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. Therefore, I want to help ensure you have an easier time packing than I had! This packing guide will cover:
- What to pack for rainy season
- What to pack for all seasons
- Other clothing items I packed (and recommend)
- Recommended electrics
- Luggage vs Backpack debate
To help with packing for Costa Rica, it is valuable to know the weather. There is a rainy season (May through Mid-November), so 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 and 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 for Costa Rica without them
- Rain Jacket
- Rain is unpredictable during rainy season, BUT BE PREPARED FOR IT. We zip-lined in the pouring rain and it would have been miserable without a rain jacket!
- Taking pictures with a nice camera or even a phone in the rain is difficult, so have an umbrella to protect your stuff!
- 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! Therefore, pack a small pair 👍🏻
- Waterproof Phone Case or Holder
- Waterfalls, white water rafting, rain, hot springs; there are LOTS of water-involved activities that you will want to document!
- Waterproof Hiking Boots
- The jungle and trails can be moist, especially during rainy season, so 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, and 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, so bring your swimmies and your cover-ups!
- Water-roof Sandals
- I brought my Keen sandals, Fran brought Tevas and Liz brought her Chacos; whatever your choice, pack sandals that are waterproof, comfortable and have a back strap because 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; they legit help!
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, bonus, 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. Although not a NECESSITY for Costa Rica, 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.
Electronic Recommendations to pack for Costa Rica
- 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 because you can charge in the car. However, if you are electing to do public transportation, you’ll need one!
- 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 a converter around this trip. However, if you don’t typically use the outlets of North America, don’t forget your converter!
Depends. We rented a car and stayed in hotels/AirBnBs, so using my carry-on suitcase wasn’t an issue. However, if you decide to take public transportation and/or staying in a hostel, I recommend packing up a 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 and they are 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!