Ahh, Costa Rica in the rainy season! All the crowds go home, prices go down, and everything turns green again. If you are planning to visit Costa Rica during this season, I say you made a great choice! However, you do need to know about the Costa Rica rainy season packing essentials. This packing list will help you be completely prepared for your trip.
When is Costa Rica’s Rainy Season?
Rainy season in Costa Rica typically runs from May until early December on the Pacific coast and the middle of the country. The Caribbean coast has the opposite rainy season. If visiting the Caribbean you can expect rain between January and July.
What to Expect During the Rainy Season
Don’t worry! Rainy season in Costa Rica does not usually mean complete wash out days. In fact, you will likely have great weather during the day with thunderstorms rolling in for a few hours in the afternoon.
The picture above was taken in the middle of September (aka the rainiest time in Costa Rica) and just look how nice the weather was! ↑
Pro Tip: Check out our complete Costa Rica weather break down for more info.
The Costa Rica Rainy Season Packing List
There are several items that we suggest packing specifically for the rainy season. We made the executive decision (we have so much power as the owners of this site 😉 ) that these items deserve their own post to talk about.
So, on to our suggestions for what to pack for Costa Rica’s rainy season.
Seems pretty obvious but you definitely need a rain jacket during the Costa Rica rainy season. We suggest buying something very lightweight and breathable. Even though it may be rainy here it tends to still be warm.
If you need a rain jacket suggestion I recently bought the Venture 2 Jacket from North Face. I really like it so far. Also, I was feeling particularly fancy when I purchased it so I upgraded and got the patterned Venture jacket.
Thomas also recently bought a new rain jacket. He opted for the REI Co-op Rainier jacket. I tried to get him to buy the Venture 2 jacket as well so we could twin it up, but he wasn’t into the whole twinning thing. He’s no fun! 😉 Anyway, he really loves his rain jacket because it is super breathable, looks cool, and he loves that around the neckline it is soft so it doesn’t itch as some rain jackets do.
I was always a fangirl of Keens but I recently made a big change in my life and bought some Teva brand shoes that are similar to Keens. I know, crazy life move right there!
If you have no idea what I’m talking about, Keen makes these breathable sandal/hiking shoe things that are a life changer in Costa Rica. When you are hiking here you will likely want something lightweight because it is so hot. You will also want something that can get wet and dries quickly, especially for rainy season. To be honest, even in dry season these are the only shoes I wear for hiking.
I switched from Keens to Teva brand shoes because my old Keens were a bit narrow for my feet but too wide near the toes. I liked them and they did their job well, but when I tried similar shoes from Teva they seemed to fit me better.
I have discovered that the only downfall with the Teva’s is that they have holes on the sides but not at the toes. This means when walking through water on the beach the sand gets stuck in the shoe and I struggle to get it out. I end up looking like an idiot as I stand in the water shaking my foot to try to loosen up the little rocks. Life is hard. 😉
Chacos also makes similar shoes if you want one more option.
A waterproof backpack is a must for Costa Rica rainy season packing. You have a few different options for this. If you have a backpack that you already love you can always just buy a rain cover for it. These are super cheap and a great way to protect your bag while hiking in the rain. The only downfall with doing this is that you have to take the cover off every time you want to get something out of the bag.
However, I also suggest having a waterproof bag. These are great for the beach. You can get very affordable ones on Amazon.
We also like having waterproof covers for our phones. This allows us to take pictures while in the rain and not having to worry about our phones getting wet.
I will say, I have yet to find one that still allows us to take great clear photos that doesn’t cost over $100. If you find one let us know! We just aren’t willing to shell out that much money. Instead, our pictures always look a bit cloudy when in the protective pocket.
Here’s what I mean about the haziness. ↓ Luckily it is pretty easy to fix with Adobe Lightroom when we edit our photos. Still annoying though.
Bug spray is a necessity for Costa Rica no matter when you travel, but mosquitos tend to be particularly bad during the rainy season. Typically you won’t have too much of a problem during the day, but once the sun goes down the mosquitos come out in full force.
I suggest bringing bug spray from home because it tends to be more expensive to buy it here.
Also, don’t forget that TSA prohibits you from packing aerosol cans so make sure to purchase regular spray bottles.
We have a complete guide to protecting yourself from mosquitos here. We suggest reading this to become aware of the possible illnesses you could get from mosquitos in Costa Rica.
Fast drying clothes
One thing that drives us crazy about the rainy season is that nothing ever dries! It’s just so humid.
Because of the wet weather we try to pack clothes that dry as fast as possible. This includes shirts that are made for the water or exercising and sport shorts. Typically we find that items which contain nylon and polyester are particularly good.
Along the same lines, we love microfiber towels because they dry wayyy faster than normal beach towels. Plus, we love them because they take up far less space in your suitcase than a normal towel would.
It is always a good idea to bring a microfiber towel to Costa Rica. Unless you are staying in a resort, most hotels will provide you with a bath towel, but not one for the beach. In fact, a lot of places specifically say, “please do not use bathroom towels at the beach.”
Surge protector / Battery packs
It doesn’t happen too often, but occasionally when there is a bad lightning storm the power will go out. We always try to unplug all our technology before any storms get too crazy, but you can always use a surge protector if you are overly worried. We also always have backup battery chargers with us just in case.
Note: Costa Rica uses the same kind of outlets as the US.
I didn’t even know this was a thing until a friend mentioned that she always has this in her luggage. The idea is that if it is pouring rain and you can hang your wet clothes outside you can just string this across your hotel room to dry instead. Genius!
There have been many times where Thomas and I have stayed in hotels and had no place to hang our wet clothing. In fact, about a month ago I ruined one of my bathing suits because the only dry place to hang it outside of our hotel was over a railing which ended up staining my bathing suit brown. I was not happy! Oh well, just an excuse to buy a new bathing suit. 😉
Sun Blocking Items
Just because it is the rainy season it doesn’t mean the sun is not crazy strong during the day. You still need to be completely blocked from the sun because we are really close to the Equator here and the UV index is super high.
We have a complete guide to protecting yourself from the sun in Costa Rica for more info.
Flip Flops that can get wet
I’m all about some nice leather sandals, but they just don’t work here in Costa Rica. In fact, it is so humid here that my leather sandals tend to get moldy. 🙁 Instead, I now opt for flip-flops that can withstand water.
I also suggest bringing flip flops with some cushion to them. The roads and sidewalks are horrible here. If you plan on doing any walking you don’t want anything with a thin bottom.
If you want a suggestion, Teva’s are amazing. 🙂
On the off chance that the power does go out at the place you are staying it is always nice to have a flashlight as a backup. We just bring a small pocket one with us.
Zip-lock bags are great to have to keep items dry and to store small items that get wet. We always pack a bunch and almost always end up using all of them. They take up hardly any space in your suitcase so why not?
Our Tips for Costa Rica Rainy Season Packing
– 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.
– 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 can always find these things in shops throughout the country. You just might end up paying a bit more than you would typically pay at home, but you will find at least some options.
– 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.
The chances of you having any critters in your bed are slim, but I still like to just check. I’m paranoid ever since I found a tarantula in my washing machine a few years ago. 😉
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. We love your advice!
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