A Cruising Couple | April 28, 2016 11:00 PM ET
What To Pack For the Ultimate Adventure in Costa Rica
Photos by A Cruising Couple
Packing is one of the single things we dread most about traveling. We inevitably wait until the very last moment possible to throw our belongings into a suitcase, often falling prey to the “I need this thing I never use just in case” scenario. Even when we do try packing with preparation and organization, we seldom seem to get it right. Yes, we know, it’s ridiculous.
The one exception to our bad packing track record is when it comes to Costa Rica. We’ve been to this beautiful country so many times now that we’ve finally mastered the art of what to bring — and what to leave behind.
If you’re planning an adventure in Costa Rica, these are our ultimate packing tips and tricks:
Know The Season
Costa Rica has two main seasons: dry season and rainy season. This will have one of the biggest impacts on what you should pack. Dry season is, generally, from November to May. This is the hottest time of year, and, of course, the driest. You might get a rain shower here or there, but don’t be surprised if it’s sunny for the entire duration of your trip.
If you’re planning on visiting Costa Rica from May to November, know that it will rain a lot! While this isn’t a rule, we’ve found that it’s typically hot and sunny in the morning, with wind and thunderstorms throughout most of the afternoon. Rainy season is cooler, with temperatures generally around the 70s (F).
From mid to late July, Costa Rica gets a short break from the rain for veranillo de San Juan, or two weeks of dry summer weather.
If you choose to take advantage of the lower prices and cooler temperatures of Costa Rica’s rainy season, then be sure to pack a rain jacket or poncho, waterproof backpack and waterproof cases/covers for your technology. Many tour and activities will still carry on in the rain, so bring what you need to keep your belongings safe from the water.
Keep in mind that if you’re traveling to the Caribbean, all bets are off. It rains year-round here; October typically has the driest weather.
Know The Microclimates
Many people equate Costa Rica to beaches and beaches alone, but the diverse country actually boasts some 26 microclimates. Where you are traveling can greatly impact what you should pack.
If you are spending some time in Costa Rica’s valleys and mountains, then you will likely need a light jacket or sweater (especially after the sun goes down). The cloud forest in Monteverde is a popular spot on most travelers’ itineraries, and many tourists are surprised to discover just how chilly the region is.
We live in mountains in Costa Rica’s southern zone, and though we’re just 50 minutes from the beach, we always carry along a sweater or jacket if we’ll be driving through the mountains after dark.
Know Your Activities
Of course, the specifics of what you’ll want to pack depend largely on what activities you’ll be participating in. Hoping to spend your days moving from the beach to the pool to a hammock? Then you won’t need heavy-duty hiking shoes. However, Costa Rica is an adventure traveler’s paradise, with activities like white water rafting, hiking, zip lining, surfing, rappelling and horse back riding topping the list of popular activities.
We recommend packing one pair of sturdy, close-toed shoes for exploring the jungle or for light physical activity. Long athletic/yoga pants are also recommended to protect your legs from scratches if you do plan on spending extensive time walking through the jungle.
Basic Packing List
Keeping the above tips in mind, here is our basic packing list that we recommend starting with. Don’t worry if you forget something — you’ll be able to find just about anything you need in Costa Rica, though sometimes it does come with a price tag.
• Tank Tops and T-Shirts
• 2 Pairs of Shorts
• 1 Pair Lightweight, Breathable Pants
• 1 Sarong or Beach Cover Up
• 1-2 Swim Suits
• 1-2 Casual Beach Dresses /“Nice” Outfits
• 1 Lightweight Rain Jacket
• Socks and Undergarments
• 1 Pair Close-Toed Shoes
• 1 Pair Sandals or Flip-Flops
• Toiletries For Your Normal Routine
• Bug Spray
• Water Bottle (You can drink the water from the sink in Costa Rica)
• Camera (of course!)
• Costa Rica uses the same voltage as the U.S. and Canada, so if you’re from these countries, you won’t need an adapter.
Extra Tip: We always recommend bringing as much quick-dry clothing as possible. Whether it’s rain, humidity or the ocean, you’ll want clothing that can hold up against the elements.
Follow this packing list and you should be ready for most adventures Costa Rica throws your way.
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