Costa Rican Itinerary and Packing List

Costa Rica is an outdoor enthusiasts play ground with all the national parks, beaches, volcanoes and sanctuary’s. If you want to get a taste of everything this country has to offer, I would follow our itinerary:

Map of Costa Rica
An at-a-glance of our Costa Rican itinerary: land in San Jose, travel to La Paz, Arenal, Monteverde, wrapping up in Quepos before returning to San Jose. Image courtesy of Google Maps.

As you can see, it’s essentially a small “loop” around the country. It’s also a lot of driving so pay attention to the stops we made along the way (i.e., the bird sanctuary, La Paz, etc.) to break up the monotony and ensure your holiday feels like a holiday. Adventure Smith Explorers took care of our transportation which also removed a layer of stress for us. You can have your own tour provider do the same or you can rent a car and travel on your own. Roads are pretty well-marked even if they are small compared to U.S. four-and five-lane highways.

I’m really passionate about this trip itinerary because of all the traveling I’ve done, Costa Rica is one place where I left feeling as though I got experience most of the country. I loved my trip to Egypt but have some tiny regrets about not getting to the Red Sea. In India, we barely scratched the surface of potential places to visit and things to see. But not in Costa Rica. Sure, there is more in this beautiful country but this itinerary covered a lot of ground at a reasonable pace (i.e., about two to three days in each location).

Packing for a visit here is a little different, especially if you are going to following our itinerary. There are so many climates that your clothing needs to be a blend of items that are “fashion forward” and more practical or athletic oriented gear. Here’s a short packing list to get you started:

  • Light weight shirts with wicking fabric
  • Long sleeve shirt for layering at night or in cloud forest area
  • Long pants for day wear (Costa Rica is casual so jeans are okay)
  • Hiking or Yoga pants for excursions
  • Medium weight rain jacket
  • Medium weight jacket or sweater (whichever is more “multi purpose”)
  • Swim wear and cover-up
  • One pair of closed toe shoes (for the rain forest, volcano)
  • One pair of open toe shoes (for the beach areas and/or going out)

For more packing insights, I thought this article from Travel Fashion Girl had great suggestions.The corresponding images are also helpful in terms of style. Remember, on the whole this is more a casual country. You don’t need to be dressed as if you are going to Fashion Week in Paris. Off the beach area, I would err on the side of conservative dressing. Ladies that means keeping your cleavage covered and Gents, that’s means keep your shirts on.

Whatever you pack, enjoy this magical country. It has so much to offer and remains a favorite stamps in my passport.