Pack with confidence and avoid baggage fees - clothing tips and packing checklists for your vacation

What to Wear in Costa Rica

General Packing Tips

  • A lot of what you are likely to do in Costa Rica is related to conservation and the rainforest, so lightweight, but rainproof clothing is essential.
  • Our advice for men and women alike would be to concentrate on trekking/outdoor clothing and fairly lightweight but sturdy walking shoes (Hotter shoes are good).
  • As you can imagine, the humidity is very high here so be prepared. Lightweight natural fabrics work best and pack long pants and long-sleeved shirts to help keep the mosquitoes from feasting on you.
  • insect/mosquito repellent is really important - you get eaten alive under the rainforest canopy.
  • Wear plenty of sunscreen (we love the Riemann P20 range for 10 hour protection) too and a good sunhat and sunglasses.
  • In town when eating out, wear whatever you feel comfortable in. Downtown is very casual, although hotels are more dressy (dependent upon which level of hotel you stay in).
  • If you are staying in a hotel, then getting your clothes laundered is easy. Outside of this, it will be almost impossible.
  • As in many countries some parts of Costa Rica feel safer than others. Use common sense and don't flash your money or valuables around. You may want to consider a money belt, and leave expensive jewelry at home.

Clothing Tips for Women

  • If you are heading for the beaches then remember to take a kaftan or sarong to use with your swimwear or as a lightweight shawl in the evenings, teamed with a simple sundress or skirt. Avoid revealing clothes and very short shorts.
  • For pretty flat sandals, try the Lindsay Phillips Switch Flops range - using interchangeable shoe and flip-flop bases with snap-on decorations, you can change your look from day to evening in an instant whilst still packing light.
  • A pashmina is a versatile piece that will dress up any outfit if you need it, as will some simple costume jewelry.
  • The humidity can play havoc with your hair, so think about taking a scarf or clips to keep it looking tidy.

Clothing Tips for Men

  • There are no specific things to bring to your attention, check out our packing list for our suggested capsule wardrobe.

Pack for the Weather

  • The Caribbean coast has its own microclimate - it's hot and humid year round and rains often, with no real 'dry' season.
  • Elsewhere, December, January, February, March and April are the 'dry' summer months, although you should still expect a fair amount of rain.
  • May, June, July and November have more rain.
  • August, September and October (the wet 'green' season) have the highest rainfall.
  • Costa Rica is hot all year round but especially so during March, April and May.
  • A light raincoat and travel umbrella will be useful at any time.

Other Things To Pack

  • You really need to be sure you take everything you need including sunscreen (we love the Riemann P20 range for 10 hour protection), insect/mosquito repellent, adapter plugs and converters for electrical appliances as you will find it difficult to buy these items once you are there.
  • To use electrical gadgets you may need a travel adapter plug, and also a step up voltage converter if your devices are not designed for the local voltage (120V).
  • A microfiber travel towel is another great item to pack - these are designed specifically for trekking: they fold really small so you can pack a larger size and they dry really quickly too.
  • Look after your mobile phone with a phone bunjee - it protects against loss, theft and damage and is especially useful when trekking.
  • A bag or soft-sided rucksack is a more practical option than hard cases when traveling around the country, and using packing cubes can help to keep your belongings tidy whilst compressing the volume too.
  • Combine your bag with a lightweight fold away day sack that will carry your essentials on day trips.
  • Don’t drink or even brush your teeth in tap water. Consider taking a Water-to-Go Filtration Water Bottle to avoid wasting plastic bottles.
  • Avoid paying unexpected baggage fees - use an accurate luggage scale to ensure you keep within the weight allowance. Don't forget to leave room for souvenirs on the way home! Costa Rican coffee is famous of course, but most of the best quality beans are exported so look for Café Britt or Dota brands to ensure you get the good stuff. An unusual buy is banana paper or greeting cards, which is recycled from the waste leaves of the banana industry so you'll be doing your bit for the ecosystems too.

Last updated 15 July 2015.

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Pack Light

  • Less luggage to carry
  • Save time packing and unpacking
  • Save money on baggage fees

Pack Right

  • Respect local cultures
  • Feel comfortable and confident
  • Suitable outfits for all occasions

Bestsellers For Costa Rica

Water-to-Go 750ml Filtration Water Bottle

Water-to-Go 750ml Filtration Water Bottle

Purifies and filters water instantly for safe drinking

Unisex Canvas Breezy Safari / Sun Hat

Unisex Canvas Breezy Safari / Sun Hat

Popular outdoor activity hat with ventilated mesh sides

Cabin Max Fold Away Day Sack

Cabin Max Fold Away Day Sack

Ideal addition to your cabin baggage, to be used in resort


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