Last updated on July 23rd, 2020 at 08:01 pm EST
Pictured above (left to right): Traditional mascara (mask); Pejibaye from Tucurrique; Traditional pan bon bread available for purchase in Limon during the Caribbean Carnival
Some of the information in this article about traveling to Costa Rica in October can also be found in our related blog post:
Get the Costa Rica info you need by browsing our article’s TABLE OF CONTENTS:
Is October a good time to go to Costa Rica?
The answer to this question depends on what you’re looking to get out of your travel experience, where in Costa Rica you’re headed, what you want to see and do while here, how much money you’re willing to spend, and several other factors. We compiled the information below to help you decide whether you should or shouldn’t go to Costa Rica in October, which is part of Costa Rica’s “low season” (click here to learn more about Costa Rica’s high and low travel seasons), according to your own interests, wants, needs, and vacation priorities.
Planning to visit Costa Rica during a different month? Don’t miss our related blog posts:
Costa Rica in January / Costa Rica in February / Costa Rica in March / Costa Rica in April / Costa Rica in May / Costa Rica in June / Costa Rica in July / Costa Rica in August / Costa Rica in September / Costa Rica in November / Costa Rica in December
Special events and celebrations in October
If any of the following Costa Rica events interest you, you may want to plan your vacation to Costa Rica in October:
- Feria de Pejibaye (Peach Palm Fruit Fair): This food festival typically takes place in the small, inland village of Tucurrique (between Turrialba and Cachi) in October, though it’s sometimes held as early as September or as late as November.
- Carnaval del Caribe (Caribbean Carnival): This cultural festival typically takes place in Limon and other Caribbean destinations over a course of 10 to 12 days in mid-October.
- Dia Nacional de la Mascarada (National Masquerade Day): This day, which showcases traditional mascaras (masks), is celebrated on October 31st each year. It is usually marked by cultural events that take place in Barva (near Heredia).
Noteworthy wildlife / marine life sightings in October
If you’re coming to Costa Rica to see a particular species of wildlife or marine life, consider the following benefits to visiting Costa Rica in October:
- Parque Nacional Marino Las Baulas (the Las Baulas National Marine Park) hosts leatherback sea turtles nesting on Playa Grande in October (best seen between October and March, ideally in December and January).
- Refugio Nacional de Vida Silvestre Ostional (the Ostional National Wildlife Refuge) hosts olive ridley sea turtles nesting on Playa Ostional in October (best seen between May and December, ideally between August and December).
- Parque Nacional Tortuguero (the Tortuguero National Park) hosts olive ridley sea turtles, leatherback sea turtles, loggerhead sea turtles, and green sea turtles nesting on Playa Tortuguero in October (best seen between March and October).
- Refugio de Vida Silvestre Camaronal (the Camaronal Wildlife Refuge) hosts olive ridley sea turtles, leatherback sea turtles, and hawksbill sea turtles nesting on Playa Camaronal in October (best seen between June and December).
- Islas Murcielago (the Bat Islands, also known as “The Bats”) hosts bull sharks in October (best seen between May and November).
- Isla del Coco (Cocos Island) hosts sharks and whales in October (best seen between May and December).
- Costa Rica’s Pacific coast hosts humpback whales migrating up from the south in October (best seen between July and October).
- Refugio Nacional de Vida Silvestre Mixto Cano Negro (the Cano Negro Mixed Wildlife Refuge) hosts resident bird species in October (best seen between May and December).
- Parque Nacional Palo Verde (the Palo Verde National Park) hosts resident bird species in October (best seen between May and December).
Interested in Costa Rican wildlife? Don’t miss the photos in our related blog post:
Costs in October
On average countrywide, the least expensive time to travel to Costa Rica is during the low season, especially during months that fall outside of the shoulder sub-season (July and August), including October. This is when accommodation prices and car rental rates are at their lowest (note that prices for tours / activities, shared and private transportation services, and food tend to remain the same year-round). As an off-season month for travel in general, international flights to/from Costa Rica tend to be fairly priced for visits during October.
Weather in October
With the exception of southern Caribbean destinations, Costa Rica’s least favorable weather is experienced during the low season, which spans October. During this time, most of the country experiences Costa Rica’s green / wet / rain season, which is considered Costa Rica’s winter season. Even though you’re most likely to encounter below-average periods of sunshine and above-average periods of rain if you visit during October, there’s still plenty of great weather to be had. If you want to increase the amount of sunshine you get and decrease the amount of rain you receive, consider vacationing at destinations along Costa Rica’s southern Caribbean coast (between Limon and Manzanillo). Opposite the weather pattern that the rest of Costa Rica follows, the southern Caribbean receives its best weather during the months of September and October.
Views in October
With the exception of southern Caribbean destinations, cloud cover and sporadic rain is experienced in Costa Rica during the month of October. This weather can affect otherwise beautiful views captured during adventure and nature tours, atop volcano craters, and at several miradors (viewpoints) around the country.
Landscape in October
October is part of Costa Rica’s green / wet / rain season, which means you’re most likely to witness the country lush and green (as opposed to dry and brown, in some areas) when you visit.
Road conditions in October
Costa Rica’s roads are typically at their worst during October and November following a long green / wet / rain season. Road closures due to landslides, river crossings, and bumpy roads dotted with potholes are commonly encountered during October travel in Costa Rica. Unpaved roads comprised of dirt and dust may become muddy and cut with ruts. Having a 4×4 vehicle is a good idea—if not a requirement, depending on which highways and roads you’ll be covering—if you plan to drive around Costa Rica in October.
Plan to drive yourself around Costa Rica? Learn what to expect from each road and highway by reading our related blog posts:
Water levels in October
Costa Rica experiences above-average amounts of rainfall during October, which means water levels around the country tend to be high. This means that waterfalls (for swimming in and canyoning beside) can be powerful, white-water rafting excursions can be intense, and other water-related activities (such as kayaking tours and boat tours) may require tour modifications during the month that you visit. Though rare, tour and activity cancellations resulting from dangerous water levels are more likely to occur during low season months, especially October and November.
Terrain in October
Hike conditions tend to be at their worst during October and November following a long green / wet / rain season. Chances are you’ll encounter muddy and debris-filled trails during October travel in Costa Rica. You may also encounter trail closures due to landslides, floods, or fallen trees.
Tourism in October
Countrywide, tourism in Costa Rica is low and muted during October. If you plan to visit during this month, you can expect smaller group sizes for organized tours; below-average numbers of hikers on popular nature trails, guests in hotels, and diners in restaurants; fewer occupants in transportation vehicles (i.e., shared shuttle services, domestic flights, water taxis, ferries, and local buses); and lower levels of noise.
Atmosphere in October
Characteristic of Costa Rica’s low season, the month of October gives off a laid-back and somewhat solemn vibe. It’s great to visit during October if you want to feel like you’re traveling off the beaten path, but if you’d rather experience Costa Rica when the country doesn’t feel so empty, vacationing in October should be avoided.
Closures in October
Several tourism businesses close temporarily, reduce their hours of operation, or renovate during the month of October. If you plan to visit Costa Rica during this month, you may want to contact each hotel, tour company, and/or restaurant you wish to experience to make sure they’ll be available to you during your visit.
Cruises in October
October marks the start of the cruise season in Costa Rica, which typically runs from October to March. Carnival, Celebrity, Disney, Marella, Oceana, Princess, Regent, Royal Caribbean, and Windstar are some of the more popular cruise lines that visit Costa Rica during the cruise season. It’s important to note that non-cruise visitors may find port towns such as Puntarenas (on the Pacific coast) and Limon (on the Caribbean coast) to be busier than normal during days in October when ships are docked.
Availability for accommodations in October
Most Costa Rica hotels don’t sell out during the month of October, which means room availability is typically easy to come by.
Wondering when you should book Costa Rica trip items to not lose out on availability? Don’t miss our related blog post:
Availability for tours / activities in October
Spaces for most Costa Rica tours / activities don’t sell out during the month of October. If you’re interested in booking preferred tour times and/or tour guides though, it’s a good idea to reserve tours / activities once you’ve selected them. If you’re a single traveler visiting Costa Rica in October, you may find it tough to participate in some tours / activities as many tour operators have a minimum two-person requirement. Since October receives fewer visitors than most other times of the year, it can be tough to find other people to participate in guided tours with during the low-season month.
Want to save money on your Costa Rica day tours? Check out the free discounts we offer for Costa Rica tours and activities:
Availability for transportation services in October
Most Costa Rica transportation services (including shared shuttle services, private transfer services, domestic flights, water taxis, and ferries) don’t sell out during October. If you’re interested in booking preferred departure times and/or routes though, it’s a good idea to reserve transportation services once you’ve selected them. Some transportation service providers (such as shared shuttle service providers and domestic airlines) reduce the number of services they offer during low-season months, including October, so there may be fewer departure times available for you to choose from.
Need help deciding which transportation services to use in Costa Rica? Check out our related blog post:
Availability for rental cars in October
Most Costa Rica car rental agencies don’t sell out of vehicles during October. 4×4 vehicles are the first to go, however. Since it’s recommended to navigate many of Costa Rica’s roads in October with a 4×4 vehicle, it’s a good idea to secure a rental car of this type as soon as you decide on it.
Have you booked your Costa Rica hotels, transportation services, or car rental yet? If not, don’t miss the free discount codes we offer for these items:
QUESTION TO COMMENT ON: Have you been to Costa Rica in October? What did you experience?