What to pack for a trip to Costa Rica

Packing for a trip to Costa Rica is much like packing for any other tropical destination - you need to bring with you lots of lightweight and breathable clothing, sandals, sun protective items, and swimwear. While forgetting to pack your favorite bathing suit might not ruin your entire holiday (although it would be super inconvenient), it's still important to make sure you don't leave anything behind.

To help you with this, we've put together a list of the clothing items, the essential items, and the nice-to-have items you should be packing for your tropical getaway to Central America. 

Clothing items 

Comfortable walking shoes 

Are you planning on doing some serious exploring? If the answer is yes, then you need to pack a comfortable pair of walking shoes - emphasis on the comfortable. If you have to buy a new pair of walking shoes, make sure to adequately wear them in before leaving for your trip. Getting a blister 500m along a 5km hike is not how you want to explore this country's luscious landscapes. 


Comfortable walking shoes are all well and good when you want to do some exploring but a pair of sandals will do the trick in pretty much every other situation as there's no dress code in Costa Rica. Besides, nothing says 'I'm on a tropical holiday' like a pair of sandals that have spent most of their time stuck in the sand and by the pool. 

Lightweight clothing

Since Costa Rica's climate is tropical, packing clothes that aren't going to cling to your body while you inevitability sweat should be high on your priority list. You might not be able to escape the heat but the temperature's going to feel a lot cooler if you're wearing lightweight cotton or linen clothes such as dresses, pants, t-shirts, and shorts. 


This one's pretty self-explanatory since you can't go to Costa Rica and not explore its diverse and breathtaking marine life inhabiting the crystal clear waters off both of the country's coastal areas. Even if you just want to lay out on some of the best beaches in Central America, you're going to need a swimsuit and we think it's better to pack your favorite one (duh) rather than go shopping for one when you get there. 

A hat 

The sun in Costa Rica can get hot, like, level 12 on the UV index hot so protecting your head from the sun's rays is a definite must-do. Preferably, pack a tight-fitting hat (so it doesn't go flying off at the slightest bit of wind) and one that has flaps to cover the back and sides of your neck. No one wants to get sunburnt in those areas. 

Waterproof jacket 

While it might be more likely to experience rainfall during the wet/rainy season, theoretically, precipitation can occur year-round in Costa Rica so preparing for any and all weather patterns is a smart thing to do. In case there happens to be a rainfall forecast during your holiday, packing a lightweight, waterproof jacket (and wearing it) will ensure your planned activities can still go ahead while you remain nice and dry. 

The essentials 


With high temperatures comes a high UV index and trust us when we say your skin doesn't want to be caught out in the sun without adequate protection. To avoid spending your holiday looking like a tomato that's been slathered in aloe vera cream, pack a couple of bottles of sunscreen and put some on before you leave your accommodation each day - even if it's overcast outside. 

Reusable drink bottle

Exploring Costa Rica can be thirsty work and while it's generally considered safe to drink the country's water, it's still recommended you pack your own reusable drink bottle and fill it up with filtered water throughout your travels. Look on the bright side though, this is the perfect excuse to pack your cute, insulated drink bottle from home with its vibrant colour and measurement markings for hitting your hydration goals. 

Insect repellant 

Like many tropical destinations before it, Costa Rica is home to thousands of mosquitos during the rainy/wet season, all looking for soft, bare human flesh to feast on. To Avoid becoming a mosquito's next meal, invest in a decent brand of insect repellant and pack the bottle with you so you're prepared as soon as you arrive. 

Backpack/day bag

You might be wondering how you're going to carry all of these essential items around with you but wonder no more, packing your favorite backpack or day bag is the answer. But you need to make sure it's a medium-sized bag (you don't want it to be too big or too small) with enough pockets to fit all of the nice-to-have items that didn't make this list (hair ties, lip balm, spare change, etc). 

The nice-to-haves 

A camera 

The only reason this item is in the nice-to-have sections and not the essential section is because phone cameras these days almost produce the same result but we still think it's worth packing a proper camera if you feel like getting a little more professional with your photos. After all, landscapes as beautiful as the ones in Costa Rica deserve some superior setting options. 


As it's been previously stated, Costa Rica is an extremely sunny place and your eyes deserve just as much sun protection as your skin does. While it's not an essential item (it's still possible to have a fantastic holiday without sunglasses) you also don't want to be the one person that's squinting in every single group photo. 

Spanish dictionary/guide 

Although English is widely spoken in most areas throughout Costa Rica, it's always a good idea to show respect and appreciation for the local culture by attempting to communicate in Spanish via the use of a dictionary or travel guide. Packing a small, pocket-sized one with you will only add to your overall holiday experience and help you connect better with the locals. 

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