Whatever you plan on doing while in Costa Rica (besides surfing and sun salutations on the beach) from exploring the fishing village of Tamarindo, Manuel Antonio National Park or the capital San José, you’re going to need a Costa Rica packing list. This will help you to enjoy every second of your time here because you will have everything you need in order to do just that! No matter what the weather is like or your choice of crazy activities, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered (and not just in SPF 50)!
Costa Rica Packing List
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Think about the weather when creating your Costa Rica Packing List
Although Costa Rica is a small country, there is a lot going on here in terms of weather. Costa Rica can be divided into 13 different climatic zones and is 8-12 degrees from the equator so it is a tropical climate. The best time to visit Costa Rica is during the dry season from mid-December to April. If you’re visiting Costa Rica during the dry season it will be much easier to travel light. Pack mainly lightweight and breathable clothing but still be prepared for cool mornings and evenings depending on the month you visit.
You might also like: Top 10 Amazing Things To Do In Costa Rica
Clothing To Pack
Maxi dresses x3: Cute boho maxi dresses will be perfect for most places in Costa Rica if you’re visiting during the dry season, just pack a cardigan or sweater to throw on in case it gets cool in the evenings.
Trousers x2: Pack trekking trousers that
double triple-up as trousers you can wear for general sightseeing and even on the plane too. This saves room in your luggage. If necessary make use of your hotels laundry service. I like these boot cut outdoor stretch pants because they fit quite snug and flatter your figure (you CAN look good while hiking without offending the locals). They’re also stain, rain and UV resistant.
Long Sleeve T-shirts x2: Icebreaker is a really great brand for keeping you warm or cool depending on the weather. Choose pale colors like beige or light grey to help keep you cool.
Short Sleeve T-shirts x2: Pack 1 breathable lightweight t-shirt that can be worn during the day or while traveling in Costa Rica.
Lightweight Fleece: Pack one that’s lightweight and quick to dry like this beauty.
Headband or Buff: Get one like this that can double-up as a scarf and a headband for sweat absorption and to keep your hair out of your face. This will be incredibly useful and you will be so glad you packed one.
All other clothing you can buy out there, you will be so happy that you have a little space in your luggage for some cute new clothes from Costa Rica.
Sandals: These will be what you wear during the day for most sightseeing. The sandals you pack for Costa Rica need to be lightweight and good quality so you can explore the fishing village Tamarindo or San Jose, the capital, in comfort. A pair of Tivas (very popular) or Chacos (which I use) will work great. For the evening if you want to look a bit more stylish then consider packing a pair of Uin Loafers which will be perfect to wear on the plane too.
Hiking Boots: If you plan on doing some hiking in Costa Rica (hello… Arenal Volcano National Park) then your boots can seriously make or break your
ankles experience. These mid-rise waterproof hiking boots by Hi-Tec are a great choice for hiking in around Costa Rica.
Flip Flops: Bring a cheap pair of flip flips for wearing in the showers if you are staying in budget or shared accommodation on your trip to Costa Rica.
Gear To Pack
Day Pack: I love Osprey’s Daylight Plus Daypack which comes with a hydration pocket for your Hydration pack.
DSLR Camera: For a trip of a lifetime to a place like Costa Rica you might want to consider bringing your DSLR. That said, my camera on my iphone is so good I’m not sure I can justify the extra weight of a DSLR these days.
Related: Best Backpacks For Women Travelers
Sunglasses: Pack polarized sunglasses with UV protection that can be worn at a high altitude too so you can double them up as trekking sunglasses and everyday sunglasses too.
Trekking towel: Fast drying, very absorbent, compact and lightweight; the Rainleaf micro fibre towel is one of the most popular choices and you can use it after your travels for the gym too and lots of other sweat-inducing things.
Drinking Bottle: Camelbak has really good options for easy to use water bottles.
Padlock & Chain: Essential for your backpack and any luggage to keep your valuables safe in hotels, hostels and especially if you’re prone to falling asleep while on public transport!
Waterproof Sack: For valuable and electronics in case it pours down. You never know!
Sleep sheet: So handy especially if you’re doing Costa Rica on a budget.
Ziplocks: Trust me, they will come in handy in Costa Rica and anywhere and everywhere!
If you plan on buying toiletries when you arrive to save space in your luggage be aware that their toiletry brands will be very different than what you’re used to so if you really like a certain product, bring it with you.
Sunscreen: Sunblock can be a bit of a rip off in a lot of places in Costa Rica so consider bringing a small bottle with you.
Hand sanitizer & wet wipes: Buy it there.
Shampoo, conditioner, shower gel: Buy it there.
Toothpaste and toothbrush: Bring it with you so you can brush your teeth at the airport or on the first night if you don’t have time to shop. You can probably make do with a travel sized tube of paste considering you only need a pea size amount for each brush.
Deodorant: I would bring your preferred deodorant with you, it’s annoying having to use one you don’t like much plus they weigh nothing. I use an all-natural deodorant (without the aluminum) made in Bali because it smells like roses and does the job.
Nail cutter and nail file: Bring it with you because there’s nothing more annoying than having a broken nail you can’t do anything about.
Toiletries travel bag: Bring a clear TSA approved travel makeup bag for liquids to speed up going through customs.
Optional Extras (we love)
Packing Cubes: Travel light and stay organized with these lightweight Eagle Creek packing cubes.
Re-useable Mini Cosmetic Bottles: Cute and high-quality travel bottles that won’t crack on you.
Hidden Pocket Scarves: Perfect to keep you cosy on the plane! Stash secret cash, lip balm and your passport in a sneaky scarf like this.
Where to buy your Costa Rica travel gear
You really don’t need to spend a small fortune on all this travel gear for a trip to Costa Rica. Besides you’ve already spent enough just getting to Costa Rica. If you’re planning your trip in advance then you should be able to catch a sale at any good outdoor clothing store, there’s usually about three or four each year. I’ve bought everything from hiking boots to sunglasses by timing my shopping trips to coincide with a sale and saved between 40-75% each time. So planning in advance will save you a lot of hard earned cash.
If you don’t have time to wait for a sale, you can still get a good deal online. Of course Amazon is one of the best places to go to read hundreds of reviews and compare prices before making a purchase. Another bonus of shopping online for your travel gear is that you can save your legs for exploring Manuel Antonio National Park and Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve!
If you forget to pack something don’t worry, you can find everything you could possibly need when in Costa Rica. But this shouldn’t be necessary because this awesome Costa Rica Packing List is here to help you to not forget the essentials.
Travel Resources (we swear by)
Skyscanner for getting the best deals on Costa Rica flights.
Booking.com for booking Costa Rica hotel accommodation.
Hostelworld for budget travelers or anyone looking to meet travel companions while backpacking in Costa Rica.
GetYourGuide for the best tours and activities to do once you’ve arrived in Mexico.
IVisa helps us know if we need a visa for Costa Rica, how long it will take to process and how much it will cost.
Lonely Planet Costa Rica: Check price on Amazon
For more Costa Rica travel tips take a peek at our Costa Rica Travel Guide which includes the Costa Rica basics, top things to do, fun festivals, what to eat, where to stay and recommended trip planning resources.
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Did we miss something that you think should be included in this Costa Rica Packing List? Let us know in the comments section below!