Costa Rica Packing List

What to pack for Costa Rica?

Welcome to the tropical paradise of Costa Rica! With its stunning beaches, lush rainforests, and vibrant wildlife, this Central American gem is a dream destination for adventure seekers and nature lovers alike. But before you start envisioning yourself sipping on fresh coconut water by the crystal-clear waters, there’s one crucial thing you need to take care of: packing!

Packing for any trip can be overwhelming, but fear not – we’ve got you covered with this comprehensive Costa Rica packing list. From clothing essentials to the best shoes for exploring rugged terrains, we’ll help ensure that your suitcase is filled with everything you need for an unforgettable journey through this captivating country. So grab your sunscreen and let’s dive into what should be in your travel wardrobe as you embark on your Costa Rican escapade!

Packing List

Below is a bullet point list of must-bring items to ensure that you have the best time of your life in this tropical paradise!


  • Lightweight clothing: Pack breathable and comfortable clothes suitable for the tropical climate. Don’t forget to include swimsuits, shorts, t-shirts, and sundresses.
  • Rain gear:  Costa Rica experiences occasional rainfall even during dry seasons. Be prepared with a lightweight rain jacket or poncho.
  • Hiking shoes: With so many opportunities for outdoor adventures in Costa Rica, sturdy hiking shoes are essential.
  • Insect repellent: Protect yourself from pesky mosquitoes and other insects by packing insect repellent with DEET.
  • Sunscreen: The sun can be intense in Costa Rica; make sure to bring high SPF sunscreen to protect your skin from harmful UV rays.
  • Hat and sunglasses: Shield yourself from the sun’s rays with a wide-brimmed hat and polarized sunglasses.
  • Medications: If you take any prescription medications or require specific over-the-counter remedies, don’t forget to pack them along with a small first aid kit.
  • Travel adapter: Remember to bring a universal travel adapter since electrical outlets may differ from what you’re used to.
  • Camera equipment: Capture all the breathtaking landscapes of Costa Rica by bringing your camera or smartphone along with extra memory cards and batteries.
  • Spanish phrasebook/Guidebook/Maps/Apps: While many locals speak English in popular tourist areas, having some basic knowledge of Spanish can be beneficial during your travels around the country.
    Additionally, consider carrying guidebooks or using maps/apps that provide useful information on local attractions and activities.

Additional Essential Items

  • Your original passport, which should be valid and not close to expiring during your stay. Photocopies or color copies will not be accepted.
  • A valid original driver’s license is necessary if you plan to rent a car or drive. Temporary licenses, photocopies, or paper copies are not acceptable, and it should not expire while you are in Costa Rica.
  • A credit card . Visa cards are preferable since American Express (AMEX) and digital payment methods like Apple Pay are not widely accepted outside major cities.
  • Travel insurance is strongly advised, given the unpredictable nature of travel, particularly in light of recent global health concerns. Consider providers like Safety Wing for digital nomads, World Nomads for adventure seekers, or explore Visitors Coverage for a plan that suits your travel needs.
  • Proof of your return flight ticket from Costa Rica, which you may need to present at immigration. This can be a digital copy saved on your phone or a printed version.
  • Documentation for any bookings you have made, including hotels, tours, car rentals, and flights. These can be digital copies stored on your phone or printed out.

Clothing essentials

When packing for your trip to Costa Rica, it’s essential to bring the right clothing items that will keep you comfortable and protected throughout your adventures. The tropical climate of Costa Rica means that lightweight and breathable clothing is a must.

In Costa Rica, there’s no stringent dress code, so opting for comfortable and casual attire is suitable for most places across the country.


First on the list are t-shirts or tank tops made from moisture-wicking materials. These will help keep you cool and dry in the hot and humid weather. It’s also a good idea to pack a few long-sleeved shirts or light sweaters for cooler evenings or when visiting higher elevations.

Next, don’t forget to pack some lightweight pants or shorts. Opt for quick-drying fabrics like nylon or polyester blends, as they are perfect for outdoor activities such as hiking or zip-lining. A pair of versatile convertible pants that can be transformed into shorts is also highly recommended.

For swimsuits, bring at least two pairs so that one can dry while you wear the other. Choose durable swimwear that won’t easily fade or stretch out over time, especially if you plan on spending lots of time in the water.

In terms of accessories, a wide-brimmed hat is essential to protect your face from the strong sun rays. Sunglasses with UV protection are also a must-have item.

By packing these clothing essentials, you’ll be well-prepared to tackle any adventure in beautiful Costa Rica!

Best shoes for Costa Rica

When it comes to exploring the diverse landscapes of Costa Rica, having a good pair of shoes is essential. The country offers everything from sandy beaches to dense rainforests and rugged mountains, so you’ll want footwear that can handle it all.

One option that many travelers swear by are hiking boots. These sturdy shoes provide excellent support and traction for navigating uneven terrain. Look for boots with waterproof features to keep your feet dry during rainy hikes or water crossings.

If you’re planning on spending time at the beach or participating in water activities, consider packing a pair of water shoes or sandals. These will protect your feet from sharp rocks and hot sand while allowing them to breathe in the tropical heat.

For those planning on exploring cities or towns, a comfortable pair of walking shoes or sneakers is a must-have. Opt for lightweight styles that offer cushioning and support for long days of sightseeing.

No matter what type of shoe you choose, make sure they are broken-in before your trip. This will help prevent blisters and discomfort as you explore Costa Rica’s natural wonders.

Remember, comfort and functionality should be prioritized when selecting footwear for your Costa Rican adventure! So pack accordingly and get ready for an unforgettable journey through this beautiful country!

What to pack for hiking

When embarking on a hiking adventure in this beautiful country, it’s important to be prepared with the right gear and essentials. Here are some must-haves to pack for your hike.

First and foremost, invest in a good pair of hiking boots or shoes. Opt for sturdy footwear that provides ankle support and has a good grip on various terrains. Don’t forget to break them in before your trip to avoid blisters.

Next, pack lightweight and breathable clothing suitable for the tropical climate. Choose moisture-wicking materials that will keep you cool and dry during your trek. It’s also essential to bring layers as weather conditions can change quickly in mountainous areas.

Don’t forget about sun protection! Pack sunscreen with a high SPF, sunglasses, and a hat or cap to shield yourself from the strong UV rays. Insect repellent is another item you don’t want to leave behind, as mosquitoes can be prevalent in certain regions.

Hydration is key when hiking, so make sure to bring plenty of water bottles or a hydration bladder system. Snacks like energy bars or trail mix will provide you with much-needed fuel along the way.


Don’t forget about insect repellent! Mosquitoes can be quite bothersome in certain areas of Costa Rica, so it’s important to come prepared with bug spray containing DEET.

Carry a backpack that fits comfortably on your shoulders and distribute weight evenly. This will allow you to have easy access to essentials such as maps, compasses, first aid kits (including any necessary medication), flashlights or headlamps (in case of late hikes), an extra set of clothes (in case of unexpected rain), and basic tools like Swiss Army knives or multi-tools.

By packing these essentials for your hike in Costa Rica, you’ll be well-prepared for whatever nature throws at you while enjoying breathtaking views along the way!

What to pack for water activities

Whether you plan on snorkeling, surfing, or paddleboarding, here are some essential items to include in your packing list.

First and foremost, don’t forget your swimsuits! Pack at least two so that you always have a dry one ready. Opt for quick-drying materials that won’t weigh you down when wet. Rash guards are also a great addition to protect your skin from the sun’s rays and potential scrapes.

Water shoes are another must-have item. They will come in handy whether you’re exploring rocky shorelines or walking along sandy beaches. Look for ones with good traction and drainage capabilities.

Sun protection is crucial when engaging in water activities. Don’t forget to pack sunscreen with a high SPF rating, lip balm with UV protection, sunglasses to shield your eyes from glare off the water, and a wide-brimmed hat for extra shade.

For those planning on snorkeling or scuba diving, consider bringing your own gear if possible. This includes masks, snorkels, fins, and possibly even wetsuits depending on the season and location of your underwater adventures.

Don’t forget waterproof bags or cases to keep your valuables safe while enjoying the water activities. These can range from small pouches to larger dry bags that can fit cameras or electronic devices.

With these essential items packed away safely in your bag, you’ll be fully prepared to make the most of Costa Rica’s stunning waterscapes! So get ready for some unforgettable aquatic adventures during your trip!

What to pack for your health

When it comes to traveling, taking care of your health should be a top priority. Costa Rica is known for its stunning landscapes and outdoor activities, but it’s also important to make sure you have everything you need to stay healthy during your trip. Here are some items that should be on your packing list:

1. Medications: If you take any prescription medications, make sure you have enough for the duration of your trip. It’s also a good idea to bring along basic over-the-counter medications like pain relievers, antihistamines, and anti-diarrheal medication.

2. First aid kit: A well-stocked first aid kit can come in handy if you encounter minor injuries or illnesses while exploring Costa Rica’s natural beauty. Include items like band-aids, gauze pads, adhesive tape, antibiotic ointment, and tweezers.

3. Insect repellent: Mosquitoes and other insects can carry diseases such as dengue fever or Zika virus in certain areas of Costa Rica. Pack insect repellent containing DEET or another effective ingredient.

4. Sunscreen: The tropical sun can be intense in Costa Rica so don’t forget sunscreen with a high SPF rating (at least 30) to protect yourself from harmful UV rays.

5. Water purification tablets: While tap water in major cities is generally safe to drink in Costa Rica, it’s always a good idea to have water purification tablets as backup when hiking or visiting remote areas where clean drinking water may not be easily available.

Remember that maintaining good hygiene practices such as washing hands regularly and staying hydrated are crucial for staying healthy while traveling abroad.

FAQ - Costa Rica Packing List

How should I protect myself from mosquito bites in Costa Rica?

To protect yourself from mosquito bites in Costa Rica, use insect repellent containing DEET, wear long sleeves and pants in mosquito-prone areas, and consider staying in accommodations with screens or using bed nets.

Is it necessary to bring a first aid kit?

It’s recommended to bring a well-stocked first aid kit when traveling to Costa Rica. Include items like band-aids, gauze pads, adhesive tape, antibiotic ointment, tweezers, and any necessary personal medications.

What documents should I bring for traveling to Costa Rica?

When traveling to Costa Rica, make sure to bring a valid passport with at least six months of validity remaining. Depending on your nationality, you may also need a tourist visa or entry permit. Check with your local embassy or consulate for specific requirements.

Should I exchange currency before traveling to Costa Rica?

It’s advisable to exchange some currency before your trip to have cash on hand upon arrival. However, major credit cards are widely accepted in most places, and ATMs are available for cash withdrawals.

Is it safe to drink tap water in Costa Rica?

While tap water in Costa Rica is generally considered safe in major cities, it’s recommended to stick to bottled water for drinking and brushing your teeth, especially in more remote areas.

Can I use my mobile phone in Costa Rica?

Most international mobile phones work in Costa Rica, but check with your service provider regarding international roaming rates. Alternatively, you can purchase a local SIM card upon arrival for better cost efficiency.

Are there any specific clothing restrictions or cultural norms in Costa Rica?

Costa Rica has a relatively casual dress code, and lightweight and comfortable clothing is generally acceptable. However, when visiting religious sites or more formal establishments, it’s advisable to dress modestly and respectfully.

Is it necessary to get vaccinated before traveling to Costa Rica?

It is recommended to consult with a healthcare professional or travel clinic to get up-to-date information on required or recommended vaccinations for Costa Rica. Common vaccines include hepatitis A and B, typhoid, and routine vaccinations like measles, mumps, and rubella.

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