Heading for a few days of surf, sand, and jungle in Costa Rica? Get your packing list in order before you fly so you can let all your worries wash away with the tide when you arrive for your weekend getaway in paradise.
This tiny Central American nation is home to some of the most beautiful, rugged scenery in the region. So when jetting down, it's essential to pack for a bit of adventure, exploration, and outdoor fun. If you’re thinking ribbons of waterfalls, soaring jungles, and pristine beaches, you're on the right path.
Whether you're joining #ftlocostarica or heading out on your own, this is the ultimate guide of what to pack for Costa Rica.
We've broken it down into three sections for you:
1. Climate of Costa Rica
2. What to Wear in Costa Rica
Good to have
3. What Else to Bring
Climate of Costa Rica:
Although Costa Rica actually has 12 varying microclimates, you can usually expect a balmy, tropical environment that remains relatively consistent throughout the year. Temperatures are warmest along the coasts and dip throughout the rainforests of the country's interior. You should expect mid-80s by the sea, dropping five or ten degrees as you head inland.
Most of the country is generally dry between December and April, while rain is common throughout the rest of the year. This isn't too surprising when you realize that 51% of the nation is rainforest. All that rain certainly isn't a bad thing; it's what brings this brilliant, vibrant ecosystem to life and gives birth to the exotic plants and animals that roam the 20,000 square miles. What's all this add up to? Well, it's important to plan ahead when you think about what to pack for weekend trips to Costa Rica.
What to Wear in Costa Rica:
Your wardrobe should be closely tied to your itinerary. If you're planning on a weekend getaway to the beach, you can probably pack a bit lighter and less outdoorsy. On the other hand, you'll need some activewear and rain gear if you're heading for the jungle. If the whole country is your oyster, you'll need a bit of everything. When we think about our weekend trips to Costa Rica, we take our activities into account at the onset.
In general, it's good to keep in mind that this treasure of biodiversity lies close to the equator, so before we get into the details, start planning out light, airy clothes that are easy to wash and quick to dry.
Since we visit both jungle and sea on our Costa Rica trip, here’s a good starting point for what to pack for a well-rounded, 5-day Costa Rican experience.
3 Warm Weather/Athletic Outfits
Think about light, dry-fit materials. These are versatile and useful in multiple different microclimates.
2-3 Evening Outfits
You certainly don't need to dress to the nines in Costa Rica, but you should pack a couple of nicer outfits for evenings out. Consider airy cotton or linen shirts, blouses, or dresses; something that breathes.
1-2 Light Jackets or Sweaters
It shouldn't get too chilly, but evenings can be brisk, particularly if you're in the country's more mountainous regions, so it's good to have an outer layer to keep you warm.
1 Light Rain Jacket
It's worth mentioning again Costa Rica is half rainforest, and showers are common throughout the country. Getting caught out in the rain, particularly when you're on vacation, is never fun. On the flip side, neither is sweating buckets beneath a heavy raincoat. For weekend trips to Costa Rica think about something light and airy.
1 Pair of Comfy Walking Shoes
Try to find a versatile pair that you wouldn't mind hiking through cloud forests or walking the streets of small towns with.
Sandals or Flip Flops
A necessity with Costa Rica's incredible beaches.
Socks, Underwear, and Pajamas
Easy to forget and a pain when you do.
Sunglasses and Hat
You're going to be 10 degrees from the equator, so it's important to pack for the sun.
Swimsuit and Swimming Shirt
You're probably hitting either the Caribbean or Pacific at some point; after all, the seas are bathwater perfect, so don't get caught without a swimsuit. Consider something that covers a lot of skin if you burn easily, and add a swimming shirt if you're comfortable with one or plan to take a stab at surfing.
Nice to Have
1 Pair of Nicer Shoes
Not a necessity by a long shot, but if you feel like your one pair of comfy shoes and/or flip flops won't cut it, consider a pair of something a bit nicer for going out. We're not talking stilettos or anything over the top here...
Sometimes one swimsuit just won't cut it. Especially when a humid climate is involved (in terms of drying time.) If it's not taking up much space, pack a few.
If you’re in the jungle, it’s more likely that a good pair of breathable pants will come in handy.
What else to Bring:
Smaller and easier to forget, your miscellaneous items are also a necessity. Think about the climate when packing these for weekend trips to Costa Rica; they can save the day.
Phone and Charger (American’s will not need adapters or converters)
Vaccine Card or Photo (even if it's not required when you fly, it's always handy)
Prescriptions and Basic Med Kit – including Tums or Charcoal, probiotics, or other digestion aids, band-aids, tweezers, antibacterial cream, or dramamine if prone to motion sickness and plan to spend time out on the open seas
Essential Travel Toiletries – toothpaste, toothbrush, floss, shampoo, conditioner deodorant, razor, shaving cream, make-up, etc
Cash and Credit Cards
Sunblock (Reef safe is a must!)
Reusable Water Bottle
Travel Backpack or Tote for day trips
Dry bag to protect your gear on beach days or boat days
Lightweight Beach Towel or Blanket
Camera or Go Pro
Book or Kindle for beach reading
At the end of the day, you're heading to Costa Rica, so don't stress too much when it comes to preparations. After all, you’ve made it to la pura vida. Most people should be able to get away with packing only a carry-on for a long weekend getaway, so you shouldn't have to worry about the cost or hassle of checked bags either.
Some people love packing; others despise it; either way, a little bit of preflight thought goes a long way in post-flight enjoyment.
If you've never met us before, we're FTLO Travel! A group tour company for 20 and 30 something year old young professionals. We design and run laid-back trips around the world that connect you to new, like minded people while still have the adventure and cultural enrichment of solo travel. Check out all of our international trips!