I thought I’d start my Costa Rica posts with one about my personal must pack list. Personally, this was a unique trip for me because our days were filled with so many adventures/excursions. Let’s put it this way – you’re not packing for just the beach!
Let me provide some context about our trip. We were in Costa Rica for 6 nights total – mainly in Arenal and Manuel Antonio. Over the course of four of those days, we participated in five different excursions (I’ll share more detail in my other posts). As you can imagine, shopping and packing for this trip was interesting.
With that being said, here is my must pack list for an adventure filled trip to Costa Rica…
1. Water shoes – These bad boys saved my feet/toes multiple times as the hot springs and beaches can be quite rocky. We also wore our water shoes during the waterfall rapelling and white water rafting excursions, and they were the perfect footwear. Highly recommend!
2. Hiking boots – I was super skeptical about this purchase, but looking back, I’m so glad both Vishnu and I splurged on good quality hiking boots. If you’re planning to do any kind of hiking in Costa Rica, I recommend a solid pair of boots. I almost rolled my ankle twice! We also wore our boots in place of sneakers for all other excursions. We bought ours at a local REI. I recommend getting fitted if you’re new to this just like you would for running shoes. The last thing you need on an eight mile hike through the Costa Rican rainforest is an uncomfortable pair of shoes.
3. Rain jacket – Even if you’re travelling during the dry season (which we did), I still highly recommend bringing a good quality rain jacket with you. It drizzled during our zip lining excursion, and while our jackets didn’t necessarily keep us warm, they did keep us dry which was as good as it got at the time!
4. Bug spray – A strong, good quality bug spray is a must! Those Costa Rican mosquitos aren’t messing around. For those of you who follow me on Instagram Stories or have been reading MIS for a while, you know my favorite natural spray is Bug Off by Me and a Tree Skincare. This stuff has travelled with me to India, Panama, Florida, and now Costa Rica. Not only is it safe to use, it really does keep the bugs away. I didn’t get a single mosquito bite during this trip (or any of the others)! And an added bonus – it smells amazing!
5. SPF – Don’t forget a good quality SPF for face and body. Personally, I like using something different on my face because of how sensitive my skin is. I can’t recommend the Drunk Elephant SPF enough. I use the tinted kind and LOVE it.
6. Hat – This may seem like a ‘maybe/maybe not’ kind of item, but it’s a must because that sun isn’t messing around. All five of us wore our hats daily.
7. First aid kit – So technically, we didn’t have to open our first aid kid during this trip. However, I still recommend bringing one, especially if your trip is excursion heavy. I scraped my knee pretty bad during the waterfall rapelling (at the VERY end while we’re walking to lunch…ugh!), and I’m so thankful someone else in our wider excursion group had a water resistant band aid. Rafting would’ve been very painful otherwise.
8. Sunglasses – Be sure to bring a CHEAP pair of sunglasses with you. Keep the good stuff at home!
9. Pants/hiking pants – While it may seem counterintuitive to pack pants for a HOT Costa Rican vacation, hear me out! A good, comfortable pair of pants/hiking pants will protect your legs from scraps, bugs, etc. The boys wore actual hiking pants (I got these for Vishnu, and he raved about them such great fit/quality for the price), while my sister and I got away with workout leggings.
10. Water bottles – Obviously, bottled water is sold everywhere in Costa Rica. But you’ll appreciate having a liter (or more) bottle of your own after a few hours in the sun. I got two of these bottles for me and Vishnu and feel that they served the purpose, not only when we were out and about, but also when we were just hanging out at our Airbnbs. A little tip – instead of buying small individual bottles, buy a (or more!) 6 liter jugs. Life saver!
Obviously, we packed other things like nice dinner outfits, bathing suits, flip flops, etc. But the 10 items above are the ones you really need!
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