Packing for Costa Rica weather seems simple. After all, when one thinks of a tropical getaway, one thinks of sunshine, and temperatures that average at a balmy 75 to 78 degrees year round.
While that is an accurate description of temperate Costa Rica, that doesn’t mean that the weather is always the same in every area of the country. It can be cool on the coast, warm in the valleys, and even chilly in the mountains. There can also be a great deal of variation in humidity; the weather can be very wet or very dry, depending on when you go.
If you are coming to Costa Rica during the green season, which begins in May and ends in November, you will need to pack a little differently than you would during the high season. During the wet season, there is heavy rainfall nearly every day; though usually just for an hour or so, and sometimes just over night. Mornings are often clear and sunny, and storms tend to roll in like clockwork in the afternoon, between about 2 and 4 each day.
Here’s a quick list of packing essentials:
Water shoes. Waterproof shoes, such as flip-flops or rubber sandals, are a must-bring in any season, as they are great in the surf and by the pool. They’re especially perfect for the wet season, however, as puddles can be deep, and cloth, closed-toe shoes can become soggy and waterlogged quickly.
Rain boots. If you’re heading out into the rainforest during the wet season, rain boots – preferably those with deep treads – are essential.
Poncho. These are great if you get caught outdoors in a sudden storms, which is a common occurrence during the wet season. Ponchos are great because can fold them up small and carry them in a pocket, then unfold them when needed.
Umbrellas. These are bulky to carry around on a hike, but they’re handy to have if you’re walking around town.
Sunscreen. It may be rainy, and there may be thick cloud cover, but the sun is still there. You are still at risk from damaging rays. Always pack and use sunscreen on any trip to Costa Rica.
Insect repellent. Rainy season is bug season. Mosquitos in particular thrive in the standing water left from rainstorms.
Plastic bags. It’s wise to bring a plastic bag to protect cameras, cell phones and other electronic items from moisture. But plastic bags also come in handy for packing an extra layer of dry clothing.
Light Layers. You really just never know when it comes to the temperature in Costa Rica. It’s wise to bring long and short pants, undershirts, breezy, thin short-sleeved shirts, long-sleeved shirts, a rain slicker, and sweaters for the cooler temperatures you may run into in higher elevations.
Flashlights and Lanterns. The power does go out more often during the rainy season. In addition, the skies can get very dark before and during a storm. A lantern and flashlights – along with extra batteries — can really be useful, especially if you’re out trekking through the rainforest.