Snowbirds in Costa Rica have chosen to stay for the year in 2020 because of border restrictions, health conditions, safety, and, of course, the weather.
Seasonal travelers, aka “snowbirds,” are a likeminded group of people who prefer to escape their snowy location in the wintertime. Dry or wet, the beautiful nuisance that is snow becomes tiresome quickly to most sane people. Slick roads and walkways, shoveling multiple times a day, and ruining shoes and pants with salt are facts of life that we never get used to and everyone dreams about escaping it for good as soon as possible. We know why people want to come to Costa Rica during the winter months. But what keeps some people living here year-round? It wasn’t until this year that many snowbirds found the many answers to that question!
When the borders shut in Costa Rica and around the world in March, part-time residents were left to make a choice: should we stay or should we go? At that time, no one knew how long the borders would remain closed. One thing was certain: Costa Rica was inviting its current visitors to ride out the storm here by extending tourist visas for anyone who arrived after December 17th, 2019. At the same time, the government declared that it would not allow residents to return if they left Costa Rica after March 23, 2020 until the pandemic restrictions were lifted. This meant that all of the snowbirds who typically visit in the winter time had to decide if they would be “stranded” in their home country or spend their next winter in Costa Rica… plus all of the months in between. The half-year seasonal travels who chose to ride out this pandemic in Costa Rica have consequently experienced a Costa Rica they had not known before. And many have decided that they absolutely love this side of Costa Rica! Below are a few reasons why.
We love the cooler weather
The typical winter escape artists who stay in Costa Rica between the months of November and April are coming at the warmest and driest time of year. Down on our South Pacific coastal mountains, this means long stretches with no rain, full sunny skies, and warm ocean waters. For some, this is a dream come true that is the polar opposite of a wet, cold and dreary winter. The hot dry season sun warms our bones, the humidity from the thick jungle moistens our skin, and the warm waters of the ocean and rivers relax our bodies. But those who stay post-May know that there is something uniquely special about the weather when it rains. A refreshing downpour cools the air and water and makes this tropical climate a few degrees coolers. It is still warm enough for tank tops and shorts but without the sweat stains. The air feels thinner and wonderful to breathe. And the oceans and rivers are still warmer than a Canadian lake in August.
Enjoying our riverfront properties to the fullest
Along with the rain comes the swelling of every river that comes down our mountainous region. Waterfalls barrel down water to their maximum potential and dry creek beds fill up regularly. Those lucky enough to own a riverfront property get the full benefit of the soothing sounds of water flowing during the green season. Homes in our region are always built high above rivers and at a considerable setback because a small year-round river will grow more than ten times its height during a heavy rain. Even if it’s not currently raining where you are, higher elevation rains can cause rivers to swell quickly during this season.
Seeing amazing night skies on the clear, moonless nights
Since the air is cooler and thinner, cloudless nights are even more special during the green season. The hotter “dry season” can be deceiving in name because there is actually much more humidity in the air during the warmer months of the year, which can cause a haze that hides some of the dimmer stars. Big rain clouds may often obscure the night skies in the rainy season. But on the special nights that there are no rain clouds and a hidden moon, the stars fill the sky from end to end with wondrous luminosity. They feel so close that they can almost be reached and planets, constellations, and shooting stars pop out brightly to the naked eye.
Less people crowding beaches and waterfalls
With far less tourists and part-time residents coming to Costa Rica between May and November, beaches, waterfalls and other popular attractions are much less populated. Guided group tours will often be more of a private tour in the green season. And in spite of the lower numbers of people visiting, this is still an excellent time to enjoy any of the most popular adventure and nature activities that Costa Rica is known for. Even though it can rain almost every day in Costa Ballena during this season, the weather is generally warm and fine until the mid afternoon. This leaves plenty of time to enjoy river rafting, hiking, boogie boarding, and relaxing poolside for most of the day.
Seeing more fruits and flowers
The lush rains of the green season evoke a big flowering and fruit explosion. Seasonal fruits like mangos, avocados, water apples, rambutans, and more exotic flavors join the perennial Costa Rican fruits like bananas, coconuts, starfruit, and citrus. More high-growing foods mean more frequent animal and bird sightings. The hot, dry months do bring the true snowbirds that migrate here via their own wings. But with the big bloom of flowers and fruits during the rainy season, the colorful natives who remain here year-round are much more active and visible closer to home. Flower and fruit tree gardens give their fullest in the rainy season.
It’s better than being in the U.S. right now
Many North American seasonal travelers have in the past chosen to seek refuge from the refrigerator-like weather with properties in the subtropical US states and Mexico. Florida, Arizona, the Carolinas and Texas are some of the more popular choices for snowbirds flying south for the winter. But the pandemic has had a hard effect on these locations and coupled with the low Canadian dollar, many are rethinking their return to these states. The choice to move to Costa Rica has become clearer in a lot of minds paying attention to Costa Rica’s low and slow COVID-19 infection rates and the very low percentage of expats who have succumbed to the virus. The infamous pura vida attitude continues even in these trying times and those of us who have chosen to stay in Costa Rica are most impressed by the strong sense of community in the country as a whole. In a world filled with fighting ideologies, the common desire for living a peaceful, stress-free, and happy lifestyle persists in the hearts of those who call this country home.