Having an endless array of idyllic beaches and the most wildlife-rich rainforests on Earth, Costa Rica is an eco-tourism wonderland. Famously friendly local inhabitants, proximity to the US, and an affordable price tag have seen this dream vacation destination skyrocket in popularity over the years.
Are you planning a trip yourself? Then you might need a power adapter to keep your devices fully charged on the road. Here’s everything you need to know about picking the right adapter for Costa Rica and bonus packing tips for other much-needed items!
See our product selection criteria and guidelines here.
Which power outlets do they use in Costa Rica?
Like most countries in Central America, Costa Rica uses the A/B Type power outlet, which is made up of two horizontally aligned rectangular pins. It’s the same outlet you will find throughout North America.
The condition and quality of the power outlets vary tremendously in Costa Rica. Avoid trying to use any that appear burnt or flimsy, as they may result in a nasty electric shock.
What kind of adapter do I need for Costa Rica?
You might be asking yourself, “What plug do I need for Costa Rica?” The good news for American travelers is that these outlets are the same as we use at home, meaning it won’t be necessary to purchase a power adapter for Costa Rica. However, most other nationalities will need to purchase one to charge their devices.
We recommend this Universal Adapter that will have you covered in Costa Rica, in addition to 100+ other countries around the world.
It also has a fuse in place to protect your personal electronics from getting fried if you encounter a shoddy outlet, a useful feature even for American travelers, AND it comes with a lifetime replacement guarantee. This means it will serve you in your global jet-setting without having to purchase a ton of different adapters.
In addition to your US-to-Costa Rica power adapter, these items will help you pack with intention and expand the possibilities of your getaway. Also, check out our Costa Rica packing list for more inspiration and ideas.
1. Neck Wallet / Passport Pouch
Although it may be considerably safer than the neighboring countries, Costa Rica is no stranger to violent crime. One wrong turn into a dodgy San Jose barrio (neighborhood) could see a gun-toting gangster relieving a hapless tourist of their belongings. And if a passport and credit cards were to be taken, that would be enough to ruin an entire trip.
Therefore, it’s prudent to invest in a neck wallet to keep your valuables safe. These lightweight contraptions are capable of sliding effortlessly under the shirt, so the bad guys won’t even know your valuables are there. You can keep a decoy wallet in your pocket with only a little cash, but use the neck wallet to store your cash, credit cards, passports, travel docs, phones, or any other essential items.
Between the beautiful waterfalls, beaches, and rainforests, you’ll have plenty of reasons to bring a travel towel. Your hotel may not provide one that is up to your cleanliness standards and a big, fluffy one is not practical for hiking around slippery terrain. This microfiber option is the most lightweight and dries 10x faster than cotton, making it small but mighty! It’s our favorite and you will find a ton of uses for it.
Cybercrime is a global issue, and you’d be foolish to believe Costa Rica would be immune from attacks. So much so that America sent $25M last year to bail them out (yikes!) These days, hackers all over the world have begun hanging around free Wi-Fi hotspots to steal the personal information of unsuspecting web surfers. And if they manage to get a hold of your bank details, then you can say goodbye to your life savings forever.
Don’t take the risk. Invest in an affordable and user-friendly VPN to encrypt your web traffic and keep your personal information free from prying eyes. It will stop any thieves from monitoring your online activity, block ads, and mitigate any regional censorship you may suffer from that could stop you from using your favorite websites in Costa Rica. For a few dollars a month, NordVPNis one of the best investments in your cybersecurity and online freedom.
Whether you’re snapping a selfie with a Mantled Howler or on the hunt for the best reggae bar in Puerto Viejo, you’re going to need a fully charged device to enjoy a hassle-free travel experience in Costa Rica. And the best way to ensure you never run flat is to keep a lipstick-sized charger in your pocket or purse. It could be a lifesaver when you need to navigate to that very foreign-sounding hotel name that you can’t quite remember, or call for a ride in an emergency.
Sometimes, you only have a sink in a Costa Rican bathroom without any countertop or storage space. In case you have nowhere to set your liquid items, use this hanging toiletry bag to create a built-in shelf! This magical little bag is a gem and makes packing/repacking so much easier since you don’t have to scatter your products all over the place.
We’ve tried plastic bags for tons of products as a method for leak prevention, but this bag is a much more elegant solution. It’s reusable with stain-resistant material so it can withstand some bumpy international journeys. It’s one of our favorite discoveries of late and with 7 pockets (4 on the inside, 3 on the outside) you will have tons of compartments for your self-care products.
In most cases, your domestic provider does not extend overseas, including Medicare, Medicaid, and many other American providers. As we’ve mentioned, some Costa Rican destinations do have a relatively high rate of violent crime. Other potential incidents, such as transport accidents and natural disasters, could wreak havoc on even the most finely-tuned travel plans. You should not have to pay out-of-pocket for flight delays, baggage loss, pickpocketing, or other things that are out of your control. Keep yourself safe and protect the financial investment of your holiday by taking out a suitable travel insurance policy.
Faye is our preferred insurance because they are the first 100% digital provider. Everything is handled digitally, so you don’t have to fuss with endless paperwork or deal with stuffy insurance reps. Faye’s claims specialists are available 24/7 and genuinely care – they helped me video-chat with my doctor when I was overseas and made the process totally painless. With plans to “cancel for ANY reason,” they will make a non-refundable trip totally refundable.
Much of Costa Rica experiences heavy rainfall throughout the year, especially on the East Coast. Arrive prepared with a rugged, compact travel umbrella. We recommend one with a convenient auto open/close function and a carrying case that will keep your other belongings dry when stowing your umbrella. It weighs only 1-pound for travel and easily covers 2 people.
Costa Rica’s tap water can be a bit hit-or-miss. While you’ll have access to filtered water in highly-populated areas, you don’t want to depend on purchasing plastic water bottles for your whole trip, or winging it if you venture off the beaten path.
Bring your own filtration system to maintain control over your water supply. The Grayl is a bit pricey, but it’s a small investment in your health since it removes 99.9% of harmful bacteria, chlorine, viruses, pesticides, sediment, and more.
Even the most organized traveler could get into the habit of spreading their luggage all over the hotel room. One sure-fire way to keep everything nicely organized is to use packing cubes, little malleable cubes that neatly store each piece of clothing in categories of your choice (pants, tops, socks, essentials, etc.). With packing cubes, you’ll be able to quickly stow and retrieve whatever you need without having to dig through your bag and make a massive mess. We love the extra laundry bags that each set comes with and you can opt for the smaller 3-pack if you want to start small for a shorter trip.
Costa Rica is about enjoying epic naturescapes like beaches, waterfalls, rainforests, and more. Bring this waterproof phone case to safeguard your phone from the elements since anything from moisture to sand could ruin it. From dents and dings to accidentally dropping it in the pool or off the edge of a boat – this nifty case will keep everything 100% dry (and you can film some pretty cool underwater videos!)
I personally would not venture to Costa Rica without serious reinforcements for mosquitos. Not only do mosquito-borne illnesses still exist here (Chikungunya, Malaria, Hepatitis A, Dengue Fever, etc.), but they can be especially ravenous at dawn and dusk, as well as during the wet season from May to November).
Bring these wearable mosquito-repellent bracelets that ensure you’ll be protected without having to respray toxic fumes all day. They’re safe for kids, waterproof, and you can double-up on your wrists and ankles if you need to.
Another wonderful addition to your packing list – these magically self-cooling towels. Simply add water and they will drop to nearly 30-degrees cooler than the outside temp for up to an hour. When you’re ready for more chilly relief, just add more water! They are chemical-free and super lightweight since they’re made with a microfiber material. I wouldn’t go to the gym, on a hiking trip, or to a tropical destination without a couple of these gems! Especially given the heavy humidity you can experience in Costa Rica.
Ok, stay with me here – it may sound odd, but bringing your own toilet paper is a wise precaution. Not all bathrooms in Costa Rica will be as equipped as you’re used to, and sometimes you will be trekking far from civilization in an overgrown rainforest. Being able to ‘handle business’ whenever nature calls is a provision that you won’t regret. This brand is biodegradable so it would work for a no-waste camping site or if you have to go in the middle of nowhere.
You’ll likely do a bit of shopping at the artisan markets or pick up authentic souvenirs for yourself and loved ones. Bring this extra “just in case” bag to resolve the issue that has plagued traveler’s for millennia – overpacking. It will offer you the perfect-sized bag to avoid carry-on fees since this counts as your personal item on the flight home!
After having a pair of expensive sunglasses stolen out of our checked bag, we always secure our items with luggage locks. Make sure yours are TSA-approved like this set, which means security’s master key will work on it if your bag is selected for a random search. These locks offer real peace of mind when your bag is out-of-sight for hours during international travel, or you leave your suitcases in the hotel room unattended all day.
What’s the electricity and power supply like in Costa Rica?
Costa Rica runs on 110V and 50 Hz, which is the same as the USA. Therefore, American travelers needn’t worry about purchasing a voltage converter, even should they plan on bringing large appliances like fridges and TVs.
Unlike most other Central American countries, the people of Costa Rica have the luxury of enjoying a relatively stable national electrical system.
For the eco-conscious travelers, it’s very nice to know the country has one of the highest rates of renewable energy on Earth – just shy of 100%!
Do I Need A Voltage Converter In Costa Rica?
Travelers from most other regions of the world might wonder whether they need a voltage converter to charge their devices in Costa Rica. The good news is that regardless of what system you use at home, almost all personal electronics are dual-voltage these days, which means you can safely charge them on either system.
One common exception is the hairdryer, which often runs on a fixed frequency. Check the manufacturer’s instructions if in doubt.
Other FAQs about traveling in Costa Rica
1. When to Travel to Costa Rica?
The best time to visit Costa Rica is during its dry season, which runs between December and April each year, although there is an additional dry spell in June and July. During these less rainy months, the country enjoys ample sunshine each day; the ideal climate to kick back on its pristine beaches or seek out wildlife in its lush rainforests.
Of course, the dry season is also the high season, which means you’ll be sharing the magic with hordes of other tourists.
Airfares and hotel rates are going to be considerably higher at this time as well. The crowds dissipate, and the prices plunge once the high season comes to an end. November and May are a good bet as they usually only see sporadic rainfall and manageable crowds. Be sure to check current Costa Rica travel advisories before you go.
2. What’s the weather like in Costa Rica?
As you might expect, Costa Rica has a warm and tropical environment with substantial annual rainfall and a high level of humidity. The average annual temperature of Costa Rica is between 70° and 81° F (12° and 27° C). Note that the Pacific coast is significantly less humid than the Caribbean side.
3. Where to go in Costa Rica?
Despite its small stature, Costa Rica comes ram-packed with exciting attractions to explore. And for many, it’s the blindingly white sands of the country’s pristine tropical beaches that spark such allure.
On the Pacific side, Tamarindo draws in big crowds for its well-developed tourism infrastructure, proximity to the Liberia International Airport, and killer surf breaks.
Nearby, Playa del Coco and Playa Hermosa are attractive options for a sunny seaside escape.
If you’d rather veer off the well-trodden tourist trail, the pristine Manuel Antonio National Park hosts some of Central America’s best beaches and thick virgin rainforest. Further south is the remote Corcovado National Park, which hosts plenty of dense jungle trails and idyllic places to swim. If calm turquoise waves and a chilled Rastafarian vibe are more your thing, then Costa Rica’s Caribbean Coast should be your first port of call. Expect to smell plenty of ganja smoke wafting through the air at Puerto Viejo de Talamanca; Costa Rica’s capital of chill. Awesome surf and wildlife volunteering opportunities add to the appeal.
To catch a glimpse of the gorgeous Green Sea Turtles as Mother Nature intended, make your way to Tortuguero National Park during nesting season from July to October. However, the best wildlife experiences lie within the lush Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. This perpetually wet region is teeming with all sorts of cute and cuddly creatures – not to mention an abundance of creepy crawlies as well. Thankfully, professional nature guides make spotting the most exotic animals a breeze. And for a little added adrenaline, there’s an array of exciting flying fox tours to enjoy in the region.
Another excellent inland eco-tourism option is La Fortuna, a beautiful region that’s packed full of gushing waters and towering volcanoes to explore. The capital, San Jose, mightn’t be a bucket list destination, but it does at least have a number of fascinating colonial sites and vibrant after-dark entertainment.
Given its small size, overland travel is king in Costa Rica. Public buses are regular, efficient, and reliable, not to mention incredibly cheap. However, most holidaymakers opt for private transfers for the convenience they afford. These can be organized in any local travel agency and ply every tourist route. Domestic flights do exist but are rarely worth it when you factor in the check-in and airport transfer time.
Asher has been traveling the world since he left Australia to study in the USA in 2004. He received a Master’s in Business Administration degree in 2013. He has lived all over the globe including India, Europe, Hawaii, and mainland US. He enjoys researching the travel industry, loves being a dad, cooking & eating delicious food, photography (took many of our photos), surfing big waves on Maui, camping trips and walking barefoot on the earth.