Costa Rica Packing List
Visiting Costa Rica is filled with a lot of decisions. The reason for this is because Costa Rica has so much to do and is so different in each of the places you might be visiting. This is why, when thinking about what to pack for Costa Rica, it can be a little tricky.
Some of Costa Rica might be cooler weather, another part more rainy, and then you might have full sunshine. Some of Costa Rica are rural ecolodge adventures, while other parts are much more modern with all the home amenities.
The best advice when trying to figure out what to pack for Costa Rica is to play it safe, and while you shouldn’t overpack, you should come prepared.
Passport (Check Expiration Date)
If you are trying to figure out what to pack for Costa Rica, it should go without saying this is what you need to pack first.
You need a passport to enter Costa Rica. Make sure it does not expire in the next six months.
Scanned Copy of Passports
Always carry a few copies of your passport. These copies should be stored separately from your original passport.
Copy of Trip Itinerary
Please print out your trip itinerary, so you have a copy on your phone and store it in your back somewhere. This should have numbers of guides, hotels, or companies you will be traveling with.
Trip Insurance Information
Your trip insurance should have a phone and ID number you should have written down and stored in your phone and a second area.
List of Emergency Contacts Set Aside from Phone
Get yourself a good day pack. Since most backpack trips in Costa Rica are just half-day tours, you probably don’t need one with a ridiculous amount of pockets, but if you can afford a water-proof day back, it’s certainly worth it.
If you can find a day pack with an interior dry area to keep your wet items separated from your dry things, that would be ideal.
Our favorite day pack is Osprey that we know you will love and have for years. They have a large selection for everyone in the family.
Get yourself a good water bottle. You will be more dehydrated than you think, and drinking all day, every day is a must.
We recommend the hydro-flask as our favorite bottle for adventure that can take a good beating and will last you for many more adventures after your Costa Rica trip.
When filling up your water bottle, it is best to check with your guide. In most places, the water is safe to drink in Costa Rica, but it is still best to be sure.
An excellent portable charger that can preferably charge multiple devices. A charger with a rubber coat that will protect it from a minor amount of moisture is best.
Don’t forget the cables and adapters!
Two Bathing Suits
You need to know that nothing will dry in Costa Rica. You will want to start training on putting on a wet bathing suit or bring a few extras.
Quick Dry Travel Towel
Most hotels and places you visit will supply towels, and when thinking about what to bring to Costa, Rica you probably don’t have towels on the list, but these new designs have become so small and efficient you will be glad you have them.
Great item to have in your day pack. This probably won’t dry either but will be slightly drier than the rest of your stuff, and many of these they sell to clip on to your day pack.
Nothing feels better than soaking a buff in a waterfall and then putting it over your head. It helps lower your temperature, and you will be glad you have it.
The best part about his is that we got you covered at the POC if you forget it. We got a bunch sitting around at the office we love to toss out to our guests, so they got the POC swag to look going.
Costa Rica has 12 hours of darkness every day of the year. A good headlamp is practical for seeing where you are going, but some of the most epic night hikes with naturalists happen in Costa Rica.
If you show up with a good headlamp or flashlight, you will be the talk of the town among the naturalist for sure.
When thinking about what to pack for Costa Rica, this is probably what most people take for granted. You can easily use your phone, but a great flashlight is going to show you parts of the rainforest at night you otherwise wouldn’t see.
If Costa Rica as a country is rice, then rain jackets are the beans. Packing for Costa Rica, you need to remember you are vising the rainforest and a rain jacket is equivalent to remember what gate your flight takes off from; it’s a must.
Make it a light jacket so you don’t get hot but make sure it’s a good one because it can take a beating with good tropical rainfall.
The jackets that can fold up into a bit of pouch are ideal for hanging on the side of your day pack.
The moisture and the humidity will have you glad you are in some breathable clothing.
If you get the right clothes, you can even wear pants and long sleeves and not feel hot.
Always good to have some bug spray. Fortunately, the insects in Costa Rica don’t like the taste of all tourists, but the few they do enjoy tend to do a number on. But bug spray will do the trick.
It is also essential to bring this in your checked luggage and don’t try and buy it down here because it is three times the price.
Probably an essential item to bring. One of the reasons is the bug spray, which is because it is costly here.
The second reason is that you are close to the equator and you will get very sunburnt.
We like to use zinc oxide on our faces when working, but most visitors use no lighter than 50SPF.
If you get car sick and don’t like curvy mountain roads, you will probably want to have some Dramamine nearby.
Adventure Water Shoes
This is up there with sunscreen. Make sure you have a good water shoe that is tried and tested.
If you ask us, there is no perfect water shoe for Costa Rica, but the closest we have seen to be the best adventure shoe is the Brewer 2.0 from Astral.
These are also a must because you will get your regular shoes wet and always want something to walk around with dry.
Make sure your sandals or flip-flops do not store moisture. We prefer something like crocs (I know they are not in style anymore), but they are better than leather straps that stay wet all week.
Hat & Sunglasses
A good hat to keep the sun out is a great idea and also sun-glasses. If you wear prescription sunglasses, make sure you have the next item.
These are the straps that hold your glasses on. If you plan on doing active water sports, then you want to get the straps that float.
A small dry bag to have your stuff in when you go rafting or on a float is a good idea. If you need specific medication, your guides can store it in their dry back, but it’s always nice to give it to them in your dry bag.
These also come in handy if you use your phone as your camera.
If possible, bring a second set of medications. This is like your passport. It won’t hurt to have some extras just in case some luggage gets lost.
Have some cash separated from your wallet.
This is probably what people end up asking for the most. Bring some good quality Ziploc bags that can fit a bathing suit and your wet shirt.
You should bring one for every day just in case you have wet clothes every day. Good Ziploc bags work better than trash bags.
Change of Clothes Put Aside
Keep an extra set of clothes in your carry-on. You never know if your luggage will get lost and show up a day late, so it’s nice to be prepared.
Extra Camera Battery & Memory Card
It never hurts to have a few extra batteries or memory cards.
For Travelers visiting during a pandemic, please check for additional items based on the current traveling conditions in Costa Rica.
I hope this list helps. We also can’t say enough that everything on this list, if financially doable, is best by purchasing good quality. The elements in Costa Rica can take their toll on cheap gear.
After you enjoy your adventure trip with POC so much and start planning your return trip, you won’t have to think about what to pack for Costa Rica next time because everything will still be in good condition because the right gear can last for years.