Costa Rica Packing List- All you need for your trip

Costa Rica surf

At the beginning of this year, I spent almost 4 months traveling throughout Costa Rica, with just a backpack and my surfboard. I wanted to bring enough so that I was comfortable and confident in the clothes I was wearing, but not so much that I couldn’t carry it all on my back. Without much luck, I scoured the internet for packing lists and capsule wardrobe ideas. I ended up sending some clothes back home, giving stuff away, and even purchasing a few new items while in Costa Rica. However, through this experience I can now confidently say I know *exactly* how to create the perfect Costa Rica packing list!

Note: This article contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Meaning, at no extra cost to you, I earn a small commission anytime you purchase any of the linked products. That being said, I actually OWN all of these products linked and wouldn’t be recommending them to you if I didn’t strongly stand by them.

Costa Rica Packing List


  • passport
  • credit/debit card
  • spare credit card
  • photo copy of passport


  • 7 pairs of underwear
  • sports bra, regular bra
  • flip flops
  • hiking sandals
  • athletic pants+ top for yoga, hikes, etc
  • lightweight rain jacket
  • 2 pairs of shorts
  • 2 dresses
  • 1 pair of jeans (nice to have at night)
  • 2 tank tops
  • 1 lightweight tee shirt

Beach Essentials:

  • lightweight towel
  • sunglasses
  • reef safe sunscreen
  • hat
  • 3 bikinis (inluding one I could surf in!)


  • toothbrush/toothpaste
  • shampoo/conditioner
  • tweezers
  • nail clippers
  • hairbrush
  • razor
  • soap
  • deodorant
  • hair ties
  • diva cup
  • earplugs (essential for sleeping in hostels!)


  • Camera (Sony A6000)
  • Power bank
  • Phone/camera charger
  • Laptop (if working remotely)
  • waterproof bluetooth speaker

Medicines/first aid:

  • Cold medicine
  • Ibuprofen
  • Imodium
  • anti-nausea


  • Surfboard
  • ding repair kit
  • spare fin key
  • spare leash
  • surf wax +comb
  • portable hammock
  • waterproof watch
  • packing cubes
  • collapsible day bag
  • passport neck pouch
  • a good book to read on the beach

My favorite items I brought to Costa Rica

Backpacking Costa Rica was my first real solo adventure abroad and I was very concerned about safety + pickpocketing, so I bought this pouch to secure my valuables (passport, phone, credit cards) while traveling. I opted for this over a money belt, because I knew I would often be wearing dresses in Costa Rica, and it would be difficult to access a money belt from under a dress. This pouch was PERFECT to wear under my shirt when I was in busier cities, and bus stations. PLUS, when I was in safer beach towns I actually just ended up using it as a little purse which was really nice.

I only brought this backpack with me to Costa Rica for 4 months and it was PERFECT. It’s carryon size so no need to check a bag, and it also fits all the essentials for a trip from 2 weeks- 4 months or longer! It also has a nice hip belt that buckles, so you get some extra support.

Collapsible day bag

This collapsible day bag was perhaps the most useful thing I brought to Costa Rica. It was perfect for day trips, hikes, and beach days! It fit my towel, water bottle, sunscreen, wallet, change of clothes, and just about everything I needed for the day. And the best part is it takes up hardly any room in my backpack.

Lightweight Rain Jacket

This is a pretty essential part of a Costa Rica packing list. In the rainy season, you’ll probably use it every day. In the dry season, you’ll still get some rain and be glad you have it!

Surfing Bikini

This Jolyn bikini is absolutely perfect for surfing in Costa Rica. Unlike pretty much all other bikinis/swimsuits, it actually stays on while you’re swimming/ surfing around! If you’re thinking about trying surfing, or you are a surfer, I highly recommend this Jolyn bikini, it’s well worth the price.

Diva Cup

The Diva Cup is a great alternative to other feminine products. It takes up much less space in your bag, is environmentally friendly, and more comfortable than other products.

Sony A6000 Camera

If you want to bring a camera on your Costa Rica trip, I highly recommend this camera. I actually shot all the photos on this website with this camera! It’s a small, fast, and affordable DSLR camera.

Waterproof surf watch

This watch served me well throughout 4 months of surfing and adventuring in Costa Rica. I didn’t have an issue with it in the water, it never came off, and for the price, it was a great addition to my Costa Rica Packing List, and one of my favorite surfing accessories.

What you don’t need on your Costa Rica Packing List

  • heels: the style in Costa Rica is very casual, and heels will only take up precious backpack space.
  • heavy clothing: It is HOT in Costa Rica, and you won’t want any heavy clothing. Pack lightweight, breathable materials!
  • umbrella: you won’t want to carry it around, you’ll probably STILL get wet even with one. A rain jacket will suffice!
  • flashy jewelry: Costa Rica is extremely safe but you still want to be careful with flashing your valuables. Plus, the overall style in Costa Rica is more beach/casual so you probably don’t want to wear flashy jewelry anyway.

I hope you enjoyed this post about creating a Costa Rica Packing List!

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  1. I love that you include what you DON’T need. So many people overpack and then end up not using or needing half the stuff they bring. Learning to be a minimalist packer is key.

  2. Great guide! I also love that you include what not to pack! It can be so easy to pack extra/unnecessary things, and it’s so helpful that you share what we won’t need.

  3. Hey, how did you get from a to b with your surfboard? I’m thinking about bringing mine but I’m not sure if that’s too much trouble like getting on a bus and so on.

    1. Hi Jessica!

      I traveled using a combination of public busses, rental cars, and shared shuttles.

      On some public busses I paid for a seat for my surfboard (cost like $3USD). On others, it got stashed underneath the bus in the luggage compartment. At 5’6 my board was pretty short, but the storage compartment underneath the bus is quite large so a bigger board shouldn’t be an issue. Hope this answers your question!


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