Costa Rica has two seasons: green (May – November) and high (mid-December – April). There are advantages to visiting during either time as there’s some regional variability. For instance, the Caribbean coast tends to be drier from July through October, as do areas of Monteverde on the Continental Divide. On the Central Pacific Coast, there may be several days without rain during green season.

Generally, temperatures will be warmer and much sunnier during high season. Attractions are more crowded, especially in December when visitors arrive for the Christmas holiday season and Costa Rican children are out of school. Prices are also higher and there are fewer bargains than during green season.


You’ll want to pack the many of the thing you’d pack for any vacation: shorts, T-shirts, and tops, as well as your swimsuits. Costa Ricans are casual about dress; however, in some instances, such as nicer restaurants or museums, women will want a couple of sundresses or nice outfits. Men should consider smart shorts or lightweight trousers and a sport shirt or two. Choose clothing that breathes, doesn’t wrinkle easily, and dries quickly—cotton or polycotton blend. If you’ll have access to laundry facilities, you can pack even more lightly.

Naturally, you’ll want your toiletries, including sunscreen and insect repellant (don’t worry if you forget them, Costa Rican stores will have whatever you’ve left at home).

Don’t forget your medicine kit! For your Costa Rica vacation you’ll want to bring along a sufficient supply of the meds you normally take. Maybe basic first aid items like:

  • pain and fever relief,
  • band aids,
  • anti-itch gel,
  • any go-to essential oils you normally use,
  • and antacids.

If you do forget a prescription or get sick and find that you’re in need of something, all pharmacies in Costa Rica have a doctor on staff that can advise you. With the exception of antibiotics, psychotropic drugs, and narcotics, you can obtain just about any kind of medication without a prescription in Costa Rica, including birth control pills, antidepressants, allergy medications, and even injections.

Pack some closed-toed shoes, such as sturdy sneakers or hiking shoes that you don’t mind getting wet or muddy. Of course, sandals and water shoes are practically required when your on your Costa Rica vacation.


  • Rain poncho – A poncho is an excellent addition to your wardrobe; it’s easy to carry and will be handy in case of sudden showers. A lightweight, water-repellant jacket will do nearly as well, it’s just less compact and easily carried.
  • Sweater/sweatshirt. At higher elevations, such as the cloud forests of Poas, Irazú, and Monteverde, it can be cooler than you think.
  • Broad-brimmed hat – A crushable hat is a wonderful thing, rain or shine.
  • Dry bag/day pack. If you’re planning whitewater rafting, kayaking, or other water adventures, a dry bag will help keep your belongings dry. A day pack is a great convenience at the beach or around town.

Unless you’re in a very remote area, most stores, especially in San José or Jacó, will have what you’re looking for in some shape or form. If you keep things to a minimum, you won’t have heavy bags to haul around from one place to another. That will make it a lot easier to see more of Costa Rica on your vacation.

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