Costa Rica Hurricane Season: Do You Need to Be Concerned?

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Are you wondering about traveling to Costa Rica during hurricane season?

The good news is hurricanes are very rare in Costa Rica. In fact, the last recorded hurricane was in November 2016 and that only hit the Caribbean Coast.

However, you never know what will happen when it comes to the weather!

We created this guide to let you know what to expect during Costa Rica’s hurricane season, how to be prepared, and what to do if a hurricane occurs.

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When is Hurricane Season in Costa Rica?

Hurricane season runs from June to November. However, the country rarely gets hit with hurricanes due to its geographical location. 

Costa Rica is situated in the southern part of Central America, away from the primary hurricane paths in the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico. 

Just note that June to November is also the peak rainy season in Costa Rica. Instead of hurricanes, the country does occasionally get very strong rain storms that result in flooding, or landslides. 

This could affect your trip because sometimes roads may be unpassable due to this heavy rainfall.

Check out our guide to Costa Rica weather for more info

Areas That Typically Get Hit by Hurricanes

Typically, if a hurricane or tropical storm is going to hit Costa Rica it will be on the Caribbean Coast rather than the Pacific Coast.

It is very unusual for the Pacific Coast to get hit due to its location.

What You Can Expect During a Hurricane or Tropical Storm

In Costa Rica, you can expect schools and businesses to close during a hurricane. There will likely also be road closures throughout the country due to the chance of flooding or rock slides. 

In other words, you can expect Costa Rican life to go to a standstill while the hurricane occurs.

Also, I would pretty much guarantee that the power will go out. The power goes out somewhat often here with heavy winds or rainstorms.

What to Do if There is a Hurricane in Costa Rica

Costa Rica Hurricane Season: Do You Need to Be Concerned?

Here is what you can expect and should do during every part of a hurricane in Costa Rica. 

How to Prepare Before the Hurricane

  • Head to the grocery store and pack yourself an emergency kit with essentials such as water, non-perishable food, a flashlight, batteries, and any necessary medications.
  • Move to another hotel if necessary. If you feel the place you are staying is not very secure for heavy winds, you might want to look for another place to stay. 
  • Purchase Travel Insurance, if you haven’t already. Travel insurance is great to have for injury, changing travel plans, and lost or damaged belongings. With a hurricane, you might need to modify your travel plans so having insurance coverage is helpful. 
  • Know that in Costa Rica the emergency number is the same as the US, 9-1-1. In an emergency, you can call 9-1-1 and someone will help you out.
  • Fully charge your cell phone and other electronic devices to stay connected during potential power outages. 
  • Keep an eye on local weather updates and hurricane warnings through local news channels and your accommodation. 
  • Register with your embassy or consulate in Costa Rica to receive updates and assistance in case of emergencies. If you are a US citizen this program is called STEP and it’s actually great. This allows the US government to notify you regarding potential security threats in the area you are visiting, get in contact with you regarding natural disasters and give family and friends a way to contact you in the case of emergencies. 
  • Adhere to any evacuation orders or advice from local authorities, and be aware of the nearest evacuation routes.

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During the Hurricane

  • If staying in a hotel or vacation rental, follow the guidance provided by the property staff regarding hurricane safety measures.
  • Do not go outside to drive, go to the beach, etc. 
  • Ensure that doors and windows are securely closed and consider using hurricane shutters or boarding up windows if available.

After the Hurricane

  • Wait awhile to venture outside, especially into flooded areas, rivers, and beaches, as these can be extremely dangerous.
  • Notify your family and friends that you are OK.
  • Continue to monitor local news and travel advisories for information on post-hurricane conditions, road closures, and travel options.
  • Change your travel plans (flight, hotel bookings) if necessary. 

Our Costa Rica Hurricane Experience

Costa Rica Hurricane Season: Do You Need to Be Concerned?

In our first year in Costa Rica (2016), Hurricane Otto hit the Caribbean Coast of Costa Rica. Luckily, the country was mostly spared and destruction wasn’t too extreme. 

The biggest storm we experienced here was a tropical storm in August of 2017. We were in Montezuma with my dad and were completely oblivious to the fact that a tropical storm was coming (or even hit). 

It was really windy and dark in Montezuma one evening, but it wasn’t extreme. 

In the morning we woke up to messages from a friend near San Jose basically saying that we should get home as soon as possible because the ferries were likely going to shut down due to the damage throughout the country.

So, the three of us packed up our stuff quickly and drove to Pacuera to get the ferry back toward San Jose (where we live). 

We were luckily able to catch the very last ferry to the other side. And then we started what should have been a 1.5-hour drive home. Instead, it became a 24-hour journey home. 

It was horrible.

So, first, we went on the main highway to get home. We had heard that a huge rock had fallen and was blocking most of the highway, but they were still letting one lane get around. 

Well, about 10 minutes before we were supposed to cross this one-lane section they decided to close the road. 

So, we had to turn around and find a new potential route.

The second route we tried must have closed just in front of us as well. We were the second car in line and the workers told us they were going to clear the road and then cars would be allowed through, but it might take a few hours. 

We walked to a mini market and ate some lunch while we waited. 

At 4 pm the employees decided they were done for the day and the road would remain closed overnight. Ugh!

By this point we were exhausted. We tried to find a hotel but every hotel in the area was filled with other people in the same position as us.

We tried one more route, which also was closed, and then resigned ourselves to trying to sleep in the car on the side of the road. But, with three of us in the car, it wasn’t very comfortable.

Around 8 pm a friend called and said she found a hotel back in Puntarenas (where we had taken the ferry to) that had one room for us. So, we drove an hour back and slept there. It was the best sleep of my life.

The next day we were able to find a nice mountain route that had opened and we made it home.

Ugh! What an adventure!

Hurricane Season in Costa Rica Conclusion

In conclusion, your chances of experiencing a hurricane in Costa Rica are very low. However, there are occasional storms with heavy rains and winds.

Either way, you should have a great trip to Costa Rica filled with memories to last you a lifetime.

If you have any questions about preparing for your trip to Costa Rica don’t hesitate to ask them below. We are always happy to help you out!

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