Costa Rica is a travelers dream – national parks, pristine beaches, diverse ecosystems, and abundant wildlife can be found throughout the country. And don’t forget the amazing coffee! We host numerous volunteer trips to Costa Rica each year to work with the local communities and environmental protection groups. As one of our favorite destinations, we have put together an essential packing list for a Costa Rica trip. At Travel To Do Good, we support good businesses, so this packing list includes items for companies with a commitment to social responsibility and environmental preservation. With this list, you will be ready to join our next trip to Costa Rica!
Costa Rica has two distinct climates:
- Hot, humid weather along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts.
- Mild climate with frequent rain year-round in the central part of the country.
No matter what part of the country you plan to visit or what time of year you are visiting, it is always good to plan for rain. Also, because the central part of the country has a higher altitude, it can get cool at night.
Sturdy backpack – If there was ever a country to opt for a backpack instead of a suitcase, it would be this one. Even if you do bring a suitcase, it will be helpful to have a backpack with you for day excursions. Responsible activewear company United by Blue has a number of great water-repellent backpacks.
Comfortable, casual clothing – Costa Rica is a very casual, but active country. It is important to pack clothes that are both functional and comfortable. We love the simple upcycled t-shirts from LooptWorks. Even though it tends to be hot in most of the country, we recommend packing at least one good pair of long pants that are not jeans for hiking and outdoor activities, like these from Cotopaxi.
Rain jacket – It is always, always a good idea to bring a light rain jacket to Costa Rica. Our favorite is this classic Cotopaxi water-resistant windbreaker.
Hiking shoes – In Costa Rica, you are bound to do some kind of hiking. Durable, comfortable hiking shoes that can handle mud and rain are recommended. Keen’s shoes are ethically-made, environmentally friendly, and the company is involved with nonprofits all over the world to give back.
Binoculars – Often forgotten by travelers, binoculars are very useful for sighting wildlife in Costa Rica. Bring a small, handy pair that you can carry easily.
Sunscreen – Whether you are spending most of your time at the beach or checking out coffee farms in the central highlands, protecting your skin is important! We like All Terrain’s strong, oxybenzone-free sunscreen.
Bug Repellent – Because Costa Rica experiences frequent rain year-round, bug repellent is an essential item. And rather than spraying yourself with chemicals, we suggest buying an all-natural repellent, like Badger’s Anti-Bug Shake & Spray.
Water Bottle – Great for any trip, but especially when you know you will be active. We like S’well because not only is the bottle environmentally friendly, but the company also partners with UNICEF to provide clean water to vulnerable communities around the world.
Sunglasses – The must have travel item no matter what country or climate you are visiting.
Spanish Phrasebook – Costa Rica is a Spanish-speaking country. Learning how to use basic phrases before arrival will be useful and bring you closer to local people. Duolingo is a great app for learning language basics. Lonely Planet’s Spanish Phrasebook & Dictionary can be a great help in country.