Finding Adventure in Everything we Do

Costa Rica Ultimate Packing List

This is a comprehensive packing list designed to cover all the typical activities (e.g., rafting, ziplining, hiking) but pack what makes sense for where you’re going and what you’re doing. Clearly many items are optional! There are five different climate zones and temps vary widely with elevation so check the weather.    

Carry-On Purse/Backpack

  • Passport (and photo copy or picture of it on your phone)
  • Debit & credit cards
  • Cash (USDs are widely accepted; you can also withdraw local currency from ATMs; paying for activities in cash is often cheaper than incurring credit card fees)
  • Cell phone with Spanish translation app (Best Translation Apps)
  • Sunglasses & case (may want a second cheap pair for water sports) 
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Prescription medication 


  • Cosmetics (minimal as it’s casual and you’ll be sweating…..a lot!) 
  • Hair brush
  • Deodorant
  • Toothpaste, toothbrush, mouthwash
  • Razor
  • Facial wash (Face cleaner wipes are great for traveling and at the beach)
  • Facial & body moisturizer
  • Shampoo & conditioner 
  • Leave in conditioner. The salt water is harsh on hair. Stream2Sea works great and is biodegradable if you’re going in the rivers or ocean
  • Elastic hair bands
  • Feminine products as needed
  • Blow Dry Accelerator (e.g., Not Your Mother’s) to dry hair faster in the heat and humidity


  • Study flip flops for beaches and villas/resorts 
  • Water shoes or hiking sandals: closed-toed are best for activities like ziplining & hiking (e.g., Keen) or open-toed for general sightseeing (e.g., Chaco or Teva)
  • Sandals for going out to dinner (e.g., Teva Ysidros or Dr. Scholl’s)
  • Waterproof hiking shoes (e.g., Merrell or hiking boots (e.g., Keens) are recommended for more rugged hikes


  • Antacids (e.g., Pepto-Bismol) According to the CDC, taking two 262-mg tablets four times a day can decrease the incidence of travelers’ diarrhea by up to 50%. Travelers’ diarrhea is a common problem in some parts of Costa Rica.
  • Seasickness remedies if you plan to go boating or fishing (e.g., Sea-bands, Dramamine Naturals)
  • Pain Relievers (e.g., Advil, Tylenol)  
  • After Sun Aloe
  • Insect repellent. There are mosquitos! If you prefer deet-free, Sawyer Products are great
  • Assorted band-aids, including ones for blisters, particularly if you plan on hiking
  • Allergy medicine (if needed as they are very expensive in Costa Rica)
  • Antibiotic ointment (e.g., Neosporin)
  • Anti-diarrhea (e.g., Imodium) for use if symptoms hit while traveling.
  • Electrolyte Hydration Powder (e.g., Drip Drop) Great for hydrating after exercise, heat exposure or in the event of sickness
  • Decongestant or nasal spray if planning to scuba dive or as needed


Costa Rica is casual so leave the fancy clothes at home! Many areas are hot and humid so dry fast or moisture wicking clothing is best. If you plan to wear something more than once you’ll need to wash it along the way because you are going to sweat! 

  • Casual shirts/t-shirts/tank tops
  • Shorts. Mostly casual but a couple of dressy shorts if going out to dinner
  • Swimsuits & coverup(s)
  • SPF Rash Guard. Good for water sports or just extra sun protection
  • Casual sundress(es); they also double as coverups
  • Underwear and bras
  • Loungewear/PJs 
  • Lightweight quality rain jacket or poncho 
  • Sweater or fleece jacket for evenings if visiting higher elevations 
  • Fast drying, zip-away travel pants (e.g., Columbia
  • Hiking socks (if bringing hiking shoes or boots)

Outdoor Gear

Costa Rica is only 8-12 degrees from the equator so good sunscreen is a must! Waterproof items are also a plus because it’s the rain forest so odds are it’ll rain! 

  • Sunscreen. Ideally bring mineral ones that won’t harm marine life (e.g., Bare Republic, Babyganics, Blue Lizard, and Ocean Potion)
  • Beach bag
  • Waterproof dry bag or backpack
  • Waterproof case for phone
  • Wide brim sunhats, visors or ball caps
  • Collapsible cooler (e.g., Scout) for beach or boating 
  • Lip balm, preferably with sunscreen. Sun Bum makes some great ones in assorted flavors and tints
  • Microfiber towels (e.g., Rainleaf) Super compact and great for the beach, boats, and wiping off sweat
  • Insulated water bottle (e.g., Yeti, Yeti Beer Koozie, Hydro Flask) may seem like a luxury item but they’re critical for keeping drinks cold in the heat and humidity
  • Instant Cooling Towel (e.g., RiptGear) is great for cooling down during hikes, on the beach, or pretty much everywhere in Costa Rica


No special adapters or converters are needed to use US electronics in Costa Rica. 

  • Cell phone charger
  • Portable charger (the heat tends to drain cell phone batteries fast)
  • Headphones/ear buds
  • Camera/GoPro & chargers
  • Ipad or laptop as desired
  • Headlamp or flashlight. The sun sets early and it gets really dark! 


  • Eye mask. The sun rises really early!
  • Laundry detergent sheets are great for packing as they take up no room, don’t count against your liquids, and work both for washing clothes in the hotel sink or in washing machines   
  • Ziplock bags, in assorted sizes are great for everything from protecting clothes from opened liquid containers to packing snacks for hikes. 
  • Binoculars for bird watching

Don’t Bring

  • Sneakers/tennis shoes. They have bad traction, are hotter than sandals and take forever to dry.
  • Jeans. They’re hot and take forever to dry!
  • Expensive jewelry. Crime in Costa Rica is extremely low but it’s always better to have a low profile and not draw attention to yourself.
  • High heels or other fancy shoes. Again, Costa Rica is casual!