Costa Rica’s rainy season takes place from May to November where the country is met by regular torrential downpours. It is a time of plenty (plenty of rain that is!) and the forests are lush and abundant with life. It just so happened that our trip tied in with this time and despite the threat of spending our visit perpetually damp, we decided to take the plunge anyway. So, did we manage to stay dry? Most certainly not! But did it spoil our trip? Far from it!! Here is a guide to getting the most out of Costa Rica’s rainy season so, like us, you come home soggy but smiling!
First and Foremost, here are afew costa rica wet weather tips:
Like the saying goes; ‘There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad choice of clothing!’ so dress appropriately. Waterproofs and quick dry clothes are a must! You will also need plenty of them because, in order to have a hope of staying reasonably dry, you will need several changes of clothes! Bring waterproof covers for your backpacks, because no one wants soggy sandwiches and drybags for any electricals are essential. Appropriate footwear should also be high up on the packing list! We went for walking boots which did get fairly soggy by the end of the trip but were good for tackling the terrain. Some people opt for wellies which may be better for preventing pruney feet (and we all know how hideous that is!) but they’re very clunky to pack. Much of the time we trudged around in flipflops or walking sandals which were a little better at quick-drying but were obviously not suited for all occasions (especially, as we learned when there are snakes about). My advice would be, in the words of Scar from the lion king, be prepared!
Drying off is hard! We found even when it wasn’t raining the air during Costa Rica’s rainy season was very saturated, so trying to dry out your clothes was near impossible. We advise using a laundry service with a tumble dryer.
A hair dryer is also a godsend here! Everyone laughed at me when I chose to take a hairdryer backpacking with me but I most certainly had the last laugh when I was able to quick-dry my underwear #noregrets!
Try to be flexible, and think ahead for your next location. During our travels, we heard of fellow tourists getting stranded for several days in certain locations due to flooding, or in some cases where the roads had been washed away to nothing but a muddy death slide. In many places, the infrastructure isn’t the greatest so the rain can cause the day to day comings and goings to grind to a standstill. With further flights to catch and only a limited time period to explore the country, we were most certainly not playing that game, so we did choose our locations based on places which were dryer or which had better infrastructure. It’s definitely something to think about, and for those of you hiring a car, fork out a little more and get a four-wheel drive because, in the rainy season, you will need it!
Just because it’s rainy season doesn’t mean you won’t get nice weather. We found the Costa Rican weather during the rainy season to be incredibly unpredictable. One minute you’d have glorious sunshine and then an hour later there would be freezing cold sheets of rain. Unlike my time in Florida where the rain there is like having a warm shower, this we found was not the case in Costa Rica, it does get quite chilly! My advice would be if you’re going out for the day pack for all weather eventualities!
So What is there to see and do on the Pacific Coast?
The answer? SO MUCH!! I feel during our two weeks we got a mere taster of the vibrant platter of activities, wildlife and destinations Costa Rica has to sample. Each place we visited was unique yet danced to a similar easy-going rhythm which is infectious and allows even the most uptight travellers (AKA me!) to relax.
Here are a couple of places which should be high on your to-do list along the Pacific coast. Disclaimer; as we split our meagre two weeks between both the Caribbean and the Pacific coast we did not have chance to explore as much of the Pacific Coast as we would like. Watch this space though Costa Rica, because I will be back!
This is THE place to come to see the cloud forest, which we found, as the name eludes to, was very cloudy! However, despite the swirling white sheet which hung over us the majority of the time we were there, we loved meandering through the forest trails keeping our eyes peeled for wildlife. The trees also provide great natural protection in the event of a downpour and you can spend ages marvelling at the beautiful natural water features and towering foliage around you.
Monte Verde is also the home to many adrenaline-fueled activities. During our visit, we decided to give the activities a miss as we’d just come from Banos, Ecuador where we’d had our fill of adrenaline sports. However, if you’re an adventurer looking for that rollercoaster feeling, definitely check out the river rapids. People truly rave about their experience of the abundance of activities available while in Monte Verde.
This was one of my favourite places in Costa Rica. Sat at the bottom of the magnificent Arenal volcano, which up until recently was actively erupting, drawing crowds worldwide to witness the plumes of smoke and burning orange lava. Sadly, it is now dormant but you can hike to the volcano through beautiful forest and have fun splashing in the lake at its base. Because of it’s vicinity to Arenal, La Fortuna enjoys multiple natural hot springs which many hotels have Incorporated into their complexes, but if you know where to go, you can enjoy them for free too! If you are going to pay for the experience (which is the difference between sitting in a rock filled, bizarrely warm river in the middle of nowhere and opposed to lounging in a natural hot tub with a glass of wine) I would recommend visiting the Baldi Hot Spring Resort. You don’t have to be a guest there you can purchase a ticket just to enjoy the spa facilities and this will often include a buffet lunch or dinner. In my opinion, it is worth experiencing both sides of the hot spring spectrum while you’re there!
If you’re heading out to Costa Rica, or are thinking of making it your next adventure destination, check out my other posts here for tips and inspiration!