Surviving Central America In The Rainy Season

Rain sucks.

It’s the only type of weather where you can’t go out and do something fun as a result.

In fact, it’s the only real weather type that’s capable of flat out stopping you from going out at all.

When we made our last minute decision to travel Central America for 3 months, rain wasn’t something we gave much thought to.

I mean, it’s Central America. That place is just sunny and warm all year round, right?

Well, as it turns out, no. No it’s not.

you gotta love rainy season in central america
you gotta love rainy season in central america

Three months of the year here are what the locals jokingly call Winter (it’s still hotter than an English summer), and what the guide books more accurately call ‘rainy season’.

As it turns out, unbeknown to us when we randomly booked flights here on our spur of the moment trip, rainy season is real.

We had originally planned to be in Australia right now, and there have been times here where we’ve been hiking down rivers and waterfalls that were hills on the way up and wondering if we made the right choice skipping out on Oz to head here.

But there’s an art to surviving Central America in the rainy season.

 

Become An Early Riser

Rainy season doesn’t mean it rains all day.

Occasionally it does, if there’s a big storm coming in and you’re really unlucky.

But for the most part, the rain comes in the afternoons.

Depending on exactly where you are in Central, the mornings may start off a little cloudy, but the skies will soon clear and it will rarely rain until early afternoon.

hiking through the rain
hiking through the rain

On top of that, no daylight savings means it gets light early. Around 5:30am kind of early.

So if you’re the early bird you always tell yourself you want to be, and you’re ready to get up early and maximise your mornings, you’re going to have plenty of time to catch the worm before the wet stuff comes.

Get used to getting up early, capitalising on the dry mornings, and do your indoor stuff in the afternoon when the rain sets in. While we’ve been down here we’ve gotten into the habit of waking up early and going to bed early, and it’s brilliant. We’re heaps more productive AND we get our vitamin D fix in.

 

Plan Your Root

Not all rainy seasons are created equal.

And not all countries in Central America get their equal share of the rain.

The further you get to the East and the closer you get to the Caribbean coast, the less rain you’re going to be dealing with.

So plan your root carefully. Guatemala and then straight down to Nicaragua is going to give you 2 months of back to back rainy days.

While we were in Guatemala, it rained every day for a month. Some days only a little. But it did rain every day.

If we’d gone straight into more of the same in Nicaragua for another month, I might not be writing this post from such a happy place.

Instead, we broke it up by heading to Belize for a while and then down through Honduras and the scuba diving mecca of Utila between the two.

This gave us a little bit of time to recharge our spirits and dry out our clothes on the always-warm Caribbean cost where rainy season doesn’t really mean rainy season.

 

Look Forward To The ‘Mini Summer’

Apparently (and I use that word intentionally) July usually brings a bit of a break to the rainy season here in Central America.

Rainy season runs beginning of June through to August officially, but a few locals have told us that July often brings a little break from the wet weather.

clouds up in the mountains outside Xela, Guatemala
clouds up in the mountains outside Xela, Guatemala

They call it their mini summer, and exactly how true it is remains to be seen.

I get the feeling they may have been just trying to encourage our optimistic side, but time will tell on that one.

 

Be Prepared

If you know you’re going to be in Central America in the rainy season, come prepared.

You’ll be able to enjoy it so much more if you have the right gear.

A good waterproof backpack so you don’t have to worry about all your stuff getting wet on those long bus rides (most of the times bags are stored on the roofs of the bus here), a dry bag you can take out and about with you to keep your camera and your electronics dry and a good raincoat.

If you don’t bring anything else, bring these things.

Seriously, it’ll make your time here soooo much more enjoyable if you have the right stuff you need to enjoy it.

 

Just Embrace It

You could justifiably moan and complain every time the grey clouds role in. I’m sure noone would blame you.

Most would probably join you.

It’s frustrating and it’s annoying.

But it’s also inevitable and a part of travelling Central in the rainy season, and one of the things you should know before you arrive.

It’s a reasonable expectation that, yep, it’s going to rain.

Just embrace it and go with it.

If nothing else, it’s an excuse to practice your Spanish and a classic conversation starter. “Mucha lluvia!” See, my one week of Spanish classes paying off again there.

 

Wrapping Up

Travelling Central America in the rainy season can take a bit of extra planning. But with the right attitude and a little bit of foresight, the rain doesn’t need to put a dampener on your time there.

Rainy season is also the off season for tourism, so those who do brave it can expect less crowds and cheaper prices. The cheaper prices thing being particularly helpful for some of the comparatively more expensive countries like Belize, which you can totally still travel on a budget by the way.

And if that’s not worth getting wet for, I don’t know what is!

Have you been to Central America in the rainy season? What are your tips for getting the most out of the off season?

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