The Ultimate Costa Rica Packing List for Newcomers

Now that travel is a thing again, tourist destinations like Costa Rica are once again becoming hotspots for travelers. Costa Rica offers a wide range of activities to suit just about any taste, particularly those who enjoy being outdoors. From surfing to hiking, Costa Rica has just about any jungle experience you can imagine.

The Ultimate Costa Rica Packing List for Newcomers
[image: pexels by roman odintsov] 

Is this your first time traveling to Costa Rica? If the answer is yes, then you’re probably wondering what you should add to your Costa Rica packing list. What are the items that you absolutely need to bring to get the most out of your vacation? That’s what the following list sets out to answer, as well as to help you identify the items you don’t need to bring.

1. One Lightweight Hoodie

While Costa Rica is a tropical climate that requires beachwear for the most part, there are mountainous regions with cooler temps. Considering these areas aren’t ones that you should skip over during your trip, it’s essential to pack at least one long-sleeve shirt to keep yourself warm, especially at night.

Rather than bringing a bulky hoodie or sweater that will eat up room in your luggage, the ideal choice is to pack or invest in a lightweight merino wool hoodie. Merino wool carries several advantages from its ability to naturally regulate body heat to keeping any funk at bay with its natural antimicrobial properties.

Plus, a lightweight merino wool hoodie will take up barely any room in your luggage or carry-on bag. Comparatively, you’ll actually be amazed by how small a merino hoodie is when you roll it up compared to a traditional cotton hoodie. When choosing a merino hoodie for Costa Rica, your best bet is to go with a lighter merino material in the 150 to 180 GSM range. In this case, GSM stands for grams per square meter.

2. Jacket or Poncho

Since Costa Rica is well-known for its rain, you’ll want to have a protective shell to prevent you from getting soaked should you get caught in the rain. Instead of waiting to buy a poncho in Costa Rica, think ahead by investing in one before you go.

If you’re not a fan of the poncho, then bring a lightweight rain jacket with a hood to keep the rain off of you. Plus, you’ll be able to use a jacket as your long-sleeve shirt in the mountainous regions should you take that route instead of a poncho.

Lastly, a lightweight jacket pairs well with a merino hoodie in case you want to layer up when the temps drop.

3. Sport Sunscreen

For those with fair skin, it’s imperative to pack sunscreen. The ideal choice in this category is a sport sunscreen that stays on when you sweat and/or swim. Why not buy sunscreen in Costa Rica? Well, tourist destinations in the tropics are well-known for carrying sunscreen at higher prices. Actually, it can get so bad that you’ll feel the burn of being ripped off more so than the actual sunburn.

Plus, the choices are minimal compared to what you can find online or at your local pharmacy. The key here is to stock up on enough sunscreen of your choice to use for the duration of your trip. Otherwise, you could be left cooking in the sun or overpaying for sunscreen locally.

4. Money Belt

The safest way to carry your passport, credit cards, and cash is with a money belt that tucks under your shirt around your waist. Also, there’s the type of money holder that hooks around your neck below your shirt if you prefer that type.

Regardless, both types achieve the same goal by protecting your valuables and giving you easy access to them when you need them. Since you most likely won’t be wearing pants or shorts with pockets the whole time, a money belt helps to fill that void.

Whenever you travel between destinations, always keep your credit cards, cash, and passport tucked away in your money belt.

5. Water Shoes

Do you plan to learn how to surf in Costa Rica? Well, if you do, you’ll want to protect your feet. Water shoes give your feet the protection they need while hiking along the beach and while you’re in the water. Plus, modern water shoes provide enough traction and rubber to make them okay to use on light hikes.

Overall, you might find that you wear water shoes the most during your trip. Additional activities water shoes come in handy for are snorkeling, swimming, paddle boarding, and protecting your feet on rocky surfaces. For ideas, Water Shoe Reviews provides a helpful guide to choosing water shoes for the beach.

6. Microfiber Towels & Blankets

Never leave home without a towel when you’re traveling to the tropics. The good news is that microfiber towels are perfect for traveling. Not only are they a lot lighter than a typical cotton towel, but they’re also more absorbent and quicker to dry.

One problem you might run into is that your hotel doesn’t allow you to use their towels down at the beach. The solution is to invest in a microfiber towel or blanket before you embark on your trip. It will come in handy throughout your journey to keep you dry and provide a surface to sit on when you need it. Plus, it will take up barely any room in your suitcase or carry-on bag.

As with all trips, it’s important to not overpack, or you’ll be hauling around items you don’t need throughout your trip. By keeping your Costa Rica packing list simple with the essentials and lightweight versions of regularly used items, you’ll be a happy camper. 

Outside of the items listed above, do your best to pack only the clothing you need and perhaps even a wash bag to use as a portable washer. In the end, you’ll be able to move between destinations more freely and with less stress when packing between stops.

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