Costa Rica in the Green Season: Don’t Do It!
When I told friends I was visiting Costa Rica in early June, they replied with shock. Costa Rica in the summer? Won’t it be so hot, they asked? This seems to be a common misconception. People think summer, they think hot. People think south, they think hot. So to go that far south in the summer seems ill-advised to most people (to most people who have not done a small amount of internet research, that is). But Costa Rica is so close to the equator that it pretty much stays the same temperature all year round. Of course, that temperature is rather hot. Still. It’s not any warmer there in June than it would be in February.
What Costa Rica is in June is this: rainy. Instead of four seasons, Costa Rica–and much of Central America–has only two seasons. There’s the dry season and the wet season. And the wet season–dubbed ‘green season’ by some rather brilliant PR person–stretches from May to October. Thus, prime tourist season in Costa Rica begins in November and continues through April, taking advantage of the dry, sunny season. Because no one wants rain on their parade…er, vacation.
Which is why I had some serious concerns about our sort-of last-minute plan to visit Costa Rica in early June. I did as much research as I could to figure out what to expect, and the answers were all basically: weather is weather. It cannot be predicted. Pura Vida! (I’m thinking these answers were mostly given by people living in CR. The pura vida gave it away.) So I bought a poncho and a big sun hat, just to cover all of my bases, and I boarded a plane to San Jose (Costa Rica, not California. Though I do have a friend who once flew from San Jose, CA to San Jose, CR. I find this to be super amusing, but it is not the point of this post so I digress.) As it was my first visit to CR, I did the tourist trail, spending four nights in the mountains near Arenal Volcano and four nights on the beach in Manuel Antonio. Here’s what I found…
The Horror of Costa Rica During the Green Season
In the Mountains
-Nights and early mornings were often rainy. This meant we typically had to sleep until around 7am before heading to breakfast. It was tough, but we managed it.
-Mornings and early afternoons were spent trudging through lush rainforest, climbing on lava fields, swimming in waterfalls and traversing the canopy on hanging bridges. Of course, this was all done very spur-of-the-moment, as during low-season, reservations really aren’t required. Way to take the fun out of hyper-planning a trip, green season.
-One afternoon, we visited a restaurant high on a hilltop. We were the only people there. It was terribly lonely. I had to enjoy the view with only my husband as company. Well, there were also goats and sheep and a lizard. But goats, sheep, and lizards are not great conversationalists.
-Speaking of loneliness: we had The Volcano Lodge and Springs Resort mostly to ourselves as well. Imagine the deep sorrow we experienced, hanging out all alone in the hot springs, with only rum drinks for solace.
-Two out of three afternoons, from around 2pm until maybe 3:30pm, it rained. It rained really hard. The sound of rain on the tin roof of our hotel room was overly soothing, and on one of the days we took a two-hour nap. Yuck. I mean really, who likes naps?
At the Beach
-Two out of three afternoons, from exactly 4:05 until 5:00, it rained. Which made all of the wonderful humidity go away. Boo, green season! Boo!
-We only got to see one epic sunset. I want my money back.
-Again with the loneliness: for most of the week, we shared all of El Faro Beach Hotel with maybe two other couples. In fact, we had the entire upper floor–and rooftop terrace–to ourselves the entire time. Lonely, I’m Mr. Lonely. Additionally, the restaurants in town, while not entirely empty, were almost so. It was difficult picking which beach-view umbrella table we wanted.
And finally, worst of all:
-I got a slight sunburn and was forced to wear my really big hat. And I never got to use my poncho.
So there you have it. Costa Rica in the green season. It is a virtual hell scape of super-low hotel rates and no crowds, with brief bouts of precipitation. Personally, I’d not recommend it. Yes, definitely avoid it at all costs. I mean, I’ll go back during green season. Just to be nice. I’d hate for the monkeys to get lonely. Nothing sadder than a lonely monkey, I always say…