Packing List for Costa Rica: 2023 Clothes & Accessories Guide

costa rica packing tips

Are you planning a trip to the amazing country of Costa Rica? You’ve come to the right place! This blog post will guide you through everything you need to know about creating a packing list for Costa Rica. From understanding the climate and seasons to choosing the right clothes and footwear, my 20+ years of living in Costa Rica has you covered!

Key Takeaways

  • Pack lightweight, breathable clothes for beach, hiking and city activities.
  • Bring swimwear and sun protection plus moisture-wicking gear for adventures.
  • Don’t forget gadgets, health & safety items + regional packing considerations!

Costa Rica’s Climate and Seasons

is it safe to drive in costa rica

Costa Rica, a land of tropical beauty, experiences a wet and dry season with temperatures usually between 22-28°C. Knowing the climate and seasons will help you pack appropriately for your trip. Costa Rica’s rainy season runs from May to November, while the dry season is from December to April. Packing lightweight, breathable, and quick-drying clothes is important to fully enjoy your Costa Rican vacation.

While visiting Costa Rica, don’t forget to bring:

  • A sun hat to protect your face, back, and chest from the intense sun rays during the rainy season when it’s not raining
  • A rain jacket for unexpected downpours
  • A travel umbrella for unexpected downpours

With the right clothes and accessories to wear in Costa Rica, you’ll be well-prepared for exploring Costa Rica, whether you’re hiking in Manuel Antonio National Park or simply lounging by the beach.

As you plan your trip to Costa Rica, make sure to consider regional differences in climate. For instance, the Caribbean coast experiences more rainfall than other parts of the country. So, be prepared and pack accordingly to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience in this tropical paradise.

Essential Clothing Items for Costa Rica

packing for costa rica

It’s vital to pack the right clothes for your Costa Rican adventure. You’ll want to choose lightweight, breathable, and quick-drying clothes suitable for various activities and destinations. When visiting places like Manuel Antonio National Park, opt for sportswear and comfortable, lightweight items. As for the fabric, linen is a great choice for hiking as it dries quickly, is lightweight, and handles sweat better than cotton.

This section will cover specific clothing categories such as beach and swimwear, hiking and adventure gear, and casual city attire. With these essentials in your suitcase, you’ll be prepared for any adventure that awaits you in Costa Rica.

Beach and Swimwear

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A trip to Costa Rica wouldn’t be complete without some beach time. When it comes to packing for the beach, don’t forget to include swimwear, rash guards, and cover-ups. A swimsuit is a must-have item for beach activities, but consider packing hiking sandals for outdoor adventures as well.

Rash guards play a crucial role in protecting your skin from sunburn, sea creatures, and chafing while surfing or snorkeling. Top brands like Vuori offer excellent options for men’s board shorts and Londre for women’s swimsuits. Additionally, pack a beach towel to dry off after a fun day of surfing or sunbathing.

For extra sun protection, consider packing a sun hat and some aloe vera just in case you catch too much sun. With all these essentials in your bag, you’ll be ready to hit the beach and enjoy Costa Rica’s beautiful coastline.

Hiking and Adventure Gear

Costa Rica is an outdoor lover’s paradise, offering diverse landscapes and activities. For hiking and adventure activities, bring moisture-wicking clothes, hiking boots, and rain gear. A shirt like the Columbia Tamiami II provides UV protection, is lightweight and quick-drying, and is made from a rugged material. It also features a vented back, front pockets, antimicrobial treatment, and mesh panels.

Depending on the activity, you’ll need different types of shoes. Here are some recommendations:

  • For hiking in Tortuguero National Park, rent some hiking boots due to muddy conditions.
  • For white water rafting, water shoes are perfect.
  • And remember not to wear flip flops or loose shoes for ziplining.

When it comes to shorts, bring at least two pairs for hiking and other activities.

Whether you’re exploring the lush rainforests of Corcovado National Park or the cloud forests of Monteverde, having the right gear will make all the difference. Stay comfortable and prepared with these essentials, and you’ll be ready to tackle any adventure in Costa Rica.

Casual City Attire

When exploring cities like San Jose or other urban areas in Costa Rica, casual attire is suitable. Here are some recommendations:

  • Shorts
  • T-shirts
  • Sundresses
  • Closed-toed shoes
  • Long pants
  • Light jacket or sweater

In general, the dress code in Costa Rica is pretty casual. Jeans, shorts, t-shirts, and sneakers are all acceptable.

For a night out at a resort or restaurant, consider packing a nice pair of chinos or a dressier outfit. By choosing versatile clothing items that can be mixed and matched, you’ll be able to transition from daytime activities to evening events with ease.

Overall, the key to packing for Costa Rica is to bring:

  • Casual, comfortable clothes that can be easily adapted to various activities and settings
  • Clothes suitable for exploring bustling cities
  • Clothes suitable for relaxing on pristine beaches

This way, you’ll be prepared for whatever adventures come your way.

Footwear Recommendations


Selecting the right footwear is an important part of preparing for your Costa Rican adventure. Here are some recommendations:

  • Comfortable sandals or sneakers are perfect for exploring cities.
  • When it comes to nature hikes, hiking boots are the best option.
  • For water-based activities like white water rafting or exploring the hot springs, water shoes are the way to go.

As you pack for Costa Rica, keep in mind that closed-toed shoes are required for certain outdoor adventures, like ziplining or hiking in national parks. It’s also a good idea to bring at least two pairs of shoes to alternate between activities and give each pair time to dry or air out.

With the right footwear, you’ll be well-equipped to enjoy everything Costa Rica has to offer, from hiking through lush rainforests on breathtaking hiking trails to strolling along pristine beaches.

Travel Accessories and Gadgets

travel camera

Beyond clothing and footwear, certain travel accessories and gadgets should also be included in your Costa Rica packing list for your adventure. These include:

  • A dry bag, especially useful for protecting your belongings during water-based activities or in the rainforest
  • A reusable water bottle
  • An international charger
  • A mobile hotspot
  • Photography gear

An international charger will ensure your electronics stay charged, regardless of the power outlets in Costa Rica. A mobile hotspot can be a lifesaver if you’re working while traveling or need a reliable internet connection. As for photography gear, consider packing a wide-angle lens for landscape shots and a telephoto lens of at least 300 mm for capturing wildlife. A sturdy tripod is also a must for wildlife photography.

Don’t forget to pack a reusable water bottle to stay hydrated during your trip. The tap water in Costa Rica is generally safe to drink, so a reusable water bottle will help you save money and reduce plastic waste. Insulated water bottles like Hydro Flask or reusable bottles with built-in filters are great options.

With these travel accessories and gadgets, you’ll be well-prepared to capture memories, stay connected, and make the most of your visit Costa Rica vacation.

Health and Safety Essentials


Prioritizing health and safety is always important when traveling. For your trip to Costa Rica, make sure to pack:

  • Insect repellent
  • Sunscreen
  • A first aid kit
  • Any necessary medications

DEET-based repellent is recommended to keep mosquitoes at bay and lower the risk of Dengue Fever. When it comes to sunscreen, opt for reef-safe sunscreen with at least SPF 30, although SPF 50-70 is better for those prone to burning.

A first aid kit can be incredibly useful in case of minor injuries or emergencies. Make sure it includes essentials like band-aids, pain relievers, and any prescription medications you may need. If you’re planning on participating in adventure sports or outdoor activities, it’s a good idea to get travel insurance for added peace of mind.

In addition to packing health and safety essentials, it’s important to be aware of any regional health concerns or risks. For example, malaria is present in some parts of Costa Rica, so consult with your healthcare provider about any necessary precautions or vaccinations before your trip.

With these health and safety essentials in your bag, including Costa Rica travel insurance, you can focus on enjoying your Costa Rican adventure with peace of mind.

Packing Tips and Tricks

bagail packing cubes

Use packing cubes to optimize your luggage space and stay organized. These handy organizers can help keep your belongings in order and make it easier to find items when you need them. Opt for lightweight luggage, like the Amazon Basics line, which is both budget-friendly and suitable for Costa Rican travel.

The ones pictured are the ones I use.  —-> Lowest Price on

When packing clothing, focus on versatile items that can be layered or mixed and matched. This will allow you to create multiple outfits with fewer pieces and save valuable suitcase space. Also, consider packing clothes in neutral colors or coordinating shades to make it easier to put together outfits on the go.

By utilizing these packing tips and tricks, you’ll be able to pack efficiently and have everything you need for your Costa Rican adventure without overstuffing your luggage.

What Not to Pack for Costa Rica

Knowing what not to pack is also a crucial part of preparing for your Costa Rican vacation. Avoid overpacking and leave behind items that are easily accessible in Costa Rica or not necessary for your trip. For example, heavy jackets or an excessive number of electronics can be left at home.

Remember that you can find many essentials in Costa Rica, like bug spray, sunscreen, and toiletries. By packing only what you need and leaving unnecessary items behind, you’ll have more room in your luggage for souvenirs and ensure a smoother travel experience. Keep these Costa Rica travel tips in mind for a hassle-free vacation.

Regional Packing Considerations

Adjustments may be needed in your packing list for Costa Rica depending on the specific destinations you plan to visit. For instance, you might need warmer clothes for higher elevations, like long pants, a warm sweater, long socks, and a jacket. In contrast, rainier regions may require additional rain gear or waterproof clothing.

When packing for Costa Rica, keep in mind the activities and destinations on your itinerary. This will help you tailor your packing list to ensure you have the appropriate clothing and gear for each location. For example, if you plan to hike in Monteverde’s cloud forests, a rain jacket and closed-toed hiking shoes are essential.

By adjusting your packing list based on regional considerations, you’ll be well-prepared for any climate or activity you encounter during your Costa Rican adventure.


In conclusion, packing for your Costa Rican adventure can be a breeze with the right planning and preparation. By understanding the climate and seasons, choosing the appropriate clothing and footwear, and packing essential travel accessories and gadgets, you’ll be ready to embark on an unforgettable journey. So get ready to explore the breathtaking beauty of Costa Rica, knowing that you’re well-prepared for the adventure ahead.

Frequently Asked Questions

What can you not bring into Costa Rica?

You are not allowed to bring plants, seeds, vegetables or fruits into Costa Rica. Make sure to check your luggage for anything you may have unintentionally brought in.

What is appropriate to wear in Costa Rica?

In Costa Rica, casual and comfortable clothing is the way to go! Bring along shorts, tank tops, t-shirts, and flip-flops for beach days in the hot and humid weather. Be sure to pack light and breathable fabrics that will keep you cool in the heat. Consider bringing a hat and sunglasses to protect you from the sun. Don

Should I bring jeans to Costa Rica?

Leave your jeans at home and opt for shorts or a skirt. Travel pants will be best, especially if you plan on hiking.

What type of clothing should I pack for Costa Rica’s rainy season?

Pack lightweight, breathable clothes that dry quickly, plus a rain jacket and an umbrella for Costa Rica’s rainy season.

Are hiking boots necessary for exploring Costa Rica’s national parks?

Hiking boots are recommended for exploring Costa Rica’s national parks since they provide better support and protection than regular shoes.

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