January in Costa Rica

January weather patterns in Costa Rica
Costa Rica January rainfall patterns. January is the beginning of the dry season. Clear weather is much more reliable on the Pacific side.

Best Time to Travel?


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The second half of January is one of the best times for a Costa Rica vacation. The first half of the month is also great from the perspective of weather but it tends to be somewhat crowded and peak season surcharges can make the first week one of the most expensive all year (see below).

January Weather

January the first reliably dry month at the beginning of the Costa Rican dry season. November and early December can be very wet or quite dry, the end of the year is usually dry. By January the northwestern (Guanacaste) and central regions (Jaco, Manuel Antonio) of Costa Rica have little rain and mostly sunny weather. What little rain falls usually comes as afternoon or evening showers.

On the Caribbean side of the central mountains it’s wetter especially in the northeast where polar air pushes across the Gulf of Mexico picking up heat and moisture then depositing it as continuous days of rain referred to locally as temporales del Atlantico.

The beaches and lowlands experience high temperatures in the mid-eighties and low temperatures in the sixties to mid seventies. A day or two of temperatures in the mid nineties is possible at low elevations and especially on the Nicoya coast during January. Three thousand feet higher around San José and the Central Valley temperatures are 5-10 degrees cooler and temperatures at high elevations (Monteverde and Chirripó) can be 20 or even 30 degrees lower in January.

Planning Ahead & Reservations

Not only is January one of the best months to travel it is also one of the most popular. It’s the heart of the high season for international travelers and the middle of the school holidays for Ticos so activities and accommodations fill up quickly. Especially for the first week, advanced reservations (as far ahead as six to twelve months) are a necessity for the popular higher quality mid-price, superior and luxury class hotels, lodges and resorts.

Budget and mid-priced hotels that rely on walk-in clientele also fill up but if you arrive early in the day and are flexible you shouldn’t generally have any trouble finding lodging on the fly in January.

Costs & Availability for Travel in January

Prices reflect the popularity of travel at this time, high season rates are in full effect, and most hotels and lodges in the mid and luxury price ranges add a holiday surcharge for the first week of January. Many hotels and lodges that have dining rooms throw New Years Eve parties. Dinner and dancing are often mandatory for all guests and included in the room rates for the night of December 31 adding between $50 and $100 per person. Many accommodations also have minimum stays ranging from three to seven nights over New Years so you should check the fine print carefully when booking.

Reasonable airfares are available for advance purchasers, but most have sold out by November when prices typically climb by 20-50%.

The approximate predicted currency exchange rate is shown on the calendar below.

Alternatives to January in Costa Rica

If you like the sound of Dry Season, but would prefer to avoid the crowds try traveling in February or early March before the Spring Break and Easter crowds arrive.

…Other Bests…best kept secrets, best to do & best places

Notes:

The El Niño Weather pattern will have drying effects on Costa Rica’s Pacific side and will increase rainfall on the Caribbean into mid 2016.

Ash from intermittent eruptions of Turrialba volcano is expected to occasionally disrupt operations at San Jose (SJO) airport at least until the end of 2015 and probably into 2016 – see Choosing an Airport for more info.

Calendar of Nature, Holidays & Fiestas – Costa Rica in January

The more you see of a turtle, whale or quetzal symbol the more likely you’ll see one. A detailed explanation and legend is also included at the bottom.

January 2016
approximate exchange rate ¢539 per $U.S.
Rise & Set
Tide Times
Pacific
Caribbean
Costa Rica Moon Phase sunrise and sunset
Costa Rica High and Low Tides
dry season    wave size
rainy season    wave size
Fri 1
Costa Rica Moon Phase ↑23:40 ↓11:15 ↑5:56 ↓17:29 ↑1:21
↑13:35
↓7:33
↓20:04
olive ridley turtle  green turtle  leather back turtlehumpback whale  quetzal nesting
green turtle  leather back turtle  humpback whale
New Year’s Day – Revelers who were partying in the clubs the night before gather in San José’s Parque Central and Buenos Aires, and Puntarenas to continue the festivities at dances.
Sat 2
Costa Rica Moon Phase ↑23:40 ↓11:55 ↑5:56 ↓17:29 ↑2:10
↑14:22
↓8:23
↓20:55
olive ridley turtle  green turtle  leather back turtlehumpback whale  quetzal nesting
green turtle  leather back turtle  humpback whale
Sun 3
Costa Rica Moon Phase ↑0:25 ↓12:35 ↑5:57 ↓17:30 ↑3:04
↑15:13
↓9:19
↓21:48
olive ridley turtle  green turtle  leather back turtlehumpback whale  quetzal nesting
green turtle  leather back turtle  humpback whale
Mon 4
Costa Rica Moon Phase ↑1:11 ↓13:17 ↑5:57 ↓17:31 ↑4:01
↑16:09
↓10:18
↓22:43
olive ridley turtle  green turtle  leather back turtlehumpback whale  quetzal nesting
green turtle  leather back turtle  humpback whale
Tue 5
Costa Rica Moon Phase ↑1:59 ↓14:01 ↑5:57 ↓17:31 ↑5:00
↑17:07
↓11:18
↓23:37
olive ridley turtle  green turtle  leather back turtlehumpback whale  quetzal nesting
green turtle  leather back turtle  humpback whale
Wed 6
Costa Rica Moon Phase ↑2:48 ↓14:48 ↑5:58 ↓17:32 ↑5:56
↑18:03
↓12:14
olive ridley turtle  green turtle  leather back turtlehumpback whale  quetzal nesting
green turtle  leather back turtle  humpback whale
Thu 7
Costa Rica Moon Phase ↑3:40 ↓15:38 ↑5:58 ↓17:32 ↑6:47
↑18:55
↓0:28
↓13:05
olive ridley turtle  green turtle  leather back turtlehumpback whale  quetzal nesting
green turtle  leather back turtle  humpback whale
Fri 8
Costa Rica Moon Phase ↑4:33 ↓16:30 ↑5:58 ↓17:33 ↑7:33
↑19:42
↓1:16
↓13:51
olive ridley turtle  green turtle  leather back turtlehumpback whale  quetzal nesting
green turtle  leather back turtle  humpback whale
Sat 9
Costa Rica Moon Phase ↑5:26 ↓17:25 ↑5:59 ↓17:33 ↑8:16
↑20:28
↓2:01
↓14:35
olive ridley turtle  green turtle  leather back turtlehumpback whale  quetzal nesting
green turtle  leather back turtle  humpback whale
Fiesta Palmares  – Traditional (no bloodshed) bullfights, live music, folk dancing, carnival with rides and games take place the first two week of the year in Palmares
Sun 10
Costa Rica Moon Phase ↑6:20 ↓18:22 ↑5:59 ↓17:34 ↑8:58
↑21:12
↓2:45
↓15:16
olive ridley turtle  green turtle  leather back turtlehumpback whale  quetzal nesting
green turtle  leather back turtle  humpback whale
Mon 11
Costa Rica Moon Phase ↑7:13 ↓19:18 ↑5:59 ↓17:34 ↑9:39
↑21:56
↓3:28
↓15:58
olive ridley turtle  green turtle  leather back turtlehumpback whale  quetzal nesting
green turtle  leather back turtle  humpback whale
Tue 12
Costa Rica Moon Phase ↑8:04 ↓20:15 ↑5:59 ↓17:35 ↑10:20
↑22:41
↓4:11
↓16:40
olive ridley turtle  green turtle  leather back turtlehumpback whale  quetzal nesting
green turtle  leather back turtle  humpback whale
Wed 13
Costa Rica Moon Phase ↑8:54 ↓21:10 ↑6:00 ↓17:35 ↑11:03
↑23:26
↓4:55
↓17:23
olive ridley turtle  green turtle  leather back turtlehumpback whale  quetzal nesting
green turtle  leather back turtle  humpback whale
Thu 14
Costa Rica Moon Phase ↑9:43 ↓22:06 ↑6:00 ↓17:36 ↑11:47
↓5:40
↓18:09
olive ridley turtle  green turtle  leather back turtlehumpback whale  quetzal nesting
green turtle  leather back turtle  humpback whale
Fri 15
Costa Rica Moon Phase ↑10:32 ↓23:01 ↑6:00 ↓17:36 ↑0:14
↑12:33
↓6:28
↓18:57
olive ridley turtle  green turtle  leather back turtlehumpback whale  quetzal nesting
green turtle  leather back turtle  humpback whale
Día de Santo Cristo de Esquipulas – Popular religious festival celebrated with fiestas and dancing in Alajuelita, Dulce Nombre and Santa Cruz. Alajuelita also includes an ox-cart parade and procession to the iron cross on the mountain above the village where a blessing is given.
Sat 16
Costa Rica Moon Phase ↑11:20 ↓23:56 ↑6:00 ↓17:37 ↑1:05
↑13:23
↓7:19
↓19:50
olive ridley turtle  green turtle  leather back turtlehumpback whale  quetzal nesting
green turtle  leather back turtle  humpback whale
Sun 17
Costa Rica Moon Phase ↑12:10 ↓23:56 ↑6:01 ↓17:37 ↑2:01
↑14:18
↓8:16
↓20:48
olive ridley turtle  green turtle  leather back turtlehumpback whale  quetzal nesting
green turtle  leather back turtle  humpback whale
Mon 18
Costa Rica Moon Phase ↑13:01 ↓0:52 ↑6:01 ↓17:38 ↑3:02
↑15:19
↓9:19
↓21:51
olive ridley turtle  green turtle  leather back turtlehumpback whale  quetzal nesting
green turtle  leather back turtle  humpback whale
Tue 19
Costa Rica Moon Phase ↑13:54 ↓1:49 ↑6:01 ↓17:38 ↑4:09
↑16:26
↓10:28
↓22:57
olive ridley turtle  green turtle  leather back turtlehumpback whale  quetzal nesting
green turtle  leather back turtle  humpback whale
Wed 20
Costa Rica Moon Phase ↑14:48 ↓2:46 ↑6:01 ↓17:39 ↑5:17
↑17:36
↓11:37
olive ridley turtle  green turtle  leather back turtlehumpback whale  quetzal nesting
green turtle  leather back turtle  humpback whale
Thu 21
Costa Rica Moon Phase ↑15:43 ↓3:42 ↑6:01 ↓17:39 ↑6:23
↑18:41
↓0:02
↓12:41
olive ridley turtle  green turtle  leather back turtlehumpback whale  quetzal nesting
green turtle  leather back turtle  humpback whale
Fri 22
Costa Rica Moon Phase ↑16:38 ↓4:37 ↑6:01 ↓17:40 ↑7:22
↑19:40
↓1:02
↓13:39
olive ridley turtle  green turtle  leather back turtlehumpback whale  quetzal nesting
green turtle  leather back turtle  humpback whale
Sat 23
Costa Rica Moon Phase ↑17:31 ↓5:29 ↑6:01 ↓17:40 ↑8:14
↑20:32
↓1:56
↓14:31
olive ridley turtle  green turtle  leather back turtlehumpback whale  quetzal nesting
green turtle  leather back turtle  humpback whale
Sun 24
Costa Rica Moon Phase ↑18:23 ↓6:18 ↑6:01 ↓17:40 ↑9:00
↑21:19
↓2:46
↓15:17
olive ridley turtle  green turtle  leather back turtlehumpback whale  quetzal nesting
green turtle  leather back turtle  humpback whale
Mon 25
Costa Rica Moon Phase ↑19:13 ↓7:05 ↑6:01 ↓17:41 ↑9:43
↑22:02
↓3:31
↓16:01
olive ridley turtle  green turtle  leather back turtlehumpback whale  quetzal nesting
green turtle  leather back turtle  humpback whale
Tue 26
Costa Rica Moon Phase ↑20:01 ↓7:49 ↑6:01 ↓17:41 ↑10:23
↑22:43
↓4:13
↓16:42
olive ridley turtle  green turtle  leather back turtlehumpback whale  quetzal nesting
green turtle  leather back turtle  humpback whale
Wed 27
Costa Rica Moon Phase ↑20:48 ↓8:31 ↑6:01 ↓17:42 ↑11:01
↑23:23
↓4:54
↓17:21
olive ridley turtle  green turtle  leather back turtlehumpback whale  quetzal nesting
green turtle  leather back turtle  humpback whale
Thu 28
Costa Rica Moon Phase ↑21:33 ↓9:11 ↑6:01 ↓17:42 ↑11:39
↓5:34
↓18:00
olive ridley turtle  green turtle  leather back turtlehumpback whale  quetzal nesting
green turtle  leather back turtle  humpback whale
Fri 29
Costa Rica Moon Phase ↑22:19 ↓9:51 ↑6:01 ↓17:42 ↑0:03
↑12:16
↓6:14
↓18:39
olive ridley turtle  green turtle  leather back turtlehumpback whale  quetzal nesting
green turtle  leather back turtle  humpback whale
Sat 30
Costa Rica Moon Phase ↑23:04 ↓10:31 ↑6:01 ↓17:43 ↑0:43
↑12:54
↓6:55
↓19:20
olive ridley turtle  green turtle  leather back turtlehumpback whale  quetzal nesting
green turtle  leather back turtle  humpback whale
Sun 31
Costa Rica Moon Phase ↑23:51 ↓11:12 ↑6:01 ↓17:43 ↑1:26
↑13:35
↓7:39
↓20:04
olive ridley turtle  green turtle  leather back turtlehumpback whale  quetzal nesting
green turtle  leather back turtle  humpback whale
Costa Rica Moon Phase sunrise and sunset
Costa Rica High and Low Tides
dry season    wave size
rainy season    wave size
Rise & Set
Tide Times
Pacific
Caribbean

Calendar Legend

Averages for the month

  • Approximate exchange rate
  • General weather pattern for each half of the country
    dry season or rainy season average weather pattern
  • Average surf wave height for each coast
    larger or smaller than average wave height

Shown for each day

  • The phase of the moon, and the moon and sun rise and set times for planning turtle viewing or a night hike (best under the dark skies of a new moon when nocturnal animals are most active).
  • Times for each high and low tide along the outer Pacific coast (gulfs and bays vary). Average height 8 feet (2.5 meters).
    Not intended for navigation.
  • Tides on the east coast occur about 2 hours earlier. However, the average height is only 8 inches (0.2 meters) so levels in the Caribbean Sea do not significantly impact most activities.
  • Natural events are shown as shaded icons for quetzals (nesting), turtles (nesting), and humpback whales (calving) on each coast.
    wildlife calendar species
  • The more solid color shown the more likely the event, the more shaded the less likely.
    more or less likely turtle nesting
  • Baby turtles hatch (usually at night) after approximately 50-70 days incubation so look for nesting activity on the calendar two months prior to your visit if you’d like to see the little ones popping out of the sand..
  • HolidaysBold indicates a government & bank holiday when most businesses are closed and buses may run on limited schedules.
  • Fiesta and local festival dates are approximate – most include events spread over a week or two so check the schedule locally for more information.

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