The Sun in Costa Rica and How to Protect Yourself

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There is nothing better than a nice beach vacation filled with tons of sun. I totally agree with you on that, I mean, how could I not? However, the sun in Costa Rica is not to be messed with. This sun is the real deal ya’ll.

Here is everything you need to know about the sun in Costa Rica before visiting.

Sun in Costa Rica – Overview

As I mentioned above, the sun in Costa Rica is crazy strong. To give you an idea of what I’m talking about, here is a little comparison of the UV index for the date I’m writing this in Costa Rica compared to warm destinations in the US.

Miami UV forecast: 5.4

Houston UV forecast: 3.8

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San Diego UV forecast: 3.8

Phoenix UV forecast: 3.3

Tamarindo Costa Rica UV forecast: 11.3

Crazy, right? What a difference! This means that although the temperature here in Costa Rica may be comparable to the temperature of some warm destinations in the US, the sun is much stronger.

You need to remember that Costa Rica is really not that far from the equator.

With this really strong sun it is so important to protect yourself. Even on cloudy days, you need to wear sun protection while outside.

I have gotten sunburned on cloudy days here while being outside for less than thirty minutes.

Alright, let’s talk about how you can protect yourself…..

Sun in Costa Rica – Best Sunscreens

Costa Rica hotel

My hands down, ride or die, sunscreen is this lovely SPF 50 sunscreen from Eucerin. Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible to find in the US. In fact, last time I found it online people were selling it for about $50 a bottle. Not happening!

eucerin sunscreen

Side note: I’m not even exaggerating on that price. Check out this craziness

If you live in Europe you can buy it though. I stock up when I am in Germany or have people bring it for me. It is lightweight (most SPF 50 sunscreens are a bit too thick for my liking), smells great, and I can wear it on my face without breaking out.

If you don’t have the luxury of buying fabulous Eucerin sunscreen, these other sunscreens are also pretty freaking amazing.

We always tell people to bring your own sunscreen instead of buying it in Costa Rica. The brands you are familiar with are available in stores here, but because they are imported you will be paying at least 30% more than if you brought these products with you from home.

Sun in Costa Rica – Other ways to protect yourself

sun in Costa Rica

Besides sunscreen, there are plenty of other ways you can protect yourself from the sun in Costa Rica. Let’s go through a few of our faves!

Dry Shirt

The number one time I get sunburned is when swimming. The ocean is such a perfect temperature here that you might find yourself spending a lot of time in the water. I highly suggest bringing at least one long sleeve shirt that you can wear in the water. I like ones that are specially made for water shirts because most provide UV protection and dry quickly.

Sun Hat

I’m not a hat person. I just can’t find one that actually looks decent on me, but despite that, I still always wear a hat at the beach here in Costa Rica. It is great for blocking the sun from your face and neck. I like hats that look like they were made for a fisherman because you can just roll it up and stick it in your bag without worrying that it takes up too much space or will get bent.

Car Shade

If you will be doing a lot of driving in Costa Rica and are concerned about the sun, I suggest buying a screen you can just stick to the window of your rental car.

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Polarized sunglasses are a must for sunny days. It’s not just your skin that can get damaged by the sun. You’ve got to look out for your precious eyes as well.

Sun Umbrella

Depending on what beach you are on you may be able to rent a sun umbrella for a day. Unfortunately, this is not that common in Costa Rica, though. If you’d like to have a sun umbrella I suggest buying a small one that can be folded up and put in your suitcase.

Sun in Costa Rica – What to do if you get burned

sun burn in Costa Rica

You guys like my sunburn? β†‘ It was painful! I stupidly thought “eh it’s cloudy today. I don’t need to keep putting on sunscreen.” Yea, big mistake that was! I didn’t listen to my own sun protection advice…..Idiot!

If you end up looking like a tomato and feeling absolutely miserable, there are a few things you can do to relieve the pain.

Most grocery stores and pharmacies in Costa Rica sell some type of after sun lotion to provide your skin some relief. However, as with sunscreen, it is almost always cheaper to bring these products from home. Here is a list of a few of my favorite after sun products that you can bring from home. β†“

Another option is to see if the place you are staying at in Costa Rica has some aloe plants. Most of the after sun gels you will buy contain aloe. Aloe is what cools down your skin and provides relief. If you can get the plant, just rip it open and put the gel-ish insides directly on your skin, You can thank me later for the instant relief. πŸ™‚

aloe vera in Costa Rica

Aloe plants are actually really common in Costa Rica. We have a huge plant in our backyard and I must admit, we have both had to use it occasionally on our sunburns.

sun burn

If your sunburn is really bad and you end up looking like this guy β†‘ you may have to get some medical attention because you could have sun poisoning.

Some symptoms of sun poisoning are bumps or blisters on the skin, fever, nausea, chills, dehydration, and dizziness. Usually, you can treat sun poisoning on your own, but if it becomes really bad, I suggest going to the doctor.

There are plenty of great doctors here in Costa Rica who speak English and can help you out.

If you have any questions about the sun in Costa Rica and how to protect yourself leave them in the comment section below. We are happy to help you out!Β 

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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 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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  1. Great article! Just wanted to let you know that there’s a new sunscreen being made locally in Costa Rica using all natural ingredients. Our sunscreen is organic and safe for the ocean and its inhabitants.

    1. Thanks for letting us know Rich! We will have to try it out. πŸ™‚