Last updated on July 23rd, 2020 at 08:10 pm EST
Pictured above (left to right): Turtle nesting on Playa Grande; A rainy day in Costa Rica; Islas Catalina
Some of the information in this article about traveling to Costa Rica in November can also be found in our related blog post:
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Is November 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 November, 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 October / Costa Rica in December
Specialevents and celebrations in November
November is a fairly low-key month in terms of Costa Rican celebrations. There aren’t many significant events or holidays that take place in Costa Rica in November that are worth planning your trip around.
Noteworthy wildlife / marine life sightings in November
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 November:
- Parque Nacional Marino Las Baulas (the Las Baulas National Marine Park) hosts leatherback sea turtles nesting on Playa Grande in November (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 November (best seen between May and December, ideally between August and December).
- 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 November (best seen between June and December).
- Islas Murcielago (the Bat Islands, also known as “The Bats”) hosts bull sharks in November (best seen between May and November).
- Isla del Coco (Cocos Island) hosts sharks and whales in November (best seen between May and December).
- Islas Catalina (the Catalina Islands, also known as “The Cats”) hosts giant manta rays in November (best seen between November and May).
- Refugio Nacional de Vida Silvestre Mixto Cano Negro (the Cano Negro Mixed Wildlife Refuge) hosts resident bird species in September (best seen between May and December).
- Parque Nacional Palo Verde (the Palo Verde National Park) hosts resident bird species in November (best seen between May and December).
Interested in Costa Rican wildlife? Don’t miss the photos in our related blog post:
Costs in November
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 November. 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 November.
Weather in November
Costa Rica’s least favorable weather is experienced during the low season, which spans November. 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 November, there’s still plenty of great weather to be had.
Views in November
Cloud cover and sporadic rain is experienced in Costa Rica during the month of November. 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 November
November 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 November
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 November 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 November.
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 November
Costa Rica experiences above-average amounts of rainfall during November, 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 November
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 November travel in Costa Rica. You may also encounter trail closures due to landslides, floods, or fallen trees.
Tourism in November
Countrywide, tourism in Costa Rica is low and muted during November. 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 November
Characteristic of Costa Rica’s low season, the month of November gives off a laid-back and somewhat solemn vibe. It’s great to visit during November 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 November should be avoided.
Closures in November
Several tourism businesses close temporarily, reduce their hours of operation, or renovate during the month of November. 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 November
November is part 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 November when ships are docked.
Availability for accommodations in November
Most Costa Rica hotels don’t sell out during the month of November, 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 November
Spaces for most Costa Rica tours / activities don’t sell out during the month of November. 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 November, you may find it tough to participate in some tours / activities as many tour operators have a minimum two-person requirement. Since November 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.
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Availability for transportation services in November
Most Costa Rica transportation services (including shared shuttle services, private transfer services, domestic flights, water taxis, and ferries) don’t sell out during November. 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 November, 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 November
Most Costa Rica car rental agencies don’t sell out of vehicles during November. 4×4 vehicles are the first to go, however. Since it’s recommended to navigate many of Costa Rica’s roads in November 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.
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QUESTION TO COMMENT ON: Have you been to Costa Rica in November? What did you experience?