Cheapest Time to Fly to Costa Rica

person holding smartphone riding airplane

So you want to enjoy the Pura Vida life in Costa Rica? I can’t blame you. Costa Rica is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen–hands down. But, like traveling anywhere, if you want to visit Costa Rica you’re probably wondering when the best time to visit is. Everyone loves a great deal! Here’s the thing: the best time to visit and the cheapest time to fly to Costa Rica aren’t necessarily the same. 

With airlines, travel dates in the high season are going to be more expensive, but the weather will be nicer. The time of year you decide to fly will determine whether you can access cheap flights or even direct flights. Even so, it’s entirely possible to have a great time in Costa Rica without paying hand over fist for airfare. 

Photo of a Costa Rican waterfall by Amanda Finn from January 2022. The cheapest time to fly and see the waterfalls is July or August.
Photo of a Costa Rican waterfall by Amanda Finn.

Best time to visit

The best time to see Costa Rica is also the most popular time: November, December, and January. Why? Because of the weather. 

For the most part, mid-December through April is considered the dry season. That’s the ideal time to visit Costa Rica. Dry season is also peak tourist season and when you will have plenty of sunshine. Sunshine means a lot when you’re visiting this part of rainforest filled Central America. You might encounter rain, though it’s not likely to stick around all day. (If you’ve been to Florida think quick, rainy afternoons.)

Cheapest time to fly to Costa Rica

That leaves the other half of the year to be the rainy season. This means you guessed it, the cheapest time to fly to Costa Rica is during the rainy season. Specifically during August and July. 

Using my personal favorite airline United Airlines as an example, let’s take a look at the cheapest flights to Juan Santamarïa International Airport in San Jose from my home airport O’Hare for August 2022 versus December 2022. (These are as of today, May 25, 2022). 

  • August 23 – 30: $672 (direct)
  • December 1 – 8: $850 (one stop, 95 minute layover)

Of course, this all depends on where you’re flying from or what airlines you use. And if you use a tracker like Hopper or other search engines to calculate the best time to buy your plane ticket to Costa Rica. Hopper’s algorithm scours the web to find the best deals from all over from Spirit Airlines to American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, and everything in between.

It’s always a good idea to track your preferred flight with a program to make sure you get the best deals on airfare. I always use Hopper when I fly. Using one of these programs Is your best bet for the lowest fares.

You can also benefit from using miles or airline points to book your flights too. (If you’re interested in getting bonus miles through a United credit card you can sign up with my referral link.) It’s a good idea to stay loyal to one particular airline because the more you build up a history with them, the more likely you are to get upgrades or other perks. 

Unusually clear view of Arenal Volcano's mouth. Photo by Amanda Finn taken in January 2022.
Unusually clear view of Arenal Volcano’s mouth. Photo by Amanda Finn.

Final thoughts

Don’t think that visiting Costa Rica during the rainy season means you’ll be slopping through puddles all day though! While you might want to pack some rain boots, extra bug spray, and ponchos, the national parks will reward you with more lush greenery than you would see in the dry season. (Keep in mind: you cannot usually use bug spray or spray sunscreen in the rainforests as they are protected ecosystems.)

Honestly, there isn’t a bad time to see this incredible country. When you’re ready to see Costa Rica, be sure to check out Passport Adventure. Be sure to tell José that you want to see Arenal Volcano National Park, Manuel Antonio National Park, and go whitewater rafting. I promise it isn’t as scary as it sounds!


Published by Amanda Finn

Founder of Dream Suitcase, Amanda Finn is an award-winning travel, theater and lifestyle journalist.

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