Costa Rica Packing List

Dress in Costa Rica is very casual. Ticos rarely dress up. Packing soft-sided luggage will make traveling much easier. Most hotels have laundry services available for guests. You can store excess luggage in San Jose hotels. Please make photocopies of passports, credit cards, etc, and keep them in a separate place from the originals. Also emailing yourself a copy can be helpful if you lose them. Expensive electronics are not recommended because Costa Rica is very humid and damp.


Generally, we recommend lightweight casual clothing. Hiking/athletic attire that is quick-drying will work well.

  • T-shirts
  • Swimwear
  • Shorts
  • Comfortable closed-toed hiking or walking shoes (waterproof if possible)
  • Long sleeve shirt – cotton or light synthetics
  • Socks – bring extras for wet feet
  • Long pants – good for hiking through the forest (quick-drying if possible)
  • Sun hat and/or baseball cap
  • Sweater, jacket, or sweatshirt if visiting cloud forests or high-elevation areas (might be helpful on the plane too)
  • Sport sandals (similar to Teva, Chaco, or Keens)
  • Water-resistant jacket or poncho (May to November)


  • Passport
  • Traveler’s checks/credit cards
  • Driver’s license
  • Backup prescription eye-wear
  • Binoculars (guides and some hotels might have available for use)
  • Sunscreen (reef safe is used in the ocean, not required but recommended)
  • Sunglasses
  • Lip balm with sun protection
  • Umbrella (May to November)
  • Day pack or backpack
  • Ecofriendly or reusable Ziploc bags to protect phones/electronics from water splash during activities
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Toiletries
  • Chargers
  • Flashlight

Travel Health Kit:

A small kit of band-aids, antibacterial ointment, and basic supplies is always great for minor scrapes, blisters, etc.

  • Band-Aids
  • Cortisone
  • Imodium AD
  • Antibacterial ointment
  • Insect repellent with DEET
  • Prescription medication

Are some types of bags better than others?

Typically, soft-sided luggage is best, especially if you’re taking any in-country flights or boat transfers. Hard-sided luggage, especially rolling luggage, can be a challenge to fit in small planes and boats.

What are some items to NOT bring to Costa Rica?

Reef-safe sunscreens aren’t legally required but are always encouraged, along with natural insect repellant. Customs prohibits bringing certain plant & animal life in and out of the country, which is typical in most destinations. Costa Rica puts a lot of emphasis on sustainability so leave the single-use plastics at home when possible.

What is the dress code in CR?

Very casual. Dress for comfort and pack light (you can always use hotel laundry services during your trip). Consider leaving your high heels at home in favor of more casual/comfortable shoes. Most hotel restaurants do not maintain a strict dress code, but having a nice/casual evening outfit is a great addition to your packing list.  Note a few of the luxury resorts do have a dress code for dinner.