Packing for Costa Rica:
You may not have some of the items listed below. Unless it is something that seems essential to you, we are not suggesting that you buy it. It is not our goal to send you rushing out to spend a ton of money at your local outdoor gear or clothing store.
Traveling is already an investment, and we don’t want to encourage you to buy something you will use once and then forget in the closet.
There are very cool fabrics and gadgets being developed for adventuring these days, and some of them may be things that you will get a lot of use from, starting with your vacation to Costa Rica.
That said, we encourage you to think about how much you really need something before purchasing. A good example is the river shoes mentioned in “General Packing Tips”, they would be great on a rafting trip, but if this is your first and only rafting trip this half decade, then you will do fine with a pair of old sneakers that are already in your closet and will stay securely on your feet. If you don’t want to take them home with you, you can leave them behind and lighten your luggage.
The first thing to keep in mind when beginning to pack is the length of your trip. This will obviously affect the amount of clothing you choose to bring, and not always in the most obvious fashion. Laundry services will be available to you at most of your hotels; thus while six pairs of underwear for a six day trip might make some sense, twelve pairs of underwear for a twelve day trip begins to look like paranoia. You can probably do six pairs, and have laundry done at the midway point.
- Casual clothing for traveling in cities
- Shirts –long and short sleeved
- Sweater, light fleece or jacket
- Trousers - cotton hiking pants or light weight pants (jeans not recommended-too slow to dry)
- Hiking shorts
- Socks - bring extra in case feet get wet
- Swimsuits, 1-2
- Light Rain Gear - poncho, raincoat, or small umbrella
- Hat(s) - with visor for rain and sun protection (the bigger the visor, the more protection)
- Small, lightweight flashlight with new batteries for hiking at twilight and moving between buildings at more remote Eco lodges.
- Camera and extra memory cards, batteries and chargers
- Your personal toiletries
- Ziploc bags for spill able toiletries
- Extra prescription glasses (if applicable), our guides tell us that people loose and break their reading glasses all the time.
- Sun glasses
- The necessary prescription medication (if applicable) for your trip, add 6 extra days just in case see recommendations here
- Travel First Aid- See list of suggested items here
- Plastic bags for wet items that have not had time to dry (stuff them in a suitcase pocket somewhere)
- Sunscreen 30+SPF
- Insect repellent
- Plastic water bottle - especially for hikes
- Binoculars (8x42) recommended, 7x32 minimum (getting a closer look at wildlife is really rewarding)
- Chargers for all electronic devices. Especially your camera and if you plan on using it your phone!
- Extra camera battery
- For European travelers: a 220V to 110V outlet adaptor
- If you are bringing anything with a 3 prong plug (like an Apnea monitor) then bring adaptors to plug 3 prong (which are not common in Costa Rica) cables into 2 prong outlets
- For heat sensitive travelers, especially those coming between December and May, we recommend a gel bandana, which is great for keeping cool. An example can be found here
- Field guides. Our naturalists recommend Birds of Costa Rica by Richard Garriques, for both portability and content. The link to it on Amazon is here
- A map can also be an enjoyable addition to have, we recommend the following waterproof one. Believe it or not this is much cheaper to buy beforehand than in Costa Rica.
- If you are used to hiking with a walking stick, bring a collapsible one
- SNORKELING: If you are snorkeling it is NOT necessary for you to bring your own equipment unless you use a prescription mask.
- Should I bring my big, very expensive camera?
- Yes: if you have an interest in wildlife photography, even an amateur´s one. You are going to have some unique opportunities for photographing birds and animals, on the go and from a distance. Our guides will find you the wildlife, and we often receive beautiful photographs taken by our guests. If you have been looking for a chance to see what your new camera can do then this will be a great opportunity. Our guides say they often hear a guest lamenting that he or she chose not to bring his best camera, in order to keep it safe.
- No: if your goal is more to take pictures of your travelling companions having fun, or if you are someone who just likes to snap quick shots of the world around them without worrying about “the lighting”. You will probably be better off with a simple point and click digital that you can keep somewhere easily accessible, as opposed to having to stop and pull a monster camera out of your backpack every time you want to take a picture.
- Bring long tube socks with good strong elastic at the top for wearing with rubber boots
- It’s a good idea to bring dry wick clothes
What not to bring:
Excessive amounts of jewelry: You will probably not wear it, but only worry about it as you move it from one hotel safe to another.
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