All the Packing Essentials for Costa Rica That I Never Thought I’d Need!

With more trips to Costa Rica than I can count, I can vouch that packing for a trip is one of the most exciting and anxiety-inducing activities I’ve ever experienced. Perhaps the scariest question that goes through my mind is… What am I forgetting to pack?

Well, after so many trips to Costa Rica we’ve got it down to a science!

What should I bring to a tropical climate zone?

Whether you’re traveling to Hawaii, Costa Rica, or Thailand… If you’re wondering what those must-haves are for your suitcase, look no further!

Solid brands with a minimalistic aesthetic, these items will be exactly what you need when traveling to the tropics. Here are all the things you could be forgetting to pack!

What should you pack for Costa Rica?

A lightweight, quick drying towel is a must when traveling… but a Turkish beach towel is an absolute luxury. These towels have all the benefits of normal travel towels, but you don’t have to compromise on cuteness! They make for the perfect statement piece to add to your travel beach or camping gear.

These towels are also compact, completely sand-free, and are perfect for the humidity of the tropics because they dry so quickly.

Say goodbye to that damp beach towel smell, sandy bags, and bulky towels that you have to squeeze into your luggage. This towel rolls up perfectly into the cute travel bag that is about the size of a pair of socks!

Next up on the ultimate Costa Rican travel list is a waterproof bag. Costa Rica is an adventurer’s paradise! Whether you’re hiking in a humid cloud forest, exploring a waterfall, or relaxing on the beach, a waterproof bag is a lifesaver.

I swapped my beach tote for a waterproof bag and I will not be going back! This helps me keep the sand out of my belongings and it is easy to clean if ever my snacks spilled or melted on the bottom of my bag (I speak from experience).

Lastly, this bag comes with a waterproof phone case which makes swimming in a waterfall a lot more worry-free!

Rollable, cute, and completely packable! A sunhat like this is a must when beaching in Costa Rica. This hat rolls up nice and small to fit in any bag.

It also keeps that harsh sun off your face! Costa Rica is very close to the equator and the sun is a different kind of powerful. I won’t be caught on the beach without my sunhat.

While we’re talking about that hot Pacific sun, don’t forget some Aloe and sunscreen! Aloe Vera gel can be a little hard to come by in Costa Rica. It’s a must for soothing sunburnt skin.

As far as sunblock, come prepared! Sunscreen is very expensive in Costa Rica, especially the brands we have in the US and Canada. I have learned to stock up on Neutrogena’s sunscreen because it’s the easiest on my skin and works better than any other sunscreen I’ve found! This is not a brand that can be found in Costa Rica. 55 SPF is a great way to go, as well.

Last but not least, bug spray may go without saying. Costa Rica is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world! And with all that biodiversity, there is more diversity in the mosquitos and biting flies that can be found here! A simple bug spray like this can keep them at bay and make for a much more enjoyable trip.

I don’t love using Deet and I’ve found that a smaller percentage like this (only 7%) has been perfectly suitable.

Chaco sandals are an awesome addition to your travel gear. These sandals are super comfortable and waterproof! They are perfect for the national parks like Manuel Antonio and Caihuita/Manzanillo. It’s hot in this beautiful country! These sandals help to keep your feet cool and you can wear them right into waterfalls and rivers. They dry quickly and keep your feet protected from sharp rocks.

I’ve tried a lot of water bottles, but this one is definitely my favorite. The drinking part of this bottle is perfect for the beach. If the bottle were to fall in the sand, the sand will never touch the part you drink from!

This insulation of this water bottle is also a huge reason I opt for the Yeti. I can put ice in the bottle in the morning, spend the whole day in the sun, and still have a nice cool drink. It works the same way to keep my coffee hot for several hours!

If you’re coming during the rainy season, from May to November, don’t forget your umbrella! A pocket umbrella like this is a must-have. You can tote anywhere and it makes for a much more pleasant day if you don’t get soaked in the out-of-nowhere downpour.

A lot of people suggest bringing a raincoat, which is also helpful, but I’ve found that an umbrella is more minimalistic and keeps you nice and dry (sometimes better than a raincoat).

Your packing list is not complete without a good pair of sunglasses. The Costa Rican sun is a beautiful thing, but without decent protection it can be miserable.

Also, I never knew how much more appreciation a good pair of sunglasses gives you for sunsets and the colors of nature.

Not only is a bag like this super in style, but they’re incredibly practical, too! These bags make it difficult to pick-pocket because they’re held so close to your body. They’re the perfect size for carrying what you need for a night out on the town or a dinner.

After reading a couple horror stories about not being able to find feminine products in Costa Rica, I made the switch to a menstrual cup. That was about six years ago and I still proudly say that I will never be going back!

Feminine products, specifically tampons, are very hard to come by in this Central American country. Menstrual cups are not only more hygienic and better for the environment, they also make packing a breeze! With just one menstrual cup I’m completely ready for my trip to Costa Rica.

This brand is my personal favorite and comes in three different sizes!

A beach coverup that can double as an outfit is something I bring on every beach trip. It makes for minimalistic packing and adds something that I can wear to two very different activities, a day exploring the town and a trip to the beach.

Before my second trip to Costa Rica, I made sure to stock up on cool, dark-colored, active gear. One of my favorite items I found was this shirt. It is slightly open in the back which lets air get in to cool you down on those hot and humid days.

Biker shorts have also become a must for me. All the comfort of leggings, but cooler!

Pro Tip: Something I learned on a bird-watching tour is that bright colors are NOT the way to go! As someone who always opts for the pinks and oranges, this was a hard pill to swallow. But, going in dark-colored clothing like this really helps your chances of seeing wildlife!

Lastly, a dark-colored bathing suit is your friend in Costa Rica! If not a black bathing suit bring one that you would be okay with retiring after your action-packed trip. This country is home to gorgeous gray/black sand beaches and volcanic mud baths which can take their toll on lighter colored fabrics.

How I pack for the Caribbean

Packing for a trip abroad can be really tough! There’s a fine line between overpacking and forgetting travel essentials.

These tried and true items have made it onto my ultimate Costa Rican travel wishlist. With these travel necessities you’ll be ready to book your next flight to any tropical country. You’ll be traveling in style and with ease of mind that you have what you need to enjoy.

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