Living “Pura Vida”: Tips for Healthy Travel and Adventure in Costa Rica
Pura vida. Meaning “pure life,” pura vida is the ubiquitous greeting, way to say farewell, and catchy phrase that you’ll hear everywhere in Costa Rica. It gets to the heart of what the country is all about – living a high-quality life focused on pursuing your own path, with a little bit of fun and relaxation mixed in.
Costa Rica is located between Nicaragua and Panama in Central America. It has both Caribbean and Pacific coastlines, as well as a diversity of ecosystems unmatched virtually anywhere else in the world. In the same day, you can laze on the beach, hike an active volcano, explore the rainforest, and swim in a pristine lagoon. Fortunately, Costa Ricans – also known locally as “ticos” – recognize the value of their homeland and have set aside more than 25 percent of their country in national parks and conservation areas.
When to Go to Costa Rica
The weather in Costa Rica is nice almost year-round, but there are a few times when the rains fall a little harder and the beaches are packed with tourists. If you skip the high season and plan your trip around the rain, you can save money while avoiding crowds of tourists jostling for the best selfie with that baby sloth in the rainforest.
If you’re looking for dry beach weather, January through March in Guanacaste – the northwest beach area – can’t be beat. Travel after January 1 to avoid the holiday crowds and you’ll have the beaches almost to yourself at a much lower price. You’ll find the cheapest (and wettest, in terms of rainfall) accommodations from September through December. If you’re planning to visit the rainforest, any time is good – it’s almost always rainy there, so you don’t have to worry about the weather.
Things to Do in Costa Rica
Don’t be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of things to do in Costa Rica. No matter what you choose, it’s hard to be disappointed. The following activities will give you a good sampler of what the country has to offer:
- Visit Guanacaste: Costa Rica’s “gold coast” has white sandy beaches, remote fishing villages, and a thriving cowboy culture. Include a visit to Rincón de la Vieja National Park, where you’ll find hot springs, waterfalls, and volcanic activity.
- Explore the wildlife: You’ll find bizarre insects, howler monkeys, creepy spiders – and maybe even a jaguar or two – in the lush rainforests of Corcovado National Park. Go early in the morning to see the animals at the peak of their activity.
- Absorb the locals’ healthy lifestyle: Don’t just focus on the beaches and rainforests; mix with the friendly locals, too. Costa Rica is known as a “Blue Zone,” one of the areas in the world where people live longer lives than average. Take the opportunity to learn how they live, what they eat, and how they work – you may just pick up some healthy tips.
- Eat and drink the local specialties: Costa Rica is sandwiched by two oceans, so healthy seafood abounds. Try the sea bass and ceviche, which are local specialties. Wash it down with a refresco, a drink made with local fruit and water or milk.
And that just scratches the surface of the healthy travel and adventure opportunities you’ll find in Costa Rica. If you’re ready for a vacation that’s part tropical paradise, part eco-adventure and 100 percent fun, make sure Costa Rica is on your shortlist this year.