The Ultimate Costa Rica Rainy Season Packing List

Are you wondering what to pack for Costa Rica during the rainy season? Despite the wet weather, this can be a great time of year to visit the country. However, there are several essential items that you will need in your luggage when traveling.

We are a couple from the United States and Germany who live in Costa Rica. We have been living here since 2016, so have experienced several rainy seasons. This list is compiled based on the things we rely on during the wet months here.

So, let’s go through all the packing essentials from clothing to gear. Be sure to read until the end for some other must-know green season travel tips. 

When is Costa Rica’s Rainy Season?

cahuita national park rainforest

Costa Rica has a dry season and a rainy season. The dry season typically lasts from mid-December until late April. During this time of year there will be absolutely no rain. 

The rainy season in Costa Rica is somewhat of a broad description. 

Typically, the first rain of the year occurs sometimes in late April on the Pacific Coast and in the central part of the country.

Between late April and late July, the country experiences sunny and warm days with a daily afternoon rainstorm that rolls in around 2pm. This typically last for an hour or two before the sun comes out again.

So, we suggest just getting up early and starting your day when the sun rises at 5:30am. Take a little siesta when the rain rolls in and get up again for dinner and the sunset. 

From August until November the rain can be a lot heavier. You might experience some days of non-stop rain. 

But, you never really know. It is hard to predict the weather in the autumn here. 

From early December until April there is usually no rain and hot temperartures. 

  • Keep in mind that the Caribbean coast has the opposite wet season. If visiting the Caribbean you can expect rain between January and July.
  • If you plan to visit a cloud forest town like Monteverde the weather conditions will be much different. The rain will be heavier and it will be much cooler. 
  • Rainforest towns like La Fortuna can sometimes have more rain, but tends to stay decently warm.

I know, it’s all a bit confusing. Check out our guide to weather by month for a more detailed description. 

Alright, let’s get to all the rainy season essentials!

Don’t have time to read this? Click here for the complete packing list

Clothing for the Rainy Season

Even if you are traveling during the rainy season the sun will likely still be shining during the day. And, the sun here is powerful! Costa Rica is not too far north of the equator so the UV index tends to be really high. 

However, because it is rainy season the humidity is also very high. This means that quick-drying fabrics are super helpful. 

Also, when it is so damp things tend to get wrinkled very easily and it is not normal to have an iron in hotel rooms here. 

So, material like linen is not the best to bring. Although it is lightweight, it tends to become a wrinkled mess very easily. 

UV Blocking Shirts

We love Columbia brand shirts for hiking and everyday use here. They make shirts out of breathable fabric that dry quickly and block UVA and UVB rays. 

I usually opt for short sleeve, but if you would really like to protect your arms from the sun you might prefer long sleeve.

I know, you are likely in Costa Rica to enjoy the sun, but it is good to block your skin from the sun.

The time when most people get sunburned is while swimming.

We suggest bringing a swim shirt to help protect your arms, neck, and back. These shirts dry quickly and block harmful UV rays. 

Short Sleeve Shirts

We usually bring some regular cotton short-sleeved shirts for daily use, going to restaurants etc.

Travel Tip: Skip the tank tops if your shoulders typically get sunburned easily.

Long Sleeve Shirt / A Flannel

It can cool off a bit in the evenings. Also, if you are in the mountains at higher elevations it can be a bit cooler.

I always pack:

  • one button-up cardigan
  • one regular long-sleeved shirt
  • one button-up flannel shirt.

The cardigan is great to throw on over whatever I’m wearing at restaurants, the long sleeve is great for cooler days, and the flannel is helpful when it gets very cool.

Travel Tip: If you are from the United States, Old Navy always has a great selection of flannels that are typically reasonably priced and seem to hold up for a very long time.

Rain Jacket

A waterproof jacket is something we consider essential when traveling during Costa Rica’s green season. 

I have had the North Face Venture 2 jacket for several years and love it. It is a lightweight rain jacket that has armpit zippers for warm days, and does a great job at blocking the rain.

Travel Tip: Skip the umbrella and opt for a rain jacket instead. Umbrellas just aren’t very practical here.

Lightweight Pants

Long pants are great for cooler days and for hiking. 

I don’t suggest bringing jeans.

Your best option is something that can be worn for hiking and can be dressed up a bit to go out for everyday use.

You probably won’t really need rain pants. I personally find them to be a bit annoying to wear because the swishing sound and because they are never as breathable as I would like.

However, if you are visiting in an especially rainy month like September or October you might want a pair.

Shorts

I suggest bringing a few pairs of shorts for your trip. If you will be spending most of your time at the beach you will mostly be wearing shorts instead of pants.

The shorts I suggest are:

Lightweight Dress

Ladies, you might want a lightweight dress for nice dinners. Something that can roll up small in your luggage and won’t wrinkle is always a great choice. 

Bathing Suit

I suggest bringing at least two bathing suits. That way you can always have one that is dry. 

Underwear

I like the brand ExOfficio for both men and women. They make breathable underwear that can hold up through the extreme humidity.

Socks

Opt for socks that go a bit above your ankle. I find that sometimes with the humidity your shoes might rub differently and ankle socks can exacerbate this.

Footwear

Here are our favorite footwear choices for the rainy season. We suggest avoiding anything leather because the high humidity makes it get moldy very easily.

Travel Tip: I don’t suggest packing rubber boots, but at a lot of places it is possible to rent rubber boots for the day if the trails have been especially muddy. 

Teva Flip Flops

Our favorite option for flip-flops is the TEVA Voya flip-flops. 

I have been buying these for the past five years. I like them because the sole is very stable and they are waterproof. 

Keens

I love Keens because they are closed-toe shoes but also double as water shoes. 

My favorite Keen’s are the Newport H2 style. In my opinion, they are the best style for Costa Rica exploration.

Waterproof Hiking boots

Waterproof hiking boots are great for rainforest hikes in the national parks.  

Check out our guide to the best shoes for Costa Rica for more info

Don’t have time to read this? Click here for the complete rainy season packing list

Toiletries

These are all the toiletries we suggest bringing. If you are only bringing a carry-on bag you likely won’t be able to fit all of these in your TSA-approved toiletry bag.

We bought these refillable shampoo bottles last year that have been helpful for carry-on travel.

Additionally, you can always buy this stuff in Costa Rica. However, it might be difficult to find it in smaller sizes to bring home if you only have a carry-on. 

Insect Repellent

The mosquitos are definitely worse during the rainy season. Typically you won’t have a problem during the day, but once the sun goes down they come out in full force.

We like to have a powerful mosquito repellent that can protect us from things like Zika and Dengue. 

Get Our Favorite Bug Spray

Travel Tip: Bring your bottle of bug spray to outdoor dinners. I find that I usually start out fine, but by the middle of the meal I start to get bitten a lot and need to do a little insect repellent application. 

Sunblock

Even though it is the rainy season the sun is still very strong.

We like Sunbum SPF 50 lotion. It goes on smooth, smells good, and is a reef-safe sunscreen (which is great if you plan to swim in the ocean).

Travel Tip: Aesasol cans are not permitted in your luggage. So, bring a regular bottle of sunblock instead of a spray can.

After Sun

Sunbum also makes a good after-sun lotion. This is always helpful if you get a sunburn and need some cooling relief.

Travel Tip: There are also a lot of aloe plants in Costa Rica. I often put aloe gel from the plant directly on my skin for sun relief.

Motion Sickness Pills

If you are prone to motion sickness it is always a good idea to have motion sickness pills for your trip for two reasons.

  1. Some of the roads here are very curvy and hilly. Basically, they can be a nightmare if you get car sick easily.
  2. If you plan to take any catamaran or other boat trips it can be easy to feel sick with big waves. Typically, the sea conditions are more choppy during the rainy season.

I like to always have some Dramamine with me. You can buy motion sickness pills in Costa Rica as well.

They are usually sold at every grocery store, but you will need to ask for them at the register.

Typically they are sold as individual pills so you will need to tell them how many pills you want.

I think it is easier to just bring some than to try and buy them, especially if your Spanish is not the best. 

First Aid Kit

We bought a travel first aid kit last year and it has been so helpful. It’s nice to know that if we have any minor injuries we have bandaids, tape etc. with us. 

Face Wipes

I don’t know about you, but I hate feeling excessively sweaty. I always carry face and skin wipes with me, but I especially appreciate them during humid days.

It can feel so refreshing to just wipe your face or arms after a humid hike.

I like these wipes from Burts Bees. They are technically for your face, but I use them on my body and have never had an issue.

I like that they also contain aloe for calming and hydrating properties.

Anti-Humidity Hair Care

If you are someone who gets crazy hair from humidity, you might want something to calm it down a bit.

Personally, I tend to end up rocking a Hermione hairstyle during the rainy season here.

To combat that I like the Garnier Fructis Style Anti-Humidity Smoothing Milk.

Blister Bandaids

These bandaids have saved our day on more than one occasion. Typically I find that with the humidity my feet rub more in my shoes.

Also, when traveling in Costa Rica you may be wearing shoes that you don’t typically wear and are more prone to getting blisters.

These blister bandaids act like a second skin. Typically they last several hours or even days. So, even with a bad blister, you can hopefully continue your adventures. 

Accessories

Here are our must-have rainy-season accessories.

Sun Blocking Hat

I love the Bora Bora hat from Columbia. It flattens out to put in your luggage, is made from a breathable fabric, doesn’t look (too) nerdy, and does a great job at protecting your head from the sun.

Alternatively, you could always pack a breathable baseball cap. It just doesn’t provide as much protection for the back of your neck. 

I don’t suggest bringing a straw sun hat that can’t be folded up. they just aren’t really practical for Costa Rica. 

Sunglasses

Bring sunglasses because even though it is rainy season it will still likely be sunny. 

Glasses Strap

When you are participating in a lot of adventure activities it is always a good idea to have a glasses strap to keep your glasses from getting lost.

We have this sporty glasses strap. It is cheap and has held up very well.

Gear

Here are all the gear items we suggest packing for your trip. 

Surge Protector

Occasionally during heavy storms, the power will go out. For important electronics, it doesn’t hurt to have a surge protector to prevent them from getting fried.

We have this surge protector and it has been great for travel. It also acts as a power strip so you can plug multiple electronics in at once.

Battery Pack

If there is a storm and the power goes out, a battery pack to keep your cell phone or other electronics charged is super helpful.

I also like to have a battery pack in general so that I can rest assured that my phone is always charged for taking pictures on long days of adventures.

The Anker powerbox is my go-to for this. It is affordable and mine has held up for several years.

Towel

I suggest packing a microfiber towel. These towels are great because they roll up small in your luggage and dry quickly.

Most hotels provide towels for showering but don’t have towels for you to use at the beach or while on adventures. 

Flashlight / Headlamp

The sun sets here between 5:30pm and 6:00pm every evening. We like to have a flashlight and headlamp for any evening activities.

Plus, this is helpful if the power happens to go out.

Binoculars

It is not unusual for Costa Rican wildlife such as monkeys, birds, and sloths to be hiding high up in the trees.

During the rainy season, everything is especially lush and green. It can be difficult sometimes to get a good view of animals.

So, binoculars are always great to have.

We suggest bringing a pair of pocket binoculars. They are not typically as powerful as a larger pair of binoculars, but they take up less space in your luggage. 

Reusable Water Bottle

​You can drink tap water here in most locations, but we still suggest purchasing bottled water, just to be cautious.

Usually, we buy a big few-gallon jug at the grocery store and use it to refill our reusable bottles. 

We like the bottles from LifeStraw. They block out most impurities and bacteria. So, even if you do drink the tap water you should be safe. 

Luggage

Here is what we suggest packing all of your stuff in for your Costa Rica vacation.

Waterproof Phone Case

Great for when you want to take pictures during a rainstorm without getting your phone wet. 

Waterproof Backpack

For day-to-day activities, we love our waterproof backpack.

This dry bag protects all of our belongings, is comfortable to wear, and can flatten out if you want to bring it in your luggage.

This is great for hiking, boat trips, beach days, etc. 

Alternatively, you can always buy a rain cover for your regular day pack if you don’t want to buy a waterproof bag.

However, this won’t do you much good in protecting your bag at the beach or on boat trips. 

Camping Backpack

This will depend on your travel style, but typically a large backpack is better than a suitcase in Costa Rica. 

A lot of hotels are on unpaved side streets, require walking up dirt paths, have stairs etc. It is never fun to roll your suitcase through the mud or try to carry it up several flights of stairs. 

The exception to this is if you are mostly staying at resorts or high-end hotels. They will likely have an elevator and well-maintained paths. 

Zip Lock Bags

These are great for if things get wet and you need to separate them from the rest of your luggage. You probably have plenty of zip-lock bags at home, so bring a few.

Our Tips for Costa Rica Rainy Season Packing

rainy poas volcano
  • Hold on to your plastic bags after going to the grocery store. They definitely come in handy for putting wet things in. There is nothing worse than checking out of a hotel and having wet clothes and nowhere to put them.
  • Don’t forget travel insurance. This not only helps protect you during injury or illness, but also lost luggage, delayed flights etc. You can get a price quote from Heymondo here.
  • If this is a bit overwhelming, check out our destination guides for more details on the weather by location. 
  • You can view this complete rainy season packing list on Amazon here
  • Costa Rican colones is the local currency here, but US dollars are also widely accepted. Check out our guide to currency for more info on paying here. 
  • You can always buy what you need in most touristy areas. If you realize that you have forgotten your rain jacket or need more bug spray, have no fear! You just might end up paying a bit more than you would typically pay at home, but you will find at least some options.
  • Don’t forget some comfy clothes for travel days.
  • There are laundromats throughout the country. Sometimes you go on a nice long hike and slip in the mud and all of your clothes get absolutely disgusting. I’m speaking from experience here. 😉 Anyway, if this happens, you should have no problem finding a laundromat nearby. Just ask at your hotel and they should be able to direct you to one in the area.
  • Search for critters. This isn’t a packing tip, more like a Costa Rica pro-life tip. I always check my sheets before I get into them. This especially applies to the start of the rainy season. For some reason, when the weather turns rainy all the critters try to head inside to escape the weather.
  • Costa Rica voltage is the same as the US. In other words, if you are traveling from North America you do not need a special adapter for Costa Rica power outlets.

Check out our complete guide to Costa Rican weather for more info

Conclusion: Packing for the Rainy Season

Now you know all the important items that you should bring for your Costa Rica vacation during the rainy season.

Don’t forget that the rainy season doesn’t mean you shouldn’t visit Costa Rica. It can be a great time for your Costa Rica trip if you would like to save money and don’t mind the occasional rain storm. 

Let us know if you have any questions about Costa Rica rainy season packing in the comment section below. We are always happy to help you out!

Also, if you have any rainy season packing tips to share with fellow travelers, leave them in the comment section below.

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Costa Rica Travel Details: What You Need to Know

πŸš— Should I rent a car in Costa Rica?

Having a rental car will give you the most flexibility when traveling in Costa Rica. This will also allow you to take fun day trips on your own.

πŸ„πŸ½ How can I book things to do?

We find that Viator tends to have the most comprehensive selection of activities with secure booking and good cancellation policies.

🍍 I’m overwhelmed with planning. Can you help?

Of course! I suggest joining our Facebook group for specific questions and head to our Start Here Page to get started planning.

✈️ What is the best way to book a flight?

Usually, we have the best luck finding great prices with Skyscanner. Check for flights to both San Jose Airport (SJO) and Liberia Airport (LIR).

πŸ›οΈ What is the best way to book my Costa Rica hotels?

We highly suggest Booking.com for hotel bookings and typically use VRBO for Costa Rica vacation rentals.

πŸ—£οΈWhat is the main language in Costa Rica?

The main language in Costa Rica is Spanish. Most people working in tourism speak at least some English.

πŸ’° What is the currency in Costa Rica?

The currency used in Costa Rica is the Costa Rican colΓ³n (CRC). However, the US dollar is widely accepted in most tourist areas

πŸ“ž What is the best way to stay connected?

An eSIM from Airalo is the easiest way to get 4G data while traveling in Costa Rica.

🌴 Is Costa Rica safe?

Generally, Costa Rica is considered safe for tourists. However, like any travel destination, it’s best to use caution and be aware of your surroundings.

πŸ›‚ Do you need a passport to go to Costa Rica?

Yes, Costa Rica is its own country. You will need a passport to visit.

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6 Comments

  1. Daniel B. says:

    Wow, it seems that you carry always so much stuff with you, your backpack must be heavy ?. Great article as always. I’m excited to witness both, dry and rainy season.

  2. Great post! I’ve lived in Costa Rica since January so I haven’t experienced a rainy season yet. Although I am excited to see what it is like… It’s so hot in Guanacaste I think some cool rain must be nice!

    1. Welcome to Costa Rica life! How do you like it so far? Oh yea Guanacaste is always a bit rough around this time of year with everything brown and dead.

      1. It’s great so far! We are enjoying the slower paced life (we moved from Washington DC so its a huge difference). Yeah there are tons of fires around here now from everything being so dry!

      2. Not sure if you’ve found it already, but my friend Sky runs a site called Experience Coco. If you are up in the Coco area (I’m assuming because of the comment about the fires haha) her Facebook page is great to follow to stay up to date with things happening around town. I know some other expats have met a lot of people by going to events she has listed. There is a great (and fun) expat community there. https://www.facebook.com/experiencecoco/
        Also, nice blog! If you ever need any tips on this whole crazy blogging in Costa Rica thing feel free to message us. πŸ™‚

      3. Thanks Sarah! My girlfriend and I are actually living in Brasilito which is just south of Flamingo. I’d like to make it up to Coco soon, probably once we buy a car.
        And thanks for checking out my blog! I appreciate the offer as I’m new to blogging and always looking for advice πŸ˜‰