If you’re looking to take a trip to Costa Rica, you have come to the right place. I just got back from a seven-day fun-filled adventurous trip to Costa Rica, and let me tell you, we thought we had everything right when it came to packing, but we had so many things very wrong, and I don’t want you to make those same mistakes. This article is part of my Costa Rica series.
I’ve also got some really valuable tips as far as what to pack. I just did a very lengthy article about hotel safety, lots of gadgets to help you stay safe and keep people from getting in your hotel rooms.
So Without wasting any time let’s discuss our topic Costa Rica Packing List 2023: 80 Essential Items
Costa Rica is a tropical environment. It is probably going to be humid and rainy no matter when you visit during the year. It kind of stays within the same 30-degree window throughout the year here, and then there’s rainy and dry season. I’m definitely using the air quotes when I say dry season; it tends to come along in maybe like two or three-month increments, so you’ll have a couple of months of rain, a couple of months of dry, a couple of months of rain, a couple of months of dry. It rained on us every day that we were there, and we went in March during the dry season. So first off, definitely pack your swimsuit.
There are so many adventurous activities to do in Costa Rica, and like I said, you can swim in a waterfall, you can go ziplining, and you can go kayaking, snorkeling, surfing. So you definitely want to make sure you pack at least two swimsuits, one to have to wear while the other one that you already wore is drying.
So I would bring at least two, depending on how long you’re going to stay. Personally, I found the two for our week-long trip to be more than adequate. And then also bring a swimsuit cover-up and some sort of swim shoes.
I brought these Reef sandals to wear because I felt like I could wear them with an outfit if I was walking in the town, or I could wear them in like a watery situation because they’re all rubber. The only problem I found with this is that I didn’t swim very well in them; they really dragged me down because they’re not made for swimming, do you know what I mean? I was just trying to pack less. So if you plan on going actually swimming, I would say bring some Water shoes or something that’s a little bit more streamlined around your foot. That way, when you’re swimming, you don’t get dragged down into the current.
And then as far as other shoes, I wouldn’t bring anything super fancy. The general style in Costa Rica is very laid-back, very casual. So I would say something maybe like these other Reef sandals would be plenty. These are normally my swim shoes or my water shoes, but I think they’re really cute. They’re by Native; they look like little Chucks. Again, I wouldn’t swim in these, but these are really cute water shoes to bring.
As far as hiking, because again, there’s a lot of hiking trails that you can do or a lot of maybe even waterfalls that you’re trying to get out to, but you’ve got to climb over rocks and mud and whatever to get out there, you need to bring some hiking shoes unless you don’t ever plan on getting out of any of these towns, which if you’re coming to Costa Rica, I would hope that you’d be going to do all of these adventure activities. You need to bring a good pair of hiking shoes or hiking boots.
These Are by Ultra these are their Lone Peaks, but these are kind of expensive and specialized for hiking. They have a flat foot instead of arch support, but one thing I will say that I like about them is that they come up over my ankle and give me some good ankle support.
So if you get anything, definitely get something with some ankle support. And I found some on Amazon that are really good. I’ve looked into these before, and they have really good reviews. So if you want something that maybe is a little bit more affordable, you may look into these.
They’re not too expensive; they’re very durable; they’ve got good tread, which is something you’re going to want to look for, and they have ankle support. So I’ll put the links to everything I’m going to talk about down in the description so that you can go shopping if you’re getting ready to go to Costa Rica.
Stay Organized with a Day Pack
A few more things I wouldn’t go to Costa Rica without, one of them is some sort of day pack. Now there’s a couple of different ones that you can get. I like this one from trip travel gear because it folds down into itself like itty bitty to have some sort of day pack to take with you while you’re out hiking or when you go to that waterfall or while you’re ziplining.
I took my minky blue bag, and this thing held up so well. I went hiking the Arenal Volcano; we were stuck in a downpour in it, and it still looks really, really good. And it is not a waterproof bag; they do not Market it as a waterproof bag. I’m not marketing it as a waterproof bag, but the bag held up so well I’m so proud of it, and that’s why minky blue has sponsored this video, and I want to tell you about the sponsor right now.
Dress Comfortably and Casually
For hiking, I would seriously recommend some long pants or something, especially if you’re going to be hiking around the Arenal Volcano or kind of out into the jungle trails. There are a lot of insects, mosquitoes, spiders, snakes; they saw a Viper on one of our hiking trails. So long pants would be preferable, and something that’s waterproof. Again, you’re going to get rained on probably every day.
But if you don’t want to do that, you still need some sort of hiking short. And I would also say for us ladies, something that goes down long enough to kind of go in between your thighs because after walking for hours, your thighs are still going to chafe together and cause a rash.
Same thing if you’re going to go ziplining, I would recommend a short of some kind or pants that come down and cover most of your thigh because you’re going to have a harness on the zipline. And if you have shorty shorts on, everything is going to get rubbed in your groin, and it’s just not going to be fun.
Stay Cool and Sweat-Free
In kind of this same vein, you’re going to want to get some sweat-wicking clothes, sweat-wicking shirts, sweat-wicking underwear, maybe, and sweat-wicking socks. You’re going to be wet from sweating because it’s hot and humid or because you’ve been getting wet from being rained on or you’ve been swimming or whatever you’ve been doing.
So you need to bring some extra sets of things like underwear and socks because those things are going to be stuff that you’re either probably not going to be able to wear twice, or you’re going to have to let them dry out while you wear another pair.
Protect Yourself from the Sun and Bugs
Speaking of hiking and outdoor activities, definitely bring some bug spray and bring some sunscreen. You’ve got to remember as far as sunscreen, I don’t care if you tan; you are only about 10 degrees off the equator. Costa Rica, for the most part, is somewhere around 10 degrees north of the equator, and the sun just hits different down there. I would recommend a high SPF, maybe 50 or above. Definitely bring some bug spray because the mosquitoes can be really bad, especially when you get down out of the mountains.
Oh, please bring some chapstick or lip balm or something that’s got SPF in it because one thing that we all noticed on this trip was that parts of our body that normally don’t get sunburned were getting sunburned, and that was our lips.
Certainly! Here’s a packing list for Costa Rica with proper categories to help you organize your items
- Tank tops
- Lightweight long-sleeve shirts
- Sunhat or baseball cap
- Rain jacket or poncho
- Comfortable walking shoes
- Sandals or flip-flops
- Water shoes (for activities like river tubing)
- Lightweight jacket or fleece
- Sun protection clothing (rash guard, sun shirt)
- Visa (if required)
- Travel insurance documents
- Plane tickets
- Accommodation reservations
- Copy of important documents (in case of loss)
- Money belt or travel pouch
- Credit/debit cards
- Cash (local currency)
- Travel adapter and voltage converter
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Shampoo and conditioner
- Soap or body wash
- Razor and shaving cream
- Sunscreen (high SPF)
- Insect repellent
- Hand sanitizer
- Feminine hygiene products
- Prescription medications
- First aid kit
- Smartphone and charger
- Camera and accessories
- Power bank
- Universal travel adapter
- Headphones or earphones
- Backpack or daypack
- Water bottle or hydration system
- Hiking boots or trail shoes
- Hiking socks
- Hat with neck protection
- Multi-tool or Swiss army knife
- Snorkel gear (if needed)
- Scuba diving certification card (if applicable)
- Surfboard or boogie board (if needed)
- Rainforest-friendly hiking gear
- Beach towel
- Beach bag
- Beach umbrella or shade tent
- Beach chairs or mats
- Ziplock bags (for waterproofing)
- Travel pillow
- Laundry bag
- Travel laundry detergent
- Playing cards or travel games
- Travel guidebook or maps
- Spanish phrasebook (if not fluent)
Health and Safety
- Vaccination records
- Travel insurance contact information
- Emergency contact numbers
- Allergy medications
- Motion sickness pills
- Water purification tablets or filter
Snacks and Food
- Reusable food containers
- Snacks for hikes and outings
- Reusable cutlery and utensils
- Reusable straws
- E-reader or books
- Journal and pen
- Music or playlist downloads
- Sketchbook and art supplies
- Travel itinerary and important addresses
What not to pack for Costa rica Trip
When preparing for a trip to Costa Rica, it’s important to pack wisely and avoid unnecessary items. Here’s a list of things you should consider leaving behind:
- Heavy Winter Clothing: Costa Rica has a tropical climate, so you won’t need heavy winter coats, boots, or sweaters.
- Excessive Electronics: While it’s good to have essentials like a phone, camera, and charger, leave behind non-essential electronics that can add extra weight and complexity to your trip.
- Unnecessary Jewelry: Flashy jewelry can attract unwanted attention and may be safer to leave at home.
- Large Amounts of Cash: Costa Rica is a safe destination, but it’s wise to carry only as much cash as you need for daily expenses. Use cards and ATMs for larger transactions.
- Expensive or Irreplaceable Items: Avoid bringing items that would be heartbreaking to lose or have stolen.
- Fancy Clothing: Costa Rica is a casual country, and you’ll rarely need formal attire. Stick to comfortable, lightweight clothing.
- Too Many Shoes: A good pair of walking shoes and flip-flops or sandals for the beach are usually sufficient. Leave behind unnecessary shoe options.
- Heavy Guidebooks: Instead of carrying heavy guidebooks, consider using digital resources or taking photos of relevant pages.
- Hairdryers and Heated Styling Tools: Most accommodations in Costa Rica provide hairdryers, and it’s best to embrace the natural, humid look.
- Excessive Toiletries: You can buy toiletries in Costa Rica, so there’s no need to bring large quantities of shampoo, soap, or toothpaste.
- Multiple Suitcases or Oversized Bags: Travel light with a single suitcase or backpack, as some areas in Costa Rica may have limited space for larger bags.
- Non-essential Documents: Leave behind unnecessary paperwork and carry only copies of important documents, like your passport and visa.
- Food and Snacks: Costa Rica offers delicious local cuisine, so you don’t need to bring a stash of snacks or canned food.
- Bulky Towels or Bedding: Most accommodations provide towels and bedding, so there’s no need to bring your own.
- Batteries: If you need batteries for your devices, buy them locally. Carrying spares can be cumbersome.
Remember that Costa Rica is a beautiful, natural destination, and you’ll want to focus on enjoying the environment and the culture rather than dealing with unnecessary items. Packing light can also make your trip more convenient and enjoyable.
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