Costa Rica is broken up into two seasons: the wet and dry season. The transition from the wet (or, "green") season to the dry season typically starts in late November, so with luck on your side, you might arrive with mostly clear skies and still enjoy the residual green landscape all that rain produced.
Another benefit to visiting Costa Rica in November is that temperatures will be lower. In the dry season, highs can be as high as the 90s Fahrenheit, but in November you can hope for mild mid-70s/low-80s temps. And trust us, each one of those degrees will matter when you take into account how hot it can get on the Pacific coast and on the Nicoya Peninsula.
Crowds & Costs
This is the shoulder season, so expect fewer crowds. An added benefit is reduced prices for international flights and lodging. For hotels, you can expect savings of at least 15%, and some places, especially if they're located in more remote areas like the Osa Peninsula and Tortuguero National Park, might even have deals for up to 50% off.
The obvious exception to this is the week of Thanksgiving when many Yankees come down to celebrate turkey day in the tropics. If you're planning on visiting during this time, be sure to make hotel reservations well in advance.
Where to Go
If you have the time, you might want to make your November vacation a bi-coastal experience. After all, the famous beaches of the Nicoya Peninsula are just heating up this time (making for great suntanning weather), and the Caribbean coast is still in the throes of its mini summer season. You could even visit the highlights of the Caribbean side, like Tortuguero National Park and the beach town of Puerto Viejo in the south, before heading to the Nicoya Peninsula and its famous beaches like Tamarindo and Playa Hermosa.
What to Do
A popular activity that can be enjoyed any time of year is a coffee farm tour. The volcanic soil found in many regions in Costa Rica (particularly Guanacaste Province and even San José) is prime coffee-growing territory. Visit a working coffee farm to learn more about the harvesting and production process of Costa Rica's famous arabica brew.
If the above is of interest to you, then you could combine it with a highland vacation that includes zip-line tours and nature hikes in the Monteverde Cloud Forest, a visit to Lake Arenal, and enjoying waterfall hikes and soaks in natural hot springs.
As an aside, if you are in the capital of San José during the first week of November be sure to visit the Cementerio General, in the downtown area. Not only are there many impressive marble mausoleums, but you'll also see people decorating many resting places in celebration of the Day of the Dead (more on this below).
Events in November
Dia de los Muertos. Costa Rica's version of Day of the Dead serves the same purpose as Mexico's much-ballyhooed holiday of the same name: to honor and remember deceased family members. Costa Rica celebrates Dia de los Muertos on November 2nd every year and its citizens honor their dearly departed by making pilgrimages to local cemeteries, holding candlelight vigils, and adorning gravesites with elaborate decorations.
El Desfile de Carretas. This annual parade of ox carts takes place in San José during the last week in November. Oxen pull wagons and parade floats decked out in ornate decorations.
Traveling to Costa Rica in November? Check out these great itineraries.
Nicoya Peninsula Surf & Yoga. Nicoya's famous beaches offer great beach-going weather in November. Base yourself on the northwestern edge of Costa Rica, and spend your vacation surfing and finding your bliss. With 10 days to explore the region by four-wheel drive, you’ll base yourself in three quintessential surf towns: Tamarindo, Nosara, and Santa Teresa.
Explore Guanacaste from Liberia. This five-day beach vacation takes you to the heart of Guanacaste Province, in northwestern Costa Rica. You'll have plenty of time to relax and soak up the unique landscapes and beaches of the region, with just the right amount of adventure thrown in—a perfectly relaxing getaway for Thanksgiving week.