What to Pack for Costa Rica

Packing for a trip can always be a bit tricky. You’re going to a new place, you don’t know quite what to expect and so you aren’t entirely sure what to bring. Undoubtedly, you end up with several items you never use, at home or during your trip, and wishing that you had brought certain things that didn’t make the list. Here are some helpful tips to packing for your ultimate adventure in Costa Rica to help you get it right.

Know the Season

Depending on when you’re going, you’ll need different gear. Costa Rica has 2 seasons, rainy season and dry season. Dry season is typically November to May and while there may be some showers here or there, it is usually the hottest and driest time of the year. If you plan on visiting during the rainy season, May to November, expect rain! It rains daily and while it might not rain all day, it will be wet, although prices are generally lower as this is the low season for tourism. Make sure and pack a poncho, waterproof backpack and shoes, and cases to keep cameras and other gear dry. Most tours will continue in the rain, as life does go on while wet, so be sure and have a way to keep yourself dry, more or less.

Know the Microclimates

Most people picture nothing but palm-lined, white, sandy beaches when they picture Costa Rica and while you can find lots of that, Costa Rica is also home to at least 26 microclimates, so depending on where you’re going, the weather can change a lot. While the beaches can be hot and humid, the Central Valley region can get a bit chilly at night and you might find yourself longing for long pants and a light jacket. If you’re visiting the Cloud Forest of Monteverde don’t be surprised to find yourself reaching for a blanket at night. Take your bathing suit, shorts and flip flops but make sure have some light weight, long sleeved items and pants to cover up on cooler nights at higher elevations.

Know Your Activities

If you only plan on hitting the beach and then making your way to a hammock, you would need much, but if you plan on doing any of the many activities that Costa Rica has to offer you’ll want to be prepared. Long pants are recommended for any jungle exploring to protect your legs against a variety of plants, insects, and other critters. A good pair of closed toed shoes for hiking is also a good idea. If you want to go horseback riding, pants and shoes will both come in handy. White water rafting is a great experience and one where you’ll wish you had some sturdy sandals or water-socks. Having a hat to protect your face and your neck from the at times intense sun will also make your Costa Rican vacation more enjoyable.

Packing List of the Basics

Here are most of the items you’ll want to have with you on your trip. Remember, if you forget something you can always find it in Costa Rica, although some items can be quiet pricey. Laundry service is available almost everywhere you’ll stay so packing light is the way to go.

  • Tank tops and t-shirts
  • 2 pairs of shorts
  • 1 light-weight pair of pants
  • 1 sarong or beach cover up
  • 1 or 2 swim suits
  • 1 or 2 casual beach dresses/”Nice” outfits
  • Lightweight rain jacket
  • Socks and undergarment
  • 1 pair closed toed shoes
  • 1 pair flip flops or sandals
  • Toiletries
  • Sunglasses
  • Hat/Visor
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug spray
  • Water bottle
  • Flashlight
  • Camera


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