What to pack for Costa Rica

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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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  • kyoub's Profile Photo

    Don't forget your bins

    by kyoub Written Mar 26, 2005

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    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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  • BEETLE_VERTE's Profile Photo

    Less than you think

    by BEETLE_VERTE Updated May 4, 2005

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    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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  • Helga67's Profile Photo

    What to bring

    by Helga67 Updated Sep 7, 2005

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Luggage and bags: Small rucksack for your day trip in the rain forest

    Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Bring light cotton cloths, a sweater or jacket for the nights or cooler areas in central Costa Rica, good walking shoes, slippers for the beach and a raincoat during the rainy season. Don't forget your sunglasses and head protection.

    Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Insect repellant with DEET, good protection for the intensive sun (factor 20).
    Medical precaution: hepatitis A and B.
    We didn't bring anything against malaria.

    Photo Equipment: Bring lots of films or memory cards and a big zoom lens (min. 300mm or 10x optical zoom) for those wildlife shots.
    Don't forget your video camera for all those rain forest sounds and active wildlife.

    Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: Bring a flashlight because at night it sometimes happens that there is no electricity for short periods.

    Miscellaneous: Bring an adaptor if equipment is not 110 Volt and american standard.
    Make a copy of your passport and drivers licence and keep the originals in your hotel safe during day trips.

    Hanging bridges

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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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  • charles_333's Profile Photo


    by charles_333 Updated Feb 2, 2004

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: [ ]Flu shot & Hepatitis A vaccination - NO LATER THAN 3 WEEKS BEFORE THE TRIP
    [ ]Anti-malarial pills – chloroquine taken once weekly in a dosage of 500 mg, starting one week before arrival and continuing through the trip and for four weeks after the end of your stay [ ]Prescription for an antibiotic such as Ciphro in order to treat traveler's diarrhea (TD)
    [ ]Passport and copy of Passport
    [ ]Travelers checks and copy of
    [ ]Airline tickets and copy of
    [ ]Health Insurance Card and copy of
    [ ]Master Card & Contacts
    [ ]U.S. $ in small denominations
    [ ]$30 airport tax upon for departure
    [ ]Emergency Information (medical, itinerary, contacts)
    [ ]SNACKS
    [ ]Book/Journal/Pens
    [ ]Baby Wipes
    [ ](2) 1L Water Bottles
    [ ]Money belt
    [ ]Light rain jacket
    [ ]Hat & Sunglasses
    [ ]Walking shoes (Nike AGC), Light hikingboots, and Sandals
    [ ]Hooded sweatshirt
    [ ]Head lamp + batteries
    [ ]Cargo/BDU Pants
    [ ]Shorts
    [ ]T-Shirts
    [ ]Sox & Underwear

    Miscellaneous: [ ]Long Sleeve Shirts
    [ ]Light Work gloves (gardening style)
    [ ]Swimsuit
    [ ]BIG (1G) Zip Lock Bags
    [ ]Camera
    [ ]Binoculars
    [ ]Water purifier and Iodine tablets
    [ ]Large Towel and washcloth
    [ ]Light Sleeping Bag & Pad
    [ ]Tent
    [ ]Stove and mess kit
    [ ]Compass and Map
    [ ]Walkie-talkies (>5 mi range)
    [ ]Mosquito Netting
    [ ]Pacsafe Security Systems
    [ ]Needle and Thread
    [ ]Webbing and light nylon cord
    [ ]Signal Whistle
    [ ]Daypack
    [ ]Insect repellent (at least 30% DEET)
    [ ]Sunscreen (SPF 30 and up) and Zinc Oxide
    [ ]Soap /Shampoo/Toothbrush/Floss/Tooth Paste (Biodegradible products)
    [ ]Anti-Bacterial
    [ ]Aloe vera gel
    [ ]First-aid kit
    o Anti-itch ointment & antihistamine
    o Blister Kit
    o Tweezers
    o Compression bandages
    o Ibuprophen / pain killers

    Related to:
    • Backpacking
    • Jungle and Rain Forest
    • Adventure Travel

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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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  • SanguiniA's Profile Photo

    Essential Items to take in Costa Rica!

    by SanguiniA Written Dec 11, 2003

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    Luggage and bags: It is best to travel with a rucksack instead of suitcases. In most of the cases (especially when visiting Corcovado and Tortuguero regions) you will travel by boat any may have to wade a bit in the water. Suitcases are also cumbersome to load on a boat or bus.

    Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: It is always quite hot in Costa Rica so summer clothes are a must. Opt for light trousers instead of shorts because of the mosquitos, chiggers and other pests. Get quick drying clothes (jeans take forever to dry) and get at least 3 changes as getting clothes to dry is a nightmare and the frequent rain and the presence of a lot of mud will ensure that you will really need to dry your clothes!

    If you plan to stay or visit the mountains a warm sweatshirt or light jacket is a good idea as it can get quite chilly.

    Waterproof ponchos and trousers are a good idea - but never leave your umbrella at home! Since it is quite hot waterproof clothes can be quite uncomfortable.

    Hiking boots are essential - running shoes will simply not do. Get a pair of sandals or flip flops as well to stay comfortable while not hiking or for walks on the beach.

    Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Mosquito repellents are a must! Use strong ones with DEET in them to deter the pests! Also get some creams to soothe itching as some mosquitos will still manage to get a bite! Malaria tablets are a must as well.

    In most of costa rica it is not safe to drink tap water so a few water purification tablets come in quite handy.

    Photo Equipment: Neverthless to say, as for any trip bring along cameras and video cameras! Waterproof pouches for them should not be forgotten! Bring plenty of films (at least 10 or 12) as they are hard to buy and I assure you will want to take plenty of photographs in Costa Rica! If you have a digital camera make sure that you have a large capacity card.

    Miscellaneous: A binoculars is a must to observe the wildlife better. Books about wildlife help you find out more and identify the things you see.

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  • GinGinCoo's Profile Photo

    Must Haves!

    by GinGinCoo Updated Apr 16, 2004

    4 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Hiking Shoes - some of those trails are bad... if its muddy you might want to rent one of those Rubber Boots

    Photo Equipment: Disposable Water Proof Cameras - for those snorkeling trips or waterfall encounters

    Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: Snorkeling Gear - We didnt bring ours because of the weight limit on the domestic plane but we should've. You can also rent them there.

    Miscellaneous: Insect Repellant - Some trails have really nasty mosquitoes that will follow you wherever you go.. Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.... I'm still scratching my legs as I type right now

    Flashlight - We brought them because we know we were going to be on a Night Tour but it actually came in handy when there was a black out in Monteverde

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  • gcmm's Profile Photo

    Pack lite and bring suntan lotion

    by gcmm Updated Mar 6, 2004

    4 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Luggage and bags: Please don't over pack. We found that one big suit case and a carry on per person was all we needed.
    Remember that most small airlines will charge you per pound on anything over 25lbs
    per person.

    Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Please bring lite clothing, it gets very hot here. Suntan lotion and glasses you will need. Bring light shoes and a pair of sneakers for any hiking or quading you may do. a lite coat or parka if your going to the cloud forest in Monteverde.
    What i found useful was a pair of sweat pants that have the zipper bottoms , so you can make them into shorts.
    Wear these on the plane going down if you are leaving from the cold and take off the bottoms on the plane. Than on your way back just reverse the process.
    They also come in handy in the cloud forest....

    Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Depending on were you are most places have the basics. I do recommend that you bring some anti-biotics just in case...
    Bring all your perscription medicin with you also..
    Also any personal items you may want,tooth brush etc.

    Photo Equipment: Please bring plenty of film..If you have a digital camera than make sure you have a large card 256 meg at least.
    We have a Canon A80 4 Megapixel and i had it set to the highest settings , it was able to take over 300 .pictures.
    If you plan on going to the cloud forest make sure your camera is water proof...
    Also bring extra batteries if you don't want to pay alot more.

    Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: Bring a towel for the beach

    Miscellaneous: Bring a small mesh bag for carrying things, maybe a tupperware bowl with cover and cotton balls so you can pack sea shells,and other things that you find so they won't break on your trip home.
    Also please remember that you have a $26 departure tax to pay if it was not part your trip.
    Bring your own suntan lotion and lots of it, otherwise expect to pay alot.
    Also expect when you leave the main airport that some one will grab your bags to bring to your transport and expect to be paid.They will almost take it out of your hands. If you don't feel comfortable with this just tell them no..
    ****Also please remember your passport.This is very important and it must not be read expire within 90 days of youe departure, ex if your travel date is say march 1 2004 and your passport expire april 1 2004 , they might not let you on the plane (leaving usa etc to go to costa rica). This happened at Atlanta airport to one lady who was in shock about this, so please check and make sure so you will not have any problems...

    coast of Montezuma

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  • zweiblumen's Profile Photo

    Take Everything!

    by zweiblumen Written Dec 1, 2004

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    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:
    • Photography
    • Hiking and Walking
    • Adventure Travel

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  • SumTingWong's Profile Photo

    Basic reccomended packing list

    by SumTingWong Written Apr 21, 2003

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Luggage and bags: Like always always try and pack as liget as possible. One big packpack of suitcase and one small day pack/carry on.

    Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: You should have at least some good sneekers for hiking and spanding time in the jungle. Sandles with a sturdy backing are reccomended for the rest of the time.
    As for clothing you should bring a lot of shorta and tee-shirts. lond sleev shirts can be useful in the mountains, at can get a little chilly at night. Long pants are reccomended if you go out to dinner, to a discoteque, or to visit a school.

    Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Bandages are a good thing to have as well as disinfectant.

    Photo Equipment: Camera - reccomended mm zoom lense is from 28mm - 200mm.

    Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: If you go camping you may want to have a good water-proof sleeping bag and sleeping mat.

    Miscellaneous: MAKE SURE TO HAVE SUN BLOCK!!

    Sun glasses and hats can be useful too.

    Related to:
    • Study Abroad
    • Backpacking
    • Budget Travel

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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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  • grandmaR's Profile Photo

    2 Carry-on Bags are enough

    by grandmaR Written Feb 25, 2003

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    Luggage and bags: We each had two large carry-on bags with everything in them for two weeks. For each excursion, we took only one of the bags and left the other in the hotel's luggage room. We also each had a bum bag or fanny pack. (depending on whether you are English or American). Mine is the largest one LL Bean has ever had (and it is no longer available), and my husbands is smaller. I can carry - an extra pair of underpants and a nightgown or bathing suit, a small folding umbella, a poncho, my wallet, checkbook, two cameras one with a telephoto lens, film, medication, notebook, small stapler, food (like apple, raisins, granola bars), small folding binoculars, insect repellant, sunscreen, tickets, maps and guidebook, -- it's big!!

    Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: All cotton materials - no synthetics, and no heavy denim. I'd recommend hiking boots and Teva or similar sandals for getting out of boats and hiking on the beach

    Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Sunscreen, bug repellant and HATS. I also had water purification stuff (which I didn't use) a small medical kit (ditto), and flowers of sulfur to ward off chiggers. I don't know if that worked or not - we didn't have chigger problems, but might not have had problems anyhow.

    Photo Equipment: I had a regular point and shoot camera and a more expensive 35 mm camera with a big zoom lens. I carried mosly 400 ASA film, and sometimes I didn't have enough light because I didn't have a flash.

    Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: For water, we took canteens- around our necks but now I use a Camelbak like bikers wear. The large binoculars go around my husband's neck

    Miscellaneous: I keep a small notebook and write in it what we do and where we go - each day on a separate page. I then staple the receipts for things we buy or from restaurants to the page for the day. I write down all the things we buy too that don't have receipts (stamps, tips etc) This is just my way to keep a diary of how much things actually cost. I also staple in, when I get home, my packing list for that trip, and how much the film developing cost etc.
    For guidebooks, I recommend the Lonely Planet Guide to Costa Rica - also "The Essential Road Guide to Costa Rica" which has the bus schedules etc, and is necessary if you are driving to anywhere off the beaten track. I also had THE bird book for Costa Rica, "Birds of Costa Rica" by Stiles and Skutch., the Costa Rica half of Fodor’s Belize and Costa Rica, "The New Key to Costa Rica" by Blake and Becher (kind of a so so book) and "Costa Rica’s National Parks" by Franke, which should have been good, but basically was a waste of space.

    Weight limit for luggage 25 lbs.
    Related to:
    • Adventure Travel
    • Jungle and Rain Forest
    • Eco-Tourism

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  • monica71's Profile Photo

    You really do not need that much with you!

    by monica71 Updated Apr 29, 2008

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Luggage and bags: expandable duffel bags, small backpack for daily trips

    Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Rain poncho is a must. You will also need a pair of sneakers, canvas hiking boots or an additional pair of sneakers, flip flops (for the pool area, hot springs or the beach). Make sure you also get a light sweater with you, it may get chili at night.

    For the 7 nights we stayed there, I packed a pair of shorts, 2 pairs of convertible pants (I wore one of them on the way to CR), 7 pairs of socks, 3 T-Shirts, 1 long sleeve cotton shirt, 1 hat, 1 pajama, 1 bathing suit, 1 pair of sneakers (I wore them on the way to CR), 1 pair of canvas shoes and 1 pair of flip-flops, 1 rain poncho that I used a lot. I also had a fleece jacket with me that I wore while staying in Alajuela since it got a little bit chili there after 6pm.

    My husband had 1 pair of cotton shorts with lots of pockets, 1 pair of convertible pants, 7 pairs of socks, 1 pajama, 3 T-Shirts, 1 swimming shorts, 2 pairs of sneakers, 1 pair of beach sandals, 1 poncho and 1 long sleeve T-Shirt.

    Toiletries and Medical Supplies: we had lots of stuff with us, just in case we needed it: tylenol, imodium, dramamine, aspirin; band aids, neosporin; 2 of each: travel size shampoo, travel size shower gel, travel size after shave; toothpaste and toothbrushes; deodorant;

    Photo Equipment: digital camera and big memory card

    Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: sunscreen, insect repellent with deet

    Miscellaneous: knife for fruit (we bought one from La Fortuna and we used it a lot to eat fresh fruit that we bought), guide book (I used it a lot) and small dictionary with phrases (I used it a little bit, but would have made it without it also)

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