ADVERTORIAL • April 2017
Famous for its verdant national parks teeming with wildlife, untouched tropical beaches, and happy and friendly locals, it’s little wonder that Costa Rica embraces Pura Vida – or the ‘pure life’. Here are five reasons why the most frequently used phrase in Costa Rica describes both a state of mind and a way of life
The two most important words in Costa Rica epitomise much of what is so enchanting about this Central American nation. The expression ‘Pura Vida’ can be a greeting, a farewell, or a way to say thanks or wish good fortune. Literally translated as ‘pure life’ it is a recurring affirmation of the sense of appreciation and joy that 4.5 million ‘Ticos’ (Costa Ricans) take in living in what is widely acknowledged to be one of the happiest countries in the world, according to the Happy Planet Index (calculated by the New Economics Foundation).
Basking in a warm tropical climate Costa Rica is a year-round destination for holidaymakers, adventure seekers, and avid nature lovers. With uncrowded and unspoilt palm-fringed beaches along both its Caribbean and Pacific coastlines, sinuous rivers winding through lush and verdant rainforest, and hot springs bubbling up around the perimeter of the country’s fabled volcanoes, nature doesn’t take a rest. Neither does the climate. There is no real summer or winter – the seasons are divided into the ‘high’ (dry season) from December to April and ‘green’ (rainy season) from May to November.
A quarter of Costa Rica comprises national parks, protected forest and jungle. Despite a landmass of just 0.03 per cent of the world’s surface, it safeguards nearly 6 per cent of its biodiversity. Put simply there is an extraordinary and disproportionate variety of animal and plant life in a country a little over half the size of Ireland – all of it zealously protected. In 2012 it banned recreational hunting, the first country in the Americas to do so. It has been named the ‘Greenest Country in the World’ by the UK-based New Economics Foundation, and it has set a goal of 2021 to become carbon neutral. Already, 90 per cent of the country’s energy comes from renewable sources.
As one of the world’s leading pioneers of ecotourism, there is no shortage of opportunities to get back to nature. Climb a waterfall, surf the big breakers on the Pacific coast, walk through treetops on a sky bridge, take a multi-stage zipline above and through the jungle, ride on horseback through the spectacular cloud forests of the Monteverde Highlands, white water raft down the Pacuare River, watch humpback whales from one of the best land-based vantage points in the Southern Pacific… or just kick back and relax on a remote and deserted beach.
The cost of living is nearly 20 per cent lower than in the UK, making Costa Rica both affordable and great value. Eating out is relatively inexpensive, and so is car hire – the best way to explore the country. Roads are generally in good condition, towns and resorts are well signposted, and rental cars are required to meet low emission standards (naturally). Everywhere in the country is easily accessible and it is perfectly possible to drive from a beach resort in the morning, to a rainforest or volcano in the afternoon, and take in a coffee plantation on the way home. Petrol is around £3.80 per gallon.