As an obsessive planner, one of my favorite things to do before I take a trip is to Google what to pack for the destination. An adventurous trip to Costa Rica is obviously going to require different luggage than a relaxing trip to Riviera Maya or a cultural trip to Paris in springtime, which can kind of stress me out. I hate not having what I need. So to help ease your mind, I’ve compiled my complete list for Costa Rica.
Bug spray and sunscreen. The bugs are intense in rainforests like in Arenal National Park, and the sun is bright in beach towns like Tamarindo. (You’re super close to the equator, after all!) Because Costa Rica is super green and into saving the environment, they ask that you skip the DEET and other harsh chemicals. Also, even when you’re in the rainforest, make sure you have some kind of sunscreen on, because sunlight does peep through. Take it from me; I managed to get burnt on my shoulders!
I had a really tough time deciding between hiking shoes and water shoes. I knew I’d be hiking around Arenal and Monteverde, which would be arduous enough to demand hiking boots but wet enough for water shoes. I chose somewhere in the middle and went with Keens. They offered the perfect amount of protection from rocks while letting my feet dry in the sticky climate. Total lifesaver, and worth every penny. And don’t forget cute wedges and sandals for the beach and nights out!
We started in Arenal, spent a few days in Monteverde, and wrapped up in Tamarindo. Because of that, I needed versatile clothing that could handle everything from hiking and ziplining to lounging by the pool and grabbing drinks as the sunset on the ocean. For active days, I would definitely recommend some kind of performance clothing; whether you prefer Under Armour, Patagonia, or C9 is up to you. On days when we went hiking, I wore pants, and I’m really glad I did. The Boy was getting eaten alive on his lower legs + scratched up from the terrain, and I came out without a mark. Just make sure they’re lightweight enough that you can breathe, as it gets super hot.
A lightweight raincoat. You need one that is waterproof, not one that is water resistant. When it rains in the rainforest, it really rains! It doesn’t last very long, but I would have been drenched without my jacket. Also, for hiking, I opted to use a backpack instead of a carryall. It may not have been as cute, but it was much more efficient, and it was easy to hide under my jacket when it started to rain. A clutch or crossbody is great for nights out.
Don’t forget your camera! iPhones are completely inadequate for capturing images in the rainforest due to the lack of lighting, so make sure you invest in a decent camera to capture memories. I also ordered a waterproof casing for my camera. I wasn’t brave enough to submerge it underwater, but it was super handy and kept my camera safe when we got caught in storms (and also from all the dirt!).
Most importantly? HAVE FUN!