Costa Rica Rainy Season – how to drive in the rain

Tips, Travel Costa Rica

costa rica rainy season

Are you planning a trip to Costa Rica between the months of May and late November? If so, you’re likely to encounter rainy conditions. 

 

But don’t be dismayed. The rainy season is a great time to visit. The tropical landscape is green and vibrant, wildlife is thriving, and the rivers are full of exciting rapids. 

 

The following tips will keep you informed and prepared for your trip to paradise during the rainy season. 

 

Weather conditions in Costa Rica 

 

Costa Rica has two seasons – the rainy season and the dry season. They are known respectively as the green season/winter, or, the high season/summer. The rainy season runs from May to late November, with exceptions on the Caribbean Coast. And the dry season runs from December (late November) to April.

 

This doesn’t mean it will rain 24/7 during the green season. On the contrary, most mornings and early afternoons are sunny and beautiful throughout the country. Then storm clouds start moving in during the early afternoon bringing showers that last into the evening and sometimes overnight. 

 

There are a couple of exceptions, however. The rainiest months on the Pacific Coast and in the country’s interior are September and October. While on the Caribbean Coast, these two months are the driest and most beautiful – the Caribbean’s peak tourist season. 

 

Another exception is known as St. John’s Little Summer (el Veranillo de San Juan). Technically referred to as the El Nino Southern Oscillation. It is an oceanic weather phenomenon creating a dry spell for two or three weeks around late July and early August. The Veranillo period coincides perfectly with most school vacations making it a good time to visit. 

 

The Osa Peninsula, Southern Zone, and the Caribbean are covered in rainforest and rain is a regular occurrence. No matter what month of the year it is. The best time to visit Costa Rica if you’re planning to spend time in these regions is during the dry season or September and October for the Caribbean region. 

 

During the rainiest period of the year, the roads in these areas may become impassable due to washouts and rivers overflowing their banks. 

 

Rainy season in Costa Rica

 

Driving in a foreign country is always a challenge. Especially when wet weather is a factor. And Costa Rica is no exception. In fact, most newcomers find that driving here for the first time can be stressful. The best thing to do is be prepared.

 

Costa Rica is rugged and mountainous. You’ll encounter steep inclines and curvy roads even in the Central Valley. The majority of streets, roads, and even some major thoroughfares are not named or marked with regular street signs. 

 

Car rental companies, like Adobe, will encourage you to rent a GPS navigation system for your rental car or use a navigational cell phone application. WAZE is the preferred platform in Costa Rica. The tens of thousands of WAZE users nationwide ensures you’ll almost always receive regular updates on current road conditions.  

 

Extreme weather in Costa Rica is another factor. Intensely hot days and intermittent heavy rains can wreak havoc on the roads causing potholes and even washouts. Oftentimes the yellow and white safety lines painted on the pavement will be faded or obstructed with debris, especially in rural areas.

 

Adobe car rental for rainy days

 

Adobe Rent a Car is owned and operated by Costa Ricans. We’re the largest and longest operating vehicle rental company in the country. And we know Costa Rica’s weather and road conditions like nobody else!

 

Our impeccably maintained fleet of rental cars are all under two years old. And we know that even if you’re visiting the country during the dry season you’re likely to be driving in bad weather at one time or another.

 

That’s why we offer a selection of cars that can tackle every terrain and keep you and your loved ones safe. All of our recommended vehicles have an automatic transmission, added lift, and high-quality tires with a minimum of 3mm tread.

 

We also suggest Adobe’s popular full-coverage SPP insurance option, which includes 24/7 roadside assistance throughout all of the national territory, and Insurance coverage of up to $5 million per event, among other benefits

 

At Adobe, your safety is our priority. 

 

Examples of the best Adobe cars for wet conditions:

 

  • Full-size SUV perfect for families and groups: Chevy Trailblazer, or similar. This powerful SUV is a favorite in the United States. This diesel engine, body-on-frame, 4-wheel drive model has driver assistance features, a high-end infotainment system with available navigation (WAZE) connectivity options, high clearance, and ABS brakes.  
  • Mid-size SUV perfect for families and small groups: Hyundai Tucson IX35, or similar, This agile SUV combines comfort, technology, and performance with a top-of-the-line four-wheel-drive system. Feel secure with a powerful V6 engine, ABS brakes, a high-end infotainment system with available navigation (WAZE) connectivity, and a rugged body-on-frame construction that’s ready to take on Costa Rica’s rough terrain.
  • Economy SUV perfect for couples, families with small children, or single travelers: Suzuki Jimny 4WD, or similar. This powerful and fuel-efficient 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine gets over 35 MPG on regular gasoline, provides power, clearance, and security, in addition to ABS brakes.

 

Driving safely in the rain

 

The following tips are recommended for driving in hard weather conditions – no matter where you live, but especially in Costa Rica.

 

  • Fog – wherever there’s a change in temperature and wet conditions you’re likely to have fog. Costa Rica’s mountains are a prime example. Fog is considered the most dangerous weather to drive in and should be avoided if at all possible. If you can’t avoid it or come across unexpected conditions where visibility is compromised, take the following steps:
  1. Slow down and make sure to follow the lines on the road to ensure you stay in the correct lane.
  2. Turn on your fog lights – not your high beams (high beams will reflect off the mist and make visibility even more difficult.)
  3. Stay alert for other vehicles or objects that may be obscured by the fog.
  4. Turn on your GPS’s voice feature so you can keep your eyes on the wet roads ahead. 
  5. Be alert for merging lanes. In Costa Rica, it is very common for two-lane roads to merge into a single lane for bridge crossings or construction. This can be very dangerous in heavy traffic.

 

  • Heavy rains/downpours – tropical storms are renowned for their intensity and often violent lightning and thunder. Although you’ll never encounter black ice in Costa Rica, a deep layer of rainwater on the pavement will have the same hydroplaning effect. take the following steps if you aren’t able to pull off to the side of the road and wait for the storm to pass:
  1. Slow down, turn on your hazards and headlights. In Costa Rica, hazard lights are used to indicate any unforeseen change in driving conditions, especially if you have to slow down or stop suddenly.
  2. Turn on your GPS’s voice feature so you can keep your eyes on the wet roads ahead. 
  3. Be alert for merging lanes. It is very common for two-lane roads to merge into a single lane for bridge crossings or construction, which can be very dangerous in heavy traffic.
  4. Avoid using your car’s cruise control feature. It’s best to remain alert and watch and feel for any changes in the road or traffic around you.

For more tips on driving in Costa Rica check out our informative blog, Road conditions in Costa Rica. Knowing what to pack for adverse weather is also a good idea, check out our top 15 essential things to bring for your next visit.

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