What to Wear in Puerto Rico for Women. Puerto Rico is a beautiful place to visit. It’s also the place that I call home. Having grown up here (and being half-Puerto Rican myself), I am more qualified than most in answering the evermore popular question on everyone’s mind (which increases the more “mainlanders” make their way here) which is: what should I wear in Puerto Rico?
Whether you are planning a trip to the island or plan on spending any considerable time here, today’s post will cover everything you need to know about what to wear (and what not to wear) in Puerto Rico. I’ve also included a packing list, and answered questions like how to blend in, in Puerto Rico, what to wear hiking in Puerto Rico, what to wear in Puerto Rico in August (one of our hottest months!) and much more.
What to Pack for Trip to Puerto Rico?
Some things you should know about Puerto Rico are that the coolest months (with average temperatures of 70s-80s) are from October to March. Sometimes we get lucky and that “cool” weather extends to May. But once the hotter season hits, our average temperatures are 80s-90s with high humidity (many days will feel like you’re in the 100s because of that humidity and the ever-scorching sun!).
The most popular months to visit Puerto Rico tends to be during those cooler months, especially as hurricane season lasts from the start of June to the end of October. I’ve included this information so you can plan your trip accordingly!
Here’s a must-have list of things you should pack when visiting Puerto Rico, particularly if you are vacationing here. Keep in mind that even if you forget or overlook something, Puerto Rico is a part of the United States and offers many of the same stores that you are used to, such as Wal-Mart, Walgreens, CVS, and Costco. (But no Target, unfortunately.) You can always run into one of these and grab something if you forget to bring it.
- Sunblock or sunscreen. You’ll want to wear sunblock or sunscreen (I like reef-safe options, as in mineral sunscreens with at least 20% zinc) every day, whether you are headed to the beach or not. You will definitely get burned otherwise.
- Aloe gel. If you get sunburned, a nice cool Aloe gel will feel wonderful.
- Flip-flops. Both for the beach and for wearing out and about, flip-flops are essential.
- Sunglasses. While we often have cloudy days (and sometimes it rains for days on end), it’s usually sunny. And your eyes will thank you if you’ve got some shades on them!
- Sun hat. Great for the pool, the beach, and for walking, a sun hat that offers some type of fastener (because the wind will take it right off your head otherwise) is super helpful and great for protecting your face.
- Hair ties, scrunchies, or hair clips. If you have hair of any considerable length, you will find yourself tying it up at some point in the day if you are outdoors. It’s usually too hot and humid to have your hair down so make sure you have something on hand to tie it up and get it off your neck.
- Swimsuit. Puerto Rico is famous for its beaches so be sure to bring a swimsuit (or a few) and take advantage! Here are some Beach Cover Up Ideas to go with your swimsuits.
- Bug repellant. We get our fair share of mosquitos and we have any number of odd bugs so having some bug spray on hand is helpful, especially if you go hiking.
- Deodorant. You will be super glad you brought it, trust!
- Optional: an umbrella. Again, this is something you can pick up from a gas station or drugstore if you need it, but it does rain every now and again and having an umbrella is helpful.
While the above items are what I consider essential, here I have also included a list of clothing items I would recommend for bringing to Puerto Rico as your packing list.
- Denim shorts
- Summer pants (i.e. linen or Palazzo)
- Tank tops and/or crop tops
- Light jacket
- Lightweight blouses
- Thin socks
- Jeans (optional)
- Dressy outfit (such as a dress and heels) for going out to dinner or attending a party
- Accessories (jewelry, sun hat, watch, belt, etc.)
- Bathing suit cover-up (optional)
Puerto Ricans are used to the heat, of course, so they will wear jeans (even in the middle of summer), but the most popular outfit stylings for a woman in Puerto Rico will be some variation of shorts, top, and sandals. Or a dress and sandals. They aren’t shy of showing skin either, so many looks will feature tight jeans and belly-baring tops.
Now, let’s look at some outfit ideas!
10 – What to Wear in Old San Juan
One of my personal favorite places on the island is Old San Juan. Rich with culture and history, this beautiful town has plenty of tourist attractions, from the historic fort (El Morro) to the second-oldest cathedral in the Americas.
You’ll do plenty of walking in Old San Juan, so be mindful of this when planning your outfit and wear shoes you will be comfortable walking in. It’s also humid, so wear light clothing. This maxi dress and sandals pairing is great, especially if you plan on taking photos (which you will want to do, with those beautiful buildings for a backdrop). Here are some of the Latest Maxi Dress Trends & Styling Tips.
9 – What to Wear Hiking in Puerto Rico
Whether you are hiking in the El Yunque rainforest or you are headed for a less common hiking trail, consider that you will be hiking in a moist, humid place in summer level weather. Prepare to get sweaty, damp, and potentially muddy. Wear sturdy hiking shoes (though, for easier trails, sneakers work fine). You may want to bring along a dry outfit to change into, and I would bring along a swimsuit as well if you plan on swimming. I would tie a zip-up hoodie around the waist too in case you get chilly. For more hiking outfit ideas, you can check out our detailed post on Summer Hiking Outfit Ideas For Women To Wear This Year.
If you are taking on one of the easier trails in El Yunque, you can definitely go for an even lighter-weight outfit like this one. Remember your bug spray though!
8 – What to Wear in Puerto Rico in October
Humidity is the name of the game so dress light and cool if visiting in October. You might appreciate a light jacket in the evening but other than that, your outfit stylings won’t vary much from the summer months. A ruched, ribbed dress like this one is pretty typical to see.
7 – What to Wear in Puerto Rico in August
August is one of our hotter months (you sweat even if you aren’t doing anything) so be prepared to feel sticky! Stick to cotton or linen, wear sandals versus closed shoes, and aim for light, fresh clothing. Little tanks or crop tops are super popular for that reason.
6 – What type of clothing to wear in Puerto Rico?
I went over this in our packing list, but the most typical outfits you’ll see worn by the younger to middle generations in Puerto Rico are tee shirts, tank tops, crop tops, jeans, shorts, and leggings. Footwear ranges from sandals to heels to Converse to sneakers. Summer dresses are also often sported. Layers aren’t really worn unless by workers indoors, and it’s rare to see a cardigan worn outside of church. Basically, it’s summer clothing year-round.
5 – Puerto Rico Street Fashion
In Puerto Rico, street fashion is not really a thing outside of the metropolitan area or the nightlife scene. Once you hit the smaller towns, you’ll see people dress pretty humbly, particularly the older generation. But don’t let that fool you: Puerto Ricans love to dress up. They love bright colors and dramatic makeup and sleek hair. And they are very confident in their bodies as well.
4 – What to Wear for a Photoshoot
There are so many beautiful sights to see in Puerto Rico, and we’ve already talked about some of what Old San Juan offers. With so much beauty and culture, you’ll want to take advantage and get as many pictures as you can! That’s why I recommend dressing up one day and doing a full-blown photoshoot. Whether you have a friend snap pictures on their iPhone or you get a bona-fide photographer, take the opportunity to have fun with your wardrobe and accessories.
3 – What to Wear in Puerto Rico in December
One of the pluses about visiting in December is you get cool, breezy nights and beautiful, blue-skied days. (Well, most of the time. Can’t always escape the rain!) So December is the month to bring your light jackets, your cardigans, your jeans. While some days are hotter than others, you can wear these and still feel comfortable. I also recommend bringing at least one dressy dress along in case you have a great dinner planned or a party!
2 – A Typical Outfit You’ll See
Here is a very typical look and style you’ll see in Puerto Rico. This shorter-sleeved cardigan is a great compromise and is worn over a thin tank with a pair of light-wash, cropped jeans. The little sneakers, jewelry, and sunglasses are also popular trends.
1 – How to Dress for Puerto Rico
Finally, here’s a simple but classic look, a midi dress and slide sandals, that would work wonderfully in Puerto Rico. From everyday wear to weekend styling, a lightweight, breezy dress is the perfect thing. Sometimes you’ll find it gets quite cool in the evenings (particularly between January and March) so you can add a jacket to this outfit and you’ll feel great. If you are headed up into the mountains though, be prepared to feel quite chilly!
Frequently Asked Questions
Here we have some frequently asked questions about what to wear (and what not to wear) in Puerto Rico so that you feel super confident and ready to take on your vacation with style!
Q. What not to wear in Puerto Rico?
There isn’t much you shouldn’t or couldn’t wear in Puerto Rico, except for obvious things like sweaters and coats. You won’t need fall or winter clothing in Puerto Rico (unless you are in the central mountain area, where, during “winter” months, it can get as low as in the sixties or fifties degrees Fahrenheit) and you won’t see many people wearing things like boots either.
Avoid heavy fabrics and materials like polyester, wool, nylon, acrylic, flannel, etc. Leather is also not recommended unless you wear it someplace indoors that’s air-conditioned.
Q. What to wear in Puerto Rico rainforest?
What you wear to visit Puerto Rico’s famed rainforest, El Yunque, will vary. There are many trails in the forest and some are harder than others. So dress how you normally would to go hiking.
I wouldn’t recommend too many layers (you’re still on an island, after all, and while it is usually much cooler inside the forest, you’ll still be working up quite a sweat, especially if you take one of the more challenging trails) but I would recommend bringing along a jacket or long-sleeved shirt that you can wear if you get cold.
Q. How to not look like a tourist in Puerto Rico?
One of the biggest giveaways that somebody is a tourist is 1) they aren’t speaking fluent Spanish and 2) they either have a sunburn or they have no suntan whatsoever. Chances are, if you are visiting from the States, locals will be able to tell. And that’s okay.
However, traditional “vacation” clothing (i.e. loud Hawaiian print shirts) can make you look a tad silly. So if you’d rather blend in a little more, stick to plain or graphic tee shirts if you’re a guy, with shorts and flip-flops or slides. And if you’re a gal, denim shorts with a tee shirt or tank top is perfectly unobtrusive. Summer dresses are great as well.
Q. Is it safe to wear jewelry in Puerto Rico?
Yes. While this question suggests that criminals roam the streets looking for unsuspecting tourists to steal from, Puerto Rico is largely a safe place. While some areas and neighborhoods have a higher crime rate, the same could be said of virtually anywhere else. Use common sense and follow traditional rules both for safety and for the caretaking of your belongings and you will be just fine.
And that’s a wrap. I hope this post answered all your questions about what to wear (and not to wear) in Puerto Rico, plus gave you some guidance on what you should pack! Let me know in the comments below if I missed anything.
R.H. Elias is a freelance writer, aspiring author, and freelance transcriptionist. She is a homebody all the way and loves curling up on a cold, rainy day with a good book and a warm cup of tea. Her favourite pastimes include reading, writing, and watching period films. She currently lives in Puerto Rico.