Packing Lists for Costa Rica
Everything that you need in your suitcase for men, women, and kids!
Find out how your packing for Costa Rica will vary by destination and season with this complete packing guide.
Dry Season Packing
The dry season is Costa Rica runs from mid-December until around late April or early May.
During this time of year you can expect usually no rain if you are visiting the Pacific coast or middle part of the country.
The exceptions to this are Monteverde and San Gerardo de Dota which are cloud forest destinations and always have a chance of rain.
On the Caribbean coast the dry season runs from early August through December.
During the dry season you should make sure to focus on sun protection. The UV index is very high in Costa Rica.
Check out our guide to dry season in Costa Rica for more tips on how to prepare as well as packing ideas.
Rainy Season Packing
Rainy season runs from late April until early December on the Pacific coast and in the middle part of the country.
Although it is technically rainy season that does not actually mean it will rain all day every day. In fact, usually you will have great weather until about 2pm when the rain rolls in for an hour or two.
From August until early December the rain can be much worse with full wash out days.
Check out our guide to the rainy season and our guide to rainy season packing for more info.
We definitely suggest packing clothes that can dry quickly, a rain jacket, a waterproof backpack, and bug spray.
Packing by Destination
In the beach towns of Costa Rica it tends to be really hot during the day. It does usually cool off a bit at night, but not by much!
We suggest packing very lightweight clothing for the beach. Keep in mind that the sun is super strong here. Try to avoid wearing things which will expose your skin too much!
In Monteverde and San Gerardo de Dota (cloud forests) it is usually a bit chilly. You will want long pants, long sleeve shirts, and a sweatshirt.
La Fortuna is usually warm, but sometimes it can get cooler during the rainy season. We suggest bringing at least one pair of pants and a sweatshirt for cool evenings.
If you are visiting the Central Valley area (San Jose, Alajuela, or Cartago) it is usually warm during the day but you will want long pants and a long sleeve shirt for the evenings. If you are staying at a higher elevation it can get a bit chilly.
For more info on packing by location we included packing lists in all of our destination guides. This will help you to plan better depending on when you are visiting.
Also, we have created an Amazon storefront with packing lists for every area of the country.
Womens Packing List
For women we suggest a mix of activewear and swimwear. Of course, this will somewhat depend on which areas of the country you are visiting.
Unless you are staying at a resort, Costa Rica tends to be very relaxed as far as clothing goes.
We usually opt for UV blocking attire that can dry quickly.
I also like to bring a few lightweight dresses for nice dinners out.
Check out our packing guide for women for more info.
Men's Packing List
For men we also suggest packing mostly relaxed clothing for hiking and relaxing at the beach.
Thomas likes to bring a few nice things to wear to dinners.
Just keep in mind that most hotels here don’t have an iron (unless you are staying at a resort) so pack things that don’t wrinkle super easily when possible.
Kids Packing List
For kids, their packing list will be similar to yours. We suggest focussing on lightweight clothing that will protect them from the sun.
You can always buy some beach toys in Costa Rica, or bring a small foldable set with you
Your kid may also enjoy snorkeling in areas with calm waters. Just always ask at your hotel before swimming because some areas have rip currents that might not be easy to spot.
Costa Rica Souvenirs
Have you thought about what you will bring back home with you? In other words, do you plan on buying any souvenirs while in Costa Rica?
One of our favorite places to buy souvenirs is actually at the grocery store. Everyone on our list loves coffee or chocolate and all grocery stores have plenty of authentic Costa Rica items.
Check out our guide to souvenirs in Costa Rica for more tips including the best place to buy items from local artists!
Gear for Costa Rica
Besides clothing and footwear, you might also want to bring some gear for Costa Rica.
We suggest not going too fancy with the gear. This is a relatively safe country, but we sometimes feel like we are making ourselves into a target for petty theft when we carry too much fancy stuff.
For example, having a GoPro is amazing for zip lining and snorkeling, but don’t flash it around.
For all our gear suggestion check out our must have gear guide.
As I mentioned earlier in this guide, the sun here is very powerful.
Sun protection needs to be one of your number one concerns.
I know that sounds very dramatic, but the number one reason I hear of tourists going to the doctor in Costa Rica is to severe sun exposure.
To combat that we suggest always wearing long sleeve UV protecting shirts in the water, always wear a hat, and always wear SPF 50+ sunscreen.
Check out our guide to the sun in Costa Rica for more tips on how to protect yourself.
Once the sun goes, down the mosquitos can be really bad in Costa Rica.
We definitely suggest packing bug spray.
Also, keep in mind that aeresol cans are not allowed on planes so make sure you buy the regular spray bottles. We like this one from Repel 100.
For more info, check out our guide to mosquitos in Costa Rica.
For footwear we suggest bringing:
– Flip flops with a solid sole that can get wet. Roads are sometimes not in the best condition here so a solid sole is important.
– Everyday shoes. We usually just opt for sneakers.
– Keen sandals. I like these for hiking in spots I know I will get my feet wet.
– Hiking boots. Personally I don’t usually bring hiking boots because I am fine with my sneakers, but if you want more support, hiking boots are always good.
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If possible, we like to travel with a large backpack rather than a suitcase while in Costa Rica. It just makes life easier if you are visiting multiple spots.
Most accommodations don’t have elevators so it is much easier to get up and down stairs with a backpack.
Also, the sidewalks here are often horrible. You don’t want to be wheeling a suitcase and have a wheel pop off.
This is especially important if you are planning to backpack through Costa Rica and possibly visit more Central American countries.
The exception to that is if you are planning to stay at a resort. For resorts we always opt for hard shell luggage.
For day to day bags while in Costa Rica we usually opt for a waterproof backpack during the rainy season and a foldable travel backpack during dry season.
At resorts we like a waterproof beach bag.