What to pack for Costa Rica

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  • RoyJava's Profile Photo

    Costa Rica To Backpack?

    by RoyJava Updated Jul 9, 2005

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Luggage and bags: As a place to backpack in the jungle, Costa Rica does not rate too high : it is a much better idea to be a tourist around here ! Though a backpack or rucksack is perfect.

    Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Ultra light-weight cotton clothing, and don't forget it's recommendable to wear long pants in town (and better in the jungle), t-shirts and long-sleeves shirt, raincoats of waterproof ponchos, and anything quick drying (because of the humidity and the heat you will change clothes more then once during day, love the fresh clothes ...). Don't leave your umbrella ...
    Swimsuit, quick-dry towel, sun-cap/hat and good hiking shoes, fame Tevas, water shoes and a pair of flip flops.

    Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Insect repellents are a MUST! Use strong ones with DEET in, and bring after-sting/after-bite. Use not-smelling deodorant and leave the perfumes, hair-gel and hairspray. Just bring the basic-needs, anti-biotics just in case. Remember all raw food is subject to contamination. So fresh fruit (not yet peeled) is better.
    Health information & vaccinations


    Photo Equipment: You can get there anything, though be prepared it will be quite expensive. Enough films for that, and a digital camera >>> make sure that you have a large capacity card. Bring your battery charger, plenty of batteries as there are places that don't have outlets to plug things in. A zoom lens to catch the beauty around ...

    Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: High UV protection sun-block and other sun-protections, like sun-hat, your quick-drying towel, tissues, bottle of water. An electric torch will help you to find your way in the dark and buy you a pocket-knife, very practical. A binoculars to observe the wildlife and a Spanish dictionnary & Costa Rica map are practical too.

    Have some cash with you all the time. Take care with banks, because change-commissions can be ridiculously high! Better donot chane your 100$ bills, they will not be accepted.

    Miscellaneous: Traveling around with a fashion-crew is a blessing. There has been taken care of everything. We felt sorry for some travellers who didn't get the right informations.

    When to go? During the low (or "green") season in April (after Eastern), May or November. June, September & October also possible but more rain.

    Donot bother tipping at restaurants or just add a 10% tip to the bill. Bellboys, room cleaners and tour-guides get about 1 to 5$ a day per person. If service is excellent, or horror, it is up to your own discretion. Make copies of passport & ticket.


    Related to:
    • Family Travel
    • Backpacking
    • Road Trip

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  • Rain Jacket for sure in the rainy season.

    by antelope01 Written Jul 3, 2005

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: You will need a rain jacket, no doubt. I also highly recommend Tevas or something like them, especially if you are going to do any of the adventure type activities. I also had a pair of Columbia quick-dry shorts that I basically wore every day. We never went anywhere in CR that you had to dress to impress. Of course you don't want to take all raggedy cut-offs and what not, but I saw no need for coat and tie.

    Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Take some Pepto/Immodium. You never know. I always bought bottled water too. I don't think there's a problem with "drinking the water" there, but if you've ever had Montezuma's revenge, you'll never take your chances again if you can help it. Also, take some mosquito repellant.

    Photo Equipment: Take one of those waterproof disposable cameras. There will be plenty of opportunities to use it.

    Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: If you have room, I would take a beach towel.

    Waiting on the bus in the pouring rain.

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  • bruingirl's Profile Photo

    Keep it light and simple!

    by bruingirl Written May 5, 2005

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Luggage and bags: I brought one, small carry-on rolling bag and a backpack. Oh, and a small purse.

    Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Pancho, just in case
    Hiking boots for the mountains
    TEVA sandals for the hiking trails in Manuel Antonio
    Flip flops for the beach towns
    Convertible pants are definitely useful
    Bathing suit
    Sports bra
    Quick dry towel
    Beach towel
    Small, lightweight, cotton sundress

    Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Mosquito repellent of 75% or more DEET (REI has this great stuff)
    Antiseptic for bites/cuts
    Purell antibacterial wash

    Photo Equipment: Camera with telezoom lens
    Regular digital camera
    Waterproof disposable camera

    Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: Surfboard
    Rash guard

    Miscellaneous: Small tupperware container for fragile souvenirs

    Binoculars are very handy!!
    Related to:
    • Budget Travel
    • National/State Park
    • Jungle and Rain Forest

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  • BEETLE_VERTE's Profile Photo

    Less than you think

    by BEETLE_VERTE Updated May 4, 2005

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Luggage and bags: Backpacking is the best way to travel in Costa Rica. You won't find very funny to try to roll a big suitcase in the devastated roads. Also bring a smaller backpack for hiking. Waterproof if possible. Fanny pack (not too obvious).
    I made myself color sacks to seperate all my clothes (2 squares of fabric sown together and closed at the top with a string): one for the t-shirts, one for the undergarnments, one for the pants and shorts, ... Every thing was easier to identify, access and pack and it kept breathing if not completely dry. A must!

    Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Shorts and t-shirts, bathing suit, towel for the beach (a quick drying towel would be a must and I missed having one), long pant, long leaves sweater, fleece, 2 paires of shoes (as one will get wet for sure), sandals, rainjacket, hat. No need for up-scales clothes except if you really want it. Don't bring too much (I epurated my luggage twice and still didn't use all my clothes!!)

    Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Sunscreen (a bottle per couple per week), mosquito repellent (althought we didn't used it as much as we anticipated), headaches medicine (the sun is too hard!!! or maybe it's the Imperial...), first aid kit, laundry soap. Eye drop and complete contact lenses kit (the dry dusty air in Jaco, Fortuna and Monteverde got the best of me...). Anti-malaria drugs (Aralen) if visiting the east coast. Everything you use on a daily basis.

    Photo Equipment: Zoom lens to catch the birds and monkeys. Polarising filter for the ocean pics. Tripod if you can. Films and battery are somewhat expensive there.

    Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: Quick drying towel. Sandals. Hat. Bathing suit. Little swiss knife (most useful for cuting mango and avocado...!). We bought a long knife, like a bread knife, once there (2$ at the supermarket) and carry it throught out the trip to cut big fruits like melon and pineapple. Left it at the last hotel.

    Miscellaneous: Spanish dictionnary, map, guide book, note pad and pen, bird watching book, shades, Ziploc bags of all sizes and garbage bags, binocular, flashlight, alarm and/or wrist-watch.
    What we brought and didn't use: phrasebook.
    What we didn't brought and missed: quickdrying towel, calculator (currency conversion).
    Best items: color coded sacks for the backpack
    Not every hotels, restaurant and tour operator accept credit cards and not every hotels, restaurant and tour operator accept travelers. If you don't want to carry everything in cash, I strongly suggest to carefuly balance your budget between cash, traveler checks and credit card (visa most accepted but I didn't had problem with my MC).

    hiking gear: hat against sun/rain, shades, bag...!
    Related to:
    • Adventure Travel
    • Hiking and Walking
    • Budget Travel

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  • kyoub's Profile Photo

    Don't forget your bins

    by kyoub Written Mar 26, 2005

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Luggage and bags: Don't take your finest, take something that you don't mind getting wet or muddy.

    Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Long pants,long sleeves, sun hat, walking shoes or boots are all a must..
    You better have a rain poncho handy also in case of an afternoon shower.

    Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Take plenty of insect repellant, the mosquitoes can be fierce in some places.
    Witch Hazel is good to ease the itching on the bites that you do get.

    Photo Equipment: Take plenty of film or a very large memory card.

    Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: Take what you will need because it won't be available once you are out of the city.

    Miscellaneous: You must take your binoculars or you will miss a lot of birds.

    Bird watching
    Related to:
    • Adventure Travel
    • Birdwatching
    • Eco-Tourism

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  • hotrodgirl's Profile Photo

    Ponchos & Umbrellas a Must

    by hotrodgirl Written Mar 6, 2005

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Something long sleeved, and convertible pants that zip off. A jacket at night in the mountains. Ponchos for the rainforest

    Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Bandaids, sunscreen

    Photo Equipment: Digital SD cards and memory sticks are hard to find, but availavble in the larger towns. Definitely bring a camera with a good zoom, or bring a wide angle lens.

    Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: Ponchos and umbrellas for the rain and cloud forests. We used them often! A cap came in handy as well.

    Miscellaneous: Mosquito repellent is a must, with a good content of DEET. Even with this on, we were bitten several times. Binoculars and a flashlight are helpful, and batteries.

    Don't forget the Ponchos

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  • frank_delargy's Profile Photo

    A headlamp, binoculars and convertible pants

    by frank_delargy Updated Jan 17, 2005

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Luggage and bags: Bring something that you can carry your important documents and money in at all times.

    Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Get those pants that you remove the legs and they turn into shorts.. lots of pockets for carrying stuff.

    Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Bring everything you might need. Although they have medicine here, it is not the familiar brands and you could have an adventure just getting Pepto Bismo or Tums..

    Photo Equipment: You can buy film almost anywhere, but memory cards for digital cameras were harder to find and not cheap... bring an extra because you will use what you have!! Bring an extra battery too!

    Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: Our headlamps.. those things that you wear on your head were great for finding poison dart Frogs and other creatures at night because when you wear them the reflection of their eyes comes right back at you,. You can even see little tiny spider eyes everywhere (this is true everywhere)

    Miscellaneous: Binoculars are a requirement if you want to get a better look at that sloth that people are pointing to.
    I also like to bring a little magnifying glass or loupe to look at very small things (like insects)
    Plastic zip bags for putting stuff into that you don't want to get damp. This is especially useful in the more humid areas.

    Related to:
    • Jungle and Rain Forest
    • Photography

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  • zweiblumen's Profile Photo

    Take Everything!

    by zweiblumen Written Dec 1, 2004

    4 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Dress for tropical conditions, loose fitting clothing. Long sleeved shirts and long trousers will help guard against insect bites, if you can find clothing that is pre-impregnated with insect repellent that is even better.

    Take waterproofs because it will rain and it can rain a lot and for a long time.

    As I always suggest, sturdy footwear .. that you don't mind getting muddy.

    A sunhat is essential.

    Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Strong sunblock because when it's not raining it's sunning (?!) and it can sun a lot :-)

    I would also advise taking precautions against malaria Chloroquine tablets are recommended but consult your doctor/pharmacist beforehand for up to date advice.

    Photo Equipment: A good zoom lens for those wildlife pictures, I recommend a maximum zoom of at least 200mm.

    Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: Waterproofs, umbrella (ideal for when you want to take photos when it's raining)

    It can get a bit damp underfoot
    Related to:
    • Adventure Travel
    • Hiking and Walking
    • Photography

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  • daffodil's Profile Photo

    Travellers Sickness Prevention

    by daffodil Written Aug 27, 2004

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Toiletries and Medical Supplies: This is an important thing to bring, Cipro. It is an antibiotic prescription that you can get filled before you leave so you have it with you in the event that you get Travellers sickness. Travellers sickness can be caught at many Central American and Carribean destintions and is almost always caused by E. coli bacteria.
    Although we were staying at a resort, one of the people in our group got very ill with cramping and other unpleasantness. If she had brought Cipro with her this it wouldn't have ruined half of her vacation. You take it at the first sign of any trouble and it is just 3 daily pills. So simple and peace of mind!
    If you can't get Cipro, make sure to bring Imodium, it might not cure the infection, but it will help relieve sypmtoms.

    Related to:
    • Family Travel

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  • daffodil's Profile Photo

    Sunbock, SPF, Sunscreen!

    by daffodil Written Aug 26, 2004

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: The climate varies widely from the coast to the mountains so it is good to bring clothes for hot sunny weather and cool wet weather if you plan on visiting both places.

    Toiletries and Medical Supplies: They were available at the resort, but they seemed much more expensive than back home, because they were priced in American dollars.

    Photo Equipment: Same as the toiletries, so bring lots of batteries for you digicam or lots of film for you 35 mm.

    Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: Yes you need a bikini, a full piece swim suit is too hot!

    Miscellaneous: SUNBLOCK!!! You need it! The sun is STRONG and it is hot so you want to strip your clothes off. My husband forgot to put it on his back and in less than 20 minutes at 9 am he had a second degree burn. I did see it at the resort, but it was small bottles for a lot of money, and you will go through a lot of it.

    Beach, sand, surf and sun!!
    Related to:
    • Family Travel
    • Budget Travel
    • Beaches

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  • Howlee's Profile Photo

    For surfers

    by Howlee Written Jul 19, 2004

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Luggage and bags: I brought a backpack. Easier to deal with.

    Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: It consisted of 2 pairs of surf trunks, t shirts, 2 pairs of shorts, I nice shirt, Sandals, Tennis shoes (for any tours you may take), surfwax, LOTS of sunblock, a long sleeved rashguard, a beach towel, extra leash, power bars, protien mix....thats all I can think of. I was there for about 12 days and only managed to use half my clothes. I was pretty much walking around in my surf trunks and a different/same shirt everyday.

    Toiletries and Medical Supplies: First aid kit, lighter, knife....bug spray....

    Photo Equipment: Definitely bring a Camera. At least 3 Megs for a digital....good zoom capability. Wildlife everywhere.

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  • lunabelle's Profile Photo

    try to pack light &smart

    by lunabelle Written Jul 4, 2004

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Rain poncho, comfortable shoes for hiking-make sure you pack more than sandals (I didn't) because the mud is slick and gets between your feet and shoes if they are open which does not lead to surefooting.

    Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Sunscreen and bug repellant. I always try to find environmentally friendly versions so I won't bring any harmful chemicals into the lush, pristine environment.

    Photo Equipment: I brought a camera that I wasn't too attached to. If you bring expensive equipment, bring Ziplock bags to keep them protected from the moisture.

    Miscellaneous: I didn't pack a hairdryer because I didn't want to be a prissy city girl. However, we went in the rainy season and our clothes would never dry and actually got a bit moldy. A kind women gave me hers when she left and it made all the difference!

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  • doogienj's Profile Photo

    You don't need a sweater

    by doogienj Written May 3, 2004

    Luggage and bags: I travelled with a duffel bags on wheels. It turned out to be a good choice as I did not care if it got a bit dirty and messed up. The canvas also made is expandable. I also had a 2,400CU backpacks as carry-on.

    For the day trips I had a small Patagonia packpack with a 2 liter water hydration pack.

    Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Clothing that is fast drying. Ankle high hiking shoes, tennis shoes, rain jacket and pants. I brought a think sweater wich I never needed. Even in the higher altitude it never dropped below 70 degrees at night.

    Toiletries and Medical Supplies: A small first aid kit (that I did not have to use), bug repellent that I did not have to use either (big surprise).

    Photo Equipment: Digital camera with 64MB memory card. You don't need an adapter if you are coming from the U.S.

    Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: Fast drying batching suits

    Miscellaneous: Pocket knife, I-POD, sunscreen, water proof watch, energy bars.

    By the Tabacon Hot Springs
    Related to:
    • Hiking and Walking
    • Jungle and Rain Forest
    • Beaches

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  • It's a jungle, duh!!!

    by Suzanne70 Written Apr 25, 2004

    Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Not sure what I was thinking when I brought semi-nice clothes...anyway, if I had to do it over again, I would definitely keep it casual, we didn't need anything nicer than shorts and t-shirts the whole time. There is lots of hiking to be had, bring the right shoes!!! Also, because it was so hot and humid, prepare for several changes of clothes a day.

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  • Suzie3's Profile Photo

    Pack light

    by Suzie3 Written Apr 25, 2004

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Luggage and bags: To keep my luggage weight down I use a soft, medium sized backpack. This year I had enough clothes to last me 4 weeks plus add in a huge bag of souveniers from Sarchi.

    Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Lightweight and layers are the key. It does get cool up in the mountains and in the central valley so having a long sleeve shirt/light sweater/light jacket is a good idea. I have a lightweight rain jacket that also doubles as a regular jacket if I get cool. The rainforests and clouds forests are named that for a reason so having some kind of rain gear is a good idea. Those very cheap emergency ponchos don't take up much room but come in handy. Those zip off long pants/shorts come in handy also. Keep in mind that if you are planning any in country flights, there is a 25lb weight limit on both your regular luggage and carry on. Laundry services are plentiful.
    For shoes, I like the lighter all terrain hiking shoes rather than boots. They dry fairly quickly and don't weigh as much. Tevas and or a pair of flip flops should be all you need. Except for a limited number of places, Costa Rica is a very casual place so dressing up is not done much.

    Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Bring small bottles of the things you really like, inparticular, shampoos etc and toss them as you use them to create souvenier room. Most everyday toiletries can be purchased down there but NAFTA has not reached CR yet so they will be more expensive. Do remember plenty of DEET, Sun Tan Lotion and your medicines.

    Photo Equipment: Bring your battery charger but also bring plenty of batteries as there are places that don't have outlets to plug things in. Again, bring plenty of film as it is more expensive down there.

    Miscellaneous: Flashlight. Costa Rica is 95% electrified but it is a developing country and the lights do go out. There are also some wonderful places to go that do not have full electricity. There is also the chance you might want to go on a night hike.

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