Last updated on February 25th, 2023 at 12:55 pm
Costa Rica is a destination that will include both relaxation and grand adventure. Your packing will need to reflect this and everything in between. I have created this complete checklist on what to pack for Costa Rica so that you can get into relaxation mode earlier.
Over-packing is my middle name. I do not like to show up empty handed, usually causing me travel drama, (story for another time), please take my packing lists with a grain of salt, haha. That being said, I assure you this list will have what you are looking for & more! Keep on reading for all of the valuable information.
Once you’re finished here, head to my 10 Day Costa Rica Itinerary!
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1. Passport or valid Identification (ID): Passport is needed! Check the Costa Rica entry requirements to make sure you do not need a visa. The Costa Rica visa page is here if needing it. If coming from Canada, you will NOT need an entry visa.
2. Travel Insurance: do NOT travel without this. I want to ensure I have medical attention if I need it. You will never be sorry you invested in this if you are ever in need.
3. Activity or Tour documents/tickets: This is not necessary, however, sometimes our electronic devices do not work or get stolen, and I am sure you will be thankful that you printed out your entrance tickets or documents.
Type of Baggage to Bring to Costa Rica
Keep in mind; depending on your airline ticket you may not have a checked bag included, if you are wanting to bring one, make sure you pay the extra fee.
- A medium-large sized luggage, that you will fill up until the max weight per airline, make sure you look this up with which airline you are using (usually 50lbs), OR a hiking backpack
- Carry on: A backpack that can double as your beach bag. I usually make sure my carry on has at least 3 outfits in case my check-in bag gets lost.
- Personal bag: small shoulder bag or cross body bag, for going out on the town or wallet/card holder
What to Wear While Travelling
Your heaviest clothing: running or hiking shoes, jacket, sweater, and comfy pants/leggings. Don’t forget your mask/face covering(s) for travel during COVID-19 (see specific airlines or airports for their requirements, as masks are not widely required anymore).
What to Pack for Costa Rica
Dry Season (22-35°C): December to April
Keep in mind, you will most likely be doing outdoor activities and will want comfortable, active wear and swim attire.
Rainy Season (20-30°C): May to November
At some point on this trip, you will eventually encounter rain, therefore, you will need rain gear; ie. jackets, rain ponchos. You will most likely still be doing outdoor activities and will want comfortable, active wear and swim attire.
- Light waterproof rain jacket or rain poncho with a hood (I went during dry season and still needed my rain jacket, always a safe bet to bring this).
- The weather is warm enough that you will most likely not need anything else, however, I enjoy a jean jacket to tie some outfits together/for chillier nights
- Running shoes/hiking shoes: I personally use Vessi running shoes as they are waterproof and so comfortable! If you plan to do difficult hikes, bring hiking shoes.
- Waterproof sandals, slides or flip flops
- Optional: Nice sandals/dinner shoes for warm weather
Tops: (5 active/T-shirts, 1-2 nicer tops)
- If you plan to have a more adventurous trip, plan to bring more activewear and T-shirts.
- Choosing to mostly relax? Bring nicer tops for dinners or outfits
- Active bottoms; leggings, shorts, joggers – whatever you are most comfortable in, keep the heat in mind
- Jeans or summery pants; you will most likely only need 1 pair, if having a chillier night
- I love to wear dresses in warm destinations, if you do too, don’t forget them!
- You probably only need this for the cold plane rides, but always good to bring in case it gets chilly at night (doubtful, lol)
Bathing Suits: (3)
- If you plan to spend time around Costa Rica’s beautiful beaches you will definitely need these
Beach Bag: (1)
- I use my carry on or backpack to double as my beach bag as a space saver.
Beach Towels: (1)
- The Airbnb’s we stayed at did not provide beach towels. We bring these Protex Micro-Suede towels with us on EVERY trip. They are so useful and pack small. We purchased ours at SAIL, however, Amazon has many to choose from here.
Beach Cover-ups: (1)
- A personal preference of mine, I love to have cute cover-ups for my bathing suits
UNDERGARMENTS & PAJAMAS
Underwear: (as many as your heart desires).
- I bring ~double the amount for the days I am staying. No, I am not actively soiling myself but I do like to change them after showering, OKAY?!
Bras: (2-3) *if you need them*
- Sports bras (1-2)
- Regular (1-2)
Socks: (1 per day)
- You probably won’t need socks that often as you will be having some beach/swim days
Pajamas: (A couple of pairs per week)
- I usually just sleep in a T-shirt and underwear,
- So just do you, and don’t forget your comfy PJs
My trick is to go from head to toe so I don’t forget anything.
Buy travel sized containers to put shampoo/conditioner and body wash in, this saves so much space and 100ml will last you quite a while. You also don’t have to worry about where you pack it – can go in carry on or checked baggage if it’s less than 100ml
- Hair: shampoo, conditioner, brush/comb, hair dryer (if you can live without, this saves a lot of space).
- Eyes: contacts, glasses & sunglasses
- Face: cleanser, moisturizer, SPF (very important), any other products used for skin care (vitamin C, retinol, etc).
- Ears: q-tips
- Nose: I always bring a saline flush for my nose. A stuffy nose on a trip is worse than wet socks in shoes, TRUST ME ON THIS. Refuse to leave without some type of nasal spray.
- Mouth/teeth: tooth brush, tooth paste, floss, mouth guard, chapstick
- Makeup: anything you want or use regularly. I would bring minimal amounts on a trip like this as it will be mostly active
- Body: deodorant, body wash OR soap bar, moisturizer, razor, loofah (I use loofahs, if you don’t, forgo it, it takes up a lot of space), baby wipes (I do not go anywhere without baby wipes, never know when you’ll need them).
- SPF: I said it above for face, but bring enough for your whole body
- Bug Spray: We use OFF Deep Woods Insect Repellent, mosquitos love me and I think this stuff actually works.
This is NOT to be interpreted as medical advice. Take what you are comfortable with.
- Prescription medications: do not forget to pack any prescription medications you take
- Pain: ibuprofen (Advil), acetaminophen (Tylenol)
- Antihistamines: diphenhydramine (Benadryl) for allergy treatment, if having any
- Nausea: Dimenhydrinate (Gravol, etc).
- Injuries/First aid: Polysporin or other antibacterial creams, bandaids, medical tape, gauze, saline (to clean wounds, water would also work).
- Phone: I mean… who lives without their phone these days? They also double as a camera when you don’t own one.
- Waterproof phone case: I use this one, found on amazon. Works wonders and you can take your phone into the water with you.
- Camera: I suggest investing in a camera, if taking pictures and good quality is important to you.
- Kindle: This may just be a me thing… But I am a reader and would much rather carry my kindle onto the plane than have three books taking up space in my luggage. The kindle lasts weeks without charging, so if you’re bold, forgo the charger. Trust me, my kindle is one of my favourite things, I have the Paperwhite, check it out here.
- Headphones/AirPods: so you can look out the window of the plane or car and pretend you’re in a music video
- Chargers/batteries: If you don’t want your stuff dying on you within a day bring your chargers for all electronics. Also, bring extra batteries for your camera.
- Adapters: Costa Rica’s standard voltage is 120 V (standard Hz of 60), which is the same as the United States and Canada. Plug types: A & B are used in Costa Rica. If travelling from North America to Costa Rica, you will not need an adapter. However, if coming from any other continents, bring appropriate adapters for A & B plugs. You can also purchase a universal adapter so you never have to worry.
- Smart watch: I don’t exercise without my apple watch counting my calories/steps/movements (all of the above), because I am a freak. So if you’re like me this is a must. Think of all of the rings you will close with your activities!!!!!
I tend to overpack and end up freaking out at the check in counter when my luggage weighs a little bit extra (weigh your luggage before you leave home please). Keep the above mentioned in mind when reading my packing lists. Use them as a very detailed guide and make them your own!
Joanna Neander is the author and creator of Plan Before Land. She is dedicated to creating detailed travel itineraries from around the world. Joanna’s most visited continents include, North America, Central America & Europe. Asia coming soon! Join along on Joanna’s travels!