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January in Costa Rica is great! Depending on where you are it might be sunny, windy and dry or very rainy or very chilly. It is the high season; therefore there might be crowds in some of the most popular attractions. Please find here all you need to know about Costa Rica in January.

January in Costa Rica for some activities and regions might be one of the best times to enjoy Costa Rica.

Now and then, though, it is essential to know that we are in the Northern Hemisphere and now and then; in Costa Rica in January, Northern Polar fronts approach to our Caribbean producing chilly intervals that last two or three days.

Costa Rica in January - General Facts

About this Monthly Guide:

This guide breaks down the seasons and regions, as well as the highlights you can enjoy during January in Costa Rica; there might be several differences from one area to another. As small as Costa Rica may seem it has a complexity in its calendar which will probably affect your itinerary if you are currently planning your trip.

What’s great in January?

All aquatic sports, either on the ocean or river rafting. The sun is out, and the ocean is a bit choppy because of the constant winds. (Catamaran and sailing rides can be a bit moved at times)

It is remarkable for windsurfing.

Birdwatching:  as it is winter in the Northern Hemisphere, several migratory species are in the region causing an increase in the number of observed birds.

And for those looking for beach rest and leisure, this is a great time to find the Guanacaste resorts at their best.

Weather of Costa Rica in January


Costa Rica has no seasons; temperature changes little from period to period.  (The right way to call them is “periods” even though most people call them seasons).  There are times of the year when it rains more than others. This periodicity changes according to height, winds and other facts.

January has both periods simultaneously, depending on where you are.

January in Costa Rica is probably one of the best experiences for any traveler. Blue skies, warm days, fresh winds. And yes, of course, it depends on where you are, but, in general, it is sunny, yet fresh as the trade winds pass over Costa Rica creating a current of coolness even in the hotter regions.

In the Caribbean region though, at times is very rainy, creating the ever luscious rainforests and a vast amount of food for the wildlife.

(Find much more information on this in our article The weather in Costa Rica) 

Diverse Climates:

Please remember that in Costa Rica climate varies according to several factors like height, rainfall, location, etc. And that as we are in the Intertropical Convergence Zone weather is always unpredictable.

There are more than a hundred microclimates in the region and sometimes when traveling through Costa Rica, you feel you’ve known them all.

Costa Rica Weather Calendar - January in Costa Rica

At the Pacific Coast, Central Valley, Southern areas and the Central Volcanic Mountain Range, the sunny period goes from December to April, sometimes May.  As for the rainy season:  it goes from May to November.

Therefore, these places are in the rainy season during in January.

Around the Caribbean Coast, Arenal, Sarapiqui, Turrialba, Talamanca Mountain Ranges, the sunny period is the not the same. It is in March and April, and in September and October.

Therefore, these places are in the rainy season during January.


January in Costa Rica - Coffee

The coffee picking is still on, as well as its process. It is a great time for coffee tours.

You will find the usual tropical fruits throughout the year: Banana, pineapple, and papaya. Oranges may not be as sweet as well as tangerines.

You will also find soursop, avocados, plantains, watermelons, and kiwis.

It is possible that for tree lovers this is a perfect time as several species are in bloom.

One of the most popular at this time of year is the Poro Poro. These trees were used to shade the coffee, and they lose their leaves and blossoms with bright orange/red flowers creating a fantastic landscape in green and orange that is hard to forget.

Another tree that begins to bloom in this time of year is the ironwood tree, Yellow Cortez. As its name says, the tree gets covered with bright yellow flowers, complementing the fantastic landscapes of the orange poro poro trees.

January in Costa Rica - Yellow Cortez in Bloom

Wildlife Sightings in January:


In this time of year, the 252 seasonal bird species are relishing in the Costa Rica sunny weather and profusion of food. A lot of resident and attractive migratory species can be seen at this time of the year, some examples below:

Parrots: Scarlet Macaw is the biggest parrot in the world. Observable in January at Jaco, Osa Peninsula, Manuel Antonio, Carara National Park, and Corcovado National Park.

Resplendent Quetzal: Nesting at this time of year. If a nest is located, the observation from a distance and with right optical gear, it’s a fantastic experience. Observable in Monteverde and Savegre as other high areas of the mountain ranges.January in Costa Rica - Resplendent Quetzal

Hummingbirds: Over 50 species of hummingbirds are found in Costa Rica, they have a very distinctive appearance and way to fly as well. You can see them all year round.

Toucans: Six species are found in Costa Rica. Keel-billed toucans are commonly seen on the Caribbean side and both Keel and Black Mandibuled together. The Emerald Toucanet is seen up in a high elevated land like Monteverde. The yellow Eared Toucanet is very hard to spot.

You can see them all year round.


January in Costa Rica - Whales

North Atlantic humpback whales – Dec to March

California humpback whales – Dec to April

Best places to see whales:

Tamarindo Beach and surroundings

Santa Teresa, Malpais, and Tambor

Nicoya Gulf

South Pacific Region:

Isla del Caño

Drake Bay

Golfo Dulce

Dominical (Parque Marino Ballena)


January in Costa Rica - Sea Turtles

Hawksbill Sea Turtles:

Nesting: A few

Hatchlings: A few

On both coasts

Leatherback Sea Turtles

Nesting: Some

Hatchlings: Some

On both coasts

Pacific Green Sea Turtles

Nesting: Some

Hatchlings: Some

On both coasts

Olive Ridley Sea Turtles

Nesting: Many

Hatchlings: Many

On all of the Pacific Coast


January in Costa Rica Dolphins

Bottlenose and Spotted Dolphins are visible all year round.

Common or Spinner Dolphin, is visible from December to March.

The Best places to go dolphin watching:

North Pacific:

Tamarindo Beach and surroundings

Santa Teresa, Malpais, and Tambor

Nicoya Gulf


Limon and South Caribbean

In the North Caribbean Tortuguero Canals, they may be visible although it is rare.

South Pacific Region:

Drake Bay

Golfo Dulce

Dominical (Parque Marino Ballena)

In Tourism

January is the sunny season and high season:

Cruise ships

January in Costa Rica Cruiseships

Arriving in the Puntarenas and Caldera piers on the following dates of January: 4, 7, 8, 9, 21, 23, 24, 28 (2019)

On these dates, the following may be crowded: Carara National Park, Tarcoles Crocodile Safari, Aerial Tram of the Pacific, the Coffee Tour and Waterfall Gardens, and in Monteverde, Selvatura Park, Sky Adventures and the Monteverde Reserve.

January in touristic places of Costa Rica

Manuel Antonio and Monteverde Reserve may have long lines at the entrance of the National Park

In Tortuguero, there may be some waiting time on the boat for the National Park canals tours.

Costa Ricans daily life, holidays and traditions:

Holidays: January 1st.

Schools and universities are in their Summer Vacations. Therefore, you will find many Costa Ricans on the beaches and National Parks. And it’s not a good time to visit schools.

January 9th: Palmares Town in the Central Valley celebrates the famous “Fiestas de Palmares”.”It is quite a big celebration of two weeks once a year and takes place in January. There is a big horse parade, bullfights (Costa Rican style), carousels, and other activities.

January 14th: Santa Cruz Fiestas.  There is a horse parade, bullfights (Costa Rican style), carousels, and other activities.

Surfing in January in Costa Rica

January in Costa Rica - Surfing

Both the highest and most constant waves appear from January to March, caused by cold winter fronts pushing into the Caribbean.

Salsa Brava at Puerto Viejo in the South Caribbean is at its most significant point, to take advantage of the waves of January in  Costa Rica


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Mapache Tours – Blog. (2018). January in Costa Rica. [online] Available at: [Accessed 1 Oct. 2018].

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