here in Costa Rica, where we're settling into peak dry season and hot sunny days tempered with cooling breezes are the norm. In fact, February marks the beginning of the warmest, driest part of the year. No wonder so many people want to come down at that time! Here, we'll unwrap February travel in Costa Rica for you and tell you what you should expect.
|Avg. Temperature (F)||73|
|Probability of Precipitation||Low|
|Daylight Hours||Avg. 12 hrs, 20 min|
|Sunrise and Sunset||5:30 AM - 5:50 PM|
Sun-Kissed Days: What's the Weather in Costa Rica in February Like?
February is glorious, weather-wise. Glorious. In Costa Rica, February marks the middle of the dry season and is when things start to get seriously dry. You can expect lots of sunshine and high temperatures, with minimal rainfall. Along the Pacific coast, daytime highs range from 86-94°F (30-35°C) and nighttime lows between 76-84°F (25-29°C). The Central Valley also enjoys pleasantly warm weather, with daytime temperatures averaging 75-85°F (24-29°C).
One noteworthy weather phenomenon unique to February is the “Papagayo winds.” These winds are a result of cooler, dry air descending from the north and displacing the warm, humid tropical air mass. You'll feel these winds more in Guanacaste, the Pacific northwest, due to Lake Nicaragua just over the border. Wind speeds can exceed 100 kph (62 mph), creating amazing surf conditions at that time. One caveat here is that, in Guanacaste, the ocean can sometimes feel chilly in February due to these winds. Not a huge deal, but something to be aware of. Think refreshing!
The Caribbean side of Costa Rica, however, is wetter in February. The rainfall comes from polar air sweeping down from Canada into the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean, where it meets warmer air. This rain usually comes in the form of short afternoon storms. Temperatures on the Caribbean are a little cooler compared to the Pacific side, with highs in the mid-80s Fahrenheit (low 30s Celsius).
Is February a Good Month to Visit Costa Rica? Pros and Cons of Visiting
The best reason to visit Costa Rica in February is the weather—if you love hot and sunny weather, that is. The fact that much of the United States, Canada, and Europe are cold and miserable in February only adds to the attraction. To make deciding whether February travel to Costa Rica is for you or not, here's a list of pros and cons:
Pros of Visiting Costa Rica in February:
- The weather. February is one of the sunniest and driest months of the year in Costa Rica.
- The temperature. It's hot and sunny in February, but not as hot as March/April. Cooling breezes can take the edge of the heat, creating perfect conditions.
- Guaranteed activities available/everything open. Hiking trails, rivers, and national parks are all easily accessible in February. The great weather means nothing is closed.
- Live an outdoor lifestyle. Just another way of saying how great the weather is. You'll be outside all day surfing, golfing, fishing, and exploring.
- More flights. The high season often means that getting to Costa Rica is easier. Many airlines run seasonal routes into Costa Rica—particularly into Guanacaste Airport (LIR)—between December and April that they wouldn't run otherwise.
Cons of Visiting Costa Rica in February:
- More expensive. There's no getting around it—February is the high season in Costa Rica, meaning that hotels are generally more expensive and there are less deals to be had.
- Early booking recommended. Hotels are small in Costa Rica and often book up far in advance during the high season. This includes February.
- Flights. Although there are more flights to Costa Rica in February available, you'd be advised to book in advance, as like hotels, they can fill up fast. Overall, with both hotels and flights, there is some urgency when booking a February vacation due to limited space.
- Busier. More flights plus great weather equals more tourists. You're not likely to be alone on the beach or those national park trails at this time of year. There are plenty of other tourists around.
- Less lush landscape. If you're traveling for warm weather, activities, and to escape the winter blues in your home country, this isn't an issue. But it's worth pointing out that the lush greens and rainforest vibe that defines Costa Rica is a little more muted in the dry season, especially in Guanacaste.
Weighing up the pros and cons listed above, it's easy to conclude that while February is one of the best months of the year to visit Costa Rica—a month where everything is accessible and the weather is fantastic—it also requires some forward planning in advance due to it being the high season.
|Average Cost of Lodging|
|Budget ($)||$225 - $340|
|Moderate ($$)||$350 - $490|
|Luxury ($$$)||$500 - $1,200|
Flora and Fauna: February’s Wildlife Magic
There's often a school of thought that the dry season is worse for wildlife in Costa Rica than the rainy season. This is because the rainy season has fewer tourists. Fewer tourists means fewer people means more animals to spot. Now, while there's some logic to that, Costa Rica is still a natural wonder of the world whatever month you visit, including February.
For example, Costa Rica has two whale seasons, when the humpbacks visit our warm waters to congregate, breed, and rear their young. The most famous whale season is August/September time, when southern humpbacks migrate up the Pacific coast of South America to Costa Rica. But it also works in reverse. Northern humpbacks leave their regular homes off Alaska and Canada to come south between December and April. That makes February great for whale spotting, especially in Guanacaste and the Central Pacific.
February is also a good time for turtles in Costa Rica. The largest turtles in the world, leatherbacks, nest on Costa Rican beaches (particularly Guanacaste) at this time of year, and also Pacific green sea turtles.
Costa Rica also hosts hundreds of migratory species of birds in February, who come down to avoid those northern winters. In Monteverde alone, you can find almost 100 species of migratory birds in addition to the 400 resident species living there year-round. February is also the breeding season for the iconic resplendent quetzal.
And if you're looking for sloths and monkeys? You'll find them in February too! Some animals are around all year, so ask our travel consultants for the best places to spot them.
February Adventures: Activities Tailored for Sun and Fun
We've established that the weather at this time of year makes for an outdoor lifestyle full of things to do in Costa Rica. Put simply, activities in Costa Rica in February abound.
From hiking to white water rafting, zip lining, and more, everything you want to do in Costa Rica is easy and available in February without that pesky rain getting in the way. White water rafting is actually optimal in February, as conditions sit in that sweet spot before water levels start dropping in March and April.
For those of you looking for a more sedate experience, February is also the perfect month to kick back poolside or on the beach with a tropical cocktail or ice cold beer while thinking of your friends back home in the cold.
Can You Swim in Costa Rica in February? Beaches and Ocean Activities
Dry season in Costa Rica means beach season. The hot sunny weather of February attracts travelers and tourists from all over at this time of year, including Costa Ricans seeking beachside sun and fun at weekends. This means that many Costa Rican beaches in February won't be deserted, especially in the main beach and surf communities. It's still the school summer holidays, after all. But don't worry, there's always a patch of sand for you to stretch out on, and swimming and splashing around is awlays a great way to cool off.
The Pacific coast of Costa Rica has the best weather in February, meaning the best beach life is on this side. One exception is the surf, where the largest and most powerful waves are on the Caribbean side. We talked earlier of those cold fronts from North America entering the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. Well, this is the result. The famed Salsa Brava in Puerto Viejo is at its best right now.
Guanacaste also offers great surf in February due to offshore winds coming off Lake Nicaragua. Expect excellent conditions from Witch’s Rock down through Tamarindo and onto the Nicoya Peninsula (the water can be quite cool at this time, too!). Those of you looking for smaller, calmer waves for surf lessons should look at the Central Pacific coast. The Nicoya Peninsula protects this stretch of coastline from those winds and winter storms in the North Pacific, so expect warmer waters for splashing around in.
The other big ocean activity in Costa Rica is fishing, and anglers will have a wonderful time in February. While both offshore and onshore sport fishing is excellent year round in Costa Rica, on both Pacific and Caribbean coast, it is dependent on location and what you're fishing for. In February, the optimum spots for offshore sport fishing are the Central and Southern Pacific coasts for sailfish. February is also great for tarpon on the Caribbean side.
February Fashion: Packing and Outfit Tips
If you're traveling to Costa Rica in February, the bottom line is you don't need much. It's hot and sunny after all. You may, of course, be flying to Costa Rica from New York, Chicago, Toronto, London, or some other freezing-cold-in-February place. That might well mean you've got some cold weather gear with you for the journey to the airport and the journey home after your vacation. That's fine—you won't be using that outfit in Costa Rica!
Your daily attire will consist, mostly, of shorts and T-shirts. Maybe a tank top or swimming outfit. Flip flops. Clothing for hot weather. Pack some sneakers or hiking shoes for outdoor activities, for sure. And maybe an extra pair of old sneakers or water shoes you don't mind getting wet. Bring some long pants or a pair of jeans if you're in the city, too. And don't forget the sunscreen! Sunscreen is devilishly expensive in Costa Rica, so bring down as much as you can yourself.
If you're spending time at altitude or in the cloud forests, we recommend a light rain jacket or poncho. Also bring a light sweater or hoodie with long sleeves.
Cultural February: Carnivals, Festivals, and Celebrations
February is quite a good time for partying in Costa Rica, especially in the beach towns, which are generally bustling with tourists and locals alike, all enjoying the sun, sea, and surf. It's still the school summer holidays so families are making the most of things in February. There's a general good vibe... a pura vida at play. Below, we highlight a few of our favorite February festivities in Costa Rica.
If you're in Guanacaste (particularly on the Nicoya Peninsula), you'll find festivals and topes (horse parades) around the region. The town of Nicoya has the best one.
Ash Wednesday—the beginning of Lent—is often in February. If Easter is late, it might be in March, but most years it's February. That means carnival time in the city of Puntarenas! The festivities encompass street fairs, lively fiestas, dance performances, a beauty contest, live music, and sporting events. Expect something similar on a smaller scale in Quepos.
And then there's the Envision Festival, held near Dominical at this time of year. It's more than just a rave—although it's certainly a rave! Envision also features live concerts, yoga, performance art, and ample opportunities for like-minded individuals from around the world to connect on the beach. If that's your type of thing, then you'll love Envision in February.
Costa Rica also hosts a number of fishing tournaments at this time of year, attracting anglers from all over the world. These take place on the Central Pacific, out of either Los Sueños Marina in Herradura or Marina Pez Vela in Quepos. Both marinas host numerous international competitions including the world famous Signature Triple Crown. Feel free to ask our fishing experts about these.
Traveling Prudently: Tips and Recommendations for February Voyages
If you've decided to travel to Costa Rica in February, then you've picked an excellent time! That goes double if you're escaping the end of a snowy winter up north. But you need to understand the timing in this. Timing is everything here.
The best recommendation we can offer for February travel in Costa Rica is to book early. Arrange the trip in advance so you don't have problems with availability and space in both your hotels and flights. We can't stress that enough. Hotels are small in Costa Rica and it's the high season. It's also the school summer holidays, meaning that locals are also in play, looking for accommodations. Booking early is key, especially if you have a specific hotel you want to stay in, or location you want to explore.
If you have other specific questions, there are some Costa Rica travel forums you can access. Here, people with local knowledge can help you with even more tips.
Reveling in Costa Rica's February Fun and Sun
We hope this guide offers you at least a taste of what to expect on a February vacation to Costa Rica. Bottom line, it's all about sunshine and good times! Parks are open, activities and available, and the beaches are glorious. What more can you ask for?
The only thing to remember in all this is the need to book early. That is key during the Costa Rica February travel peak. We urge you, if you're planning on a winter escape to Costa Rica in February, to contact our expert travel advisors who will be happy to, as we say, get the coconut rolling for you. See you in February!