Pura Vida: Living The Simple Life

Written by Sharon Duncan / Photography by Lindsey Ashjian

Describing the people of Costa Rica is about as easy as explaining how you feel while basking in the sun there: relaxed, calm, happy, easy-going. I was pleasantly surprised at their hospitality and eagerness to please. More often than not, the people would say, “Thank you for visiting our country.” While Costa Rica may be poor in many ways, they are very rich in life. It’s no wonder Costa Rica means “Rich Coast.”

“Pura Vida” translated literally means “Pure Life” or “Simple Life” and is very commonly used in everyday happenings. Costa Rica is considered one of the happiest countries in the world, mostly because they don’t stress about things that most of its visitors do. They have a very relaxed way of looking at life: no worries, no stress. To them, Pura Vida means being thankful for what they have. What better way to live than that?

While Costa Rica is simple and laidback, it offers a wide range of tourist pleasures: exquisite food, tropical rain forests, sparkling white-sand beaches, volcanic black-sand beaches, horseback riding, hot spring mud baths, enticing diving and boating… and did I mention some of the most exquisite food?! You may think I must really love to eat, but the truth is, I just really love their food! Some of my favorites included: seaside lobster, ceviche, fresh off the boat sushi, Caribbean fusion, grass-fed beef, free- range chicken, and the rice and beans unique to their cuisine. This all made for some of the most amazing food I have ever eaten. And it certainly doesn’t hurt to enjoy it while sitting on the beach at sunset.

The fun definitely doesn’t wait to begin once the sun goes down. Wake up to some of the most captivating views and indulge yourself with a cup of gourmet coffee. Costa Rica, most notably known for its gourmet coffee beans, boasts some of the finest in the world.

It’s easy to indulge in Costa Rica and so, we did. We stayed in the north-west, on the Pacific Coast, in an area called Papagayo. Our breathtaking private villa had five master suites, marble floors and showers, including outdoor marble showers for the adventurous! After settling in the villa, we took out the wine and took in the view! From the patio, we enjoyed a full panorama of the ocean, including the infinity pools, which could be observed from each master suite. Located next to the famous Four Seasons, we had access to the private beaches, which were simply incredible. We also made a point to occasionally wander to the local beaches for cocktails and to see the sites.

During our outings, we were greeted by a family of Kota Mundi, the native species which is a cousin to the raccoon. We were also entertained by the occasional white-face monkey in search of any treats we might have!

This was one of the most delightful, relaxing trips. I knew it would be from the moment I arrived, but I was sure of it once I was on board a yacht making its way to a private cove where the crew prepared a fabulous barbecue lunch on the beach, as we jet-skied and snorkeled, all while taking in the perfect 85-degree weather. Cocktails and appetizers were enjoyed after a long day as we headed back home, gazing out at the beautiful blue ocean, listening to our family laugh and recount the day. We all agreed it could be summarized in two words: Pura Vida!

Travel Tip: Best time to enjoy Costa Rica is December thru April.