The days leading up to a tropical vacation might inspire a packing list that includes little more than a bikini and some flip flops, but you need to think beyond the beach. A number of resort restaurants, bars and clubs in tropical vacation destinations have dress codes. While you're on vacation, expect to dress differently for daytime and nighttime.
Women's Tropical Wear: Day
During the day, women can wear whatever's comfortable while enjoying a tropical vacation. Bathing suits are acceptable when you're swimming, sunbathing, snorkeling or enjoying water sports. When you leave the beach to do some shopping in town or take in a little sightseeing, throw on a cover-up or some shorts and a T-shirt with a pair of flip flops. Many shops will require shirts and shoes from their customers. Stick to light colors and fabrics to help you beat the heat and protect your face while you accessorize with sunglasses and hats.
Women's Tropical Wear: Evening
Sundresses make great outfits for the evening when you're on vacation in warm climates. You don't have to worry about matching several pieces of clothing and you can keep it casual with a pair of ballet flats or dress it up with some strappy sandals. If you're planning to hit up one of the hot calypso clubs in whatever tropical city you're visiting, wear something with a full, colorful skirt and the highest heels you can dance in so you can really have some fun twirling and spinning to the island beat.
Men's Tropical Wear: Day
When you're on the beach or sipping umbrella drinks by the pool, you can get away with swim trunks and sandals all day long. Keep a cotton T-shirt and a hat handy in case the sun starts to get too intense and you want to cover up. If you're planning to golf, wear your nice shorts and a shirt with a collar as well as the appropriate golf shoes. For active vacations that might include hiking, biking or jogging along miles of sandy beach, wear what you what for any workout at home, just plan for the extra heat.
Men's Tropical Wear: Evening
A casual dress code in the tropics doesn't mean basketball shorts and college T-shirts. Put on a polo shirt and a pair of khakis or your best jeans if you're doing dinner in a casual restaurant. There's rarely a need for a suit jacket or a tie unless you have a formal event to attend while on a tropical vacation. But if you're taking it up a notch, put on a short-sleeve button-down shirt with a light pair of linen pants. On your feet, boat shoes work great with almost outfit, as do loafers.
Tropical Vacation Wardrobe Practicalities
Depending on where you go, rain can be a factor in how you dress for your tropical vacation. Generally, winters are dry and, in the summer, you can expect a shower or a thunderstorm. Pack a light jacket in case you need to throw it on during a sudden downpour. Even Caribbean winters are mild, but you may want a light sweater to keep with you in case the air conditioning gives you a chill or a breeze kicks up in the evening.