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The Ultimate Costa Rica Packing List

Article by Petrina Darrah

Petrina Darrah

Posted: March 23, 2023

Costa Rica is a Central American country known for its diverse landscape, from lush rainforests to pristine beaches. It’s a popular travel destination for adventure-seekers, eco-tourists, and beach-goers alike. Whether you’re planning to hike to a volcano, zip-line through the jungle, or relax on a beach, it’s important to pack appropriately for your trip. In this article, we’ll provide you with the ultimate Costa Rica packing list to ensure you’re fully prepared for your adventure.


When packing for Costa Rica, it’s important to keep the hot and humid weather in mind. Lightweight, breathable clothes are essential for staying cool and comfortable. Shorts, t-shirts, and tank tops are great options for casual wear. However, it’s important to note that some areas of Costa Rica have conservative dress codes, especially in rural areas and religious sites. It’s best to bring long-sleeved shirts and pants to cover up when necessary.

Costa Rica has two seasons: dry and rainy. The dry season runs from December to April, while the rainy season runs from May to November. If you’re travelling during the rainy season, it’s important to pack rain gear such as a waterproof jacket and rain pants. It’s also a good idea to bring quick-drying clothes that can dry overnight.

Mosquitoes are prevalent in Costa Rica, especially in rural areas and near bodies of water. It’s important to protect yourself from mosquito bites by wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants. You can also bring mosquito repellent, mosquito nets, and citronella candles to keep mosquitoes at bay.

If you’re planning to go on a hike or walk in the jungle, it’s important to wear comfortable shoes that can handle rough terrain. Closed-toe shoes are also important for protecting your feet from bites and scratches. Sneakers or hiking boots are great options.

Finally, don’t forget to pack your swimsuit and beachwear! Costa Rica has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, and you won’t want to miss out on the opportunity to relax in the sun and surf.

Toiletries and Personal Items

Sunscreen is a must-have item for any trip to Costa Rica. The sun is strong and can burn quickly, even on cloudy days. It’s important to bring a high SPF sunscreen and reapply it throughout the day.

Insect repellent is also important for protecting yourself from mosquito bites. Look for a repellent that contains DEET, which is the most effective ingredient for repelling mosquitoes.

If you take any medications, be sure to bring enough for your entire trip. It’s also a good idea to bring a first-aid kit with basic supplies such as band-aids, pain relievers, and antiseptic.

It’s important to protect your head and eyes from the sun, especially if you’re spending a lot of time outdoors. Bring a hat and sunglasses to keep yourself cool and comfortable.

If you’re planning to go on water activities, such as rafting or kayaking, consider investing in a waterproof phone case. This will allow you to take photos and videos without worrying about damaging your phone.

Finally, don’t forget to bring a camera or memory cards to capture all of your amazing experiences in Costa Rica.

Technology and Electronics

Costa Rica uses the same power outlets as the United States, so you won’t need a voltage converter. However, it’s a good idea to bring a universal power adapter that will work in other countries as well.

Portable chargers are a great way to keep your devices charged on-the-go. This is especially important if you’re going on a long hike or day trip and won’t have access to electricity for an extended period of time.

If you’re planning to work remotely or stay connected with friends and family while in Costa Rica, consider bringing a portable Wi-Fi hotspot or a local SIM card for your phone.

It’s also important to pack any necessary cords and chargers for your electronics, such as your phone, camera, and portable charger.

Outdoor Gear

Costa Rica is known for its outdoor activities, from hiking to surfing to zip-lining. If you’re planning to participate in any of these activities, it’s important to bring the necessary gear.

Hiking gear such as a daypack, water bottle, and hiking shoes are essential for any hiking excursion. Consider bringing a hiking map or guidebook to help you navigate the trails.

If you’re planning to go surfing, bring your own surfboard or rent one from a local surf shop. Don’t forget to bring a wetsuit if you’re travelling during the rainy season.

If you’re planning to go zip-lining or participate in other adventure activities, check with the tour company to see if they provide any necessary gear. If not, bring your own harness, helmet, and other safety equipment.

What to pack when volunteering with GVI in Costa Rica

If you’re planning to volunteer with GVI in Costa Rica, there are a few additional items you should pack. GVI provides most of the necessary gear for their programs, but it’s still important to bring a few personal items.

Long-sleeved shirts and pants are essential for protecting yourself from bugs and the sun. GVI also recommends bringing a wide-brimmed hat to provide additional sun protection.

If you’re participating in a marine conservation program, bring a rash guard or wetsuit to protect yourself from jellyfish stings and other sea creatures.

GVI provides bedding and towels, but you may want to bring your own beach towel or lightweight sleeping bag.

Additionally, GVI recommends bringing a reusable bag for shopping and a reusable straw to reduce plastic waste. Finally, don’t forget to bring a positive attitude and a willingness to work hard and learn!

By Petrina Darrah

Petrina Darrah is a freelance writer from New Zealand with a passion for outdoor adventure and sustainable travel. She has been writing about travel for more than five years and her work has appeared in print and digital publications including National Geographic Travel, Conde Nast Travel, Business Insider, Atlas Obscura and more. You can see more of her work at petrinadarrah.com.
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