Costa Rica is a small country but its weather is huge in character: intense sun, torrential rains, and a weeks worth of weather packed into one day. Positioned between the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea and full of drastic elevation changes, the Costa Rican climate is anything but uniform, consistent or reliable. When you are here, expect the unexpected and don’t bank on weather cooperating with you. There are a few general guidelines. If you come during the rainy season (May – November), you can expect more rain. If you hang out in Guanacaste or any other part of the Northern Pacific, you can expect more sun. None of this, however, is guaranteed.
I got into Costa Rica on December 1st – the start of the “dry” season. Since then, I have spent most of my time in Turrialba (where I live) but have also traveled around to many parts of the country. I wasn’t recording the weather but it would be fair to estimate that 70% of my days so far have been cloudy and rainy. That includes a full week straight (Christmas to New Year’s day) where I did not catch a glimpse of the sun. There have been incredible storms leading to landslides and lowland floods – locals are saying that they haven’t seen that much rain in December since the 1970’s.
Directly contrasting this, the last week here has been pure sun – the kind of closer-to-the-equator sun that constantly reminds you that a bit more sunscreen probably wouldn’t hurt. Nobody could have predicted the weather that I have experienced – not even Al Roker.
This all boils down to one thing – be prepared for anything and everything. That means bring a rain jacket and an umbrella as well as sunscreen and a goofy oversized hat. More importantly, be mentally prepared for the unexpected (and sometimes unwanted) weather. Understand that you are traveling to the rainforest – it rains here. If that means that there is a landslide and roads are closed so you can’t get to your next activity, well that’s OK. Jump out (your vehicle isn’t going anywhere), snap a few pictures of the exciting change in plans and let your real jungle experience begin (improvising and uncovering a new and equally incredible Costa Rican adventure)