Costa Rica

Costa Rica Packing List: The Only Guide You Will Need

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Reminder: Make sure to check the country’s covid guidelines before travel.

Heading to Costa Rica? Well, let’s get packing! In this article, I will walk you through our ultimate Costa Rica packing list. Courtney and I travel full time, so we’ve made it a point to invest in high-quality items that will last through all our adventures. We will also walk you through what type of bag to take with you to Costa Rica.

COSTA RICA PACKING LIST: Clothes

Costa Rica lives by its phrase Pura Vida, which means it’s pretty relaxed when it comes to clothing style. Courtney and I are an LGBTQ+ couple and while we are both women we have a completely different wardrobe as Courtney wears mostly men’s clothing. If you’ve read our Complete Guide to Costa Rica then you know that Costa Rica has a wide variety of weather conditions ranging from hot sunny beaches to rainy cool jungles which means it’s important to have clothing that dries quickly and is durable in the varying conditions. For our queer friends, feel free to flaunt that crop top or short shorts and let it all hang out- we never had any issues in Costa Rica other than the usual catcalling.

Want to read more about gay travel in Costa Rica? Check out our gay travel guide:

Swimsuits

Jolyn Top & Jolyn Bottoms: I recommend Jolyn if you are someone that plans on snorkeling, surfing, or playing in the waves. I use these suits for swimming and they hold up really well and fit a little tighter since they are meant for more active activities. Court prefers the Jolyn top because it is more sporty and fits more like a sports bra.

Zaful: These suites are comfortable and cute. I recommend Zaful if you do not care as much about water activities and just want a cute suit for the beach.

JOLYN Women's Swimwear Fixed-Back Xavier Athletic Swimsuit Top (XS, Blueberry)
  • JOLYN SWIMWEAR: Created by female athletes for...
  • FIXED BACK: The Xavier fixed-back swimsuit top...
  • SUPPORTIVE: Full-support, full-coverage front, and...
JOLYN Women’s Andy Swimwear Bottom Prints/Helen (X-Small)
  • Made in the USA
  • Lined for maximum privacy, unpadded and tagless...
  • Chlorine & salt water tested - non-fading colors,...
ZAFUL Women's Solid Spaghetti Strap Bralette Bikini Set Two Piece Swimsuit (X-Blue, S)
  • Material: Nylon,Spandex
  • Our Size: S--US 4, M--US 6, L--US 8
  • Adjustable Spaghetti Straps, Padded Bra, Pull On...

How Many to Pack?

1-2 Swim Suits: Sometimes the saltwater makes them smell funky so it is good to bring more than one, plus you will want one you can wear while the other is drying.

Long Sleeve Shirt

Under Armour 1/2 Zip Pullover: This quick-dry long-sleeve shirt is super versatile. It’ll keep you warm but it doesn’t get super hot and dry’s pretty quick.

Next Level Apparel Hooded Long Sleeve: Court has had this shirt for years. We both wear it and it is super comfortable and has a nice little hood on it.

Under Armour Women's Tech Twist ½ Zip Long Sleeve Pullover
  • UA Tech fabric is quick-drying, ultra-soft & has a...
  • Material wicks sweat & dries really fast
  • ½ zip front with stand collar for extra coverage
Sale
The Next Level Adult Triblend Long-Sleeve Hoody Indigo
  • Fabric: Tri-Blend Jersey
  • Binding: 1x1 Tri-Blend Baby Rib Cuff
  • Neck: Hoody; Label: Satin

How Many to Pack?

1 Long Sleeve Shirt: Depending on where you’re going and when, so make sure to check the weather.

Quick Dry Shorts

Nike Shorts: I usually wear Nike dry-fit shorts because they are light weight and dry quickly which is super useful when hiking.

Adidas Shorts: Court usually wears Adidas quick-dry shorts since they are a little longer, lightweight, dry quickly, and more overall just comfortable for her.

Nike Womens Tempo Running Shorts
  • Nike Women's 3'' Dry Tempo Core Running Shorts
adidas Women's Parma 16 Shorts
  • Run a marathon or run around the block in this...

How Many to Pack?

3-4 Pairs of Quick Dry Shorts: You will want to pack a few shorts since you will be sweating in them and getting them dirty throughout your trip.

Leggings

Reebok High Rise Leggings: I usually always pack at least one pair of comfortable leggings when traveling. It is hot most of the time in Costa Rica but sometimes at night I would throw on a pair of leggings if there were a lot of mosquitoes. Leggings are also nice to have with you if you get tired of wearing athletic shorts and want to throw them on when you go out to get a couple of drinks and dinner. These leggings are also great because they have side pockets so you can stash some cash, chapstick, or even your phone.

How Many to Pack?

1-2 Pairs of Leggings: I usually only pack one pair but if you tend to wear leggings more than shorts then you may want to bring an extra pair. I usually get wayyy to hot hiking in leggings and that is why I prefer to wear shorts most of the time. Court is the opposite and wears leggings way more than I do when hiking or even just walking around. I don’t understand how she doesn’t get hot!

Quick Dry Tops

Nike Dry-Fit Tank - Women's: Court and I have both worn this tank top. They are comfortable, breathable, and serve their purpose when we are sweating and traveling around.

Reebok Tank - Women's: I have had one of these tanks and they fit a little looser which can be nice. I also recommend this tank for us bustier women that may not want to show any cleavage.

Under Armour Tank - Men's: Court likes this tank when she wants smaller straps on her shoulders.

Nike Tank - Men's: Court also has a couple of these and likes them because they are super breathable and a little longer than some of the other tanks she has.

Next Level Triblend Shirt & Bella + Canvas Triblend Shirt: Court and I both have several Next Level Triblend and Bella + Canvas shirts. We have accumulated several of these types of shirts over the years and they are always comfortable to travel in and dry much quicker than regular cotton shirts.

NIKE Women's Dry Balance 2.0 Training Tank
  • NIKE Dry fabric helps you stay dry and comfortable
  • Racerback design allows for a full range of...
  • Mesh underarm panels provide breathability in a...
Reebok Women's Supremium Workout Tank Top
  • BREATHABLE AND LIGHTWEIGHT MATERIAL: This stylish...
  • RELAXED FIT: These casual workout tops for women...
  • STAY COOL AND DRY: These Reebok sportswear tops...
Under Armour Men's Tech Tank 2.0
  • Smooth, lightweight, fast-drying fabric for...
  • Under Armour’s mission is to make all athletes...
  • Where we started? It all started with an idea to...
Next Level 6010 Triblend Crew Tee Indigo Small
  • 50% polyester/25% combed ringspun cotton/25% rayon...
  • 4.3 oz.
  • 32 singles

How Many to Pack?

3-4 Quick Dry Tops: I would recommend packing 3-4 since you will want to cycle through them during your trip. I would bring a couple of tanks and a couple of regular shirts.

Rain Jacket

Columbia Rain Jacket: I have been using Columbia for rain jackets for years while we have been traveling and they hold up the best. They are lightweight, breathable, easy to pack, and they tend to dry quickly after a rainy hike. I prefer the women’s fit just because I am small and the sizes fit me better. Court prefers the men’s because she doesn’t care for the hip flare and likes it to fit a little looser.

Columbia Women's Arcadia II Jacket
  • ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY: Columbia Women's Arcadia II...
  • ADJUSTABLE FEATURES: This shell top jacket...
  • LIGHT & PACKABLE: The waterproof, lightweight...
Columbia Men's Watertight II Jacket
  • ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY: Columbia Men's Watertight II...
  • HANDY FEATURES: This rain jacket features an...
  • COMFORT & WARMTH: Crafted of a waterproof 100%...

How Many to Pack?

1 Rain Jacket: I recommend just packing one rain jacket. After using it just hang it up somewhere in your room and it will dry fairly quickly.

Shoes

Merrell Trail Shoes: I used this shoe for several years on several trips and I highly recommend it. These are some of my favorite trail shoes I’ve purchased.

Salomon Trail Shoes: Court wore these shoes for years and they held up really well. They are very cushiony and comfortable. These are great if you prefer to have the quick-lace option instead of the traditional tie-up laces.

Sale
Salomon Women's X-Mission 3 Trail Running Shoes, Magnet/Black/Poppy Red, 5
  • Molded EVA midsole gives you a soft, pillow feel...
  • Since you never know what kind of surface you'll...
  • Sensifit with quicklace and sensiflex provide a...

How Many to Pack?

1 Pair of Trail/Tennis Shoe: I prefer to wear trail shoes for hiking instead of boots. When traveling around Costa Rica you will want a shoe that is quick to dry and easy to clean. I personally did not find hiking boots necessary for the activities we did.

Sandals or Flip Flops

Chaco: I personally prefer Chaco’s for a water sandal if I need a sandal to hike in. I have been wearing them for years and they are great for hiking in wet areas or playing in waterfalls.

Teva: Court prefers to wear Teva’s. They are more comfortable on the bottom of her feet and sometimes when we travel her feet swell and they have a little more give to them.

Sanuk Flip Flops: If you also like to have just a regular flip flop with you when traveling I recommend Sanuk. These flip flops are lightweight and dry quickly. Court will usually pack flip-flops and her Teva’s. She has been wearing these flip flops for years and they hold up really well.

Teva Women's Original Universal Sandal
  • Polyester webbing upper
  • Hook and loop closure system-
  • Universal strapping system

How Many to Pack?

1 Pair of Sandals or Flip Flops: I recommend bringing a pair of water sandals that have straps to stay on your feet. This will be important if you plan on hiking in wet areas and playing in waterfalls. Court just also likes to bring a pair of flip flops for the beach. It is just her personal preference.

Socks

Stance Socks: I highly recommend Stance Socks. They are super durable and really comfortable. Plus you can find a lot of unique designs if that fits your personality!

Darn Tough: This is another crew sock that I recommend. They are great for hiking and are a little thicker than stance socks if you prefer more cushion when hiking.

Balega: I have been wearing Balega socks for years and I highly recommend them. They are super durable, soft, great support, and come in just about every color you can think of.

DARN TOUGH (Style 1903) Women's Hiker Hike/Trek Sock - Aqua, Small
  • Midweight with Cushion — A warm and extremely...
  • Micro Crew Height - A shorter, more concise take...
  • Composition - Knit with 59% Merino Wool, 39%...
Balega Ultralight No Show Athletic Running Socks for Men and Women (1 Pair), Aloe/Red, X-Large
  • Hand crafted, high performance Ultralight No Show...
  • Ultrafine Hi-Tech performance yarns on a high...
  • Reinforced cushioned heel and toe for comfort and...

How Many to Pack?

4 Pairs of Socks: You will want to bring a few pairs of socks since you will most likely have some long travel days and hiking days. I usually prefer wearing crew socks when hiking so when things brush up against my legs I don’t get cuts or get mud on my ankles. I usually prefer to wear ankle socks when we have long travel days or just walking around.

Other Clothes

  • 1 Lightweight Dress 
  • 8 Pairs of Underwear & 3-4 Bras: Honestly, I could recommend underwear and bras but everyone has their own preferences because they are important pieces of clothing. Just keep in mind you may be moving a lot so just make sure you pack underwear that is comfortable when you sweat. For sports bras, Court and I both wear Lululemon. I usually have to spend a bit more money on sports bras since us bustier women need more support (if you know what I mean).

COSTA RICA PACKING LIST: ESSENTIALS

Water Purifier

Steripen: You will not want to drink the tap water when traveling around Costa Rica. When it comes to water I don’t really like to risk it. Some people get water purifier straws, bottles with a purifier straw, purification tablets, but we have heard some horror stories about these not working. Let’s face it when you only have a few days in a country you don’t want to spend half of that time sick. This particular Steripen doesn’t need batteries and comes with a charging cord. It treats up to 50 liters with one full battery charge. You’ll save a lot of money on water by using the Steripen and is it more sustainable than purchasing plastic water bottles. We have been using this Steripen for over 3 years now and I highly recommend it.

Sale
SteriPEN ULT-MP-EF SterPen Ultra UV Water Purifier
  • UV light destroys germs' ability to reproduce and...
  • Battery Life: Up to 50 treatments per charge and...
  • Simple OLED display shows everything you need to...

Water Bottle

Hydro Flask: Hydro Flask has several types of insulated water bottles. We each have a 40oz that we love and the water stays cold for over 24 hours! This is perfect for those long hikes or hot Costa Rica beach days.

Hydro Flask 32 oz. Water Bottle with Straw Lid - Stainless Steel, Reusable, Vacuum Insulated- Wide Mouth , Olive
  • New Hydro Flask water bottle design does not...
  • Dishwasher safe water bottle allows quick and easy...
  • Hydro Flask metal water bottles keep the coldest...

Packing Organization

Eagle Creek Packing Cubes: Packing cubes are great for creating more space in your backpack. I usually separate out different types of clothes into different cubes so they are easy to grab when I need a particular clothing item.

Toiletry Bag: This toiletry bag is super useful to just throw all your toiletries in when traveling. It serves the same organizational purpose as the packing cubes. It also has a little hook so you can hang it up in the bathroom which is very useful when you are staying in a hostel and are sharing shower/bathroom space.

Eagle Creek Pack-it Specter Cube Set, Brilliant Blue, One Size
  • SPECTER TECH CUBE SET XS/S/M - Newly redesigned...
  • PACK-IT TIPS - We recommend rolling your items to...
  • PACKING ACCOMMODATE - Zipper opening to...
Sale
Eagle Creek Pack-It Wallaby Packing Organizer, Black
  • PACKING ORGANIZATION - Toiletry bag with plenty of...
  • TSA 3-1-1 APPROVED TOILETRY BAG - This...
  • CONVENIENT STORAGE & ACCESSIBILITY - Equipped with...

Quick Dry Towel

Rainleaf Quick Dry Towel: A lot of hostels don’t offer towels so it is always good to bring your own. This towel is quick dry and you can get it in just about every size. We have each have an XXL one and it is great for laying on the beach and using after showers.

Rainleaf Microfiber Towel Perfect Travel & Sports &Beach Towel. Fast Drying - Super Absorbent - Ultra Compact. Suitable for Camping, Backpacking,Gym, Beach, Swimming,Yoga
  • FAST DRYING - much comfortable for next use &...
  • SKIN FRIENDLY - remarkable soft suede like feel on...
  • ULTRA COMPACT & LIGHT WEIGHT - easy to carry and...

COSTA RICA PACKING LIST: hygiene and toiletries

SUNSCREEN, SUNSCREEN, SUNSCREEN

Guys, I don’t know why this isn’t mentioned more but sunscreen is crazy expensive in Costa Rica! This is why it’s at the top of our Costa Rica packing list! Especially if you want to get good quality reef-safe sunscreen which is what we recommend. Sunscreen is like $17 for a small tube expensive, pack your own! Our favorite is Blue Lizard. It is reef-safe, it is great for all skin types, a little can go a long way, and it has Zinc Oxide for the necessary protection which you will need for the Costa Rica sun.

Sale
BLUE LIZARD Sunscreen Sensitive, Spf 30+ for Skin, Unscented, 3 Fl Oz
  • WE LOVE THE REEF – To help protect delicate...
  • MINERAL SUNSCREEN, NO CHEMICAL ACTIVE INGREDIENTS...
  • DERMATOLOGIST-RECOMMENDED BROAD SPECTRUM UVA/UVB...

Bug Spray

Bullfrog Mosquito Coast and Sunscreen (DEET free): We have used several types of bug spray over the years and this one works pretty well and has SPF in it. You will definitely want some bug spray on hand while traveling in Costa Rica. Nothing like hanging out at night having a couple of cold Imperial’s with your new friends at your hostel and getting eaten up by mosquitos.

  • Deodorant: We both use Bravo Sierra deodorant. It works so well and smells so good!
  • Hair Ties and Head Bands: If you have trouble finding a good headband that stays on your head, check out Junk Headbands. We have been using them for years and really love them.
  • Diva Cup – Well because periods, and if you don’t feel like carrying around tampons or pads then this is a great solution for you.
  • Toothbrush 
  • Travel Size Toothpaste, Shampoo, Conditioner, and Body Soap
  • Razor 
  • Tylenol: Trust me those bumpy roads will get ya and you never know when you might need it.
  • Dramamine: If you get motion sick this is helpful for those bumpy van or boat rides.
  • Imodium: We never got sick from food in CR but just in case.
  • A Lock: This is helpful for dorms in case you need to use a locker for storage.
  • Makeup: I caution you to pack light and you’ll prob sweat it off anyway.
  • Contacts/ Contact Solution: I’m blind ya’ll, if I lose a contact I am useless. Plus you never know when you’ll need them.

COSTA RICA PACKING LIST: Important electronics

Waterproof Phone Case

LifeProof FRĒ SERIES Waterproof Case for iPhone 11 - BLACK: I have used LifeProof cases for years and they always seem to pay for themselves. When you are traveling the last thing you want is to break your phone or to get it wet and you no longer have a phone to communicate with. LifeProof makes cases for several different types of phones, not just iPhones.

Sale
LifeProof FRĒ SERIES Waterproof Case for iPhone 11 - BLACK
  • Compatible with iPhone 11
  • FRĒ: Built-in scratch protector is virtually...
  • Water and Snow Proof: Fully submergible to 66'/2 m...

Waterproof Camera

GoPro: We have a GoPro HERO8 and it really comes in handy. We have used some other waterproof/action cameras but GoPro hands down have the best quality photos and videos. We really only use the GoPro Camera the Handler Floating Hand Grip (All GoPro Cameras) - Official GoPro Mount since we are usually in water, around water, or on the move when we use it. It is super small and easy to travel with. If you don’t have room to carry a GoPro case for it you can just put it in some type of soft fabric bag to keep it safe.

GoPro Camera the Handler Floating Hand Grip (All GoPro Cameras) - Official GoPro Mount
  • Keeps Your GoPro afloat Better than ever before so...
  • Easy to switch between mounts with a quick release...
  • Enables more stable footage than Holding the...
Sale
GoPro Casey (Camera + Mounts + Accessories Case) - Official GoPro Accessory
  • Conveniently keep your GoPro, mounts and...
  • Fully customizable to fit any gear setup
  • Durable, semi-rigid shell and padded inner walls...

Travel Mirrorless Camera

Sony a5100: We use this camera and it is great to travel with. It is really lightweight which is what we prefer. This camera also has a flip screen which is great for taking selfies! There is an option to get the 16-50mm interchangeable lens. We have the 16-50mm and also have the 55-210mm lens which really comes in handy when you are trying to get wildlife shots, which will be super beneficial in Costa Rica.

Sale
Sony a5100 16-50mm Interchangeable Lens Camera with 3-Inch Flip Up LCD (Black)
  • Ultra-fast auto focus with 179 AF points and 6Fps
  • Capture life in high resolution with 24MP APS-C...
  • Instant sharing via smartphone with Wi-Fi and NFC1

Compact Tripod

Joby GorillaPod: This tripod is an awesome versatile stand for your camera. You can use it for your phone (with this attachment), your GoPro, and your Sony a5100. I love the bendy legs because you can position them on uneven surfaces, wrap them around a tree limb, or even put all the legs together and use it as a handheld monopod. Joby also has several different sizes based on the size of your camera. If you already have a travel camera just check to see if this size stand is compatible with your camera.

Sale
Joby JB01507 GorillaPod 3K Kit. Compact Tripod 3K Stand and Ballhead 3K for Compact Mirrorless Cameras or Devices up to 3K (6.6lbs). Black/Charcoal.
  • Flexible: Grip it, wrap it or stand it, wrappable...
  • Precise: 360 Degrees panning bed and 90 Degrees...
  • Modular: Works with JOBY pro-level accessories,...

Portable Charger

Ankur Portable Charger/Power Bank: I love this portable charger. It holds a charge for a long time and charges our phones so quickly. I like to always have this charged in case we are somewhere without any outlets, especially after a long day of taking photos on an excursion.

Anker Portable Charger, PowerCore Essential 20000mAh Power Bank with PowerIQ Technology and USB-C (Input Only), Durable External Battery Pack Compatible with iPhone, Samsung, iPad, and More.
  • Ultra-High Cell Capacity: The massive 20,000mAh...
  • Advanced Charging Technology: Anker's exclusive...
  • Simultaneous Charging: Twin USB ports allow you to...

Electronics and Camera Bag

Peak Design Camera Bag: We use this camera bag to put all of our cameras and camera accessories in. It is super easy to carry with a backpack since it is a sling and you can just wear it over your shoulder. This is one of the reasons why we picked this one. It fits all of our camera stuff perfectly and it has removable dividers if you need to make more space for certain accessories or cameras. It also has an anti-lock strap on the zipper which is super beneficial.

Peak Design Everyday Sling 5L (Camera Bag)
  • 5L of main compartment storage
  • Convertible, reversible strap for cross-body sling...
  • 1-handed quick-pull strap adjustment

COSTA RICA PACKING LIST: Best backpack

Deciding which bag to take with you to Costa Rica is the most important part of packing. Like with most of our destinations we suggest investing in a backpack as you’ll be walking on dirt roads, tossing it into boats, and stowing it away under buses. Our first backpack (and favorite) is our Osprey Bag.

Osprey Mira 32 Women's Hiking Hydration Pack
  • Dedicated hydration compartment with included...
  • Adjustable harness enables a perfect fit and...
  • Dual-zippered hip belt pockets and front panel...
Osprey Manta 34 Men's Hiking Hydration Backpack
  • Dedicated hydration compartment with included...
  • Adjustable harness enables a perfect fit and...
  • Dual-zippered hip belt pockets and front panel...

You’ll really want a waterproof backpack for Costa Rica due to the potential for rain, we love this backpack because it has a waterproof cover that goes over the bag. We also feel it helps keep your things safe and secure. This backpack is the perfect size for a carry-on, and it can serve as a great daypack. For shorter trips (1-3 weeks) this backpack is perfect.

Osprey Ultralight Stuff Pack

You will want to have a little day pack with you for daytime activities. It is a pain to completely unpack your larger backpack each time you need to bring a bag with you on an excursion, hiking, or even just going to the beach. We recommend bringing a stuff pack with you. They are super compact and don’t take up hardly any space because it literally just folds up into itself!

Osprey Ultralight Stuff Pack
  • Pack stuffs into its own ultra-compact, built-in...
  • Dual zippered main compartment
  • Stretch mesh side gear or water bottle pocket

COSTA RICA PACKING LIST: Things to consider

Where Are You Going?

We want this Costa Rica packing list to give you everything you need, along with what to wear in Costa Rica, there are a few important things to consider before you begin your trip. We know that Costa Rica has many different climates so it’s important to understand the weather before you accidentally pack leggings and a rain jacket when you’ll be on a beach that’s 100 degrees. Read more on this in our article on the Costa Rica Itinerary

What Will You be Doing?

Will you be active and do activities like hiking or climbing volcanoes or do you plan on being a beach bum? Make sure you have a plan so you don’t pack those bulky hiking boots just to sit on the beach (can you imagine that tan line?).

What Time of Year Are You Going? 

Costa Rica has two seasons wet and dry season. The dry season is from December to April and the rainy season is from May to November, make sure to pack a rain jacket and some leggings if you head into the cooler climates or run into some rain.

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Costa Rica Packing List | Need to know what to pack for Costa Rica? Check out this Costa Rica packing list to make sure you have everything you will need for your trip. #costarica #travelcostarica #packinglist

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