Due to its moderate tropical climate and gentle atmospheric conditions, Costa Rica is a welcoming home throughout the year. Temperatures average around 80 degrees no matter what the month, there is plentiful sun even in the heart of the rainy season, and the country’s tropical forests are full of life throughout the year. As a result, Costa Rica’s outdoor activities, experiences out in nature, and lively local events are always present, making any time a good time to visit.
The key is to pick a season that fits the desires of a specific trip. Outside of the two seasons, rainy and dry, certain times of year each have their own distinct identity, which emphasize aquatic, terrestrial, and in-town activities in different ways.
At Las Catalinas on the North Pacific coast of Guanacaste, the time from mid-November to mid-January, just as the green season has turned to the dry, is a favorite for visitors and residents who want to get a little bit of everything that Costa Rica has to offer in one stay.
A vibrant green forest, gentle temperatures and pleasant air conditions, warm water, and plentiful sun with very little rain make the turning of the seasons ideal to visit the area and try Costa Rica’s outdoor sports, experience nature, and celebrate the holidays like a local.
Nature During the Turn of the Seasons
In the forests of Guanacaste, the turn of the seasons offers the chance to experience the richness of rainy season life with dry-season weather. There is still water in the ecosystem due to underground aquifers, stored water in the plant life, and the occasional continuing rain shower, so the forests are full and green, which keeps animals active in their rainy season patterns.
In Las Catalinas, this animal activity, along with the constant sun and mild temperatures that are present year round, makes the turn of the seasons ideal to step out onto the trails for the chance to see these Costa Rican animals in their natural habitats.
Out in the water, the arrival of the offshore winds and the corresponding fading of the rain drastically improves water quality and the amount of animal life. As the offshore winds arrive, surface water is blown out to the open ocean, leading to a process called deep water upwelling where clear, nutrient rich water lift up from the seafloor bringing large aquatic life with it.
This clear water and the increased aquatic life in shallows makes this time of year is one of the best times to be out diving and snorkeling in the waters around Las Catalinas. In the cove, deep water fish more frequently arrive at the volcanic rock reefs to spot while snorkeling. Out at the Catalinas islands just a short boat ride away, manta rays begin to migrate in large numbers, providing the chance to dive with these gigantic, peaceful creatures their natural habitats.
An Oceanic Giant Manta Ray, found commonly at the Catalinas Islands
Outdoor Activities at the Turn of the Seasons
The waters of Playa Danta invite outdoor activities like kayaking and snorkeling
The lack of rain is another significant factor. In Guanacaste, most activities go on rain or shine, but planning activities like beach days, open-air meals, and sunset strolls becomes easier with consistent clear skies.
Body surfing during a lively day at Playa Danta
In Las Catalinas, the weather can add a new dimension to time spent outdoors. For morning yoga on the beach, the sunrise mists turn into breezy bright mornings over the course of a session. Offshore winds help keep the surf clean for longer on the many breaks found in the area. The trails are smooth, well-packed, and dry, making for swift and steady rides. Sunset barbecues on Playa Danta feature the brilliant colors of a late rainy season sunsets, which give way to skies full of stars.
The sunny beach weather with little rain, as well as the finer details of the outdoors at the turn of the seasons are a large part of the reason why locals and internationals alike visit Guanacaste during this time of year, celebrating holidays and vacations.
Sunset from Playa Danta
The Holidays in Guanacaste
The stretch from mid-November to mid-January also corresponds with international travel holidays like Christmas, Thanksgiving, and the New Year, as well as the summer vacations of many schools around Costa Rica. Compared to some schools in other parts of the world, which have a short-term break over December and January followed by a much longer summer break, many schools in Costa Rica have a longer break in December and January, followed by a short break in July and August.
Christmas on Playa Danta
As a result, Guanacaste hosts many visitors both Costa Rican and international during this time of year, as locals set out for the beach and travelers from northern and southern climates travel to the area for a break from the winter.
Around the area, many activities kick back in with the arrival of the dry season and new visitors. Las Fiestas, the local Guanacaste rodeos, begin to tour once more, and there are a number of festivals and events to discover all around Guanacaste.
In Las Catalinas, this time of year brings a full calendar of holiday events. Town hosts the Paddle Battle, a Stand-Up Paddle Board race, as well as the Intrepid Challenge, a quadrathlon obstacle course race, for a lively weekend of outdoor activity. For Thanksgiving, Limonada hosts a communal dinner in town, and there are in-home dinners available from town’s chefs for family and friends. For Christmas, Santa arrives in town from land or sea to give the children presents. Throughout the rest of the festive season there are events throughout town, including a big meal to celebrate New Year’s Eve.
In between, town is the same walkable, friendly place as always. The streets are alive with interesting people to meet, and friends and family are always just a few steps away.
Evening lights at Limonada
Visiting the Gold Coast at the Changing of Seasons
Gentle, sunny weather that’s suited to a wide range of activities, a vibrant and active ecosystem, and the surrounding festivities of the November and December holidays are among the many reasons to visit Guanacaste during the changing of the seasons.
One option to visit for this time of year is Las Catalinas. The walkable streets are bright and beautiful thanks to sunlight and timeless architecture, welcoming long strolls along trails, pedestrian streets, and beaches all under clear skies. The trails and the water are suited to many forms of daily outdoor activities ranging from mountain bike to meditation to surfing, and town’s many events provide something to look forward to every week.
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