What to pack for ten days in Costa Rica
June 16, 2014 9:24 AM   Subscribe

I'm going to Costa Rica for the first time in a few weeks. I am by no means a seasoned traveler, so I'm looking for tips on packing smart and light for ten days in the rainforest during the rainy season.

My main concern is clothing--do I need to be worried about killer snakes and malarial bugbites or can I just skate by with t-shirts, shorts, and Tevas? And what's the best way to deal with the daily downpours?
posted by vraxoin to Travel & Transportation around Costa Rica (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I was there for a month during the rainy season and I found it refreshing to have a second pair of light hiking boots that I could wear with wool socks. I wore long hiking pants for hiking. But I already owned these items and I was there a month. Mostly I wore shorts, t-shirts, and skirts. And mosquito repellent.

My daily schedule was something like: activities in morning, lunch, naps/chill out during rainy afternoons, back out for activities when rain let up.
posted by stowaway at 9:39 AM on June 16, 2014

Wear pants instead of shorts for sure - no matter how warm it is, chiggers are much worse!

Don't count on being able to have things air-dry overnight, because they will probably still be wet the next morning.

If you're not going to be bushwhacking through shrubbery or anything, umbrellas are nicer than rain coats when it's super-humid and warm.
posted by dialetheia at 9:41 AM on June 16, 2014

Where in CR? What are your planned activities? I went to Manuel Antonio, on the coast. We saw some snakes, but they were not ultra prevalent or dangerous. We did cloud forest activities, and saw no snakes there. No real mosquito activity to speak of. For the beach or walking around, a pair of sneakers/straight up tennis shoes did the trick. But our longest hike was not more than a few miles.

Yeah, stuff did not air dry well, and we had a clothes dryer we used.

I can't remember what month we went- I believe it was right before the rainy season. We either were at home for food/siesta/pool, or just didn't care and did stuff like kayaking in heavy rain. But aside from that one day, the rain was mostly light.
posted by Jacen at 10:05 AM on June 16, 2014

I spent a bit in the Costa Rican rainforest in rainy season. My sartorial recommendations are:

-Tevas are a no when you are actually out in the rainforest. Wear fully enclosed shoes. Not only are there definitely snakes, but bug bites on your feet are awful and you also need to shield your feet from flora, sticks, and vines.
-Shorts when you're actually out in the forest are a no. Cover your legs for the same above reasons.
-In terms of clothing materials, the above poster is correct about not expecting things to air-dry overnight. However, you'll increase your chances of this if you bring things made of material that is meant to quick-dry. (Not a Hanes beefy-tee.)
-I found that I preferred a poncho for the downpours, with a solid hood and visor, because I wanted to keep doing what I was doing during the rain. However, if your plan is to beat it back to your hotel or resort during the afternoons, you can probably just do an umbrella.
-Even if you are not a hat person, bring a hat. It will shield your head from the sun.
-If you wear glasses or sunglasses, get a gator strap.

To be fair, this is assuming you're actually planning on traipsing around in the rainforest. If you're just staying in the area at a resort, wear what you want. Just be sure to bring bug repellant. That was the worst thing there, for me. The bugs. Uuuuuugh.
posted by juniperesque at 10:07 AM on June 16, 2014

For the downpours, it's best to always have one of those cheap blue plastic ponchos with you. It's great being DRY and able to continue doing what you're doing, or not being afraid of being too far from shelter or your car.

I recommend closed shoes if you're walking in man-made paths that are surrounded by jungle/nature. I did a walking tour through one of those places in flip flops and I definitely felt exposed, even though the path I was on was paved. If you're hiking, then DEFINITELY closed shoes.

I was in shorts the whole time and no snakes attacked me (we did see some kind of small viper chilling on a tree!), but I felt VERY exposed. I would have been more comfortable in long pants.

If walking on the beach at dusk or at night, I recommend shoes (even flip flops are better than barefoot) and maybe long pants. There are definitely creatures crawling on the beach at night.

It's not as scary as it sounds though! You'll have an awesome time! Look into the trees for monkeys/sloths/crazy looking birds :)
posted by never.was.and.never.will.be. at 10:20 AM on June 16, 2014

Oh my god, pack ALL the DEET. I was eaten up within an inch of my life by mosquitoes and everything else.
posted by fiercecupcake at 11:25 AM on June 16, 2014

Note on the DEET. 30% DEET is good. Don't go any higher than that. I used the higher concentration product and my face went numb. 30% is sufficient.

Have to agree with cheap ponchos. I have a Gore-tex jacket that was soaked within 2 min of the start of a downpour. Take a pair of sandals for when you are in towns or at restaurants. Maybe I'm braver/stupider than most, but I wore shorts and t-shirts in the rainforest. I did research for 2 years there, and I saw a lot of snakes, but was never assaulted by one. There are a lot of ticks and chiggers, but with DEET I didn't have a problem.

If you can give details about where you will be/what you will be doing there might be better directed suggestions.
posted by bolognius maximus at 1:51 PM on June 16, 2014

I can't say enough how important clean socks are. Bring like twice as many socks as you'll think you need.

I wouldn't worry too much about snakes or bugs, just bring some deep woods off.

The rain is usually not bad. It usually doesn't downpour, and even when it does, it's hot as hell outside, and the rain is usually fairly warm, so it's not that bad walking outside during it.

I wouldn't wear sandals and shorts unless I was at the beach.
posted by empath at 12:32 AM on June 17, 2014

Oh, and the malarial mosquitos are mostly out at dawn and dusk, so try to stay safely indoors and/or under a mosquito net during those times.
posted by empath at 12:33 AM on June 17, 2014

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