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Must Have Gear for Costa Rica

Packing for Costa Rica is not always the easiest. You’re dealing with a variety of microclimates here. Get ready for the rainforest, cloud forests, beaches, and different rainy seasons depending on where you are traveling.

Ugh! For such a small country, it sure doesn’t make it easy!

Here is our list of must-have gear for Costa Rica which we think all travelers will benefit from bringing.



We have a GoPro which is a few years old and we absolutely love it for Costa Rica adventures. Our GoPro is an older model so we had to buy a waterproof case, but the HERO 5 is waterproof up to 33 feet deep. Yeay!

Current Costa Rica Travel Discounts

We love the GoPro to film adventure activities such as ziplining or for capturing all the cool underwater life when we go snorkeling or diving.

It is not a “must have” but it is useful if you want to capture a lot of adventure.

Ankar Power Box

I like having power bozes when traveling so I never have to worry about my phone dying. The Ankar power box can fully charge most phones in about 30 minutes.

Lifestraw Water Bottle

The tap water is ok to drink in most towns in Costa Rica, but we always prefer to buy bottled water just in case.

Usually we just buy a gallon jug and refill our bottles as we need.

I’m a big fan of Lifestraw because their filtration system blocks all sorts of bacteria. So, if you do need to drink the sink water you should be fine when using this bottle.

Bags/ Luggage

If you are staying at a resort we suggest packing your luggage in a hard shell suitcase. Otherwise, we always prefer a camping style backpack.

It is not unusal in Costa Rica to have hotels or VRBO’s on hills with parking below. It is always easier to transport your stuff up on your back rather than carrying a suitcase. Also, a lot of roads aren’t paved or the sidewalks are less than ideal.

For day packs, we usually opt for a waterproof bag, especially during rainy season.

If you would like something lighter, I love backpacks that fold up in small pouches.

For a purse, I usually use my Longchamp bag. Things get dirty here and having something that can easily be wiped off is always helpful.

If you are staying at resort and want a beach bag we suggest something that is water resistant.

Pocket Binoculars

One of the many reasons you probably want to visit Costa Rica is for the wildlife. We love searching the trees for sloths and monkeys.

Pocket binoculars are great because they take up very little space in your luggage and will help you get a closer view of those hard to spot creatures.

Microfiber Towel

We recently bought microfiber towels after having several friends here rave about them. Honestly, I don’t know how we didn’t buy them earlier. The material is a little strange to dry off with at first, but you get used to it.

The really great thing about microfiber towels is that they dry fast. Costa Rica is a country where once something gets wet it never seems to dry. The humidity can be a bit much here at times. If you leave your microfiber towel in the sun it will be fine to use not much later.

Money Belt

We feel pretty safe in Costa Rica but we think it’s always best to be a bit cautious especially if you are in busy areas. A money belt is not absolutely necessary, but some way o keeping your money hidden and secure is a good idea..

Head Lamp

The sun sets at about 6pm all year round. That meands that you might have several waking hours in the evening oin which it is dark out. Having a headlamp or flashlight is so helpful when walking around at night.

First Aid Kit

You never know what minor medical issues you may face while traveling in a foreign country.

We recently bought one of these travel first aid kits and it has been so helpful. So far we have used it for splinters, cuts, and scrapes.

Hydroseal Blister Bandaids

These blister bandaids are a game changes for foot blisters. I don’t know about you, but I notoriously wear new shoes on vacations and then immediately regret that decision after a long day of walking.

These bandaids will save you from being stuck at your hotel while the rest of your group explores new things.


If you love to read while relaxing by the beach or pool, having a Kindle is always great.

I resisted purchasding one for years, and now I can’t imagine why. This thing is great!

The downside of bringing it on vacation is that you need to watch out for it and not leave it sitting on the beach while you are in the water. With a regular book you most likely don’t have to worry about anyone stealing it.

Glasses Strap

We love having a glasses strap in Costa Rica because you are most likely going to do a ton of adventure such as boat rides, zip lining etc. This strap will keep you from losing your glasses or sunglasses.

And, trust me, I have experience with the sheer panic of losing my glasses when a big wave hit me once while I was standing in the ocean. Somehow Thomas found my glasses, but I was in oure panic mode for a few minutes.

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Costa Rica Travel Details: What You Need to Know

๐Ÿš— Should I rent a car in Costa Rica?

Having a rental car will give you the most flexibility when traveling in Costa Rica. This will also allow you to take fun day trips on your own.

๐Ÿ„๐Ÿฝ How can I book things to do?

We find that Viator tends to have the most comprehensive selection of activities with secure booking and good cancellation policies.

๐Ÿ I’m overwhelmed with planning. Can you help?

Of course! I suggest joining our Facebook group for specific questions and head to our Start Here Page to get started planning.

โœˆ๏ธ What is the best way to book a flight?

Usually, we have the best luck finding great prices with Skyscanner. Check for flights to both San Jose Airport (SJO) and Liberia Airport (LIR).

๐Ÿ›๏ธ What is the best way to book my Costa Rica hotels?

We highly suggest Booking.com for hotel bookings and typically use VRBO for Costa Rica vacation rentals.

๐Ÿ—ฃ๏ธWhat is the main language in Costa Rica?

The main language in Costa Rica is Spanish. Most people working in tourism speak at least some English.

๐Ÿ’ฐ What is the currency in Costa Rica?

The currency used in Costa Rica is the Costa Rican colรณn (CRC). However, the US dollar is widely accepted in most tourist areas

๐Ÿ“ž What is the best way to stay connected?

An eSIM from Airalo is the easiest way to get 4G data while traveling in Costa Rica.

๐ŸŒด Is Costa Rica safe?

Generally, Costa Rica is considered safe for tourists. However, like any travel destination, it’s best to use caution and be aware of your surroundings.

๐Ÿ›‚ Do you need a passport to go to Costa Rica?

Yes, Costa Rica is its own country. You will need a passport to visit.

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  1. Hi Sarah! Another question – I have heard that there are “facebook boards” for expats that you can communicate very easily with other expats that are living there and are experiencing/communicating on the same topics (weather, grocery, roads closed, cool places, etc). Do you know of this? I am not on FB but would get on it for this reason alone. THANKS!!

    1. Hi Kelly! There are! Particularly one big group called “Gringo Expats in Costa Rica” with 14,000 members, but I don’t think it is worth being a part of. I found that in general people were really negative and rude. I joined and within 2 days a few people had posted questions about relocating to Costa Rica. The responses from people in the group were mostly, “If you don’t know the answer to that you shouldn’t be moving here” type of responses. However, if you need anything for your new house there is a nice Facebook group called “Buy Sell Costa Rica” in which expats post things such as furniture they are selling. I think you can view it without being a Fecbook member. Try it out! https://www.facebook.com/groups/338713766289196/ I’ve bought a few things for our apartment this way and have had only good experiences.

  2. Yโ€™all are FANTASTIC! We just bought a tiny get away place and are headed there for 2 weeks Jan/Feb 2018. Iโ€™m bringing a big suitcase down of essentials to leave there…THANK YOU for the helpful list.

    1. Ah that’s awesome! You must be so excited. What part of the country did you buy a house? Feel free to message me from the contact section if you need any other tips. I’m happy to help you out! ๐Ÿ™‚

      1. Hi Sarah,

        In Hacienda Pinilla…in the same compound that has the JW Marriott. We were there when tropical storm Nate hit and it was quite scary…power was out and no communication for me to even know there was a storm and to NOT try to get to LIR for our flight. Even if the TV could have been on, Iโ€™m having trouble finding English speaking TV stations…I think I found 4 and none of which were local weather/news…do you have any suggestions? I love your website and posts. Thank you, Kelly

      2. Ugh! We had the same! We were in Montezuma and had no idea there was even a storm coming as well. It took us two days before we were able to get back to San Jose. There are not a lot of options as far as TV stations here. In fact, I got rid of my TV because I gave up on it here haha. Definitely get Netflix if you want to watch anything in English. For news I check out these two sites https://news.co.cr/ and http://www.ticotimes.net/ . Also, my boyfriend follows some government Facebook page for transit which posted which roads were open and stuff during the storm. That was how we eventually made it back home. I’ll ask him what the name of the page is and let you know!

      3. Thank you. I really need to know how I can obtain travel warnings…storm info…so we won’t do what we did last time (try to drive to LIR when we should not have-we could have died). I would love to have that website…and I will start looking at the red/green/yellow alerts as I have no clue!

    2. Danna Golden says:

      Any suggestions on a place to rent in far southern Costa Rica? We are older handicapped to light degree and really boring lol.