Costa Rica Packing List: Travel Essentials for 2023

an aerial shot of the manuel antonio beach in costa rica
Photo by Jake Marsee on

Costa Rica is a nature lover’s paradise, with its lush rainforests, pristine beaches, and diverse wildlife. Before you pack your bags and head off on your next adventure, make sure you have everything you need with our comprehensive packing list for Costa Rica. Whether you’re planning on exploring the national parks or relaxing on the beach, our list will ensure you’re ready for anything.

Explore our recommended gear and items by clicking on the linked words and phrases below, to ensure you have everything you need for your next trip.

Quick Jumps

Know Before You Go

  1. Cultural customs: Costa Rica is a friendly, welcoming country, with a rich cultural heritage. Visitors should be respectful of local customs and traditions, especially when visiting rural areas and indigenous communities.
  2. Currency: The currency used in Costa Rica is the Costa Rican Colón. Consider exchanging some cash before you arrive, as not all places accept credit or debit cards.
  3. Food and drink: Costa Rica is famous for its fresh, flavorful cuisine, including dishes like rice and beans, plantains, and fresh seafood. Be sure to try local specialties and sample Costa Rica’s delicious coffee.
  4. Health and safety: Costa Rica is generally considered safe for travelers, but it is important to be aware of common dangers such as theft and street crime. Consider obtaining travel health insurance and taking precautions to prevent illness, especially when engaging in outdoor activities.
  5. Language: Spanish is the official language of Costa Rica, but English is widely spoken in tourist areas. It is a good idea to learn a few basic phrases in Spanish to help you navigate the country.
  6. Packing: Costa Rica has a tropical climate, with warm, humid weather year-round. Pack accordingly, with light, breathable clothing and a hat, sunscreen, and insect repellent for outdoor activities.
  7. Sightseeing: Costa Rica is a nature lover’s paradise, with stunning beaches, lush rainforests, and diverse wildlife. Consider visiting popular destinations like Manuel Antonio National Park, the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, and the Corcovado National Park, and hiring a local guide to enhance your experience.
  8. Tipping: Tipping is common in Costa Rica, with 10-15% being the standard in restaurants, cafes, and bars. Tipping hotel staff and tour guides is also appreciated.
  9. Transportation: Costa Rica has a well-developed public transportation system, including buses, taxis, and rental cars. Consider using local transportation options to reduce your environmental impact and save money.
  10. Visa requirements: Depending on your country of origin, you may need to obtain a tourist visa to enter Costa Rica. Be sure to check the requirements before you travel.


  • Light and breathable clothing: Costa Rica is warm and humid, so bring lightweight and breathable clothes made of natural fibers.
  • Swimwear: Costa Rica has many beautiful beaches and hot springs, so bring a swimsuit.
  • Hiking shoes: Costa Rica has many trails and national parks with diverse terrain, so bring sturdy hiking shoes.
  • Light rain jacket: Costa Rica has rainy seasons, so a light rain jacket is useful.
  • Cover-ups: Pack a few cover-ups such as sundresses, shorts, and t-shirts to wear over your swimsuits.

Gear and Accessories

  • Backpack: A backpack is useful for carrying essentials when exploring the outdoors.
  • Mosquito repellent: Mosquitos are common in Costa Rica, especially in the rainforest, so bring mosquito repellent.
  • Sunscreen: Costa Rica is close to the equator, so bring sunscreen to protect your skin from the sun.
  • Hat: A hat is useful for protecting your face and neck from the sun.
  • Portable travel pillow for a comfortable sleep on long flights, car rides, train rides Portable travel pillow for a comfortable sleep on long flights or boat rides – preferably one that folds up for easy transportation.
  • Waterproof phone pouch: Keep your devices protected and have peace of mind from the water and sand.


  • Phone and charger: Stay connected with friends and family, and bring a charger.
  • Portable battery pack: Costa Rica has limited charging options in some rural areas, so a portable battery pack is a useful backup.
  • Camera: Costa Rica is a photographer’s paradise, so bring a camera to capture its beauty.

Toiletries and Medications

  • Toiletries: Bring your usual toiletries, such as toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, etc.
  • Pain relievers: Costa Rica has many outdoor activities that can cause discomfort, so bring pain relievers.
  • First aid kit: A basic first aid kit is always a good idea when traveling.
  • Sunscreen Lip Balm: Pack a lip balm with sunscreen to protect your lips from the sun.

Travel Documents

  • Passport: Costa Rica requires a passport for entry.
  • Travel insurance: Make sure to have travel insurance in case of emergencies.
  • Accommodation confirmations: Bring printed copies of your hotel or Airbnb confirmations.
  • Costa Rica Travel Guide for maps, recommendations and everything you need to simplify your Costa Rican travels.

With our packing list for Costa Rica, you’ll be ready for any adventure the country has in store. From the lush rainforests to the pristine beaches, you’ll have everything you need to make the most of your trip. So pack up your bags, grab your sunscreen, and get ready to explore the wonders of Costa Rica.

Pack right, travel well!

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