What to pack for Costa Rica – MUST-HAVE essentials

My Costa Rica packing list will cover what to pack for Costa Rica so you can stay comfortable and bug-bite-free.

what to pack for costa rica

Costa Rica is one of my favorite countries in the world.

It’s one of those countries that has a bit of everything: jungle, mountains, waterfalls, beaches, and the open ocean.

So, how do you know what to pack for Costa Rica, when there’s so much to think about?

Well, I’ll cover all that and more in this post. And if you still have questions at the end, leave me a comment and I’ll help you out.

Let’s get started!

Read next: What to pack in your carry-on

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What to pack for Costa Rica

Weather in Costa Rica

Costa Rica has a tropical climate with a dry and rainy season.

The country has various microclimates due to its elevations. Temperatures average 70 to 80°F (21 to 26°C), dropping to 50°F (10°C) in high areas and reaching up to 100°F (35°C) on the Pacific beaches.

That means packing light is a must, which includes the clothes you pack and the bag you carry. Everything should be light, easy to carry, and airy.

MonthAvg. Temp.Rainfall
January79 F0.3 inches
February80 F0.4 inches
March82 F0.5 inches
April83 F3.2 inches
May82 F10.5 inches
June81 F11.0 inches
July80 F7.2 inches
August81 F10.9 inches
September80 F14.0 inches
October80 F13.0 inches
November79 F5.3 inches
December78 F1.3 inches

What to pack for Costa Rica

When packing for Costa Rica, you need to think about the terrain and the weather.

You can have your clothes washed in Costa Rica and it’s super cheap, so don’t pack too much. The less you have to carry around, the easier your trip will be. 

Think of airy fabrics like linen, cotton, and viscose. And bring a rain jacket if you’re traveling from July to October.

When it comes to what to wear in Costa Rica, you have to consider both the scorching sun and the pouring rain!

Packing list for Costa Rica

Suitcase and bags

What to pack for Costa Rica starts with what to pack your things in, and how you pack.

And speaking of – don’t underestimate packing cubes!

They’ll help you so much with your organization. I recommend that you bring a carry-on bag and also pack a light daypack for sightseeing and day tours.

If you’re going hiking or jungle trekking, padding is a must, because you’ll be wearing it a lot. And mesh is breathable, which is imperative in the heat and humidity of Costa Rica. 

Kenneth Cole hardshell 4-wheel spinner // Osprey light day pack // Crossbody Bag

Important documents

These are the documents you need on your trip to Costa Rica. I always keep mine in a folder in my hand luggage – organized and ready for when I need them. 

Passport – Keep your passport in a special travel sleeve, so you won’t lose it.

Credit card – You can use credit cards in most places in Costa Rica, but if you’re going on a road trip, it’s always a good idea to have a few Costa Rican Colón in the car.

Travel itinerary – I always print out my itinerary and keep it in a folder with my other documents. It’s the best way to keep organized.

Outerwear and accessories

Light jacket – Like a windbreaker or leather jacket.

Raincoat – Costa Rica gets rain all year round, so make sure to still bring a waterproof jacket, even in the summer months.

Sunglasses – They’re a must all year round. Pack some quality sunglasses.


What to pack for Costa Rica still requires warm, sensible clothes. So you can definitely pack a little lighter in the dry season but prepare for some cold nights and days all the same!

Trousers – Jeans or any comfy trousers will do. You’ll also need shorts or skirts.

Leggings – They don’t need to be fleece-lined. Regular leggings are enough to keep you warm.

Long-sleeved tops – If you’re in the jungle, you’ll want to keep your skin covered, but not too warm.

Sweater – For cool nights in Monteverde

T-shirts – If you’re wearing a waterproof jacket, a T-shirt underneath will be plenty for a sunny day, so pack a few.

Pajamas – Any pajamas will do, but pack light for a relaxing evening after a busy day of hiking.

Underwear – and bras. I also pack a few sports bras.

Socks – As long as you’re wearing waterproof shoes or sneakers, any socks underneath will be fine.

Swimsuit – You’ll want to pack a swimsuit for the waterfalls and the beach!

Footwear for Costa Rica

Waterproof shoes – You’ll cross streams and get close to waterfalls, so make sure to pack some high-quality waterproof shoes!

Casual sneakers – For exploring San Jose and the other towns in Costa Rica, you’ll want some comfy casual sneakers that breathe and are sturdy enough to survive a fair amount of walking. I definitely recommend Nike walking shoes for this!

Open-toe sandals – Not only are they comfortable enough to walk for miles, but they stay strapped tightly to your feet while the memory foam makes them lightweight and soft.

Electronics and accessories

The most important electronics when it comes to what to pack for Costa Rica is your camera and phone.

If you prefer movies, consider an iPad or a lightweight laptop!

Camera – If there’s one place to bring a camera, it’s Costa Rica.

Waterproof phone cover – A waterproof cover for your phone will ensure you get the most epic shots of the jungle, beaches, and waterfalls in Costa Rica.

Universal adaptor – If you’re coming from the UK or the US, you’ll need a travel adapter for Costa Rica.

Kindle or iPad – Fill your Kindle or iPad with a few of your favorite books and movies! 

iPhone – This might sound like a no-brainer, but an iPhone means having a GPS, a camera, and music on the road in Iceland. Just what you need.

Car charger – If you’re doing a road trip in Costa Rica, you’ll need a car charger for your electronics. Just check with your rental car company if you need to bring one, because you may not have to.


As well as what to pack for Costa Rica, you also need to consider what toiletries to bring. There are a few obvious and a few you may not think of.

Toiletry bag – This is just such a great toiletry and cosmetics bag.


Toothbrush – I recommend getting an electric one!

Shampoo & conditioner – Your hotel may have some, but it also may not! Make sure to carry it in your suitcase because carry-on luggage won’t allow more than 100ml of liquids.



Sunscreen – Just like with sunglasses, sunscreen is a must- bring to Costa Rica! Even on cloudy days, the sun can really shine, and sunburn is a real danger!

Contacts and/or glasses – If you do wear contacts, definitely bring a pair of glasses for emergencies or if your eyes get too dry from the cold winds.

Medicines – Painkillers and antihistamines are a must-bring for any vacation, including what to pack for Costa Rica. Also, consider bringing emergency bandages and disinfectant for any cuts or scrapes you might get.

FAQ – What to pack for Costa Rica

What can you not bring to Costa Rica?

You cannot bring the following into Costa Rica:

  1. Illegal drugs
  2. Unprescribed medicines
  3. Guns and ammunition without a permit
  4. Explosives
  5. Live animals without the necessary permits
  6. Meat products and some agricultural products, due to disease prevention measures
  7. Endangered species or wildlife products, unless certified
  8. Counterfeit money or goods
  9. Pornographic materials

Always check Costa Rica’s customs regulations for the most updated and specific details.

What should I pack for 5 days in Costa Rica?

For 5 days in Costa Rica, pack:

  1. Lightweight clothing (shorts, T-shirts)
  2. A light rain jacket or poncho
  3. Comfortable walking/hiking shoes
  4. Sandals or flip-flops
  5. Swimsuit
  6. Sunscreen and insect repellent
  7. Hat and sunglasses
  8. Reusable water bottle
  9. Personal medications and a basic first-aid kit
  10. Passport, copies of travel documents, and local currency.

What should you take on a trip to Costa Rica?

For a trip to Costa Rica, take lightweight clothes, a rain jacket, walking shoes, sandals, a swimsuit, sunscreen, insect repellent, a hat, sunglasses, a water bottle, personal medications, a first-aid kit, passport, travel documents, and local currency.

Check the weather before you go.

Should I bring jeans to Costa Rica?

No, jeans can be too hot and take a long time to dry in Costa Rica’s humid climate.

It’s better to pack lightweight and quick-drying clothing.

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