What To Pack For A Trip To Costa Rica

Waterfall near La Fortuna, Costa Rica

Waterfall near La Fortuna, Costa Rica

Things to Consider When Packing

  • It is likely you will be doing lots of outdoor nature based activities.
  • Most accommodation will likely have laundry services (or point you in the direction of one)
  • The rainy season lasts from May to November (and it gets wet, at least for part of the day). But it is handy to take some wet weather gear no matter what time of year you are planning on visiting.
  • A daypack or small backpack will be used often.
  • It might also be handy to have a cover you can put over your backpack. Alternatively you can just buy a cheap poncho when you get there. Do bring wet weather gear if you know you are going for multi-day hikes in the wilderness and/or are travelling during the wet season.
  • Electrical outlets are the same as the US. 
  • If you bring electronics, make sure you have a plan on how to keep them dry (there is a reasonable chance you will get caught out in the rain somewhere).
  • In most areas of Costa Rica it is okay to drink the tap water.
  • U.S. dollars are widely accepted in tourist areas (which is most parts of the country).

Gear to Consider Taking:

  • Daypack (and some way of keeping the daypack dry.
  • Sunscreen (for some reason it is a little expensive in Costa Rica)
  • Bug spray/Insect Repellent (same as above)
  • Bathing suit/Swimsuit
  • At least one pair of shorts
  • Hat for sun protection
  • Sunglasses
  • Flip flops – Costa Rica a is a pretty laid back sort of place for travellers – you are going to spend at least part of your travels chilling by the beach some place.
  • Sweater
  • Rain-jacket
  • Book
  • Reusable water-bottle
  • Tennis shoes or light hiking boots
  • Valid passport
  • Drivers license (if renting a car)
  • Flashlight or headlamp (see Guide To Travel Flashlights)
  • First Aid Kit –If you are roughing it a bit, plan on doing some hiking off the beaten track
  • Camera
  • Binoculars (for a closer look at wildlife)
  • Travel-sized shampoo, conditioner and soap
  • Light Rain Gear – poncho, raincoat, or small umbrella
  • Plastic Bags – For wet cloths and/or shoes
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Women: sarong (optional)
  • Quick dry long-sleeve shirt
  • Quick dry t-shirt(s)
  • Quick dry shorts
  • Lightweight windbreaker
  • Pocket alarm clock or watch with alarm
  • Plenty of camera memory
  • Rechargeable batteries/recharger for your camera
  • Anti-itch ointment
  • Earplugs
  • Beach towel
  • Headlamp
  • Electric outlet adaptor
  • Field Guides – For example, Birds of Costa Rica by Richard Garriques.


What Not To Bring:

Anything that makes you look like you are on a Safari: I am talking about a lot of the gear they sell at adventures stores (such as Kathmandu, REI etc). In Costa Rica it just isn’t necessary. Wear comfortable gear that you already own, perhaps not the fanciest gear that you own. Only wear your adventure safari gear if you really want to stick and/or amuse the locals. Just remember, the money you do spend on that gear is money you can’t then use to enjoy yourself on the road.

Anything You Aren’t Prepared To Lose: Travelling in Costa Rica can be a little rough on your gear. One day its being shoved in the back of a chicken bus, the next you are caught out in the rain on a hike, or maybe you are just worried about some valuables getting stolen. If you aren’t willing to lose it, don’t bring it to Central America. If you have to bring it, get travel insurance.

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  1. December 5, 2014

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