Visit Costa Rica and Live the Pure Life

Exciting adventure, gorgeous tropical landscapes and even fine coffee await in Costa Rica

Discover the beauty of “pura vida” with a Costa Rican getaway

Pura vida. In Spanish, it means pure life. These two simple words succinctly capture the culture of Costa Rica. It is a land covered by verdant rainforest and dotted with 129 volcanoes, bordered by both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. It’s a dream destination for nature-lovers and this peace-loving nation is home to some of the world’s happiest citizens, according to the New Economics Foundation’s Happy Planet Index. If you crave some of the most extraordinary and natural diversity on the planet, Costa Rica should be your next travel adventure.

1. Culinary adventures

Yes, adrenaline junkies have helped boost the country’s adventure-tourism industry, but make no mistake, the chefs here are using unique ingredients to elevate the Costa Rican food scene to new heights. So, buckle up, here are just a few of its many eateries that make the country a true foodie destination.

You want oceanfront? Tick. You want fresh, local ingredients exquisitely prepared? Tick. The culinary team at Arenas del Mar’s El Mirador Restaurant & Bar creates magic. I recommend the pineapple gazpacho laced with chili and the grilled mahi mahi—both were excellent.

While meandering the streets of Quepos, a must is Express Burrito. At this funky, open-air restaurant, you will most likely encounter a line, but the burritos are well worth it. Remember to grab lots of napkins.

Finally, culinary kudos to Chef Rubén Villegas, who prepares an organic tasting menu at El Tigre Vestido & El Búho Bar. Sit at the counter and watch while he masterfully plates dish after delicious dish, such as the sustainably sourced seafood wrapped in banana leaves that will make you want to lick your plate clean.

2. Catamaran voyages

A trip to Costa Rica is not complete without experiencing the magnificent Pacific coastline by boat. If you aren’t a 20-something looking for a boozy catamaran trip, then Planet Dolphin offers one of the best tours of the area. The TomCat is a double-decker, roofed and shaded 70-foot sailing cat with open areas to relax, as well as a full bar, bathrooms and waterslides off the back. Enjoy snorkelling in secluded coves, swimming and even a delicious traditional Costa Rican dinner before you head back to the marina.

3. Dreamy retreats

Sustainable yet luxurious… an oxymoron? Absolutely not. The five star Arenas del Mar Beachfront & Rainforest Resort—where the rainforest of the Manuel Antonio National Park meets the Pacific—is home to 38 luxurious oceanfront or rainforest suites and rooms with decks. Set in perfect harmony with the natural surroundings, even the flocks of sloths and iguanas like to lounge here. You can hang out at the relaxing poolside bars, enjoy the spectacular national park or sink your toes into the beautiful white sand beach. Whether seeking a special connection with nature or relaxing around in luxurious amenities, this resort will inspire you to stay off your digital devices.
High in the foothills of the town of Santa Barbara, Heredia, magnificent views of emerald green pastures, sumptuous tropical gardens and landscaping welcome you to Finca Rosa Blanca Coffee Plantation and Inn. This spot is perfect for those seeking comfort, relaxation and a rejuvenating getaway. The 35-acre, organic, shade-grown coffee plantation features 14 rooms, with patios that one can best describe as a colossal art project for American artists/innkeepers Glenn and Teri Jampol. The recipient of the prestigious Condé Nast Top 100 List award in 2017, this boutique inn guarantees a unique stay in the best possible way.

4. Postcard-worthy beaches

If you want to channel your inner beach bum, Costa Rica is host to an array of idyllic coves and unspoiled beaches. In Quepos alone, there are about 10 beaches near and around the quaint little town. The picturesque white sands of Playa la Macha in Manuel Antonio National Park provide the perfect escape for a relaxing beach stay. Surrounded by a jungle teaming with wildlife, this is the beach that people come from around the world to visit.

If you need more persuading that the beaches here are spectacular, Manuel Antonio was rated one of the most beautiful national parks in the world by Forbes in 2011.

5. The crown jewel

Although one of the smallest parks in Costa Rica, Manuel Antonio National Park possesses a staggering amount of wildlife—109 species of mammals and 184 different birds. You can literally lose yourself exploring this stunning cloud of woodland, while viewing the lush vegetation and exotic wildlife from within the treetops. Whether you are a wildlife lover, adventure seeker or a beach bum, this park should be on your itinerary. A piece of advice… watch out for those ridiculously adorable but thieving golden-mantel howling monkeys!

6. Critters at night

Costa Rica can also boast some of the greatest biodiversity in the world. The contrast of habitats has attracted more than 500,000 different species, making it the dream destination for spotting wildlife. If the idea of unearthing colourful dart frogs, strange insects, snakes (thankfully, we didn’t see any) or even lizards that run across water is intriguing, then sign up for the Jungle Night Tour. Once the sun sets, the jungle is an entirely different place, with only the light of a flashlight to guide your way around wondrous creature sightings.

7. Quepos market

Who doesn’t love meandering through stall after stall of delectable wares? On the seawall in downtown Quepos is the colourful farmers market, boasting fishmongers, bakers and other local purveyors. This is one of the bigger ferias in the area and it offers everything from exotic fruits and veggies to artisanal cheeses, homemade pies, breads, ice cream and handcrafted souvenirs. The market is open on Friday afternoons and Saturday mornings.


Flying from Nicaragua to Costa Rica

Like me, many travellers like to visit Costa Rica and Nicaragua in one trip. Enter Mexican-owned Volaris. This friendly airline flies from Managua, Nicaragua to San Jose, Costa Rica on a regular basis, starting from approximately $80 CDN one way. Trust one who has driven across the two borders: this is the best, easiest way to get from one neighbouring country to the other… in comfort.