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What to Bring When You Go Hiking in Costa Rica


There’s nothing worse than being midway through your hike in the middle of the rainforest when you realize you forgot something important. There’s no convenience store nearby for you to grab a bottle of water and you really don’t want to wake up the next day with mosquito bites because you forgot to apply bug repellant. Avoid that panicky feeling and check the following list of hiking essentials before you go:   



When going hiking in Costa Rica, it is best to dress in layers so you can easily adjust to a change in weather or activity level. You should also take note of when you are traveling to Costa Rica before deciding what to wear on your hike. As mentioned in a previous blog post, Costa Rica has two seasons: rainy season and dry season. If you are planning on hiking during rainy season, it is especially important to bring a waterproof rain jacket. While a poncho can work, a waterproof rain jacket will keep you the driest and most comfortable should you run into a sudden downpour of rain. A jacket with ample ventilation can be even better as it tends to get humid when hiking in the rain. Regardless of the season, it is best to avoid cotton and wear clothes that dry fast or keep moisture away. Depending on the length of your hike, it could also be useful to pack extra clothing.



Wearing the appropriate footwear is crucial to staying comfortable during your hike. For a short, relatively easy hike, trail shoes are great. For longer, more difficult hikes, hiking boots will provide more comfort and support. While waterproof shoes are preferable, stores sell waterproof sprays for shoes if you do not want to buy waterproof hiking boots. Another great option is to use hiking sandals. Hiking sandals are perfect for going from land to water. Plus they dry quickly and don’t smell, allowing your feet to breathe without walking in soggy shoes and socks.

Safety Items

During any hike, it is important to carry safety equipment such as: a first aid kit, knife or multipurpose tool, fire, flashlight, and whistle. These items can help you should you get lost or injured, need to call for help, or repair malfunctioning equipment.


Navigation Items

Although there is an app for everything these days, carrying a map and compass or GPS unit can help you if you lose your cellphone signal. Navigation tools will not only tell you your exact location and how far you have to go until your destination, but can help you find important resources like campsites, water, and an emergency exit route in case of an accident.


Food and Water

Water is the most essential item to carry with you during your hike in Costa Rica. Not only will you crave water if hiking under the hot sun, but it is necessary for the function of your body’s muscles and organs. Without ample water, you could suffer from hypothermia, altitude sickness, fatigue and more. With the warm temperatures and humidity in Costa Rica, it will be beneficial to carry your water in an insulated water bottle to keep your drink cool throughout the duration of the hike. Bringing extra water and a portable water purifying tool will leave you in good hands. You should also pack extra food in case you are out longer than expected due to unforeseeable circumstances. Even though you should always carry some food and water, the duration of your hike should determine the quantity of food and water you pack.


Other Essentials


Since Costa Rica is only 8-12 degrees from the equator, it is crucial to apply sunscreen prior to and throughout the duration of your hike. Even if you are hiking through a shaded rainforest or traveling to Costa Rica during rainy season, you can still get sunburned because of the close proximity to the equator and high elevation. It’s recommended to use sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher and lip balm with sunscreen included.


Backpack or Daypack

When hiking, you’ll want to have a daypack or backpack so you can carry your belongings comfortably. For shorter hikes, a small backpack will usually be sufficient, while 25-30L backpacks are recommended for longer hikes. With the chance of rain in Costa Rica, having a waterproof backpack or backpack with a built-in rain cover will keep your belongings secure.


Bug Repellent

While the rainforests of Costa Rica are beautiful, they are also home to various bugs and mosquitos. Be sure to apply bug repellent prior to and throughout the duration of your hike to prevent catching any bug bites or serious diseases.


Microfiber Towel 

Carrying a microfiber towel is extremely useful for hiking in Costa Rica. You can use it to wipe off sweat, cool yourself off on a hot day, or wrap your belongings in should it start to rain.


Sunglasses and Hat

Sunglasses and hats or visors are essential items for hiking in Costa Rica. With the close proximity to the sun and the potential for a downpour of rain, having these items can protect you from any sun damage and keep you dry from the rain.


Cameras and Technology

Hiking in Costa Rica will expose you to some of the most stunning views you’ve ever seen, so you might want to bring a camera to capture all your memories. Action cameras meant for hiking like GoPros or Sony Action Cams are waterproof and meant for adventure. Make sure to bring the necessary technical accessories for your cameras as well.


If you plan on going hiking with a tour guide, your guide should tell you everything you need to know before embarking on your adventure. Some tours provide hiking essentials, like water and gear, so be sure to check with your guide before you go to avoid carrying around any unnecessary supplies.


Interested in going hiking in Costa Rica with an experienced, reputable tour guide? Check out Ocean Ranch Park’s mildly challenging Waterfall Canyon Hike! This two hour hike explores Ocean Ranch Park’s private reserve trails with the gorgeous “Gemelas” waterfalls and the breathtaking El Encanto waterfall. Hikers will have the opportunity to take a dip in the various water ponds and swimming holes throughout the hike. You don’t want to miss out on this once in a lifetime experience to explore the beautiful raw and wild scenery.


Contact Ocean Ranch Park at (949) 208-1158 or here for more information!