Seven Secrets of Green Season Travel
Want to know the secret to less-crowded and more-affordable Central American travel? Go in green season!
Most of Central America remains high and dry from late November into April, corresponding perfectly with many other countries’ winter holidays and school breaks. But as the warm, sunny climate attracts visitors from all over the world, it can also mean higher prices, more crowded attractions, and making reservations well in advance.
The rainy season—popularly known as green season—turns all of that around. The months of May to mid-November undoubtedly bring more rain (often in short afternoon showers). But they also offer big benefits for savvy travelers who love lush vegetation, abundant wildlife, and adventure without the high season’s costs and crowds.
Here are seven benefits to travel in Central America’s green season:
1. Fewer Crowds
Enjoy that “I have this incredible place all to myself!” feeling as you relax and reflect surrounded by nature instead of crowds, you’re seated at the best table in the restaurant, and you receive personal attention from tour guides. Of course, you won’t be completely alone—other savvy travelers have already discovered the beauty of green season getaways.
2. Nature Celebrates
Central America explodes with abundant flowers, plants, birds, and wildlife in the green season, nurtured by the regular showers. It’s a verdant feast for the senses, including the taste buds, as this is when many delicious tropical fruits and vegetables come into season.
3. Adrenaline and Adventure
Rivers run high and fast in the rainy season, pumping up both the rapids and the adrenaline on white water rafting and kayaking adventures. Waterfalls plunge more dramatically, rainforests thrive, and Mayan ruins somehow seem all the more mystical.
4. Marine Wonders
Mother Nature keeps her own calendar, and July to December marks the high season for turtle nesting, particularly in Costa Rica and Nicaragua, where “arribadas” bring tens of thousands of turtles ashore to lay their eggs. It’s also peak time to spot magnificent humpback whales in Costa Rica’s Golfo Dulce. Hoping to see a whale shark? Peak season in Belize is April and May. While Honduras’ whale shark season peaks in spring, October to December sees a second spike in sightings. And remember, Central American scuba diving and sport fishing are excellent all year—the fish don’t mind a little rain!
5. Bright, Beautiful Mornings
Green season means more showers, but mornings are mostly warm and sunny, ideal for hiking, tours, swimming, or virtually any outdoor fun you can name. Crisp, rain-fresh evenings often follow afternoon showers, and you may even be treated to a rainbow before sunset.
6. Bargains Abound
Hotels and lodges often lower their rates during green season, and you might also score an upgrade to one of their best rooms. Restaurants may also offer special prices, and you may even find more discounts in the shops.
7. Festivals and Fiestas
Carnivals, festivals, and celebrations dot the green season calendar. A few of can’t-miss options include Guatemala’s Day of the Dead and giant kite festival on November 1; Belize’s tacos festival and Garifuna Settlement Day celebration in November and lobster fests in June; Honduras’ May and June “carnival-style” festivals in Tela and La Ceiba; Independence Day celebrations in nearly all Central American countries on September 15; Nicaragua’s mid-August street festivals in Granada; and Costa Rica’s mid-July Virgin of the Sea boat parades in Puntarenas.
While a few activities, like certain caving tours or travel in flood-prone areas, may be unavailable, you’ll still have plenty of options for as much adventure or relaxation as you can handle. So if words like spontaneous, uncrowded, and great value define your perfect vacation, green season is the ideal time to pack your slicker and sunglasses and head off to experience Central America.