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    Explore the vast openness and wildlife found roaming in the western United States, including Theodore Roosevelt National Park (pictured) in North Dakota. Begin Your Journey!

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    Dominican Republic: Houses on the beach. Go Now!

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    Cuba: Sandy beach. Go Now!

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    Guatemala: Colorful culture. Go Now!

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Social Life in Costa Rica

Behavior

The Costa Ricans are conservative in most aspects of their lives and this is best seen in their behaviors. They tend to dress and act conservatively, much of which is based on the doctrines of the Catholic Church. However, in the political realm and on the social front, they are quite liberal compared to many other Central American countries.

As a visitor to Costa Rica try to follow the lead of the locals by dressing somewhat conservatively (see below for details), dining in the local etiquette (see our Costa Rica Dining & Food Page), and avoid doing anything that makes you stand out as a foreigner (although most locals will surely pick you out as a tourist no matter how hard you try to fit in). Also try to avoid being loud, rude, showing off wealth, or getting noticeably drunk in public.

Dress

The traditional dress in Costa Rica is somewhat varied as each region had its own dress, partially due to the division of the people by the mountains. However, all these clothes had similarities from region to region. For women the tradition was to wear a sleeve-less dress that reached nearly to the ground; these dresses had puffy ruffles on the shoulders and could be in any number of colors, but were typically bright and often came in reds, blues, and yellows. For men, the traditional clothing consists of a simple shirt and long pants, both of which were often times white, but could come in just about any color. Men often wore a brightly-colored sash around their waist and when outside hats were, and still are, commonly worn.

Today most Costa Ricans wear modern western-styled clothing and can be fairly conservative in the way they dress. In cities long pants and long-sleeved shirts are common for most occasions, but on weekends and along the beaches shorts and short-sleeve shirts are not unheard-of. As a visitor to Costa Rica there are few dress restrictions; you dress for the occasion. In churches and business settings dress is conservative and formal, while on beaches the dress is much more casual, but be sure to cover up as soon as you leave the beach, even if just walking through nearby shops or restaurants. Lastly, sunbathing naked or women sunbathing topless is rarely to never permitted; if in doubt, check with locals before doing so.

This page was last updated: December, 2013