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Sloth and woman, jungle animal in Costa Rica

Dressing Smart: What to Wear in Costa Rica

Costa Rica’s natural richness and diversity give you so many exploration opportunities. From white water rafting to adventure activities and relaxing on beautiful beaches, you’ll have a lot on your to-do list.

However, if you are to enjoy all of these activities to the maximum, you need to bring the right clothes. Costa Rica’s climate and the specifics of the places you’ll be visiting should guide you when you’re putting together your packing list. And while you don’t need a ton of things as far as travel essentials go, there are a couple of clothing items that need to find their place in your suitcase.

Costa Rica Beachwear Essentials

Is your trip about beach towns and water activities? If so, you can pack light. There are just a couple of things that you’ll need to have for a comfortable and fully satisfying vacation.

Your beachwear should include:

  • Favorite beach clothes like a swimsuit, a bikini, a tankini, or whatever else you feel good in
  • A pair of sandals and a pair of water shoes if you plan to partake in water sports
  • A towel or two
  • A sunhat and a pair of sunglasses
  • A few light dresses, comfy tops, and trousers (shorts or long-legged is really up to you as long as you go for lightweight and breathable fabric)
  • Some fancy clothes if you’re planning romantic dinners

Apart from these favorite items, consider bringing a few extras like a light jacket (fleece is a good choice), bandanas, undergarments (a sports bra is a must-have if you plan to get active), closed-toe hiking sandals (obviously optional and dependent on your chosen outdoor activities) repellent for those annoying mosquitoes, a travel adapter and an insulated water bottle.

Surfing in Costa Rica

Dressing for the Mountains

Costa Rica’s nature isn’t just about the blue ocean waters and the white sand beaches. The country’s mountains also have a lot to offer – volcanoes, lush rainforests, incredible wildlife, and exceptional scenery.

Getting ready for a mountain adventure obviously entails having the right clothes. Some of the must-have clothing essentials include:

  • A pair of pants: long, preferably made of a fast-drying material (leggings will also be a comfortable, practical choice)
  • Comfortable and sturdy hiking shoes
  • A lightweight rain jacket
  • A long-sleeved shirt
  • A couple of T-shirts (preferably made from a breathable natural fabric like cotton)
  • Some warm clothes, especially if you’re going to be partaking in zip-lining over the rainforest
  • A hat
  • A pair of sunglasses

A few other essentials Costa Ricans may recommend having with you on a mountain adventure include a rash guard, a waterproof phone case, mosquito repellent, and a reusable water bottle. A good day pack is also going to feature an extra pair of shoes or a pair of sneakers, a battery pack, and maybe even a pair of binoculars (if you enjoy the intricate beauty of wildlife and would like to get a closer look).

Hike in Costa Rica

Getting Dressed for the Dry and Rainy Seasons

Costa Rica’s dry season lasts from January through April, while the rainy season continues from May through December. The tropical country maintains warm temperatures year-round and the best time for a visit depends on the outdoor activities you intend to partake in.

Understanding the tropical climate specifics will help you choose clothes that will give you functional appeal and comfort throughout your stay.

The best clothes for Costa Rica’s dry season are lightweight and capable of wicking moisture away from your body (made of cotton, linen, and silk). It’s a good idea to have a few tank tops, biker shorts, leggings, a few dresses, a wrap skirt, and a comfy romper.

If you’re visiting during the wet season, do bring layers of clothing. Rain jackets can be taken off when they’re not needed to reveal a long-sleeved or a short-sleeved top. Rain boots are also important for muddy weather. Nature hikes can be enjoyable during any time of the year if you have the right clothes and hiking boots.

So, for the wet season, consider having a couple of cotton tank tops, a long-sleeve shirt, biker shorts, leggings, long-sleeved lightweight pants, a few dresses, numerous pairs of socks (especially if you’re going to be doing lots of nature hikes), a button-down shirt from linen or cotton and a swimsuit or two.

Rafting in Costa Rica

A Few Footwear Tips

Costa Rica’s multiple adventures and exploration opportunities will get you excited and on your feet as soon as you arrive. We recommend focusing on comfort instead of fashionable when it comes to footwear. Casual is always better. Make sure your feet are dry and properly supported, no matter what you decide to do.

Flip-flops and lightweight sandals are a great choice for the beach. Water shoes are a good choice for ATV tours and snorkeling.

Closed-toe hiking sandals and lightweight running shoes are a nice choice for casual walks on the beach and in nature.

Sturdy, waterproof hiking shoes are the best choice for nature enthusiasts who plan to conquer Costa Rica’s mountains and intend to walk over challenging terrains.

For places like Manuel Antonio Park, you’ll do well with hiking sandals. But destinations like Arenal Volcano necessitate a pair of hiking shoes. If you’re not confident about what to bring, do get in touch with your local hosts. Whether you’re staying at a hotel or you’ve chosen private accommodation, you’ll get practical clothing recommendations that will help you make the right choices.

Pack as light as possible. If you’re staying in or close to San Jose or another big city, you’ll benefit from effortless opportunities to buy whatever you’re missing. People who intend to be visiting more remote and rural areas, however, should probably pack all of the clothing essentials required for the duration of their stay.

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