How to Live the Pura Vida Life While Traveling in Costa Rica
“¡Pura vida!” You may hear it as a greeting, as a way to show appreciation or say “you’re welcome” or to reassure yourself that everything will work out all right. This phrase makes its way into countless conversations in Costa Rica, and it characterizes the whole Costa Rican lifestyle. If you want to live like Costa Ricans during your time in this amazing country, check out this guide for how to live the pura vida lifestyle.
What Does Pura Vida Mean?
“Pura vida” translates to “pure life.” It’s not easy to pinpoint a singular definition since Costa Ricans use it in various ways with just as many meanings. [May be able to insert a quote here from a local explaining what pura vida means to them.]
Overall, Costa Ricans use “pura vida” to describe their lifestyle, which emphasizes maintaining a healthy set of priorities. In other words, you shouldn’t get caught up in mundane responsibilities or worries and forget about what really matters. Instead, you must make time to stop and smell the roses, to borrow an English expression. You spend time with the people you love, immerse yourself in nature, have fun and shrug it off when things don’t go your way. It’s a wonderful way of life that Costa Ricans are proud of.
So, how can you live the pura vida lifestyle like a Costa Rican while you’re there? Here are six great ways.
1. Learn Some Spanish
Costa Rica’s official language is Spanish. Though people involved in the tourism industry are likely to speak English, Spanish is the predominant language you’ll hear from locals. While you’re in the country, try learning some Spanish words and phrases. “Pura vida” tops the list, but you may also want to learn phrases like “llevarla suave,” which means “take it easy,” or “mae,” which is similar to “dude.”
[Might be nice to put a quote here about how Costa Ricans are hospitable to tourists and enjoy seeing them try their best with the language.]
If you’re familiar with prominent varieties of Spanish, such as Peninsular or Mexican dialects, you’ll notice Costa Rican Spanish sounds a bit different. That’s in part due to the distinct national accent, but it’s also because Costa Ricans use -tico instead of the standard -tito as a diminutive ending for words. In fact, this practice is why Costa Ricans received the nickname Ticos. ¡Qué chiva!
2. Enjoy Some Authentic Costa Rican Cuisine
Traditional Costa Rican cuisine is the stuff of a foodie’s dreams. It’s fresh, colorful, flavorful and full of exciting variety. With so much coastline on both sides of the country, it’s no wonder that seafood is popular. Seafood lovers can get some delicious fresh mahi-mahi, whole fried red-snapper, Famous Rice with shrimp and more at the local restaurants and markets. Beef, chicken and vegetarian options are also plentiful throughout the country, so there’s something for everyone.
Overall, Costa Ricans are fans of hearty meals. The quintessential Costa Rican breakfast, called “gallo pinto,” is a rice and bean mixture. If you enjoy something lighter in the morning, you can have some of the freshest fruit smoothies you could imagine bursting with unique tropical flavors. For lunch or dinner, try a casado platter, a dish with rice, beans, beef and salad, at a local soda, which is the equivalent of a diner.
3. Go Wild at a Soccer Game
Like other Central Americans, Costa Ricans take their soccer, or “fútbol,” seriously. Soccer is the country’s national pastime, and children and adults alike enjoy playing recreationally and cheering on their regional and national teams. Costa Ricans are known for an aggressive style of play that’s helped them repeatedly win the Central American Soccer Union (UNCAF) Nations Cup and set them apart as Central America’s most successful national team. They’ve even played in five FIFA World Cups since 1990, more than any other Central American team.
You may want to attend a game at Costa Rica’s expansive national stadium in San Jose. Or, you can see if there are any games taking place at regional fields. Wherever you go, prepare for some raucous cheering. [If there are any chants or traditions that take place at soccer games, a quote about that would be great here.] If you’re a soccer player who wants to join in a pickup game, or “mejenga,” find a local field and a group who’s there for some fun.
4. Attend a Street Festival
Costa Ricans love an excuse to celebrate and put on their dancing shoes. There are many holidays throughout the year, most of which are Catholic holy days and feasts, where Ticos take some time off work and focus on fun. Street festivals often feature parades, live music, dancing and amazing street food. While some of the biggest celebrations take place in the nation’s capital, townspeople throughout the country have their own festivals, as well.
One of the best times to come for street fairs is Holy Week, which is the week leading up to Easter. Many businesses close for several days during Holy Week, or as Costa Ricans call it “Semanta Santa,” to allow people to celebrate with parades and a variety of festivities. Around the same time of year, on April 11, Costa Ricans celebrate Juan Santamaría Day with the same sorts of community celebrations to honor a national hero and Costa Rican victory from the 19th century.
5. Explore the Natural Environment
An important part of the pure life is being surrounded by nature. Costa Ricans have a love and reverence for the natural world, mainly because the country contains 6% of the world’s biodiversity, despite its small size. Costa Rica has become a jewel for ecotourism, partly because it offers so much biodiversity all in one place.
You can hike through a tropical rainforest, a tropical deciduous forest or an elfin forest. You can fly over commanding volcanoes, snorkel around coral reefs, kayak through an estuary and discover incredible waterfalls. The possibilities are endless. Plus, you can catch a glimpse of countless species of wildlife, including rare and endangered species like the great green macaw, leatherback hawksbill sea turtle and spider monkey.
Getting in touch with nature is the perfect way to live your pura vida life in Costa Rica.
6. Relax on the Beach
Costa Rica has no shortage of beaches between the hundreds of miles of coastline on the Pacific and Caribbean coasts. The beaches aren’t just plentiful — they’re beautiful, too. Imagine spending an afternoon or a whole day amidst sparkling sands, shining blue waters, vibrant coconut trees, warm sunshine and a refreshing sea breeze. With so many picturesque beaches to see, these beaches also don’t tend to be overcrowded.
Some of the most beloved beaches in the country include Manuel Antonio, Conchal, Flamingo, Grande and Tamarindo. Locals know these beaches are the perfect spots for relaxation and recreation, which are both important parts of the pura vida lifestyle. Lounge in the sun or swim in the clear, warm waters. If you want to burn some energy, try diving or surfing. Whatever your idea of the perfect beach day is, you can experience it in Costa Rica.
Experience True Pura Vida at Villa Punto de Vista
Everyone needs a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life from time to time. In Costa Rica, you can unwind and rediscover your passion for life in a tropical paradise. For luxurious accommodations in a private setting, book your stay at the Villa Punto de Vista estate. Our private villas offer incredible amenities and panoramic views of stunningly beautiful Manuel Antonio to have an unforgettable Pura Vida experience with your closest friends and family. Our concierge can help you plan your trip and ensure you get an authentic pura vida experience.
Check our rates and availability to book your stay.