What to Pack for Your Costa Rica Adventure
Simplify your packing—shop at Nat Hab’s online Gear Store for some of the key items recommended for your adventure. Look for this icon in the list below, then go to the Nat Hab Gear Store to start shopping.
- Keep in mind that we will spend time in both low, tropical rain forests and high, mountainous cloud forests. Higher elevations will be 9,000 to 10,000 feet and could be chilly (40°F or even colder), and lower elevations can be hot and humid.
- Please bring neutral and dark colors, as bright colors may frighten wildlife or attract unwanted attention in San Jose.
We recommend quick-drying clothing made of synthetic fabrics, as the climate in Costa Rica is typically hot and humid in the lowlands and cold and damp in the highlands with a frequent chance of rain.
- Lightweight, “breathable,” waterproof rain jacket with hood
—This may be your most useful piece of clothing. You will be hiking in a rain forest where it could drizzle all day or, at times, rain down in buckets whether you are traveling in the wet or dry season!
- Lightweight, water-repellent pants
- Lightweight, sturdy hiking/walking shoes (should be well broken-in with good tread for slippery surfaces and mud)
—Closed-toed shoes are mandatory on most walks.
- Teva-type sandals
—Sandals with good tread are useful for beach time and for casual use around our lodges.
—On our Natural Jewels itinerary, sandals with good tread will be required for wet landings on Osa Peninsula as rocks can be slippery and the sea can be rough.
- Extra tennis shoes/walking shoes
—Shoes tend to become wet and dirty, and it is nice to have an extra pair. You should be your own judge as to the type of footwear you should wear.
- Fleece pullover or sweater
- Lightweight, water-repellent pants
- 2–3 pairs of comfortable pants
—Or nylon, zip-off pants—these are great for hiking, as they are perfect for cool mornings and hotter afternoons. You may not need to bring additional pairs of shorts if you are bringing zip-off pants.
- 2–3 pairs of shorts
- 2 lightweight, long-sleeved shirts
—Good for walks in the cloud forest
- 4–5 T-shirts or polo-style shirts
—We suggest that you do not wear yellow shirts, as they tend to attract bees. We also highly recommend bringing shirts made of quick-drying, moisture-wicking material.
- Swimsuit (optional)
—Some of our accommodations have swimming pools.
—Moisture-resistant/moisture-wicking are preferred—cotton socks are not recommended for hikes.
—We recommend bringing at least enough for the entire trip as the heat and humidity can be high in Costa Rica so it may not be possible for hand-washed items to air dry properly.
—For discretionary gratuities (you may want to bring envelopes for discreet presentation)
—For personal spending (souvenirs, or food and beverages not included in your trip fee)
- Lightweight, water-resistant daypack
—This can serve as your small carry-on for charter flights
- Water bottle
—We strongly recommend that each traveler bring his or her own pair of binoculars, as they will be used continuously while on hikes and drives. If possible, invest in a good quality pair, which will definitely enhance your wildlife-viewing experience. Waterproof binoculars are ideal in case we experience rain on outings.
- Hat with brim (for sun protection)
- Sunglasses (with U.V. filter and secure strap)
- Headlamp or small flashlight
—Shampoo, conditioner & soap/body wash are optional—only if you wish to use a specific brand. These items are provided free of charge at all accommodations on our itinerary (may be two-in-one shampoo and conditioner).
- —If you are booked on the optional Arenal Volcano Extension, conditioner is not provided at our accommodation so you will need to bring your own if you wish to use it.
- Insect repellent and anti-itch ointment
- Sunscreen & lip balm (at least SPF30)
—Please bring reef-safe sunscreens to protect the delicate underwater environment while snorkeling.
- Compact, retractable umbrella
- Quick-drying travel towel (optional)
- Prescription medications & over-the-counter remedies
—For headaches, colds, upset stomach, skin irritations, diarrhea, etc.
—If you are prone to motion sickness you may want to bring your favorite remedy.
- Oral rehydration salts and/or flavor crystals (optional)
—Can be added to water to replace fluids in case of intestinal illness and/or enhance the taste to encourage hydration.
- Prescription glasses/contact lenses
- Battery-operated alarm clock/wristwatch/smartphone
- Reusable waterproof bags
—Several sizes for wet or dirty clothing and to protect camera equipment.
- Spanish/English dictionary (optional)
- Tissue mini packs
- Eye drops & nose spray (for dust irritation)
- Bandana or neck buff
- Hiking poles (optional)
—If you are bringing hiking poles, they must be able to fit in your check-in luggage, as you will not be allowed to carry them on the plane.
- Small, soft-sided luggage or duffel bag (for internal flights)
- Snorkeling equipment (optional)
—We will provide snorkeling equipment, but you may want to bring your own to ensure the best fit and/or if you have a prescription mask.
—Wetsuits are not necessary as the water temperature stays around 80°F.
Header Credit: Keith Arnold
Natural Jewels of Costa Rica
Costa Rica Wilderness Explorer
Photo departures available