Costa Rica was AMAZING! I cannot wait to go back. But, I have to admit, not being a bug person, I was very concerned about mosquitos before going on this adventure. Part of the fun of being in nature is experiencing nature. But bug bites are the gift that keep on giving. And with all the concern about the Zika virus, I wanted to be prepared.
Also, we scheduled our trip during the rainy season because August was our only travel window. I actually didn’t realize how much rain we would have until I started looking at the weather app on my phone a few weeks before the trip. I was shocked to see 90 degrees with thundershowers EVERY DAY as the forecast. What had I done? Next, I saw pictures of my friend on Facebook with her family, drenched and covered in rain ponchos, during their adventures in Arenal. I got worried…very worried. As if planning for the mosquitos wasn’t enough?
The reality was not as traumatic as I expected. In Guanacaste, it did rain every day…but not all day. We found that we needed to just be prepared to work through the rain (and stop for lunch…yum!). In the Arenal region, the rain was much heavier and much more frequent. Tour guides are used to getting wet, and they usually will not stop your activity, even if it is raining BUCKETS.
As far as the bugs, I was pleasantly surprised. I have to say that I think our clothing choices helped a lot…and I would definitely bring the same items again. We did come home with some bug bites, but I did not feel like we got “eaten alive” or that a concern about mosquitos hindered any of our fun.
So, here are my Top 5 Funtrip recommendations, heavily fortified by my wise friend, for a successful Costa Rica trip.
Cue drum roll….
Long Sleeves So when it’s 90 degrees and 90% humidity, wearing long sleeves is the last thought on your mind. But we found that wearing long-sleeve rash guards not only protected us from the sun but also from the bugs. We wore them at the beach in Guanacaste but also zip lining and hiking around Arenal. It really helped to reduce the amount of bug spray we had to use. And while I did have two other long-sleeve rash guards, I loved wearing this shirt while zip lining. It really kept me cool!
By the way, I also brought a couple of long sleeve linen shirts and my daughter had a lightweight long-sleeve camping shirt she liked. We enjoyed the ability to cover up our arms when seated outside, especially at night.
Zip-Off Hiking Pants Similar to the anti-bug sentiment above, the zip-off pants are great for avoiding bugs and reducing the need for bug spray on your skin. We wore them zip lining and then zipped off the bottom half when we went to town for lunch! Magic! We bought ours at REI, no surprise.
Water Shoes When my friend recommended we buy water shoes, I immediately thought of the shoes we wore for coral or rocks at the beach. But, no, these are slip-on athletic water shoes. They help you to avoid soaking socks and wet, smelly Nikes when you get caught in a downpour (as you will…especially in the rainforest). My youngest daughter wore her water athletic shoes in lieu of Tevas or flip flops because she liked having her feet covered all the time. After I found a slew of ants in my own Tevas one day, I understood her concern! LOL As we had to order the water athletic shoes last minute, our selection was scarce for next-day delivery. My daughters and husband loved their shoes. I did not love mine as much. So, plan ahead for the best selection!
This is the pair both my daughters wore…Dream Pairs has multiple styles, but this seems to be the sturdiest:
This is the pair my husband wore:
Bug Spray This is no surprise. I did some research and OFF definitely got the highest ratings for the Deet products. I really wanted to try Skin So Soft by Avon for a non-Deet option. I had ordered the sunscreen/bug repellant combo, ideal for the beach (I think I actually got the most bites from the beach). But, it didn’t arrive in time. Again, plan ahead!
Rain Jacket/Poncho As we have mentioned before, we are REI fans and our REI rain jackets make many trips with us. They tie around a waist or roll up to easily fit in a backpack. You cannot go wrong. The poncho recommendation is thanks again to my friend. It’s an item that I didn’t use…we mostly used our rain jackets. But, she pointed out that, if you are hiking, a poncho helps to keep your backpack/daypack dry because it fits OVER the pack. How brilliant! So, it’s worth the $10 investment…toss the poncho in the daypack and your daypack may thank you later!
Our REI jackets are old, but here’s something that looks similar:
And the poncho: