Trying to figure out what to pack for Costa Rica during the wet season was kind of tricky. There were a few lists around the internet, but I felt like they didn’t suit my style at all.
My rule of thumb for any trip longer than a week, is to only pack clothes for a week. I figure I’ll either stay in a place that has a washing machine or I’ll do some hand washing. I’ve had too many trips in the past where I pack an outfit for every single day of the trip and I end up not wearing half of what I’ve packed.
So now I bring my favorite seven outfits that suit the climate I’m going to.
What’s the Weather Like in Costa Rica in the Wet Season
This was hard information to find out. This is mostly due to the fact that every area in the country has almost completely different weather. I visited San Jose, Manuel Antonio on the west coast, and Puerto Viejo on the east coast during my trip, so that’s what I’ll be talking about in this post.
When is the Wet Season in Costa Rica?
The official wet season, or “green season” as its called thanks to how green the country becomes, is from May to mid-November. Some parts of the country experience it later, some earlier. Like any country, the weather is mostly unpredictable and all you can do it take it as it comes.
Wet Season Weather in San Jose
In San Jose, it seemed like clouds were always looming no matter what time of day. In the mornings it was mostly sunny and hot – about 25 degrees Celcius / 77 degree Fahrenheit. Then it would POUR with rain anywhere between 2pm and 4pm.
Some days it would rain for the rest of the afternoon. Other days it would rain for five minutes. Sometimes it would drizzle on and off throughout the day.
San Jose was the most unpredictable of the three places I visited, so I never left the hotel without my rain jacket. That being said, I never really needed jeans or other warmer clothing. Even though it rained, it was still humid and warm.
Wet Season Weather in Manuel Antonio
Manuel Antonio weather was similar to what we experience here in Mexico City. It was sunny and warm – about 26 or 27 degrees Celcius / 80 degrees Fahrenheit most days. The sun was HOT and the water at the beach was nice and cool.
Then the rain would come, almost like clockwork at about 5 or 6pm. It would pour for two or three hours, then let up just in time for you to go out and get some dinner.
Wet Season Weather in Puerto Viejo
I’d read that the Caribbean side of Costa Rica has a totally different climate to the rest of the country and doesn’t experience the wet season all at once, but rather is rainy throughout the year.
Well, it didn’t rain once during the five days I was in Puerto Viejo. I think it drizzled on the first day I arrived, but the sun shined nearly all day long for the duration of my trip.
It was hot and humid, with similar temperatures to the rest of the country. It was hottest between 10 and 12, but it was humid all day long. Even after the sun set.
What to Pack for Costa Rica in Wet Season
Okay, now that you know when wet season is and what the weather is like in different parts of the country during those months, you can get a better idea of what you want to pack for Costa Rica during the wet season that suits your style.
This is simply what I packed and what I wished I’d packed after having spent two weeks traveling the country during July. I am a 29-year-old female with a minimalist, feminine sort of style.
A Rain Jacket
This is a must. I bought a new one specifically for this trip and it was invaluable. There’s no need for anything heavy. The more lightweight the better, but don’t skimp and go for a wind breaker – you’ll get soaked through.
I went for this Columbia one in bright pink (I bought the kids one since I’m child-sized), but North Face and Patagonia also make really great ones. If you travel often, think of one of these rain jackets as an investment. These brands last for years and years and will consistently keep you dry.
If I’m going somewhere hot I almost always opt for lightweight dresses. They’re easy to throw on, they dry quickly, and with a dab of lipstick take you from day to night really easily. I packed three for this trip and wore them most days.
Dresses are perfect for the beach goer. If you get sand on them you can easily shake it off and if you’re sandy or wet from the ocean, it’s much easier to throw on a loose fitting dress than to try to get shorts or a t-shirt on (in my opinion at least).
They don’t necessarily have to be jean shorts. Pack whatever material of shorts you prefer. I packed one pair of jean shorts for when I went hiking or just wanted something more casual to throw on for a day out.
Mine are just a pair I made from an old pair of my boyfriend’s jeans so they’re super loose and comfortable.
T-Shirts and Tank Tops
If I could pack differently, I would have brought lightweight tank tops and t-shirts. Instead, I packed fitted crop tops and tank tops and it was just too humid to wear them most days. The lighter and flowier the material, the better. Especially for those of you that sweat as much as I do (which is A LOT in humid places).
Bring at least two because if you’re going to be swimming in the evenings, your suit is NOT going to be dry by the morning. I only packed one bikini and I really wished I’d had another one. Putting on a wet bathing suit is completely and totally as unpleasant as you imagine it to be. This goes for men, too. Luke’s swim shorts didn’t dry overnight either.
Regular readers will know I only wear Rainbow flip flops. I swear by their leather sandals and wouldn’t wear anything else in hot weather destinations. They’re comfortable, come in tons of cute colors, and they last for a long time.
I hiked two national parks in them (the two I visited were flat and mostly paved), took them to the beach, and wore them to restaurants at night.
I also packed a pair of running sneakers that I wore for one of the hikes I went on and for travel days. Hiking boots really aren’t necessary unless you’re going deep into the jungle and are planning on hiking while it’s raining. Otherwise, sneakers dry much faster and are much lighter to carry.
If you plan to go to fancier places you may want to consider packing a “nicer” pair of sandals or shoes. Everywhere we went was super casual though and I never saw anyone in heels.
No vacation to the beach is complete without a sarong. I’ve had mine for YEARS. It may have a few holes in it. I’m sentimental what can I say? Seriously though, I used it as a blanket on the buses we took, as a blanket at the beach, and as a towel when we stayed in a hostel. It’s lightweight so it’s easy to carry and it dries quickly even in the rain and humidity that you’ll experience during this time of year.
If you don’t have one, there are plenty of shops around Costa Rica, especially in the beach towns, where you can pick one up for a few dollars. Then you’ll have a sarong and a souvenir!
Makeup and Toiletries
I filled a few of those 100ml travel containers with my body lotion, face wash, body wash, shampoo, and conditioner. If you have curly hair, you’ll definitely want to make sure you bring some conditioner. That humidity is a killer!
I also recommend bringing your own sunscreen and bug spray. The mosquitos are absolute jerks during the wet season and I got eaten ALIVE. It’s also way more expensive to buy those things once you get to Costa Rica, so bring all that you’ll need with you to save a few dollars.
I always pack a little bit of makeup since I feel better wearing brow pencil, mascara and a little bit of lipstick. If you’re a foundation wearer, just be aware that you will be sweating a lot – so plan accordingly.
I always like to wear fun earrings, rings, bracelets, and necklaces, whether at home or on the road. I brought one necklace with me, two bracelets, one pair of earrings, and a few rings that I wore basically every day.
There are also tons of great markets and shops around the country where you can pick up unique jewelry. I was tempted by so many things and ended up buying a ring while I was there.
Sunglasses & Hat
Sunglasses are a must and I also wish I’d brought a hat. Even just a baseball cap for the beach and riding bikes would have been perfect. The sun was so hot during the day, especially in Puerto Viejo, so if you plan on being out in it and you have dark hair like me, I recommend packing a hat.
Quick Dry Towels
Nothing dries in the humidity of Costa Rica, especially wet towels. I kick myself for not packing my quick-dry microfiber travel towel for this trip because it would have been much nicer than using a towel that was still wet from yesterday’s shower.
If you have one, I highly recommend bringing one. If you don’t have one, this is the brand I have and I really like it. It comes in cool colors and has lasted me several years now.
Have you ever been to Costa Rica during the wet season? What do you recommend packing?
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