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What to Bring on a Trip to Costa Rica

What to Bring on a Trip to Costa Rica
Image by ReedHoff
Costa Rica
Image by ReedHoff

Are you planning a trip to Costa Rica? Since Costa Rica is such a tiny country, many travelers simply prepare for a tropical climate. In actuality, they’re likely to encounter many different types of weather conditions during their trip. It can be tricky to pack for Costa Rica, but here are some tips to get you started.

Surf or Turf?

Costa Rica has wide variations in terrain – from tropical beaches to mountains exceeding elevations of 10,000 feet. There are many tropical rain forests – and they don’t call them rain forests because it snows most of the year – but there are also so-called “dry forests” in the north-central section of the country. Understanding which areas of Costa Rica you’ll be spending time in will determine what clothes you should pack. If you’ll be touring the whole country, we hope you have a big suitcase!

For the beach, you won’t need to pack much except your swimsuit, t-shirts, shorts and flip-flops. The weather is hot and humid year-round, and even the locals typically dress for the beach lifestyle, even when going out at night.

When traveling to San Jose, prepare for warm, sunny days and cooler nights. When going out at night, people tend to get more dressed up, so bring some nice clothes, too.

If you plan to explore Costa Rica’s rain forests, volcanoes, and mountains, you’ll need all kinds of clothing. The rain forest is hot and humid, and it rains a few hours every day. Pack clothing that’s light and dries quickly, along with an umbrella and rain poncho. The mountains on the other hand only hit the high 70s during the day and get down to the low 50s at night. It can also get quite windy depending on the time of year you visit. Don’t expect any form of heater in your hotel – pack a sweater and jacket!

The Sun is Everywhere

No matter where you go in Costa Rica, the UV factor is very high because it’s so close to the equator. Even if you’re in the mountains where it’s cooler, you can still get sunburned. It’s important to come prepared with plenty of sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses. A good pair of sunglasses will protect your eyes from the UV rays while also reducing glare, enabling you to enjoy the view.

See the Local Wildlife

Yes, there are plenty of nightclubs in Costa Rica, but that’s not the type of wildlife we’re talking about here. Costa Rica is home to over 200 species of animals, almost 900 species of birds, and more than 35,000 types of insects. What does this mean for you? Pack bug spray, binoculars, and your camera. Binoculars enable you to view the shimmering feathers of elusive, exotic birds and the charming antics of howler monkeys – without getting too close and scaring them away. Make sure to pack plenty of batteries and memory cards for your camera, along with a ziploc bag to protect them from the rain.

Travel Necessities

Make copies of your passport, driver’s license, plane tickets, and health insurance card in case anything should happen to the originals. Be sure to pack your glasses and contacts, along with spares if you have any. You’ll also want to pack any prescription medications you’re on.


Your trip to Costa Rica will be more enjoyable if you come prepared, so pack carefully and have a great trip!

Sara Roberts writes for Just Eyewear, a discount eyeglasses and prescription sunglasses online retailer.