Packing for Costa Rica was one of the hardest trips I’ve packed for. For one, we went in October and it was supposed to be rainy season. So in my mind, I pictured a rainy, fall day in the US. This was an ignorant mistake 😂 I had a fear of being chilly and was overthinking things WAY too much while packing. I mean, it’s tropical Central America. However, I want to help ensure you have an easier time packing than I had!
To help with packing for Costa Rica, it is valuable to know the weather. There is a rainy season (May through Mid-November). If you are visiting during this time (like we did!) be prepared for rain showers. If you are headed to Monteverde, it’ll likely rain every afternoon until the next morning. This probably goes for any destination that is high in altitude. However, along the coast and at lower altitudes we did NOT get rained on every day. It was actually quite nice and usually sunny. For more details on the weather and complete guide to Costa Rica, click here!
Essential Items: Don't leave without them
- Rain Jacket
- Rain is unpredictable during rain season. Be prepared. We zip-lined in the pouring rain and it would have been miserable without a rain jacket!
- Taking pictures with a nice camera in the rain is difficult. Have an umbrella to protect your camera!
- Moisture-wicking Leggings
- There’s a good chance you’ll be doing outdoor adventuring in the rain. at some point. And it can be chilly. Bring a pair of leggings or hiking pants that won’t hold a lot of moisture
- Adding this one to the top of the list because I didn’t have any and you should!
- There is wildlife everywhere! However, some of the wildlife (sloths, birds) are HIGH up in the trees and to find them you really need binoculars! Pack a small pair 👍🏻
- Waterproof Phone Case or Holder
- Waterfalls, white water rafting, rain, hot springs. Lot’s of water-involved activities that you will want to document!
- Waterproof Hiking Boots
- The jungle and trails can be moist, especially during rainy season. Keep your feet dry!
- Moisture-Wicking Socks
- Dry season or wet season, if you are hiking, have socks that will wick sweat and moisture! The humidity is real.
- Breathable Shirts and shorts
- Again, humidity is real year-round. Cotton isn’t friendly in these conditions. Make sure to have clothes that dry quickly! I actually found affordable options that were comfortable and held up well for me at Old Navy of all places.
- Even in the coldest months, there are hot springs to soak in! Bring your swimmies and your cover-ups!
- Water-roof Sandals
- I brought my Keen sandals. Someone brought Tevas and another brought their Chacos. Whatever your choice, pack sandals that are waterproof, comfortable and have a back strap. You’ll get tired of your hiking boots and these are a great alternative!
- Don’t think I really have to explain this one
- Hiking Backpack
- I carry the Osprey day bag because it has a lower and upper buckle that helps offload. Legit helps.
Other Clothing Items
- After hiking in sticky clothes all day it is nice to get into a breathable outfit for dinner
- 1 or 2 will do the trick. And they can double as swimsuit covers when you go to the hot springs 😉
- I packed one pair of blue jean shorts to wear when exploring La Fortuna. Not a necessity, but it made me feel less like Dora the Explorer while walking around town
- You will have humid, untamed hair. Bring a hat to cover it up and not have to worry about it!
- Don’t forget your jammies and a CLEAN travel outfit for your return trip home.
- GoPro (if you have one)
- Waterfalls, white water rafting, zip-lining in the pouring rain. You are going to WANT to document this footage. HOWEVER, don’t be like me. Bring your ATTACHMENTS. I didn’t have my helmet attachment for the rafting or zip-ling and I was SO SAD. There would have been incredible footage!
- Portable Charger
- I don’t travel anywhere without one. If you are renting a car, this won’t be as necessary. You can charge in the car. However, if you are electing to do public transportation, you’ll need one most likely!
- Extra Batteries
- Don’t let your camera or GoPro die! Having two of each makes me feel so much better.
- Outlets are the same as the US
- Hallelujah for not having to carry that around this trip. However, if you don’t typically use the outlets of North America, don’t forget your converter!
Depends. If you are renting a car and staying in hotels/AirBnBs then it really doesn’t matter if you take a suitcase or backpack. However, if you are taking public transportation and/or staying in a hostel, pack up your backpack.
Guide to Packing for Costa Rica: Final Thoughts
My recommendation for packing for Costa Rica, no matter what time of year you are visiting, is pack more for warm weather than cool weather. We we went at the end of October (November is the coolest month of the year) and we ONLY wore leggings and light jackets while in Monteverde. This is also the only time we used our rain jackets, but they were 100% necessary. All the other locations, we wore shorts and tank tops. It is humid when you’re sitting still and even more so when hiking! Fans of athleisure, this is YOUR place!
Also, don’t expect to re-wear many items unless you have a washer. There is a lot of sweating involved in Costa Rica and clothes don’t stay fresh long!
See below for a few things I used while in Costa Rica. The pair of water proof sandals I chose were some of my old Keens. I LOVE them, but I haven’t seen a version of them in long time. The big toe is closed but the rest are open. SO COMFORTABLE. I listed the closet thing I could find, but really, whatever waterproof, comfortable sandal you prefer! For more info and recommendations for packing for general international travel, click here!