One factor which makes living in Costa Rica so enjoyable is the extremely predictable weather pattern. Almost never will you be surprised by rain on a family picnic, because in this tropical country, it stays completely dry from December to early May, and from late May to November, it rains. Here, the year is divided into two seasons, dry season (summer) and the rainy season (winter). Those who live full-time in this small, Central American country enjoy how easy event planning can be with no weather surprises, but for those who find themselves planning a trip during the rainy season, things can become a bit more difficult. If you have a vacation to Costa Rica planned and you are starting to see rain every day in your online forecast, you can be sure the forecast is accurate and will not change. Fear not, rain will not ruin your tropical getaway. You need to take a couple precautions to ensure a safe and fun trip, but then you’ll be free to enjoy your adventure to the fullest.
Costa Rica stays relatively warm all year round, regardless of what the locals may call “winter.” Check the temperature forecast for your destination and be sure to pack layers. Most of the day will still be sunny, so don’t leave shorts, sandals, sunscreen, or sunglasses off your to-pack list. The only thing that makes a visit during the rainy season more difficult is that you are going to need to bring more luggage than you may have planned. Even with a well-developed itinerary, you can be sure you’ll be caught in a downpour sooner or later. You will need extra shirts, socks, and underclothes for your trip, and make arrangements to do laundry mid-vacation. This should not be difficult; any hostel or hotel will provide a laundry service. An umbrella will most likely be rendered useless during your trip, as the rains come in big monsoon-style storms, but a lightweight, waterproof windbreaker or poncho will absolutely be put to use. Be sure to bring along heavy boots with good grips if you plan on hiking.
Surprisingly, the rain will not affect much of your itinerary. During the rainy season, it is typically dry all morning, with a quick downpour in the afternoon and again during the night. For your surfing, hiking, and touring goals, be sure to plan early mornings. A quick start to your day will ensure you can get the active vacation you wanted, and the downpour in the afternoon will come at a perfect time for you to take shelter at a beach-side bar or “rancho” to enjoy a cold beer and watch the storm roll in. These storms can be quite impressive and will lead to absolutely stunning sunsets, if they come late enough in the day, so instead of planning around the rain, include it in your relaxation activities.
During the rainy season, the city streets will not be effected much, as the advanced city development comes with a great drainage system. Rural roads, however, can be difficult. If you are renting a car, be sure to ask for 4-wheel drive, this will be well worth any extra charges. If you are relying on the transport from your tour operator or hotel, you can be sure they are well-equip to handle the weather. For the immersion travelers who want to use public transportation to navigate the country, none of your buses or shuttles should be canceled, but you can expect extra time delays. Plan your trip expecting delays during out-of-city travel and be sure you have any emergency numbers or hotel contact numbers on hand.
Besides a heavy-duty vehicle and enough water-proof clothes to last your trip, there are a few other precautions you may want to take. During the rainy season, the mosquito night-life comes alive. Bring plenty of repellent from your home country, as it will be easily three times the cost once you land. Also, consider buying a citronella candle and having light-weight leggings on hand for night time relaxation. For those traveling with a family, you may also want to bring some alternative activities, such as books or crafts. The tropical storms in Costa Rica are absolutely breathtaking, and for those who enjoy watching nature under a covered gazebo, enjoying a local coffee or beer, these storms may just be the highlight of your trip. Kids, however, may need some activities for the inevitable mid-afternoon down times. During the storms, you may also experience a slight decline of internet, telephone, and TV signal. There is nothing you can do about this, but everything will be back to normal as soon as the storm is over.
Enjoy your Perfectly Timed Trip
Understandably, a visitor may be worried when seeing a rainy forecast for the entirety of his or her planned trip, but for the long-term residents and locals of Costa Rica, the rainy season is the favorite part of the year. The rain comes in short, strong bursts, and usually clears up rather quickly. This keeps the heat and dust down, and provides built-in, natural entertainment. The entire country becomes greener, waterfalls become stronger, river tours start to swarm with animal life, and the happiness of the population sky-rockets as the temperature drops. You will get the best of the jungle tours and see Costa Rica in its full, blossoming beauty. The rain will be a source of entertainment for your family, and while you will inevitably be caught in a downpour at some part of your trip, you will always be close to a bar or restaurant. Do what the locals do, and instead of trying to out-run Mother Nature, duck inside the nearest food joint and enjoy a tropical-fruit smoothie as the storm passes. You will also enjoy traveling during a low-tourism season, meaning cheaper rates, more tour openings, and a more immersion-style experience. Don’t plan your trip around the rain, let these tropical storms be the highlights of your Costa Rican adventure.