Expat In Paradise

Costa Rica Packing List

If you are looking for what to pack when MOVING to Costa Rica see my post HERE. If you are just coming for a visit check out my packing list  below ⬇️

Packing for a trip to Costa Rica depends on the time of year, the regions you plan to visit, and the activities you’ll be participating in. Here’s a general packing list to help you prepare for your Costa Rica adventure:


Lightweight and breathable clothing: Costa Rica is a tropical country, so pack lightweight and moisture-wicking clothing to stay comfortable in the heat.

Swimsuits and beachwear: If you plan to visit the beaches, don’t forget your swimwear and cover-ups.

Rain jacket or poncho: Even during the dry season, there can be occasional rain showers especially in the Central Valley, so it’s a good idea to have rain protection. 

Comfortable walking shoes: For hikes, walks, and exploring, bring comfortable and supportive shoes or hiking boots.

Sandals or flip-flops: These are perfect for beach outings and casual strolls.

Sun hat and sunglasses: Protect yourself from the strong tropical sun.

Long-sleeved shirts and pants: These are helpful to protect against sunburn and insects, especially in rainforest areas.

Lightweight sweater or jacket: Some higher-altitude destinations can get cooler in the evenings.

Outdoor and Adventure Gear:

Insect repellent:

Especially important in areas with a higher risk of mosquitoes. If you are like me and mosquitoes love you, repellent will be your best friend. This is affordable and available in CR if you can’t pack it.

Sunscreen: Sunscreen is very expensive in Costa Rica. Get yourself a high SPF and something safe for marine life. We are not far from the equator here in CR so the sun is going to be more intense than you are likely used to!

Backpack: Useful for day trips and hikes. I have a Northface backpack that has traveled with me all over Costa Rica and I highly recommend one!

Reusable water bottle: The tap water is safe to drink in Costa Rica, so reduce waste by using a refillable water bottle. If you plan on traveling across the country some drives can take a long while. You want to make sure you bring water along with you.

Electronics and Essentials:

Travel adapter: Costa Rica uses American style sockets, so make sure to have the right adapter if needed.

Portable charger: Keep your devices charged on the go.

Waterproof bag or case: Protect your electronics and important documents from rain and water activities.

Copies of important documents: Including passport, travel insurance, and any necessary visas.

Toiletries and Medications:

Toiletries: Bring your essentials, including toothbrush, toothpaste, and any personal hygiene items you prefer.

Prescription medications: Carry an adequate supply and a copy of your prescription. Many medications that require a prescription in the US are over the counter in Costa Rica. If it is not you can fill most of your prescriptions at a pharmacy for the cost of the medication plus a $20 fee. Pain killers and other drugs that may be considered narcotics are hard to find in Costa Rica so don’t plan on those being readily available.

First-aid kit: Include basics like band-aids, pain relievers, and any specific medications you may need.

Optional Items:

Snorkeling gear: If you plan to explore coral reefs and marine life. There are plenty of places to get this here too if you don’t want to pack it, you’ll just have to pay tourist prices.

Water Shoes: Plan on hiking down a river to a waterfall? Going to the hot springs? You’ll want some shoes you can wear in the water to protect your feet from rocks and critters.

Smart Phone Gimbal: Costa Rica is literally paradise and if you want to get the most instagrammable images and the tiktokable video then consider a gimbal for your trip to get the best memories possible.

Google Translate: Download it on your phone before you go!

Currency Conversion App: I use globeconvert but there are many to pick from.

Remember that less is often more when packing for a trip to Costa Rica. Traveling light can make your experience more enjoyable, and it’s easier to get around the country. Costa Rica is known for its laid-back pura vida culture, so embrace a simple and relaxed approach to packing and enjoy your adventure in this stunning tropical paradise.