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Must Have Gear for Costa Rica

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.




I don’t literally mean a dry shirt. I mean a shirt which dries quickly that you can wear in the water which will block the sun. I never ever did this before moving to Costa Rica, but because the sun is so strong here, it has become necessary. While you are in the ocean, please wear a shirt to protect yourself. In the water, you might not feel like you are getting a lot of sun, but you are.

2. GEAR FOR COSTA RICA – Reusable water bottle

GEAR FOR COSTA RICA - Filtered water bottle

Great news! You can drink the water from the sinks in Costa Rica. Just ask at your hotel first because sometimes water in the bathrooms is not potable. The only places I don’t drink the water is remote areas of the country.

Anyway, even though you can drink the sink water I still like to filter it with something like this Brita water bottle. It is not a “must have” but it does make me feel a little more secure that the water I’m drinking is purified.

Also, you can always buy a big jug of water at any grocery store and use that to refill your bottle.

3. GEAR FOR COSTA RICA – Binoculars


If you plan on skipping the guided tours (which we suggest skipping to save money) having your own binoculars will allow you to catch some of the hard to spot wildlife at various national parks. It is normal to see sloths and monkeys way up in the trees at Manuel Antonio National Park, Cahuita National Park, Monteverde reserves and more! To get a good look at these animals, binoculars are a must. Also, if you are interested in birding, we love the San Gerardo del Dota area. Binoculars will definitely come in handy there.

4. GEAR FOR COSTA RICA – Rain Jacket


A rain jacket is definitely a must-have gear item for Costa Rica. Even during the dry season you will find heavy rains if you are traveling on the Caribbean coast. We like to always be prepared. I suggest buying a very lightweight rain jacket for Costa Rica. The humidity can be a killer. I have a rain jacket with zipper down the armpit area so I can get a little more airflow. It’s an absolute lifesaver for rainy hikes in the rainforest.



Guys, the mosquitos here are the real deal. In most areas of the country once the sun goes down these little jerks come out in full force and will try to make your life miserable. With concerns about Zika and Dengue on the rise, you really need to protect yourself. We have a full post about mosquitos here if you’d like to get some more tips on safety.

Bug spray is sold in Costa Rica but it is often a lot more expensive than it would be to purchase it in your home country. In fact, we tend to stock up every time we are in the US or Germany.

6. GEAR FOR COSTA RICA – Sunscreen

Sunscreen is another product we stock up on when we are in our home countries. The amount of sunscreen we have is a bit ridiculous, but hey when you live in a country that is not far from the equator I think it is necessary. The sun is strong here. It’s no joke. I get tan easily and even I have to wear SPF50 or I’ll be burned if I’m in the sun for more than 30 minutes. We have a complete post about protecting yourself from the sun here.

7. GEAR FOR COSTA RICA – After Sun Lotion

GEAR FOR COSTA RICA - After Sun Lotion

I hate to say you will get burned because I really hope you don’t but with the crazy strong sun you never know! We like to always have some kind of cooling lotion which contains aloe just in case. You can, of course, buy a product like this in Costa Rica but as with sunscreen and bug spray, this is more expensive in Costa Rica.



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!

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.

9. GEAR FOR COSTA RICA – Waterproof bag

GEAR FOR COSTA RICA - Waterproof bag

If you ignore everything else on this list, don’t ignore this! Having a dry bag is a must for the rainforest and for the beach. You never know when it is going to start raining here and I like to have all my belongings safely protected.

We also often find ourselves wading through rivers and crossing other various waterways. There has been more than one occasion where I have lost my balance and fallen into the water (my coordination is not really the best :)) Having a dry bag has saved me from ruining my camera and phone on multiple occasions.

Also, at the beach, we find everything gets wet. Just bring a dry bag and save yourself from stressing about it.

10. GEAR FOR COSTA RICA – Microfiber towel

GEAR FOR COSTA RICA - 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.

12. GEAR FOR COSTA RICA – 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..

13. GEAR FOR COSTA RICA – Travel Insurance

Clearly, travel insurance is not “gear” but we consider it a “must have” for Costa Rica. You have to remember that while traveling here you are in a totally unique environment which your body is not used to. I’ve had some strange reactions to things here which have turned out fine, but you never know. Also, in a country with a lot of action/ adventure, it’s always best to lean on the side of caution.

You can read our complete post about travel insurance and see a terrifying picture of me here.

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About Us

We’re Thomas (the German) and Sarah (the US-er).

We met in Virginia, moved to Germany, and now live in sunny Costa Rica. It was a spontaneous decision to move here, but it was the best decision!

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8 Responses

  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! I’ve bought a few things for our apartment this way and have had only good experiences.

  2. Y’all are FANTASTIC! We just bought a tiny get away place and are headed there for 2 weeks Jan/Feb 2018. I’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! 🙂

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

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