What to take to Costa Rica!
What clothes will we wear?
What should we take?
What should we pack?
When coming to Costa Rica with the intent of actually seeing the country (by this I mean you are not going to spend 14 days at the beach), you must be prepared for the incredible differences in the weather in Costa Rica.
There are twenty-seven different weather patterns here. Odd for a country so small, but this is true, and if you are touring this country, you need to be prepared. I am not going to cover the weather patterns, I will just tell you what to expect in common areas you might visit.
For the Beaches
Costa Rica is only ten degrees North of the equator. Thus, the beaches of Costa Rica are hot and humid. You will need a bathing suit(s), cover ups and sandals or flip-flops. You will definitely need sun screen. Don't think for a moment that those couple of hours you spent at the tanning salon can prepare you for the sun here. The UV factor here is NEVER below 10. Bring mosquito repellent as the beaches are buggy and you need daytime protection from Dengue Fever.
If you plan to shop at the numerous beach stores and markets or just walk around, you will need very light clothing. Most shops are not air-conditioned. The nights are warm and humid, with temps that seldom drop below 73 degrees F but may seem cool after a long day in the sand. Many tourist areas have night spots, but mostly you see informal dress. Pretty much nobody dresses for the evening at the beaches! But, just in case, bring something a little better. Bring something to cover your head during the day.
In many places, there is dancing! So bring whatever footwear you need. Bands are live and loud! Dress is all over the place, but many Ticos, especially the women, use this time to show off their.... umm... best features.
The Central Valley and San Josť
These areas are 3,000 to 5,000 feet above sea level and thus are much more moderate in temperature. Days are generally sunny and bright. Low to mid 80s. Do NOT forget the sunscreen! Just because it is cooler does not mean you cannot fry like an egg. There are also many more high-end restaurants, more cultural spots (theatre, dance, or symphony), and more locations where you may want to look your best (or your better?). There are also a ton of night spots where people (especially the young people) dress to the nines. Sexy and sophisticated, Latin style! Lotta skin, perfectly made up, manicured and pedicured, sexy clothes.
Daytime temps seldom go far above 82 degrees F and the nights tend to be moderate in the mid 60's. If coming in late November or December, expect it to be windy! Yes, there IS a wind chill factor even is it is 72F. If you are coming during the 'green season' (late May to November), remember it rains almost every day from maybe Noon to early evening. Bring or buy an umbrella so you can move around.
Bring comfortable shoes for walking and shopping. Malls here are huge and are not very different than those in the USA. It is easy to spend a day supporting our local economy. Walking San Josť is a blast, but the streets are not always in good repair.
For the evenings, you can be as formal or informal as you like, but a lot of folks do dress for the 'better' restaurants or for cultural events. Many places are air conditioned, and to me it is always set too low.
In many places, there is dancing! So bring whatever footwear you need. Bands are live and loud! Dress is all over the place, but many Ticos, especially the women, use this time to show off their.... assets!
Mostly here, I am referring to the areas around Lake Arenal, parts of Monte Verde, the Arenal volcano and so on. These areas are higher in elevation, but are generally humid, and the temps can be a bit varied. Temps range from mid 60s (night) to 80, but the humidity may make them seem higher. If you are in the highlands, you will be doing stuff! Tours, horseback rides, canopy tours, fishing, walking, and so on. You will need to bring clothes for all the things you think you will be doing. It rains a lot up there, so DO bring or maybe buy, an umbrella.
The Rain Forests
These are hot, damp and humid places. You WANT to dress light, but as there are creepy crawlies and other things, long pants, boots, a hat, and so on might be better. Do this especially if you plan to leave paths.
Mosquito repellent is a must, and if you are with me, a good deodorant would be nice! Do NOT use perfume or after shave, and as for the deodorant, it is better to use a non-scented variety for the rain forest. Some type of rain slicker might be a good idea as well. While perhaps a bit uncomfortable because of the heat and humidity, touring the rain forest is part of the wonder of Costa Rica's ecology system, and I highly recommend it!
Many nice B&Bs, and hotels are located there. Depending on exactly how high, you may find yourself very chilly, especially at night! A good friend of mine lives about 25 minutes outside or San Josť in the mountains of Heredia, but the daytime temps at his home seldom go much about 72F and at night, it can go to low 50's with no problem! In fact, there are a ton of pine trees, and if you didn't know where you were, you could easily think you got transported to Vancouver, BC.
Here, people have fireplaces and it is not uncommon to have everyone wearing a blanket around their legs while sitting in the living room! No, there are NO furnaces in Costa Rica, so what you wear determines your comfort.
So how do you dress? Check with your hotel for information, as the further up you go, the more critical the dress, especially at night. Clearly though, you will probably be heading elsewhere during the day, so you need to dress not only for where you are staying, but for where you are going! The mountains here are incredible, with spectacular views in all directions, but are often windy and at higher elevation, there are clouds fog, and rain.
For all trips, bring sunscreen, bug repellent, and the camera! If you play golf... don't forget the sticks! Costa Rica has some great golf courses!