Congratulations! You are planning a trip to the land of Pura Vida, and it will be life-changing.
'Pura Vida' is the popular, local saying you hear the moment you step foot in Costa Rica. It translates to 'Pure Life', and is the only way of life around here. It means to live a peaceful, simple, uncluttered life with a deep appreciation for nature, family and friends; a "real living" that reflects happiness, well-being, simplicity and satisfaction.
Before you book your flight your first decision shouldbe which part of the country you want to spend your time exploring. Costa Rica is about the size of West Virginia, but due to road conditions it can take a full day to drive from one end of the country to the other.
Do you want to explore the Caribbean beaches? Or relax on the famous Blue Zone beaches of Guanacaste? Do you want to zipline through the cloud forest in Monteverde? Or hike up the Arenal Volcano? Or explore the rugged Osa Peninsula?
Costa Rica is known for it's diverse variety of adventures and activities. There are many ways to immerse yourself into nature in this exciting country. There are numerous local tour companies you can book your activities through. It's a good idea to book your tours in advance, especially if you're planning to visit during busy season (December through April).
Some of the most popular activities are ziplining through the cloud forest, white water rafting, horseback riding, turtle tours, volcano hikes, hot spring tours, whale watching and dolphin cruises, surf lessons, snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking, sports fishing, animal sanctuary tours, cave spelunking, visiting National Parks, waterfall hikes, suspension bridges, crocodile tours, Tarzan swings, or just relaxing on the beach in a hammock.
My favorite activity in Costa Rica is exploring new beaches. Costa Rica is a special place, as it has stunning beaches along the Pacific Ocean, as well as the Caribbean Sea. With over 800 miles of coastline, and over 300 unique beaches, there exists the perfect beach paradise for everyone.
A vast majority of Costa Rica's beaches remain unexplored, so if you can I recommend renting a car while vacationing here, because right next to every popular tourist beach, is a hidden secluded beach just waiting to be discovered.
Exploring beaches can work up a big appetite, so head over to a soda for a flavorful, filling meal. A 'Soda' is a local restaurant that serves authentic Costa Rican food, usually with heaping portions, at an affordable price.
A 'Casado' is typical Costa Rican plate, consisting of a protein alongside rice, beans, salad and sweet plantains. 'Gallo Pinto' is the most common dish served in this country and is a flavorful combination of rice, beans, herbs and veggies. It can and is served with any meal, but most commonly is served for breakfast, with a side of tortillas, eggs and fruit.
If you have a hard time understanding the Spanish menu, a safe bet in any local restaurant is always 'arroz con pollo', which is just chicken fried rice with herbs and veggies. My husband and I spent our first month in Costa Rica ordering this at every restaurant, and each place makes a different, flavorful version.
And when dining in a local restaurant you must always ask for your check. Ticos (as Costa Ricans call themselves) consider it rude to bring you the check before you have asked. When you are ready to pay, simply say "La cuenta por favor", which means 'the check, please', and it will be delivered to your table promptly.
'Pipa fria' means 'cold coconut. It is an ice-cold, fresh coconut, packed with hydrating, delicious coconut water. You can find a local selling these on most beaches throughout the country for around $1. Pipa fria tastes like happiness.
'Cacique Guaro' is the national liquor of Costa Rica, and is used to make many well-known cocktails. Two of my favorites are the 'Chileguaro' shot, and the 'Guaro Sour', which can be found in any beach bar throughout the country.
Chileguaro is similar to a bloody mary, but served in a shotglass. It consist of Cacique Guaro, lots of lime juice, tomato juice, hot sauce and salt. Each bartender makes a different version and everyone has a different opinion on where to find the best Chileguaro shot in Costa Rica.
The Guaro Sour is a Costa Rican version of a whiskey sour. It is made with Cacique Guaro, lime, club soda, and simple syrup or raw sugar. It is refreshing and delicious.
And of course there is no better place to enjoy a fresh pina colada, or a mojito, than in Costa Rica, the land of fresh pineapples, citrus and coconuts. I have had some of the best pina coladas, and mojitos, of my life here, while watching the surfers at sunset from my rocking chair at a funky beach bar.
There will always be a before and after Costa Rica, in your life now. It is a place your feet may leave, but never your heart. Don't forget to take the "Pura Vida" spirit home with you when you leave.
Written By - Kari Pinkerton Silcox
Happy Cocouts Travel Blog