November in Costa Rica

Weather and rainfall map for November in Costa Rica
As the map shows typically November is one of the wettest months in Costa Rica but by the end it’s usually drying out.

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November Weather

Weather in Costa Rica in November is a gamble. On average it’s a rainy season month on the Pacific and in the central mountains but sometimes (especially with El Niño) the dry season comes early.  La Niña years typically have the opposite effect – intensifying and lengthening the rainy season.

That said, last decade has seen some Novembers that were anything but typical.

Way back in 2007 El Niño moderated the first half of the rainy season but by November it was one of the wettest years on record. Corcovado shut down because tourist we’re endangering themselves trying to rescue animals from trees in flood areas and the rangers could not patrol the park effectively. Again in 2010, November was wetter than ever as Tropical storm Tomas dumped record rains that closed every major highway (including the PanAmerican) due to bridge collapses and mudslides.

In an average year, the northern and central beaches and mountains get significant rain some days, but typically enjoy a pattern of sunny mornings and days with most of the showers in the afternoon or evening. Early in the month the southern Pacific and Osa peninsula are still quite wet as the temporales del Pacífico continue. Lodges and tour operators that have shut down during the exceptionally wet months of September and October resume operations as the weather begins to dry towards the end of the month.

The southern Caribbean side (Cahuita, Puerto Viejo and Manzanillo) is still slightly drier, but as you move north towards Tortuguero the rains intensify.

In November high temperatures in the lowlands and and near the beaches are in the low to mid-eighties (low to mid nineties are possible) and lows in the low seventies.  As you move up to the Central Valley around San José both the highs and lows are 5-10 degrees cooler. By the time you reach the high elevations around cloud forest destinations like Monteverde and Chirripo the high temperatures are in the mid sixties to low seventies and it can be downright chilly at night.

Planning Ahead & Reservations

If you’re thinking about spending a holiday in Costa Rica Thanksgiving might be a good choice. It’s not a Costa Rican holiday so the kids are in school and their parents at work instead of heading to the beaches as is the case on Christmas, New Years and Easter/Spring Break. Few Ticos vacationing means less competition for the accommodation inventory and generally better availability and prices than at the other holidays.

You should be able to wing it pretty easily in November, especially if you’re planning on staying in budget and mid-priced hotels that rely on walk-in clientele. All but the most popular resorts and lodges typically have same day availability in November and some even offer last minute discounts.

Costs & Availability for Travel in November

The “green season” is winding down in November but low season prices and availability are in effect. Costa Rica’s meteoric rise in popularity means that the days of 50% off for low season are mostly a thing of the past, but you can still expect to save around 20% to 30% and it’s a great time to snag a reservation at some of the small boutique hotels that are booked solid months or even years in advance for the peak travel times.

Airfare bargains are harder to find than you might expect for “low season.” Most airlines cut back on the number of flights and some suspend service altogether. Even though the demand is down, so is the supply of seats so prices tend to stay fairly stable.

Getting Around

In our experience November has been the worst month for roads.  There may well be more rainfall in the preceding months but by November the ground is saturated and a heavy rain often precipitates landslides that close roads for weeks and even sometimes months.  In 2015 the Pan American Highway south out of the capital was closed until March from washouts the previous year.

Alternatives to November

November is a good choice for low season prices, but if the possibility of record rainfall seems like too much of a gamble you might consider pushing your vacation back to the first two weeks of December. Low season prices are still mostly available and the odds of dry weather are better.

Another alternative is August, smack in the middle of the rainy season but more predictable than November. Instead of even odds of surprisingly wet or surprisingly dry like November, August is nearly always middle of the road with some rain especially in the afternoon and overnight but rarely a washout.

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Notes:

The developing El Niño Weather pattern announced in April and subsequently described as strengthening by NOAA will have increased drying effects on Costa Rica’s weather through 2015 and into mid 2016. Something to keep in mind when looking at the rainfall maps.

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

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

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.

November 2015
approximate exchange rate ¢527 per $U.S.
Rise & Set
Tide Times
Pacific
Caribbean
Costa Rica Moon Phase sunrise and sunset
Costa Rica High and Low Tides
rainy season    wave size
dry season    wave size
Sun 1
Costa Rica Moon Phase ↑22:23 ↓10:21 ↑5:29 ↓17:15 ↑12:10
↓5:57
↓18:31
olive ridley turtle  green turtle  leather back turtlehumpback whale  quetzal nesting
green turtle  leather back turtle  humpback whale
Mon 2
Costa Rica Moon Phase ↑23:14 ↓11:11 ↑5:30 ↓17:15 ↑0:32
↑13:02
↓6:50
↓19:27
olive ridley turtle  green turtle  leather back turtlehumpback whale  quetzal nesting
green turtle  leather back turtle  humpback whale
Día de los Muertos – All Soul’s Day is observed across Costa Rica with Catholic masses and pilgrimages to graveyards.
Tue 3
Costa Rica Moon Phase ↑23:14 ↓11:57 ↑5:30 ↓17:15 ↑1:29
↑13:58
↓7:47
↓20:27
olive ridley turtle  green turtle  leather back turtlehumpback whale  quetzal nesting
green turtle  leather back turtle  humpback whale
Wed 4
Costa Rica Moon Phase ↑0:03 ↓12:40 ↑5:30 ↓17:15 ↑2:31
↑14:59
↓8:49
↓21:30
olive ridley turtle  green turtle  leather back turtlehumpback whale  quetzal nesting
green turtle  leather back turtle  humpback whale
Thu 5
Costa Rica Moon Phase ↑0:50 ↓13:22 ↑5:30 ↓17:15 ↑3:39
↑16:03
↓9:55
↓22:32
olive ridley turtle  green turtle  leather back turtlehumpback whale  quetzal nesting
green turtle  leather back turtle  humpback whale
Fri 6
Costa Rica Moon Phase ↑1:36 ↓14:02 ↑5:30 ↓17:14 ↑4:46
↑17:04
↓10:58
↓23:29
olive ridley turtle  green turtle  leather back turtlehumpback whale  quetzal nesting
green turtle  leather back turtle  humpback whale
Sat 7
Costa Rica Moon Phase ↑2:21 ↓14:41 ↑5:31 ↓17:14 ↑5:45
↑17:58
↓11:55
olive ridley turtle  green turtle  leather back turtlehumpback whale  quetzal nesting
green turtle  leather back turtle  humpback whale
Sun 8
Costa Rica Moon Phase ↑3:05 ↓15:21 ↑5:31 ↓17:14 ↑6:35
↑18:44
↓0:19
↓12:45
olive ridley turtle  green turtle  leather back turtlehumpback whale  quetzal nesting
green turtle  leather back turtle  humpback whale
Mon 9
Costa Rica Moon Phase ↑3:51 ↓16:01 ↑5:31 ↓17:14 ↑7:17
↑19:25
↓1:03
↓13:28
olive ridley turtle  green turtle  leather back turtlehumpback whale  quetzal nesting
green turtle  leather back turtle  humpback whale
Tue 10
Costa Rica Moon Phase ↑4:37 ↓16:43 ↑5:32 ↓17:14 ↑7:56
↑20:03
↓1:42
↓14:08
olive ridley turtle  green turtle  leather back turtlehumpback whale  quetzal nesting
green turtle  leather back turtle  humpback whale
Wed 11
Costa Rica Moon Phase ↑5:25 ↓17:27 ↑5:32 ↓17:14 ↑8:32
↑20:40
↓2:20
↓14:46
olive ridley turtle  green turtle  leather back turtlehumpback whale  quetzal nesting
green turtle  leather back turtle  humpback whale
Thu 12
Costa Rica Moon Phase ↑6:14 ↓18:14 ↑5:32 ↓17:14 ↑9:08
↑21:16
↓2:56
↓15:24
olive ridley turtle  green turtle  leather back turtlehumpback whale  quetzal nesting
green turtle  leather back turtle  humpback whale
Fri 13
Costa Rica Moon Phase ↑7:05 ↓19:02 ↑5:33 ↓17:14 ↑9:44
↑21:53
↓3:32
↓16:00
olive ridley turtle  green turtle  leather back turtlehumpback whale  quetzal nesting
green turtle  leather back turtle  humpback whale
Sat 14
Costa Rica Moon Phase ↑7:56 ↓19:53 ↑5:33 ↓17:13 ↑10:20
↑22:32
↓4:09
↓16:38
olive ridley turtle  green turtle  leather back turtlehumpback whale  quetzal nesting
green turtle  leather back turtle  humpback whale
Sun 15
Costa Rica Moon Phase ↑8:48 ↓20:46 ↑5:33 ↓17:13 ↑10:58
↑23:12
↓4:47
↓17:17
olive ridley turtle  green turtle  leather back turtlehumpback whale  quetzal nesting
green turtle  leather back turtle  humpback whale
Coffee Picking Contests – Local communities throughout the Meseta Central and mountains sponsor coffee picking contests in November.
Mon 16
Costa Rica Moon Phase ↑9:39 ↓21:39 ↑5:34 ↓17:13 ↑11:38
↑23:55
↓5:27
↓17:58
olive ridley turtle  green turtle  leather back turtlehumpback whale  quetzal nesting
green turtle  leather back turtle  humpback whale
Tue 17
Costa Rica Moon Phase ↑10:30 ↓22:34 ↑5:34 ↓17:13 ↑12:22
↓6:11
↓18:44
olive ridley turtle  green turtle  leather back turtlehumpback whale  quetzal nesting
green turtle  leather back turtle  humpback whale
Wed 18
Costa Rica Moon Phase ↑11:20 ↓23:29 ↑5:34 ↓17:13 ↑0:44
↑13:10
↓7:00
↓19:36
olive ridley turtle  green turtle  leather back turtlehumpback whale  quetzal nesting
green turtle  leather back turtle  humpback whale
Thu 19
Costa Rica Moon Phase ↑12:09 ↓23:29 ↑5:35 ↓17:14 ↑1:39
↑14:04
↓7:56
↓20:33
olive ridley turtle  green turtle  leather back turtlehumpback whale  quetzal nesting
green turtle  leather back turtle  humpback whale
Fri 20
Costa Rica Moon Phase ↑12:58 ↓0:24 ↑5:35 ↓17:14 ↑2:41
↑15:04
↓8:59
↓21:36
olive ridley turtle  green turtle  leather back turtlehumpback whale  quetzal nesting
green turtle  leather back turtle  humpback whale
Sat 21
Costa Rica Moon Phase ↑13:48 ↓1:19 ↑5:36 ↓17:14 ↑3:47
↑16:09
↓10:06
↓22:40
olive ridley turtle  green turtle  leather back turtlehumpback whale  quetzal nesting
green turtle  leather back turtle  humpback whale
Sun 22
Costa Rica Moon Phase ↑14:38 ↓2:16 ↑5:36 ↓17:14 ↑4:54
↑17:13
↓11:12
↓23:41
olive ridley turtle  green turtle  leather back turtlehumpback whale  quetzal nesting
green turtle  leather back turtle  humpback whale
Mon 23
Costa Rica Moon Phase ↑15:30 ↓3:14 ↑5:37 ↓17:14 ↑5:57
↑18:14
↓12:14
olive ridley turtle  green turtle  leather back turtlehumpback whale  quetzal nesting
green turtle  leather back turtle  humpback whale
El Desfile de Carretas – One of the largest parades of ox-carts (the other is the Día de los Boyeros the second week in March) takes place in San José the last week in November.
Tue 24
Costa Rica Moon Phase ↑16:24 ↓4:13 ↑5:37 ↓17:14 ↑6:54
↑19:10
↓0:38
↓13:11
olive ridley turtle  green turtle  leather back turtlehumpback whale  quetzal nesting
green turtle  leather back turtle  humpback whale
Wed 25
Costa Rica Moon Phase ↑17:20 ↓5:13 ↑5:37 ↓17:14 ↑7:48
↑20:04
↓1:32
↓14:04
olive ridley turtle  green turtle  leather back turtlehumpback whale  quetzal nesting
green turtle  leather back turtle  humpback whale
Thu 26
Costa Rica Moon Phase ↑18:17 ↓6:13 ↑5:38 ↓17:14 ↑8:38
↑20:54
↓2:23
↓14:55
olive ridley turtle  green turtle  leather back turtlehumpback whale  quetzal nesting
green turtle  leather back turtle  humpback whale
Thanksgiving – Just like the 4th of July it has nothing whatsoever to do with Costa Rica but some of the restaurants and resorts have picked up on the idea and offer U.S. visitors a turkey (or some approximation thereof) dinner.
Fri 27
Costa Rica Moon Phase ↑19:14 ↓7:12 ↑5:38 ↓17:14 ↑9:27
↑21:44
↓3:12
↓15:44
olive ridley turtle  green turtle  leather back turtlehumpback whale  quetzal nesting
green turtle  leather back turtle  humpback whale
Sat 28
Costa Rica Moon Phase ↑20:09 ↓8:08 ↑5:39 ↓17:15 ↑10:14
↑22:33
↓4:00
↓16:32
olive ridley turtle  green turtle  leather back turtlehumpback whale  quetzal nesting
green turtle  leather back turtle  humpback whale
Sun 29
Costa Rica Moon Phase ↑21:03 ↓9:01 ↑5:39 ↓17:15 ↑11:01
↑23:22
↓4:48
↓17:21
olive ridley turtle  green turtle  leather back turtlehumpback whale  quetzal nesting
green turtle  leather back turtle  humpback whale
Mon 30
Costa Rica Moon Phase ↑21:55 ↓9:50 ↑5:40 ↓17:15 ↑11:48
↓5:36
↓18:10
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
rainy 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.