Costa Rica’s varied array of attractions, landscapes and eco-systems have cemented its position as one of the most enticing and adventurous holiday destinations in the world. Discerning adventurers know that if you wish to savor a kaleidoscope of adrenalin-pumping sports, romantic eco-resorts and wildlife spotting, there’s no better place to be. Beaches, jungles, forests and vertiginous mountain tops…travel to Costa Rica and you’ll have the best of Mother Nature at your feet.
Yet when the vacation’s set in stone, flight tickets booked and an array of activities organized, a question of logistics creeps up.
How on earth does one pack for such a varied destination?
With our help, that’s how!
Follow our best insider’s packing tips for Costa Rica Adventures and we guarantee you’ll be prepared for all eventualities.
1. Causal Trumps Dressy
The pure essence of Costa Rica, the pura vida philosophy and the closeness to nature exudes casualness. Even if you’ve booked a few nights in an exclusive 5* resort, do note that, at most, you’ll probably get dressed up just once. For that super special night out. Most of the time you’ll want to be in easy-to-wear clothes and (perhaps more importantly) comfortable shoes.
After you spend a full day hiking, horse riding, white water rafting, volcano climbing, waterfall hiking, snorkeling or SCUBA diving, the last thing you’ll feel like doing is donning a pair of heels or dressy shoes. Trust us on this. Pack one special dressy outfit for that night out in San Jose or that anniversary dinner you’ve got lined up, and make sure the rest of your suitcase is filled up with practical clothing.
2. Make ‘Quick Dry’ your Mantra
Quick dry fabrics and tropical countries go hand in hand. When humidity is high, activities aplenty and rain quite common, you need clothing which is easy to wash and super-fast to dry. Your pants, T-shirts and travel towel should all be made out of quick dry fabrics.
3. Ain’t No Place for Jeans
Many a visitor has regretted bringing a pair of jeans to Costa Rica. If you’re visiting for a week, rest assured your vacation will be over before a single pair of jeans has the chance to dry. For the reasons stated above, denim is just not a convenient material to bring to Costa Rica. Make sure you clothing is lightweight and go for cargo pants (zipped up at the knee!) for forest hikes and evenings out. For best breathability in hot and sticky climates, choose cotton as much as possible, especially for your undergarments.
4. Expect a Chill in the Air…
One zip up fleece is absolutely essentially, as you’ll be surprised at the times you can experience a definite drop in temperatures. In certain areas, Costa Rica can get downright cold at night, and even a boat ride on a windy overcast day can chill you to the bone.
5. Bring the Right Shoes
Water sneakers (like Keens) are incredibly useful in Costa Rica, especially if you’re planning to hike, visit waterfalls or enjoy some white-water rafting. We suggest a pair of flip flops for relaxing evenings in your eco-lodge, and a pair of flats for nights out in town.
6. Sarongs are Heaven-Sent
Sarongs are your best friend – they work as a dress, a towel, a bikini cover-all and a shawl in times when culture dictates (when visiting churches, for example) and when the temperature drops unexpectedly.
7. Prepare for Rain, but…
The reason Costa Rica is so luscious is because it receives a healthy amount of rainfall, all year long. Although you should always expect rain – or at the very least, to get wet at some point, waterfall hiking for example – we suggest you don’t bring a thick raincoat but purchase a cheap and cheerful poncho-in-a-pouch as soon as you arrive. They’re available everywhere, are cheap and you can donate them on your last day in the country.
8. Don’t Forget the Hardware
A pair of small travel binoculars, a flashlight and Ziploc bags of all sizes are never wasted; and neither is a compact Spanish dictionary or phrasebook.
9. Invaluable Toiletries
Along with your essentials, pack some strong insect repellent (cream or spray) and plenty of SPF30+ sunscreen. In Costa Rica, this is exorbitantly expensive, so bring as much as you think you’ll need for the duration of your trip. Don’t forget to pack a hat and sunglasses too, the sun can get quite fierce here, at any time of year.
10. Travel-Size 1st Aid Kit
Having a compact 1st aid kit in your day pack is always a great idea. At the very least, it should include band-aids and blister packs, rehydration sachets and motion sickness tablets.
Bonus #11 Leave Room in your Suitcase!
The most invaluable thing you’ll want to include in your suitcase, when visiting Costa Rica, is empty space. You’ll no doubt want to stock up on delectable coffee and lots of amazing handmade jewellery and souvenirs of all sorts. So don’t fall into the trap of over packing! Bring just a couple of changes of clothes and make sure you leave enough room to take home a little piece of Costa Rica.