Weather and Clothing


one of the most surprising things for newcomers to San Jose is that it's not as warm as they thought it would be. The truly hot months are at the end of the dry season, March and April. December, January, and February are usually rain-free, but the weather can be downright chilly, especially at night or if a wind is blowing. During the rainy season, May to November, the days usually start out warm and sunny and cloud over by noon . The downpour usually starts around 2 or 3 pm and it can get a bit cold then, too. Usually a sweater and long pants are enough to keep you warm. If you go down in altitude from San Jose 's 3800 feet, you'll be able to wear the kind of clothes you hoped you could wear in the tropics.

When it rains, it really rains, but afternoon downpours are usually short-lived. In San Jose during the rainy season, people usually carry umbrellas brightly colored sombrillas for women and black paraguas for men. In the mountains, a lightweight rain poncho is usually more convenient. You'll be glad to have high rubber boots if you go hiking in the rain forest, especially in Corcovado or Sarapiqui . You can buy good ones here for under $7 at provincial supply stores, and many places, like Monteverde , rent them to visitors for around $3. Bring boots with you from home only if you wear an especially large size.

Bring at least three changes of lightweight cotton or cotton-mix clothing when you go to the beach or rainforest, protected inside a plastic bag in case of sudden downpours. Even if you are going to the steamy lowlands, you often have to pass through high mountains to get there-- Cerro de la Muerte on the way to the Osa , Braulio Carrillo or Vara Blanca on the way to Sarapiqui. You'll be happier if you have a zippered sweatshirt, long pants, and socks that can be peeled off as you get to lower altitudes. The sweatshirt also makes a good pillow for long bus trips.

Many hotels will let you store excess luggage while you adventure off. I can usually fit everything I need for a trip to the country in a day-pack. I start out in a bathing suit, jeans, a cotton over shirt, socks and running shoes. In addition, I bring 2 bathing suits or leotards, 2 pairs of lightweight pants, extra socks, 2 long T-shirts (one to sleep in), flip-flops, the zippered sweatshirt, and a scarf, as well as insect repellent, sulphur powder, a flashlight, a book an umbrella or rain poncho, a towel and toilet paper. If you are going to Irazu, Poas, Chirripo or other high altitudes, you'll need a jacket on top of a thick sweater and warm socks.

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