Culture + Style

Living the Pura Vida: How to Slip Into a Costa Rica State of Mind

The saying “pura vida” translates into English literally as “pure life,” but for Costa Ricans, it means, “take it easy” or “enjoy life.” This much-beloved expression can serve as inspiration for your next Costa Rica vacation, whether you choose to spend your time relaxing or embarking on adventures. In one small country, you’ll have an amazing range of experiences, including tasting unforgettable food and viewing wildlife found naturally nowhere else in the world.

Wildlife in Costa Rica

Consider taking a trek to Arenal, the country’s most scenic volcano, during your Costa Rica trip. While the landscape is dramatic, it’s the diverse wildlife that draws many visitors to the lush rainforest ecosystem near the volcano. Under the canopy, you might encounter wildlife like white-faced capuchin monkeys and boa constrictors.

Costa Rica
Ziplining through cloud forests is an unforgettable Costa Rica experience. (Photo: Alamy)

About 60 miles away is another of Costa Rica’s most popular destinations, Monteverde Cloud Forest, one of the few places you can see the endangered quetzal bird in the wild.

Surf’s Up

While many travelers enjoy wildlife, others come to Costa Rica for things to do on the water. If you’re in the latter group, check out the Pacific coast, where you’ll find some of the world’s best surfing spots. Playa Avellana on the north coast of Nicoya Peninsula offers long, ruler-edged walls that challenge even experienced surfers, but newbies can learn at the beach’s Palo Seco area. Surfing is good here year-round, but with consistent wind from November through April, you’re almost guaranteed great swells every day.

Costa Rica
Surf’s up — and phenomenally good — at many local beaches. (Photo: Alamy)

Art Itinerary

Investigate the cultural side of Costa Rica with a trip to Sarchi, less than an hour from San Jose. The village is known for bright colors featured in its traditional crafts, including wooden furniture and pottery. The signature Sarchi item is the painted oxcart, still in use for celebratory occasions.

Rich Chocolate

Coffee and chocolate are among Costa Rica’s biggest imports and the most popular treats for visitors to taste. To learn how chocolate is produced, book a behind-the-scenes tour at an organic cacao plantation.

On the Rainforest Chocolate Tour outside San Jose, you’ll see how a cacao pod makes the journey from the tree to the treat that we all love. Regardless of your reason for visiting and your preferred activities, you can build an itinerary ideally suited for a memorable trip. Costa Rica vacations start with attitude: pura vida.