Sunscreen and Bug Spray for Costa Rica

sunscreenSo you’re coming to Costa Rica – either for a vacation, or (get back Jack) to MOVE here.
You want to know about the sun and the bugs.

Well, I’m here to tell you – the sun is pretty potent in Costa Rica.
We are only 10 degrees North of the Equator, after all, my friends!
equator map winner
You know what that means. The sun will be more intense here in Costa Rica,
no matter what you are used to in the States.
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So… these are just my personal opinions on sunscreen and bug repellent, but I’ve been asked enough that I thought I’d put together a little blog post.  So here you go – my recommendations, just for you:

Banana Boat Sport Performance 30 SPF:  Greg uses this every time he hikes for his face, neck and arms. I use it on my whole body when I know I’m going to be outside in direct sun for a while.  It works great.  Also, Greg has pretty sensitive skin and has issues with eczema from time to time, and this sunscreen does not bother his skin at all – so it’s a win/win!

Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen SPF 30:  I like to use this on my face only, as it’s a little more pricey.  It’s dermatologist recommended and is water resistant for up to 80 minutes.  It is really light feeling, and has a pleasant smell.
FullSizeRender-3Olay Complete All Day Moisturizer SPF 15 (normal skin):  I use this EVERY morning on my face, mainly as a moisturizer, but wanted to mention here as it contains 15 SPF as well.  If I go out and forget to put extra sunscreen on, this covers me just fine (unless I’m spending more than an hour in direct sunlight).  I really love this stuff – I don’t break out from it (like I’ve been known to do with other moisturizers), it is light and just makes my face feel good and hydrated.  It comes in 3 different formulas – normal, sensitive skin and combination/oily.
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OFF! Deep Woods Sportsmen with Deet:  Particularly if you are near water or rain forests (but other places in the Central Valley as well), you need to think about mosquitoes and other insects.  Particularly at night (from dusk on) and early mornings.  My favorite is OFF with Deet, the deet is important for mosquitoes, biting flies, fleas and small flying insects.  At the beach there is a teeny tiny type of insect (similar to Noseeums) – that you can’t really see or tell that they’re biting you – until much later when you cannot stop scratching and itching, worse than a mosquito bite.  This stuff will protect you from them.


OFF! Deep Woods Sportsmen Insect Repellent:  This is another OFF! product that has 30% deet, still great protection for up to 8 hours:
off shotAnd, that’s all I got!  These products are really all we use for sunscreen and bug repellent and after 2 years of being here, they work wonders for us.  We keep buying these same brands over and over.  Sunscreen and bug repellent are very pricey in Costa Rica (you will see them locked up in cabinets sometimes!), so best to bring with you if you can.  If you’re coming here for a visit or to move here – now you will be prepared.

Cheers! — Jen

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10 Responses to Sunscreen and Bug Spray for Costa Rica

  1. Hi Jen- we’ll be in Tamarindo this September during the rainy season. In the past we’ve only visited in the dry months so I’m uncertain what to expect as far as mosquitoes. How bad were they when you were there in June?

    • Hi Cindy, I did notice mosquitoes at night after it got dark in Tamarindo, so definitely use bug repellent. I didn’t one night and I paid for it… 🙁

  2. Love your recommendations. Thanks for the post Jen, the info comes in handy whenever we travel to Mexican too.

  3. Have you ever tried anything “natural” as a bug repellent (coconut oil, non-chemical type stuff)? I don’t care for the smell of traditional bug sprays. Or are the insects/bugs too intense for non-chemical concoctions?

    • I have not, so I don’t know. Where our house is, we don’t need bug spray – it’s only when we go to the beachy areas (although I have heard other people in the Central Valley who need it – each area is just so different).

      • Another good reason to try out different areas of CR before settling on one place to live. Bugs love me, so I’d need to find a location that the biting bug population is tolerable 😉

  4. Sunscreen is of vital importance to me. We live in Nova Scotia Canada and I use a SPF60 all the time. I think we are under an ozone hole here because I burn in no time here up North. However when visiting Caribbean, I do fine with less sunscreen. Are SPF60 readily available? We are visiting Playa Potrero in January 2016 and wonder if I should stock up before we leave?

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