Your next trip to Costa Rica, Beach or Rainforest? Be Prepared!
By Matthew Ymbras
When most people think of Costa Rica they think of two things: great beaches and lush rainforest. They're right, Costa Rica does play host to these two wonderful settings, but what many people don't know is Costa Rica is comprised of many different climates and without knowledge of these climates it is very easy to get caught out in the rain without your umbrella.
In many regions of Costa Rica the beaches are quite far from the jungle, hours and hours away sometimes. Guanacaste for instance is Costa Rica's most touristic region, but many of these visitors are shocked to find cows and farmland, a far cry from what one thinks about when imagining the rainforest. Guanacaste happens to be the driest region of Costa Rica, in fact throughout the dry season (December-May) the hillside leaves turn brown and fall to the ground. Not exactly a beautiful lush scene, but for many this is a small price to pay for five consecutive months of sun filled skies and dry heat.
Some of the country's densest forests can be found inland, usually at least a three hour drive from the Guanacaste beaches. Places like Monteverde and Arenal do not have clear cut seasons like Guanacaste but remain cool and damp year round. Most of inland Costa Rica sits at high elevations, which makes these places much cooler then the coast. This climate yields a diverse animal population and rich plant life that may vary greatly from lower altitude forests. In general these parts are extremely different from the beach locations. So be prepared, a rain jacket and long pants are highly recommended.
Then there is the median, where the sand meets the jungle. The Osa peninsula, located in Southwest Costa Rica is a prime example of this. Largely undeveloped and untouched, this natural paradise blends together the best of both worlds. One can bathe in the ocean and hear the jungle animals sing simultaneously. Like many inland locations Osa is also rainy and without clear cut seasons. This corner of the country bleeds naturalism. It is a hot, moist climate which is ideal for the thriving wildlife that at times may best be described as truly awesome.
All of this primitive beauty does come with a small price, you'll have to do some extra work to get here. The Osa peninsula is a very long drive from either of Costa Rica's international airports, but if you have a few extra bucks you can fly directly into the wilderness via a few airstrips placed on this region's soil. Some of these parts are so isolated that they are off of the electric grid, relying solely on generators. Much of the Caribbean coast also brings the beach to the forest, but unlike Osa this part of the country is much more developed and accessible.
Last but certainly not least is Costa Rica's capital San Jose. Warm days are the norm in the big city but it is very common for the temperature to drop into the low 60's at night. Common street attire here is jeans and a light jacket, something unexpected to most travelers when packing for a country just nine degrees north of the equator.
Costa Rica is an absolutely wonderful place, but it's even better if you know exactly what you're in for. It's hard to enjoy a cool jungle night in your bathing suit or a hot sunny day in your sweater and jeans. With the knowledge of Costa Rica's many climates you can pack according to the places you'll visit or plan the places you will visit around the things you've packed!
Founder of TV Pura Vida.
TV Pura Vida is a web based informational resource based in Costa Rica that provides free videos and articles to help you make the most out of your next trip to Costa Rica.
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Views expressed in the article are those of the author and are not necessarily the opinions of CaribbeanChoice, its staff or members.