Many new visitors wondering what to pack for Costa Rica are unaware of the most critical necessities needed for their trip. There are plenty of items to keep top of mind when packing, such as quick dry clothes (for rainy days and rafting trips), bug spray (for outdoor excursions, especially the rainforest) water bottles (to stay hydrated while on adventures) and more. We’re here to help you be fully prepared yet still traveling light. Follow these tips on what to bring to Costa Rica, and you’ll surely be prepared for a trip of a lifetime.
Preliminary Packing Tips on What to Bring
Travel Luggage for Costa Rica
- Remember this mantra: Less is more
- A small suitcase with wheels, or better yet, a duffle bag
- A backpack/daypack for daily excursions
Clothes for Costa Rica
- Keep in mind that you will need clothes for for multiple activities (indoor/outdoor)
- Laundry services at many of the lodging facilities
Recommended Costa Rica Packing Checklist/Guide
Common Travel Clothing
- Bring 2-3 pairs of pants that fit comfortably (single pair of jeans)
- Bring 2-3 pairs of shorts that also fit comfortably
- Tip: The women in Costa Rica typically don’t wear shorts in public (comfortable skirts, or capri pants, are recommended)
- Bring a single long-sleeve t-shirt
- Bring 3-5 short-sleeve shirts (both collared and t-shirts)
- Tank tops are commonly worn by women in Costa Rica
- Bring 1 sweatshirt or a light-weight fleece pullover (for cool nights and airplane travel)
- Bring a Raincoat. This is very important! Rain is common
- Bring 6-8 pairs of boxer shorts or other underwear
- Bring 2-4 pairs of comfortable socks
- Bring common summer shoes such as sandals and flip flops
- Bring an extra pair of shoes in the event that your feet get wet
Clothing for Adventures and Beaches
- Bring quick dry shorts to stay comfortable in case it rains or you get wet
- Bring quick dry t-shirt(s) for the same reason
- Bring quick a single dry long-sleeve shirt for the same reason
- Bring a bathing suit or surf board shorts (2-piece suits for women are acceptable)
- Bring a pair of closed-toed water shoes for rafting (Tivas, Chacos, etc.)
- Bring gym shoes and/or hiking boots that are easy to pack
- Bring a towel for the beach, river and other adventures (hotels will provide bathroom towels)
- A sarong is optional for women
Essential Costa Rica Travel Toiletries
- Bring a toothbrush and toothpaste
- Bring travel-sized shampoo, conditioner and other hair products
- Bring travel-sized soap or shower gel
- Bring a comb or hair brush
- Bring bug spray (very important)
- Bring sunscreen (very important)
- Bring evaporative hand sanitizer (very important)
- Bring enough razors for shaving
- Bring necessary supplements and/or prescriptions
- Bring eye glasses, eye glass cases, contacts (and contact solution)
- Bring any necessary feminine products if you prefer to stick with your common brand
Other Things to Bring to Costa Rica
- Bring a hat and/or sunglasses to protect from the sun
- Bring 1-2 plastic bags for storing wet cloths/shoes on excursions
- Remember…bring a water bottle (very important)
Additional Costa Rica Packing Tips
Knowing what to pack for a trip to Costa Rica doesn’t stop with this checklist above. There are a number of other important items to bring on your trip listed below.
Basic First Aid Kit – Items can include adhesive bandages, elastic bandages, gauze/adhesive tape, cotton swabs, antiseptic, tweezers, scissors, disposable gloves, anti-fungal/antibacterial ointments/creams, anti-itch/sting gel/cream, 1% hydrocortisone cream, sunburn treatment (i.e. – aloe gel), medication for pain/fevers/nausea/diarrhea/respiratory problems/motion sickness/allergies, thermometer, blister moleskin, hydrating eye drops and a first-aid quick reference card.
Electronics (although risky)
Cell phones in Costa Rica– There are commonly large international fees associated with international cell phone usage in Costa Rica. A good alternative is a calling card for calling home from hotels and homestays. They are reasonably priced for purchasing in Costa Rica, or bring your own.
Cameras – Taking pictures on your Costa Rica vacation will help you bring home lifelong memories. Although they are a risk to get stolen or damaged on outdoor excursions, digital cameras are quite common to bring. Disposable film cameras lessen the risk.
Computers – Many hotels will offer Wifi service for your laptop computer, however this also presents the risk of theft (unfortunately common). Most hotels offer in-room security boxes, although usually not big enough to fit a laptop within.
Tip:If you decide to bring your own electronic devices, be sure to at least store them in a waterproof container or ziplock bag. Rain is common in Costa Rica, and you are sure to be caught in the rain (unexpectedly) at least once on your trip.
Electrical outlets are the same voltage as in the United States. Remember to bring memory cards and charging devices.