Climate and Weather in Nicaragua

How is the weather in Nicaragua? This is for sure a question you'll ask if you consider to retire in Nicaragua.

The answer is: hot and dry or hot and humid, depending what time of the year it is.  Like in most tropical countries, the  Nicaraguan weather is divided into a dry season or summer ("verano") and a rainy season or winter ("invierno").

During the dry season from November to May, the Pacific lowlands loose their lush green colour and become pretty yellowish and dusty. 

In Managua, the difference in rainfall between dry and rainy season is astounding. According to WorldClimate.com, the average rainfall is about 100 times higher during September / October than during January / February (about 300 mm or 12 in versus 3 mm or 0.1 in).

This prolonged drought with almost no rainfall is one of the country's most serious economic problems to tackle.

If you want to "test drive" Nicaragua for your retirement, I recommend you visit at the end of the dry season (March to mid April), as this is when the blowing dust and smoke from the farmlands combine with temperatures in the high 30s (90s F).

If you can stand this time of the year, you'll love the rest of it. 

And yes, there's a lot of dust during the dry season, as this video demonstrates.

The photos below show the difference between dry season (left column) and rainy season (right column).

Mid of April, towards the end of the dry season, everything's yellowish and many trees have shed their leaves. It's the time where I sometimes wonder if moving to Nicaragua was a wise decision. But then (usually around mid of May) the rain starts and I fall in love with the country all over again.

You can literally watch the landscape transform before your eyes from dry, dusty and yellow to an abundance of green.

Dry Season in Nicaragua
Nicaragua Rainy Season
Dry Season in Nicaragua
Nicaragua Rainy Season
Nicaragua Dry Season
Nicaragua Rainy Season

Similar to Panama, the Caribbean coast receives a lot more rain than the Pacific coast. Whereas the yearly average along the Pacific is 102 cm (40 in), the Caribbean or "Mosquito" coast can have as much as 254 - 635 cm (100 - 250 in) of rainfall per year.

Nicaragua has three temperature zones, defined by altitude: the lowlands or coastal regions, the central part and the mountains in the North.

The map below gives you an idea of the lay of the land. The darker or greener the color, the higher the elevation.

Map of NicaraguaMap of Nicaragua [Image source: worldatlas.com]

Average temperature in the lowlands lies between 22°C (72°F) at night and 30°C (86°F) during day time.

During the hottest months of April and May, temperatures can reach 38°C (100°F). In the slightly higher central region average temperatures are about 5°C (9°F) lower, and in the mountainous North about 10°C (18°F) lower.

If you are used to the mountain breezes of San José, Costa Rica, the Nicaragua climate will seem hot to you. If you are used to the frigid Januaries of New York, Munich or Montreal, it will seem like heaven!

Weather in Nicaragua at a Glance

  • Nicaragua has a tropical climate with 3 temperature zones defined by altitude.
  • On average the temperature in the hottest lowlands during the day is around 30°C (86°F) and around 20°C (68°F) in the mountains.
  • The Pacific coast and central regions have a distinct dry season from November to May, and a rainy season from June to October.
  • The Atlantic coast receives more rain all year round.

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Climate and weather in Nicaragua - Summary

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