*Updated on 1/22/2019
Many first-time travelers who create a packing list for Costa Rica simply aren’t aware of the most important items! Whether it’s bug spray, quick dry clothes, or reusable water bottles, there’s a number of things you don’t want to forget. The following insider list of things to pack for Costa Rica will keep you prepared and traveling light for any type of Costa Rica itinerary, whether it’s a family vacation, honeymoon or remote adventure.
- Less is more
- Bring a duffle bag/roller bag or small suitcase
- A daypack and/or backpack will be used daily
Clothing for Costa Rica
- Travelers will need to prepare for multiple activities
- Many accommodations have laundry services
Costa Rica Packing Checklist
Everyday & Travel Clothing
- 2-3 pairs of comfortable pants-one pair of jeans
- 2-3 pairs of comfortable shorts (women may want to additionally pack light-weight skirts/travel skirts and capri pants)
- 1 long-sleeve t-shirt
- 3-5 short-sleeve shirts (nice shirts & t-shirts)
- (Tank tops are okay for women)
- 1 sweatshirt/light fleece (for airplane & cool nights)
- 6-8 pairs of underwear/boxers
- 2-4 pairs of socks
- Shoes you wear in the summer (flip flops, comfortable sandals)
- Your feet tend to get wet, so an extra pair of shoes is recommended
Adventure, Sport & Beach Clothing
- Quick dry shorts
- Quick dry t-shirt(s)
- Quick dry long-sleeve shirt
- Bathing suit/board shorts (2-piece suits for females are fine)
- Closed-toed water shoes for the river—teva-type/Chaco-type will work
- Tennis shoes and/or light hiking boots
- Towel (for beach and adventure activities; hotels provide bathroom towels)
- Women: sarong (optional)
- Toothbrush & toothpaste
- Travel-sized shampoo & conditioner
- Travel-sized soap
- Bug spray
- Hand sanitizer
- Razors for shaving
- Vitamins and/or prescribed medication
- Glasses/contacts/cases/saline solution
- Feminine products (they have them there, but it is nice to have the kind you normally use)
Miscellaneous Things to Bring
- Hat & sunglasses
- 1-2 plastic bags for wet clothes and/or shoes
- Reusable water bottle
If you are visiting the mountains of Costa Rica
It is hard to believe that you might need warm clothes in Costa Rica, but if you are visiting areas like Monteverde, San Gerardo de Dota, Cerro de la Muerte, Poas or Irazu Volcano, San Gerardo de Rivas and/or Chirripó, you must bring warm things to wear. Our suggestions are:
- One or two fleece jackets
- Long pants
- A scarf
- A warm hat
In the end, it’s best to bring enough clothing that you can layer up or down as needed. During the day and under the sun it could be hot, and at certain elevations (especially at night) it can be cooler.
More Costa Rica Packing Tips
Basic First Aid Kit – adhesive bandages, gauze & adhesive tape, elastic bandages, antiseptic, cotton swabs, disposable gloves, tweezers, scissors, antifungal and antibacterial ointments/creams, 1% hydrocortisone cream, anti-itch gel/cream for insect bites and stings, aloe gel for sunburns, pain or fever medication, stomach upset /diarrhea medication, respiratory medication, anti-motion sickness medication, medication to address allergic reactions, moleskin for blisters, digital thermometer, saline eye drops, first-aid quick reference card.
Electronics – Bringing electronics is ALWAYS a risk!
Cell phones do work in Costa Rica – However, there are large international fees. Travelers can easily buy a calling card in Costa Rica and can call families from their hotel and/or homestay. Calling cards are very reasonably priced in Costa Rica.
Cameras – You will definitely want to remember this experience for the rest of your life. You can bring digital, disposable, or other film cameras…but at your own risk!
Computers – Wifi is accessible in many locations throughout Costa Rica; however, theft is also prevalent throughout Costa Rica. There are security boxes within many hotel rooms, but sometimes not large enough to fit a laptop.
Tip: If you do choose to bring electronics, store them in a waterproof container/ziplock bag. It rains in Costa Rica, and you will most likely be caught in the rain without warning at least once.
Electrical outlets are the same as the US. Don’t forget charges and/or memory cards.