Pack smart to travel light

Planning Your Trip – What to Pack

Congratulations on booking the adventure trip of a lifetime to Casa Roja and the incredible Osa Peninsula! Now that your departure is near, it’s time to consider what to bring, and just as important, what to leave at home. The majority of tourists travel with too many clothes and too much gear, which can slow you down and detract from your enjoyment. Chances are you’ve spent a considerable amount of time planning your itinerary and selecting your lodging, so now spend a little time making sure you bring the proper gear, and only what you need.

The adage “less is more” is especially applicable for travelling on a Costa Rican adventure, which may require several airport transfers, flights on small propeller planes, a bus or van ride, and boat rides. For adventure travel, we prefer soft-sided, backpack-style luggage over hard-sided luggage with wheels (which are useless on dirt roads and uneven surfaces in the paved areas of Costa Rica). Your goal should be to bring only one carry-on size bag for your entire vacation. Having only one bag allows you more control over your belongings and you are less likely to leave something behind. A small backpack can also be useful at times, and there are lightweight travel versions that can be stuffed in your larger bag while traveling. Carrying on means you don’t risk the airline losing your luggage, and you will spend less time waiting at the airport baggage claim upon arrival. As a general rule, if you cannot fit all your things into a carry-on size bag, you have more than you need. Our experience is that most tourists return home with a lot of items they either didn’t use, or used only once or rarely. Below are our tips for packing only the essentials.


As you prepare for you trip, consider that proper protection from the sun during the day leaves you feeling better in the evening, so you can use that time searching for frogs and snakes (with a guide – please don’t venture away from the casa alone), or enjoying a few delicious cocktails made with fresh fruits and local liquors. We see too many tourists that underestimate the sun, even on cloudy days, and are red, dehydrated, have a headache, and are generally miserable at the end of the day. Don’t let poor planning and lack of sun protection make you miss out on some wonderful, once-in-a-lifetime evening experiences!

Although everyone has a different level of tolerance to sun exposure, generally, the more protected you are against the sun, the better you will feel. A breathable, long-sleeved shirt is invaluable, especially if you are fair skinned. Shirts that are similar to, but usually worn a little looser than, rash guard-style surfing shirts can also be worn while swimming or snorkeling. Consider one or both of these styles of long-sleeved shirts, depending on your planned activities.

When it comes to your clothes, your choice of fabric is most important, not appearance or fashion. Nobody cares what you look like in the jungle (especially the wildlife!), so focus on practical, effective clothes that will keep you dry and comfortable. Modern, breathable fabrics are highly recommended over cotton. Cotton retains moisture, smells bad, and leaves you looking like a drowned rat after a rainstorm. Breathable fabrics are lighter, take up less space in your luggage, and can usually be worn more than once before washing, which helps you pack light. We also have laundry facilities and will wash and dry clothes for you as needed.

After the sun, protection from bugs is your next priority! Luckily, the same long-sleeved shirt that you wear to protect you from the sun also works for bugs. Generally, the two most bothersome insects are mosquitos and sandflies (no-see-ums). Casa Roja is as open-air design, so bugs can be present in the mornings and evenings. Mosquitos aren’t usually a problem around the house, but they are a concern when you venture out on night tours, so be prepared. Sandflies are sporadic, but are definitely the worst during the week of the full moon, and are more prevalent at the casa than mosquitos. Lightweight, long–sleeved shirts and pants are your best protection in the evenings.

How many pairs of pants, shorts, socks, etc. should you bring? Don’t bring a new change of clothes for each day! Generally, one pair of long pants for your flight, bug protection, and for the occasional cool evenings at Casa Roja is appropriate. The weather in southern Costa Rica is hot throughout the year, so you will spend most of your time in light, casual clothes. Note that if you’re going to spend any time in San Jose or any of the highland areas, you’ll definitely need an extra layer or two of clothing, so pack accordingly. A hat with a broad brim will help protect your face and neck from sunburn, and these are popular with locals who understand the intensity of the sun, even on overcast days.


Much of your time in Casa Roja or on the beach can be spent in flip-flops or clogs. However, when you venture on the grounds or away from the house, you should have a good pair of shoes with suitable soles for walking. Shoes that can get wet and muddy and be easily rinsed or dunked in the ocean are best. When exploring the property, adjacent rainforest, or other nearby places such as Isla Violin, you should wear tall rubber boots to help protect against snakes and other creatures. We have a variety of sizes of boots available for you to use.

Rain Protection

The rain and getting wet are a big concern for many first-time visitors to the Osa Peninsula, especially during the rainy season (May to November, heaviest in October). Rain in the jungle can be torrential, and you should look forward to the experience rather than fear it. A good rain and thunder storm will be a memorable experience, probably unlike anything you’ve encountered before. If you’re heading downriver to Casa Roja from Sierpe in the afternoon during the rainy season, there’s a good chance it will rain and you may get wet (we will keep your luggage dry). A rain jacket or poncho will help keep you dry, but not 100%, which is all the more reason to be wearing breathable, easy-to-dry clothing. Look for a lightweight jacket with a hood. Longer jackets are preferable to jackets that only reach the waistline. We have umbrellas for you to use around the property as needed, but these should not be taken on the boat or jungle tours. We supply jackets for you to wear on the boat and on jungle tours, so don’t worry if you want to travel light or leave your rain jacket behind.

Water bottle

Tap water is drinkable throughout Costa Rica, so there is no need to purchase bottled water wherever you go. We strive to use as little plastic as possible, especially single-use items such as bottled water. To help us meet our goal, bring a reusable water bottle to accompany you on all of your excursions and help prevent you from getting dehydrated. We have clean water to refill your bottle during your adventures. If you forget your bottle at home or want to travel light, we’ll have you covered with an assortment of sizes of insulated water bottles to meet your needs.


Whereas a water bottle is a critical item during the day, a flashlight is your best friend at night. Casa Roja is perched atop the Boca de Rio Sierpe, in the middle of the jungle. In addition to popular wildlife such as monkeys and sloths, we also have less-popular critters, such as venomous snakes, scorpions, and a plethora of insects that are more frightful-looking than dangerous. A flashlight is important to help locate these animals on night hikes with your guide, but also guide your way around the casa at night, such as getting up to use the bathroom. While the bedrooms are screened to keep bugs and animals out, but we do occasionally encounter insects in the house, so be alert and carry a flashlight. Our favorite flashlights to carry around the house and on hikes are the rechargeable Olight S2R II and the Olight H1R.

Medications and essential personal items

We have a well-stocked medical cabinet to address minor aches and pains, but please bring medications and personal items you consider essential.


Be sure to bring your phone, camera, and chargers to document your unforgettable vacation. While there is cell service in Sierpe, there is no reception at the Casa Roja property. We recommend using internet-based apps such as WhatsApp for communication. There are plenty of US-style outlets and USB chargers located throughout the house.


Yes, we have internet! It is a modern miracle considering our remote location, and it is even fast enough to stream audio and video. However, be aware that some streaming services restrict downloads in foreign countries, so your preferred service may not be available. Download TV shows or movies before you leave home, or better yet, just plan on listening to nature as you read one of our many books on Costa Rica’s natural history and wildlife.


While the official currency of Costa Rica is the colon, US dollars are also widely accepted throughout the country, but not euros or other currencies. It is helpful to bring some dollars (in $20 bills or smaller) for local purchases, and larger bills (50s and 100s) if you need to pay for guided trips and other activities on your vacation. If you pay for something with dollars, expect to change back in colones. Credit cards are also widely accepted for larger purchases. The Bank of Costa Rica (BCR) in Palmar Norte is the nearest ATM to Sierpe and Casa Roja, and provides both dollars and colones. However, don’t rely on accessing ATMs in Costa Rica.

Other Items

Please check our Available Equipment to see the gear supplied at Casa Roja, such as binoculars, spotting scopes, snorkel and fishing gear, and rubber boots. We also provide sunscreen and bug spray, but many people have brand preferences, so feel free to bring your own (you may also need them during other parts of your trip). We recommend that you leave jewelry and other valuables, perfumes, cosmetics, etc. at home. Finally, the most important things to bring for an amazing experience at Casa Roja are a positive attitude and a sense of adventure!