In Pursuit of Pura Vida: Peaceful Escapes in Costa Rica

26 February, 2019

If you're looking for a place to find some bliss, Costa Rica is a great place to start. After all, it is one of the happiest places on earth in numerous rankings and takes the first spot on the Happy Planet Index, a metric that considers wellness, life expectancy, and responsible ecotourism, among other factors.

Costa Rica is a place where the national motto pura vida — is a way of life, and it's not exclusive to locals. All visitors to Costa Rica are welcome to embrace and take part in this tico philosophy, to let a portion of their worries go and to prioritize the “good life” above all else. For travelers looking to get away from the busyness of life, this can be a godsend, but there's an art to pura vida.

Here are a few examples of what a relaxing trip to Costa Rica should look like, be it for first-timers or recurring visitors.

Beachfront Basecamp

Costa Rica has two coastlines, each with strikingly beautiful beaches. Both the Pacific coast and the Caribbean side feature beautiful beaches, warm water, and lots of sun throughout most of the year, with a few differences. 

While the Pacific Ocean is known for its lively reef ecosystems and onshore swell, a perfect place for surfers and snorkelers alike, the Caribbean coast features a real feeling of the tropics, with lush rainforests filled with life lining the coast all the way up to the beach.

The country's Pacific coast is also famous for its big surf. Expert surfers go to tackle big waves in surfing towns in Guanacaste region like Playa Grande and Playa Avellanas near Tamarindo, according to Enter Costa Rica. But a daunting break isn't something you experience everywhere, and depending on your experience level, it may not precisely be the pura vida prescription.

Costa Rica's, Pacific coast is also famous for its big surf.

Vogue welcomes Santarena Hotel

Enter other beautiful beaches, like Playa Danta, in the walkable town of Costa Rica in the Guanacaste region (above). This small, tucked-away beach is sheltered from significant swell, with moderate waves and clear shallow water excellently suited to different water sports like body surfing, boogie boarding, or just a splash out in the cove. 

In fact, make sure to keep an eye out for some excellent snorkeling spots in the area as well, like the reef between Playa Danta and Dantita, or the leeward side of a Punta Penca and the Islotes Pitahayas.

For another take on a casually elegant beach vacation experience, there's the Santarena Hotel, a tropical oasis inspired by a palette of people and places perched between Playa Danta and Playa Dantita. The hotel's rooftop terrace with an infinity pool, signature restaurant Ponciana, and a consciously crafted design makes Santarena a beautiful gathering place for a vacation just a short walk away from the beach.



Take a Hint from Nature

There is something transformational about breathing clean air among the true peace of the wild world, something that's often missing from the usual rhythm of life. The opportunity to get out, travel to natural areas, and experience nature is one that provides a change in perspective and a look into a different form of life.

Fortunately, in most places in Costa Rica you don't need to go far for some time in the mountains or the forests. For example, in Las Catalinas, visitors are welcome to explore miles of hiking and single-track mountain biking trails through the tropical dry forest, an overlooked part of Costa Rica's natural biodiversity. 

For example, within a short walk from this beach town's rental apartment and villas is the overlook at the Punta Guachipelines, a ridge top trail with a panoramic view of the hills, the Pacific Ocean, and the nearby Pitahaya Islands, where local wildlife like frigate birds and pelicans nest.

Yoga & Fitness

One way locals like to elevate their relaxation is through mindfulness practices, which could explain why yoga is so popular in Costa Rica.

Known as Costa Rica's wellness capital, Nosara is home to several yoga intensives and retreats, taking advantage of the area's natural beauty, The Culture Trip reports. It is also home to the Nosara Yoga Institute, a famous yoga instructor training center, and retreat location. For those looking to escape the complications of modern life, even if it's for a week or two, this is a popular choice.

The rooftop terrace at the Santarena Hotel offers a good chance of hosting a yoga retreat, a class or other fitness. 

And for those who appreciate the art, but have no interest in doing intensive work, just about any location with a view and a pleasant atmosphere, like the rooftop terrace at the Santarena Hotel (above), offers a good chance of hosting a yoga retreat, a class or other fitness, according to La Yoga Magazine

Between lounging on the beach or getting offshore with local excursions, you can try the hotel and town's of mat Pilates lessons, core work, and HIIT classes, or unwind in Shavasana while looking out at the waves.

A Casual Cruise

Gentle waves and the vibrant life of an unspoiled natural world make a casual cruise a hard ticket to pass up for your trip to Costa Rica.

One option to blend a casual cruise with some lifelong learning is diving in Costa Rica, especially if visitors take ConnectOcean's Mangrove Explorer course, an in-depth look at one of the most ecologically essential marine ecosystems in Costa Rica

Departing from Las Baulas National Park in a local Artisanal Boat, this tour, which is part of ConnectOcean's Citizen Science experiences, explores the mangroves from the water, using the maneuverability of the shallow-bottom vessel to explore marine life in areas beyond the reach of standard watercraft.  

It's quite a vibrant hotbed of life, and during this trip --on small boats with a private Naturalist guide -- guests learn about the fascinating and unique challenges of survival in the environment, as well as the creatures that make these ecosystems their home. 

For a more social gathering to kick back, relax, and enjoy the gorgeous weather of the Guanacaste coast, you can also go on a catamaran cruise. These cruises are an excellent way to relish time out upon the sea, anchoring in a hidden cove with the chance to enjoy the water and explore the coastline from a kayak, paddleboard, or with mask and snorkel. Add in a snack bar and provided drinks, and you're set for a few hours of equal parts adventure and bliss.

For evening cruises, the major highlight comes at the end, out among the waves watching the sunset on the golden sea in a moment just as memorable the first time as the fiftieth.

Kick back and Unwind

These are just a sample of the unique ways visitors can sense Costa Rica's particular approach to life. 

From the thriving local ecosystems to its lively and friendly culture, this small Central American country offers exclusive experiences that anyone who's looking for a better way to live will appreciate.

Visit the Santarena Hotel

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