August marks the heart of Costa Rica’s green (AKA rainy) season, which runs from May to November—this is when tourists typically steer clear, holding out instead for the dry season from December to April.
But don’t let the green season scare you off. It’s actually the right time to visit. Here’s why.
1. More Rain Equals More Life
Frequent showers and high humidity are a given during the country’s rainy season, but so are cooler temperatures, an explosion of vibrant flora and fauna, and an abundance of emerging wildlife. In August, the remote Osa Peninsula, home to the fantastic Corcovado National Park (where jaguars and pumas roam), sees nesting turtles and their hatchlings on the beaches. Humpback whales are in the Sweet Gulf, just beginning to arrive in late July to have their calves. In the rainforest, now more lush and exuberant than at any other time of year, you can see exotic beauties like the red-eyed tree frog and cat-eyed snake (who you may spy eating said frog eggs).
2. A Few Showers Might Even Make Your Trip
Keep in mind that while rain is more frequent in the green season, it often comes and goes quickly, and there can be days at a time where it doesn’t rain at all. Mornings are usually sunny and warm, with plenty of time to hit the beaches and pools. Still, if you’re lucky, you’ll get to experience the magic of being in a rainforest during a rainstorm, with massive leaves glistening around you and everything buzzing. Near San Jose (which you can reach by direct flight from Chicago on United Airlines), check out the sprawling Atlantic park at Rainforest Adventures (from $114 for adults, $65 for children), which is next to Braulio Carrillo National Park. After ziplining through canopies, over streams, and mountains of treetops, pray for rain. It’s fantastic during a quiet aerial tram ride over the forest or within the park’s massive butterfly and frog garden.
3. Lower Rates and Lighter Crowds
From coffee estate tours to zipline adventures, Costa Rica’s most popular activities are more private in green season, when crowds are lighter than in the dry, high season. You’ll also spend a good deal less on air, tours, and accommodations, with many hotels discounting rates by 30 percent or more. Stay at the remote Lapa Rios Ecolodge on the Osa Peninsula, where you sleep in beautiful, screened-in bungalows at the edge of the rainforest and the Sweet Gulf; spend $380 a person, a night (verses $540 in high season). Closer to San Jose in Santa Barbara, book a room at the charming Finca Rosa Blanca, set on a sweeping organic coffee estate with views of the Central Valley, for $260 a night (verses $320 in high season).
Chicago’s First Le Méridien Opens at Oakbrook Center
Next time you visit Oakbrook Mall in the western burbs, your eyes won’t miss the stunning, nine-story Le Méridien Chicago – Oakbrook Center (from $129). Opened July 31 after a $25 million transformation of the former Renaissance Hotel, the new mod hotel, dressed in dark grey and floor-to-ceiling windows, spans 172 rooms and suites; the top-floor’s El Tapeo restaurant (opening August 8) and 3,000-square-foot ballroom; and a sunlit lobby featuring a café, bar, and multi-colored mural by local artist Justus Roe. Shoppers should know: Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus are just a hop-skip across the parking lot.
The Rules of Vacation Bragging
“Don’t post mediocre photos,” writes Mark Schatzker. “Are you interested in seeing other people’s average vacation snaps? They’re not interested in yours.” Other rules: Don’t tweet about great meals, do share interesting tidbits about other people. Condé Nast Traveler has more.
Where to Stay at the Illinois State Fair
Pitbull and Robin Thicke, hog calling and hypnotists, carnival rides, even American Idol auditions—the 2014 Illinois State Fair is here this Friday through August 17 with countless off-the-wall reasons to go. If you make the trip, Chicago has these four hotels worth a stay.