With surf, sand, a hippie vibe, and ample outdoor adventures, Costa Rica is the laidback answer to Central America's mega-resorts. Charming hotels and bungalows dot the coastline with hammocks in back and the surf in front, and the dollar still goes a long way here for dining, activities, and accommodations. Besides, it's pretty tough to argue with the amazing tropical weather. Ready to go? Here's what to pack...
You'll see plenty of flip flops and yoga pants in most parts of the country. To tap your inner guru, bring along this eco travel yoga mat ($38) which folds neatly into carry-ons. And you'll fit right in with this Poseidon blue exercise tank in an organic cotton blend ($49) and reversible bootcut yoga pant ($34.50). These gold strappy sandals seem made for the conscious yogi: the foot is made from recycled yoga mats ($65). For cooling off in the waves after, slip on this floral and mesh swimsuit that will stay in place in the surf ($120 by Stella McCartney for Adidas). Be sure to tuck some SPF into your beach bag, including some for lips like this minty balm with sun protection ($7.50).
Costa Rica is laidback and casual from day to night, and you could easily get away with shorts and a t-shirt. But why not spring for a little more vacation style? Try this pretty ballerina-inspired sundress ($264) instead in a cool print and with built-in A/C (see: cut-out sides). Keep the jewelry simple, with this single striking silver cuff ($77), then add some metallic flatform sandals ($250) to match. Add this fabric clutch with pom-pom detail for the fun of it ($84).
There's plenty of surf to be found up and down the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica, so why not dress the part? Guys should try out these striped surf shorts ($34.99) while riding their short boards (this design for $800 by Saturdays Surf is dreamy). The earthy hues go well with this olive-colored rash guard tee ($25.99). For a touch of old school, bring along this waterproof disposable camera to capture some underwater moments ($9.43). Finish out your sunny look with blue Oakleys ($120 in the "Holbrook" style) and Havaiana flip-flops ($40).
Hip global explorers will get a kick out of this tongue-in-cheek map t-shirt ($90 by A.P.C.). Wear with straight, garment-dyed jeans in an ocean blue ($108). Roll up the hems before putting on these aptly named "Surf Sider" Vans slip-ons ($29.99). For accessories, go for functional or nature-inspired, like this brown leather strap Timex watch ($54) and beaded necklace ($18) with jolts of red.
Where to Stay
If yoga is your thing, head to Blue Spirit in Nosara, where yoga workshops are led by international names like Beryl Bender Birch. There's a mixture of accommodations including rooms, suites, and platform tents. Prices vary depending on the program booked. It's also a good option for solo travelers that want some activity in the daytime.
Surfers would do better to shack up at the all-inclusive Surf Simply Surf Coaching Resort, where you can really chill out by choosing a 7- or 14-day package.
If a more romantic hotel is in the cards, then head to the Harmony Hotel, in a good position on Nosara's Playa Guiones (rates are from $300 on up with complimentary WiFi). It offers the most polished services in the area, including yoga and spa treatments.
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