Clothing requirements for each area of the country vary by climate zones. Most first time visitors to Costa Rica believe they are going to the rain forests or beaches. You will certainly see them, but Costa Rica offers so much more. There are nearly 40 different climate zones in Costa Rica, however, depending upon where you are traveling, you will need to pack at most for four; Cloud Forests, Beach areas, Rain Forests and/or Dry Forests (Seco). In the Monte Verde/Santa Elena area for instance, there are eleven
First thing to know is :”less is more”
Consider all of the regions and climates that you will be experiencing during your visit.
Layering your clothing is a good strategy. You will want to bring activity specific items for certain outings (rainforest adventures, beaches, etc.). Bring along plastic bags for storing wet clothes/shoes on excursions. Pack for various types of weather, no matter what season you’re traveling.
Bring a small day pack that you can take on day hikes and activities.
In Costa Rica not all roads are marked and not all locations have street addresses. There may not be street signs on intersections or numbers on houses. Costa Ricans (Ticos) will not necessarily be able to locate an exact destination on a map (or even tell you where you are). Directions may be given by referring to a number of meters north and a number of meters east of some “landmark” (churches, parks, schools, tall buildings; or basically anything that can be easily identified). The landmark may a be big tree even if that tree had been cut down ten years earlier. The locals may still use the location as the starting point for all directions in the area. A “mark” (address/sign, etc.) may be on the side of one of the buildings near the corner.
When traveling internationally, it is recommended to review your hazard and health insurance
policies. Not all policies cover incidents internationally and if they do, they may require payment
in full at the time of treatment and subsequent application for reimbursement.
Although the water in San José is generally safe to drink, water quality varies outside the city.
Bugs and bug bites can be a health concern in the Costa Rican wilderness. Beside being
annoying, mosquitoes can carry malaria or dengue. A strong insect repellent and proper clothing
minimize both the danger and the inconvenience. Pack an anti-itch cream (cortisone or Benadryl)
to soothe itching.
Even though Spanish is the primary language in Costa Rica, English comes in second along the South Pacific Coast because of the large population of Americans and Europeans. You may also hear the local “Tico’s” speak in vostros. As with any foreign country, you should familiarize yourself with their language because you will come across people who do not understand yours!
When arriving in Costa Rica you will go through immigration, collect your bags, and then pass through customs before you exit the terminal. If you have any food (including fruits, vegetables, etc.) or substances which can be sniffed by dogs, you will be stopped. Declare food or get rid of it before you arrive.
Costa Rica is in the Central Standard Time Zone but does NOT observe daylight savings time so the time difference is an additional hour April through October.