What to bring to Costa Rica

What to bring to Costa Rica has everything to do with where you are going and what time of year you arrive.  We recommend you review our Costa Rica Weather section of this web site to see what the weather will be like when you arrive.  In addition to the clothing recommendations we want to remind you of the most important things to remember:

Suggested Items to to include in your packing list:

  • Umbrella or Raincoat
  • Comfortable walking/hiking shoes
  • Warm sweater or light jacket (for higher elevations or windy days)
  • Bug repellant (can buy in Costa Rica supermarkets if necessary)
  • Sunglasses
  • Binoculars (if visiting a national park)
  • Camera
  • Bathing suit (for hot springs, beach and hotel pools)
  • Sunscreen and sunblock (30+ recommended)
  • Any specialized medications such as insulin, blood pressure pills or heart medication (see note 1 below)
  • Phone numbers of your hotel, driver or whomever you plan to visit in Costa Rica
  • Passport and travelers checks (see note 2 below)
  • List of '800' numbers to call if you lose anything important (such as your credit cards)

Sometimes it is better to rent a surf board In our experience the best guidebook for Costa Rica is the Moon Handbook. It includes insights on everything from hiking in Corcovado National Park to exclusive dining in Escazu.

Items you should NOT bring to Costa Rica:

  • Seeds or live plants of any kind - these will be confiscated by customs
  • Firearms (unless cleared in advance - contact a Costa Rican consulate and your airline for details)
  • Illegal drugs - they have stiff penalties for any caught transporting illegal drugs across their borders, and Marijuana is illegal in Costa Rica.
  • More than $10,000 in cash if traveling from the United States - each individual must fill out a declaration at the airport of departure if you plan to bring more than this amount

Note 1: Costa Rica has an exceptional health care system.  If you suddenly find yourself in need of medication or medical attention you need'nt be concerned.  The Doctors here are extremely well educated and take a personal interest in each patient.  Many persons from North America travel to Costa Rica to have surgery or cosmetic dentistry done due to the lower costs and excellent quality of care. 

If you have need of a specific medication, you will find almost all commonly used medications in any large pharmacy, or at the pharmacy of CIMA Hospital (part of the Baylor University Medical Center) located in Escazu just outside San Jose.

Note 2: Some persons bring travelers checks as a protection against theft.  Be aware, some small establishments do not accept travelers checks and it would be wise to change the checks at your hotel or at a bank before you go to remote places in Costa Rica.  Alternatively, many simply use their bank debit cards.  If your card says "PLUS" or "CIRRUS" on the back, your card should work fine with many of the automatic tellers in the country.  Major banks such as Scotiabank, Interfin, Banco Uno and others have tellers available.  Also, the country is dotted with "ATH" cash machines (stands for:  A Toda Hora or "at all hours").  These tellers accept international credit cards.