The Costa Rica packing list can be complicated as the country is so diverse and that is why we wrote the ultimate guide, per region and per season. You may find what to bring extra if you are going to that or this region, and if you are coming in the rainy season (A.K.A. green season) or in the sunny season.

Costa Rica Packing ListCosta Rica is a magnificent country for visiting. It has so many different attractions in a tiny area, you can literally see, without a real rush, a volcano, rainforest, wildlife and beach in the same day.

The landscapes are breathtaking, and the people is, in general very easy going and well-educated. But, as anywhere else in the World, if you are not prepared for its weather and circumstances you may end up having real trouble throughout your trip.

So, we decided to make it easier on you and create a guide or regions and activities that you may want to use for your next vacation.

The rules for the whole thing are:  “Be practical” and, of course: “Use your common sense”.

Let’s first address the Costa Rica packing list  basics:

Costa Rica Packing List4-5 T-Shirts.

It is a good idea to bring some long sleeved ones. Depending on where you go  (Look below) there might be mosquitoes, and there will be sun exposure. And always 100% cotton.

1-2 Long pants.

Think about convertible pants, they are a great option. Something dressy will not hurt at all either.

3-4 Pairs of Shorts:

For the girls: Don’t make them too short, especially on adventure tours such as horseback and/or canopy tours they might be useless.

Socks:

Never enough! You will get them wet and muddy, or at least dusty. At least one per day, but better if you think about two pairs a day. You can throw them after you use them as in many cases they will be soaked in perspiration.

Underwear:

Try to get some of the fast drying types so you can use them, wash them and put them back on. Depending on where you go, they will dry quickly. But in there are times in the year when everything is damp, and it’s hard to get stuff dried. Here are some ideas for the boys and for the girls. The links are leading you to Amazon Store to find these ultra quick-drying garments.

PJs or similar.

You just never know. If something happens and you have to go out from your hotel room, better have something on. Remember we have earthquakes in Costa Rica, they do NOT happen every day, but better have something on if it happens.

Light Jacket or Windbreaker

Even in warmer areas, it might get chilly every now and then.

Sweater or Jacket:

If you go to higher areas (See below) it might actually get cold (In the Southern Mountains temperatures may fall down to the thirties.

A couple of bandanas:

Always useful in your handbag. From cleaning your sunglasses to dip it in water and calm the heat.

Costa Rica Packing ListDry Bag

Also useful. Depending on where you go or what do you do, having a dry bag for the camera, the phone or any electronic device is always helpful.

Swimsuit

For girls: Make it a comfortable sports swimsuit. If you are going rafting, kayaking or even surfing, you don’t want the straps to be moving around.  And well! If you are going to a beautiful beach resort then, a nice swimming pool tanning version would be nice.

In the case of the guys, the usual will work.

Raingear.

Try to get a poncho. Something that will let you cover your bag and your things.

Costa Rica Packing listAnd of course, the shoes:

Bring a good pair of hiking boots, tennis shoes or similar and sandals (If strapped better, but flip-flops can do just as well). A pair of water shoes if you have them and plan to do rafting, tubing or any similar water sport.

If your hair is long:

Make sure you bring enough ponytail holders. In some of the adventures, like rainforest zip-lining, they won’t let you do with if your hair is loose.

And yes, in all cases: Repellent and Sunscreen.

Repellent: Make two versions: A cream and a spraying one. When you are in a rainforest environment and are going for a hike, you will use the cream after the morning shower; then you spray over the clothes.

But if you are inside of the rainforest already, and you want to put some more (Maybe sweat has already taken what you had on). You will want to use the cream, not to be spraying over the ecosystem. 

First Aid Kit:

One of the things that you will notice in Costa Rica is that tour guides and, in general, tourism buses and hotels have first aid kits. However, they won’t give you any pills. Even though, if you don’t want to rely on them, and bring some of your own here is the list.

Find here a great one, you can buy… or make yourself! . Also it is a good idea to bring tweezers and a pair of scissors.

Where are you going? Your Costa Rica Packing List depends on that:

Let’s start with the capital city: San José

Vacation in Costa Rica

San José is over 4000 ft (1050 meters) above sea level. This means it may get chilly at times.

The sunnier and warmer months are, without a doubt, March and April. May to October (Sometimes even November, it may rain in the afternoons. December, January and occasionally February, it’s sunny but may turn pretty windy and chilly. 

  • If you are walking through San José: Closed shoes
  • Long pants might also be a good idea, although not indispensable unless you are going to the National Theater or similar in the evening.
  • A light jacket.
  • Something dressy if you are planning to dine out or go for one of the night tours.

Caribbean Coast:

Tortuguero canals tour

Tortuguero canals tour

The Caribbean Coast is divided into two main areas to visit: North Caribbean, the zone of Tortuguero National Park and the South Caribbean, call it Cahuita, Puerto Viejo, Manzanillo or Punta Cocles.

Its rainy season is from May to late August (Early September), and then again from November to February (It happens now and then that there are very sunny Januaries and Februaries, but these moths are considered to be rainy in this area.

Wherever you are going in the Caribbean make sure you bring fresh clothes, shorts, a short skirt, sleeveless shirts (Put a lot of bug repellent)

Tortuguero:

There are two types of tours: On boat and hikes. The boat tours don’t require anything except a good rain poncho, the hikes, yes, the right shoes.

  • Fresh Clothes
  • A good rain poncho is super useful in Tortuguero.
  • Long or convertible pants
  • Waterproof hiking boots.
  • Swimsuit
  • Bandana
  • Dry Bag
  • Sunglasses
  • Binoculars

If you are coming in the turtle season (July to September) bring dark clothes, black, blue or brown. This is indispensable for the Turtle nesting tour.

South Caribbean

Costa Rica Packing List

The tours in the area are usually hikes, snorkeling, rescue centers, and there are some excellent walks to the indigenous reserves.

They require:

  • Convertible Pants
  • Fresh Clothes
  • Hiking boots
  • Rain Poncho
  • Tennis Shoes (For lighter hikes or bike rides)
  • Swimsuit
  • Shorts
  • T-Shirts
  • Bandana
  • Dry Bag
  • Binoculars

North Area

Costa Rica packing list

Rio Celeste Waterfall

If in Sarapiqui, Rio Celeste, Tenorio, Bijagua or Boca Tapada: Usually, activities are rainforest hikes, horseback rides, boat trips. Trails might be really muddy at times.

If in Arenal, there are all sorts of activities

  • Convertible Pants
  • Fresh Clothes
  • Hiking boots
  • Rain Poncho
  • Tennis Shoes (For lighter hikes or bike rides)
  • Swimsuit (For Hot Springs, if in Arenal)
  • Shorts
  • T-Shirts
  • Bandana
  • Dry Bag
  • Binoculars
  • A good pair of long pants for horseback rides (Not jeans).

Southern Mountains

Savegre Hotel Nature Reserve and Spa

Savegre Hotel Nature Reserve and Spa

Savegre, Santa María De Dota, San Gerardo de Rivas

  • Long pants
  • Long Sleeve Shirts
  • Sweater or jacket
  • Hiking Boots
  • Rain Gear or Poncho
  • Binoculars

North Pacific

Monteverde

Monteverde

  • Long or convertible pants
  • Long Sleeve Shirts
  • Sweater or jacket
  • Hiking Boots
  • Rain Gear or Poncho
  • Binoculars

North Pacific Mountains

Rincon de la vieja

Rincon de la Vieja

Rincon de la Vieja, Tenorio, Miravalles

  • Convertible Pants
  • Fresh Clothes
  • Hiking boots
  • Tennis Shoes (For lighter hikes or bike rides)
  • Swimsuit (For Hot Springs, if in Arenal)
  • Shorts
  • T-Shirts
  • Bandana
  • Dry Bag
  • Binoculars

North Pacific Beaches

Andaz Papagayo

Andaz Papagayo

All the beaches on the Nicoya Peninsula. This area is the sunniest and driest area of Costa Rica. Although in the rainy season it pours (September and October).

In many of the hotels in the Nicoya Peninsula, there are very nice restaurants that require to be well dressed

  • Swimsuit
  • Sandals
  • Dressy sandals
  • Watershoes
  • Shorts
  • Short skirts
  • T-Shirts
  • Flip-flops
  • Pareos
  • Casual Dressy Clothes: Pants, dress, shoes, etc.

South Pacific Beaches

Costa Rica Packing List

Manuel Antonio

Manuel Antonio, Dominical, Corcovado, Jimenez, Golfo Dulce, etc.

Like the South Caribbean, it’s hot, humid and full of rainforest.

The tours in the area are usually hikes, snorkeling, rescue centers, as well as canopy tours, rafting, etc.

You might require:

  • Convertible Pants
  • Fresh Clothes
  • Hiking boots
  • Tennis Shoes (For lighter hikes or bike rides)
  • Swimsuit
  • Shorts
  • T-Shirts
  • Bandana
  • Dry Bag
  • Binoculars

 

And, of course, if you have any doubts, you can always contact us!