What’s May Like in Costa Rica?

Are you planning a surf trip to Costa Rica in the upcoming months but not sure when to come? If you’re a seasoned Central American traveler, you know that Costa Rica’s dry season ends in late April and May is blessed with the first rains of the year. The dusty, brown terrain comes back to life offering jungle-like, lush green landscapes. But so many people have asked us for a full analysis of May in Costa Rica that we decided to dedicate a full blog to the topic.

What’s the weather like?

Yes, May is the first month of our “rainy” season, but what does that entail? A typical day starts out with mostly sunny skies until about noon. Clouds then build over the land until about 3 or 4pm when the skies open up for a refreshing (sometimes very heavy) downpour. A downpour can last anywhere from 5 min – 1 hour. Getting caught in a downpour at this time is actually quite refreshing after a hot day. Temps this time of year are generally between 75 – 95 degrees F (24 – 35 degrees Celsius). After the daily downpour the skies will partially clear out allowing for an illuminating sunset that will literally make you feel you’re having a 70’s flashback.

What’s the wind like?

The wind direction & speed are generally the “x factor” for any surf session. We’ll admit…… When the dry season ends in April, so do the all-day offshore winds. On most days, May brings a diurnal wind pattern which means light, favorable offshore winds in the morning (until 10am) and then the more unfavorable sea breeze comes up around 11am. But don’t call it a day just yet. You still have another surf window in the evening after the downpour when wind completely stops and the ocean can be oil-slick for the sunset session.

Insider tip: Check the Tamarindo tides for your surf week and choose a week with morning and evening high tides to take full advantage of these surf windows.

What are the crowds like?

The crowd in May is the second best characteristic of the month. The single travelers looking for a surf / party excursion have already come and gone with the high season and the family vacations don’t really begin until exams are over and school is out in June. If you have been itching to up your wave count at our world class beach breaks and point breaks, then May is the best window of the year to visit. If you’ve been waiting to surf Ollie’s Point with just your buddies and pumping swell, you’re best chances are for a pumping SW swell in May.

But what are the waves like?

We’re so glad you asked. Surfline.com actually did a study on Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast with the intention to discover the most consistent month wave-wise. They asked the question, “What month has the highest percentage of days with waves over 3 feet?”. The answer MAY surprise you…. The researchers found that May, on average, gets 85% of days over with waves over 3 feet putting it in 1st place. That’s 26 of the 31 days. Check out the chart below for the full breakdown. Furthermore, Costa Rica won Surfline’s May 2017 “Best Bet.”

Have you ever traveled to Costa Rica in May? What was your experience? And as always, contact us toll free at 1-888-318-7873 if you’d like to discuss further or get a quote for your next surf trip.

Pura Vida!


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