Costa Rica is filled with over a dozen microclimates, which means tons of different weather! The beaches tend to be crazy hot and sticky and the mountains are cool and rainy. Of course, Costa Rica also has a rainy season which is different depending on which coast you are on….Basically packing for Costa Rica means bringing a little of everything. Here are my suggestions for all you guys out there for Costa Rica packing. If you would like a packing list for women, head on over here.
Swim Shorts: For sure pack a few pairs of swim shorts. We suggest at least two pairs. Costa Rica is sandwiched between the Pacific coast and the Caribbean coast. There are countless beautiful beaches and you’ll definitely want to soak up the sun. Keep in mind that this country is made for action so bring something you can surf, swim, run etc in.
Dry Shirt: If you’re planning on spending most of your trip beach hopping it is always a good idea to have a shirt to swim in. The sun is ridiculous here.
Short Sleeve Shirts or Tank Tops: Bring some shirts that are versatile but not too showy. Bring shirts like ones that you can pair with shorts or pants. Also, pack a few really casual shirts for adventures and a few nicer shirts for going out.
Long Sleeve Shirt: We suggest bringing at least one or two long sleeve shirts or sweatshirts. Having something that you can button or zip up would be helpful. In the rainforest and mountai, s it can be really cool even during the day.
Shorts: Costa Rica can also be HOT! Definitely bring some shorts. We also suggest at least one pair of sport shorts. This country is made for adventures, and you’ll definitely want some movable shorts to do them in.
Pants: We suggest bringing at least one pair of pants. During the day it is hot, but it can cool off quickly in the evening. If you are planning on hiking in the rainforest or mountains it’s nice to have some comfortable moveable pants.
Rain Jacket: During the rainy season it rains almost every day here. A lightweight rain jacket for your adventures would be useful.
Hat: The sun can get really hot. You pretty much need hat. If you plan on bringing something wide brimmed just remember you will have to fit it in you suitcase or wear it during your travels.
Socks: Bring a few more pairs of socks than days you are planning on staying. Things have a tendancy of getting wet here and never drying.
Underwear: ‘Nuff said.
Don’t forget to also bring something to sleep in! Most hotels have fans or air conditioning, but not heating. If you are in a place where it gets cold at night you may want to bundle up in something warm.
If you need to get your clothes washed there are laundromats located all over the country. They are not always the cheapest and they might not get your clothes as clean as you’re used to, but if you run out of clothes to wear, they will do the trick.
Flip flops: Bring one pair of flip flops for the beach, but you don’t need more than one pair.
Hiking Shoes: Chacos are great for when you are doing more adventure type activities. They are breathable and offer great support. If you prefer something that is not open, I’d bring some hiking boots.
Everyday Shoes: We are a big fan of Tom’s. They are easy to squish into your suitcase and you can wear them with everything! In the evening when it gets buggy it is nice to have something to slip on. Just note that they tend to smell really bad the second they get wet.
Sunglasses: Well, with the strong sun you’ll definitely want sunglasses, especially on the beach.
A backpack: For days when you are off adventuring it is nice to have a backpack to carry all of your stuff. We bring our backpacks as our carry-on and then use it throughout our trip.
Sunscreen: You have to consider that Costa Rica is really close to the equator. That means the sun is really strong. I recommend having at least 50 SPF lotion. That may seem really strong to you, but trust me, you’ll be thankful.
Bug Spray: Of course you can buy bug spray here, but expect to pay a lot more than you would in other countries. That stuff is expensive! Now with the threat of Zika and Dengue here you really need to bug spray it up. In the rainforest areas , ou will likely need it all day. In the city and on the beaches the bugs usually only get bad in the evenings.
Beach Towel: Most hotels will provide you with a towel but specify that you are not allowed to bring them on the beach. I suggest bringing a micro fiber towel. Things tend to take forever to dry here because and micro fiber towels are the only things I’ve found which dry quickly.
Waterproof Bag: If you are spending time near the beach or in the rainforest you’re definitely going to want a waterproof bag. I’ve had more than one occasion where I was happily sitting on the beach and the water came up extremely high out of nowhere. Luckily I moved faster than I ever have before and got my stuff out of the way. In the rainforest, heavy rains can come out of nowhere.
Money Belt: Money belts are a great way to keep your cash hidden. As I said before, Costa Rica is fairly safe, but you could still be targeted as a tourist and it’s best to keep your valuables hidden. I like to use a money belt for this.
Umbrella: If you’re walking around in the city or towns you might want an umbrella. Sometimes the rain is so heavy that a raincoat is just not enough. I suggest bringing a pocket one that is easy to carry around.
Snorkel: If you are spending most of your time at the beach, goggles and a breathing tube will be so useful to you. In most areas the water is so clear that you can swim and see some beautiful fish along the way. You can always rent a snorkel but they will usually run you about $10 a day. At that price, I think you are better off just bringing your own.
Pocket Binoculars: There is so much amazing wildlife in Costa Rica, but sometimes it can be difficult to see. If you’d like to see sloths, monkeys, or go birding, binoculars are a must have.
Camera: Costa Rica is beautiful and you’ll definitely want to take lots of pictures. We take most pictures with our phones, but for adventure activities (which are plentiful here) having a GoPro is super useful. We like ours to take pictures underwater and to film experiences such as ziplining.
-Definitely copy your passport before coming to Costa Rica and store it in a separate place. we also suggest emailing a copy to yourself. If on the off chance your passport is stolen, you really need a backup.
-If you want to stay connected with your cell phone you can check what the rates would be from your regular cell phone provider. The other option is to get a SIM card at the airport in San Jose. There is a stand for the phone provider Kolbi and it is extremely cheap. You can get a prepaid card and will likely pay no more than $5 to make calls for your whole trip. Just note that this won’t be possible with an iPhone unless it is unlocked.
-We strongly suggest not bringing anything overly flashy with you. Leave jewelry and fancy technology at home. You don’t NEED them and it’s best to air on the side of caution here.
-Don’t forget to purchase travel insurance before heading here. You never know what could happen and we think it’s better to be safe than sorry. We suggest World Nomads. They are the company we use and love while traveling. You can read about our experience using World Nomads here.
If you have any questions Costa Rica packing please leave them in the comment section below and we’ll help you out. 🙂
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