Sorry for the radio silence folks, our family went on a 2-week vacation to Costa Rica, and I didn’t even take my laptop. Usually I would work ahead and have the posts done in advance, but with end of the school year craziness, sports tryouts, recitals, extra rehearsals, and prepping for the trip, there just wasn’t time. I know some bloggers work on their trips, but I just didn’t want to.
This won’t be a normal What I Wore post because I was dressed for function. I am all about function first. I want to be comfortable and appropriately dressed for the activity, even if it’s not glamorous or fashionable. I knew I made the right choices for ziplining, hiking, Tarzan swinging, jungle exploring, ocean adventuring and more when I saw that all the local tour guides were wearing EXACTLY the same things I was wearing, right down to the same brand. Not some American transplant guides, but Tico (Costa Rican) guides.
We had three parts to our trip. We spent 5 days in the Arenal Volcano area doing all the extreme sports and jungle activities. We spent two days at the Blue River resort doing more of the same in a different area. We spent five days at a beach resort relaxing at the pool, a full-day boat excursion. We had a variety of activities and weather. It was rainy season, be we were so lucky that when we were out doing our stuff in Arenal, the rain stopped. The overcast conditions were really nice because it kept things cooler. It poured in the evenings and all night long and even in the morning, but by the time we were done with breakfast and ready to go, or when we got to our destination, the rain stopped. We mostly had sun at Blue River and Papagayo (the beach).
To prep for the trip, we made a big family expedition to our local Columbia store to get outfitted. In Costa Rica it was HOT, 200% humidity, rainy season, mosquito season and HOT. Did I mention it was hot and humid? I lived in Brazil for a couple of years, not too far south of the equator, and I’m also from the South, so this is weather I know. Most people wear tank tops and little shorts on trips like this because it’s HOT. And humid. The truth is, that’s not the best idea. So here we go.
I have a travel uniform that works so well for me: a tunic, leggings and sneakers. Sometimes I add a scarf and jacket, depending on where I’m going. I often wear the outfit both coming and going. This time I wore a short-sleeve tee underneath so I could take off the tunic when I got there. Airplanes are COLD ya’ll. I freeze. Also, it wasn’t all that warm here when we left at the end of May (the weather here is out of control). The whole outfits is cute, but as comfortable as pajamas. I wear the sneakers or whatever is the bulkiest pair of shoes I’m taking. We got up at 3:00 a.m. for this flight, so the comfort is much appreciated. These Zella leggings are the greatest leggings of my life. They are completely opaque and lift and support an suck in everything. I love them. Click on any of the pictures below to find where to purchase.
The sun in Costa Rica is really strong. You can burn fast, and as great is sunscreen is, a technical shirt is even better because it doesn’t wear off. Technical shirts and pants also wick moisture, are lightweight, breathable and easy to wear. The second reason is mosquitos. Repellent is good, but a physical barrier is better. There are also biting ants and bugs. Indiana Jones wouldn’t go into the rain forest in a tank top and bootie shorts, and neither should you. It’s still going to be HOT and humid, whether you’re half naked or not. There are two mosquito-born viruses in Costa Rica that you do not want. One is dengue fever. I got this in Brazil and it is HORRIBLE. The second is Zika, which I’ve never had and never want. I wouldn’t let this stop you from going to Costa Rica. The reports of infection are low, and neither will kill you. Still, cover up and you’ll be better off.
We took lightweight rain shells because it rains in rainy season, waterproof hiking shoes, water/sport sandals, and hats.
For the jungle portion of the trip I took five technical shirts, two short sleeve, two long sleeve convertible (they can be rolled up and have button tabs to secure them), and a short-sleeve running tee. I was sure there were days I’d want the full sleeve protection, and days I’d want a little more breathability. Two of them have a looser fit, which can be nice when you’re so freaking hot, and three of them have a more tailored cut which is more aesthetically pleasing and my normal preference for clothing. I basically tried a little of everything. I also took sports bras for the comfort and moisture-wicking factors. Underwire is no fun in the jungle. Sometimes I let the front of my sports bra show for color contrast (I’m such a hussy!).
I ended up liking all of these tops on different days, but if I had to choose one, I’d go with the long sleeve blousier top because it gave me so much protection from both sun and bugs, breathability, the option to roll up my sleeves, and it felt cooler because it wasn’t hugging my body. Since it was rainy season in the mountains, there were a few times it felt a little cool in the evenings, so rolling down my sleeves was also a nice option. I also used it as a swim suit cover up on some days when I wanted to cover my entire upper body, like on the boat. I’m overall happy with my choices, and they were all great. My color choices were based on what they had in the store in my size. I didn’t get that coral color shown, I got a dark purply navy color, but that isn’t available online. The Zella tee I already had.
For pants I took 3 pairs of the exact same pants from Columbia, and 2 pairs of yoga capris. I never once took the yoga capris out of my suitcase. I loved the protection of long pants from bugs, scrapes and sun. These pants are great because they have a roll up tab to make them into capris, and they are as stretchy and comfortable as yoga pants. Seriously. They are actually also very flattering. I was quite tempted to get the zip off pants that can be shorts or pants…until I sat down in them. They have absolutely no stretch whatsoever. None. Not even a little. Sitting was uncomfortable, and stepping up? Not possible. I would have had to size up, and even then, maybe not. Also, the portion on the low thigh where the zipper is can be very tight on some women. They were ok on me, but had a scratchiness. Standing up straight or just walking in those pants would have been fine, but sometimes I like to sit down. I would have taken a second pair of tan pants, but they didn’t have another in my size. I don’t typically wear tan or khaki. Close to my face it would make me look ill, but on a day in the jungle on my lower half, I’m ok with it. Besides, it looked better with the black and dark purple top than black pants would. Ok, I actually did wear the black shirt and black pants one day, and I felt just fine. It was a cloudy day, so I didn’t get overheated.
I’ve taken this North Face rain shell on several trips, and it’s so lightweight, packs up tiny, is waterproof, and pretty much perfect.
I bought these waterproof hiking sneakers for everything jungle related. To be honest they aren’t a comfort shoe. They aren’t that padded or cushiony. They are more of a stable hiking shoe and they are waterproof. My hiking water sandals are great, but there are stinging and biting insects in the jungle, and there are some places, like the Mistico Hanging Bridges, that they won’t even allow you into the park with any kind of sport sandal. If your foot isn’t entirely enclosed, you can’t come in. I recommend that same criteria for all the jungle activities. I used my Teva water sandals to hike down to the waterfall (500 stairs down and back up), at the beach, pool, and the day we went on the boat. I used my flip flops for easy on and off around the resort, but if they were wet at all (if it rained, if my swimsuit was dripping, if someone splashed me, etc.) they were very slippery and hard to walk in.
For the resort portion of the trip I took swimsuits and lightweight t-shirt dresses that I could throw on for breakfast and dinner. The rest of the day we were in swimsuits, and we ate lunch by the pool. Costa Rica is SUPER casual, and people just wear whatever. We were at a really nice resort, and everyone was in swimwear for breakfast and lunch, and stuff like this for breakfast because the restaurants are all outside in open-air buildings. No air conditioning. This isn’t Miami or Palm Springs or any of the places you would bust out your Lilly Pulitzer, at least that I saw. The dresses I took are from last year, but here are some great choices. I typically don’t wear anything as loose and flowy as the first and third options, but when it’s so hot, I don’t want anything clinging to me. I loved that I could throw them on and go, especially when we were wrangling 6 kids everywhere.
I’m going to do a swimsuit round up soon, but these are the coverups, suits and rashguards I took with me. The black suit also comes in red/ black and white/black.
And here are the outfits in all my jungle chic.
Overall I was very pleased with my packing choices. I would have left the yoga capris at home, but that’s about it. As always, I packed in a carryon for the whole two weeks, but still had everything I needed.
Are you interested in a travel post about what we did with our family in Costa Rica? Would you like to see a full packing list? Do you have any questions about what I packed?
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