What to Pack for Costa Rica

What do I need to pack for Costa Rica? This was one of the most common questions I received! I hope this Costa Rica packing list post will help you immensely. I got lucky! I had two friends that did the trip before me and prepared me well 🙂 The most important thing to know about packing for Costa Rica is that there around 27 micro-climates in the country so you can’t just throw your shorts and flip flops in your bag. Also, you need to pack properly for the adventures! 

The essential items you need to bring to Costa Rica are face masks (the airport in Costa Rica does ask you to wear them- this may have changed by the time you are reading this post), hand sanitizer (plane, airports, shuttles, etc..) sandals or flip flops or both, swimwear, mosquito repellent, sunscreen with SPF 30 or greater, hiking shoes/trail running shoes or any closed toe shoe you can hike in or zip line in (open toe shoes are not allowed in zip lining), sunglasses, a hat, battery pack, medical kit ( I have two children with me and I always take a small one when I travel and have one in my car), waterproof phone case, camera (but with the camera phone quality you could just use your phone) day pack/ hiking pack, rain jacket(only take one if you go in the rainy season), and an insulated water bottle (my hiking pack had the camel water pack. You need about 2 to 3 liters a person for hikes)

I’ll go more into details below for each one.

Costa Rica doesn’t have a strict dress code so comfortable and casual is best. Not just for women, but also men and kids. For hikes and zip lining, wear clothes that dry fast (like athletic Dri-fit clothes.) 

Flip flops are a must especially if you’re going to the beach. If you’re doing any activities, hiking shoes/sandals, sneakers, trail running shoes or hiking shoes are necessary. I brought one pair of flip flops and one pair of sneakers/hiking shoes, one pair of wedges, and one pair of ‘dressy’ strappy flat sandals. 

I brought the boys a pair of flip flops and their sneakers for the hikes and zip lining. 

You have to bring mosquito repellent for Costa Rica as they are present all year round! I brought my own but your hotel could provide you with some or it can be purchased once you’re there. I recommend you bring your own and bring more than one can or bottle. Bring one for each person. 

Sunscreen is also a must and bring at least SPF 30. If you burn easily, SPF 50-70 is best. Costa Rica is only 8-12 degrees from the equator so the sun is strong! If you take anything at all – TAKE SUNSCREEN. 

For day trips, sight seeing and tours, bring a day backpack. If you’re not planning on doing long hikes or long day trips, you won’t need one, but bring a bag for the pool/beach. Bring a backpack to hold all the hike day essentials: snacks, water, sunscreen, mosquito repellents, hat, change of clothes, camera, your phone etc.

As for the sunglasses, I recommend bringing 2 pairs of sunglasses. One cheap pair so that you won’t cry if and when it gets lost in the ocean (we’ve all been there!) and a nicer pair for lounging and sightseeing. A hat or visor is also essential. 

Ladies, do not forget your sarong or coverups if you’re visiting the beach! You can also buy them in souvenir shops in CR. 

Swimwear- bring all the swimwear you want. Bring rash guards if you are going surfing and board shorts. Yes ladies, you need them too! Surfing in a bikini looks cute, but you end up with a nice body rash 😄 rash guards and board shorts for everyone! Adults and kids! Also bring water socks. This is not really for the surfing but for walking in the rivers if you choose to do so. 

Ladies at night, wear easy breezy dresses. You can wear shorts too. Very casual, comfy tropical vibes. 

Bring accessories to elevate your looks if you want to. I brought one cross body and one clutch. 

Bring meds and toiletries that you use on a regular basis 🙂 


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