Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?


Experience ‘Pura Vida’ in Costa Rica’s Blue Zone

Nicoya, Costa Rica is a Blue Zone where “Pura vida” defines the attitude, longevity, and fitness of the locals.

A sandy beach surrounded by forests and mountains in the background.
White sand Samara Beach in Playa Samara, Guanacaste. Credit: Shutterstock/Stefan Neumann

Nicoya, Costa Rica is one of 5 Blue Zones in the world, places where people live exceptionally long. “Pura Vida” is an aspect of Costa Rican culture that defines the attitude, longevity, and fitness of Nicoyans.

Blue Zones are places where people live longer than average and have a high quality of life in their old age. The Power 9 are nine lifestyle habits that blue zones share, each relating to physical activity, outlook on life, eating habits, or human connection.

The Blue Zone in Costa Rica

The Blue Zone leaders have found 5 places around the world that have exceptional longevity. Nicoya, Costa Rica is one of them.

Nicoya is a peninsula in Costa Rica just south of the Nicaraguan border. Its warm and sunny weather, beaches, and nature make it a popular vacation spot. Beyond its beauty, some remarkable aspects of Nicoya make it a Blue Zone.

First, Nicoyans have a “plan de vida”, meaning a reason to live. Much of the Blue Zone mission is focused on the lifestyles of older generations. Nicoyan elders live with purpose, have a positive outlook on life, and stay active.

Nicoyans also spend a lot of quality time with their families, often living with their children and grandparents. They regularly visit with their neighbors and have a special ability to listen and laugh.

Small village in Guanacaste, Nicoya in Costa Rica. A street with cars and bikes, and a small building and trees in the background.
A small village in Guanacaste, Nicoya. Credit: Shutterstock/Dynamoland

In addition to the positive outlooks and social connections that are part of Nicoyans’ lifestyles, they stay healthy with their diet and exercise. For example, they tend to eat dinner early in the evening, a practice that is known to improve sleep and metabolism.

According to an investigative video by The Today Show, about 1 in 250 Nicoyans live to be centenarians – 100 years old – much more than the average. Centenarians in Nicoya stay active, doing exercises such as riding horseback and chopping wood.

Their hard water with a high calcium content and the constant sunshine that boosts their vitamin D levels also increase Nicoyans’ longevity.

Pura Vida

“Pura vida” or “pure life” is Costa Rica’s philosophy – and a phrase you’ll hear around every corner if you visit the country. To Costa Ricans, pura vida can mean agreement, a greeting or farewell, or good health, depending on the context.

More than a marketing tool for tourists, pura vida is a shared identity in Costa Rica that is certainly present in Nicoya. The phrase represents the essence of Costa Rican life, like being of service to others and embracing living in the moment.

Wellness Tourism

Wellness tourism is travel associated with the pursuit of maintaining or enhancing one’s personal wellbeing. It includes proactive activities that people partake in to improve their health.

Traveling for wellness is a great way to go to Costa Rica and something that the country promotes. The Costa Rican Tourism Board created the Wellness Pura Vida strategy to make the country a wellness destination.

The aspects of Nicoyan culture that contribute to it being a Blue Zone draw in tourists who want to improve their wellbeing.

Despite being such a small country, Costa Rica is a leader in sustainability and a role model for other countries to follow its lead. The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) recognized Costa Rica as one of the 5 Champions of the Earth, an honor that commends positive environmental impacts.

As part of their strong connection to nature, Costa Ricans protect and conserve plants and animals. They have worked hard to reverse the effects of deforestation and maintain forest cover at over 50%.

Sunset over a body of water and a forest.
Sunset in Nicoya Penisula above a lush forest on Cedros Island. Credit: Shutterstock/Jeffry Gonzalez

Costa Rica also has a plan to decarbonize its economy by 2050, aiming to decrease fossil fuel use and pollution. In addition, the country is a leader in renewable energy, electrifying its public and private transportation.

Sustainable living is something that many people try to implement in their own lives. Costa Rica is an ideal travel destination for people who want to see a country that prides itself on sustainability.

Traveling to Costa Rica

Tourists who go to Costa Rica often feel like life is simpler and their mindset changes. They notice Costa Ricans’ positivity and it affects them even after they leave.

Costa Rica is known for its biodiversity, being home to over 500,000 species. Traveling in Costa Rica, you may see macaws, howler monkeys, sea turtles, iguanas, glass frogs, and more!

Keel-billed Toucan sitting on a branch in the Boca Tapada forest in Costa Rica.
Keel-billed Toucan perched on a branch in the Boca Tapada forest in Costa Rica. Credit: Shutterstock/Ondrej Prosicky

Embracing the pura vida lifestyle for travelers can be as simple as talking with Costa Ricans, living in the moment, and being close to nature. You may notice colorfully painted signs with pura vida and want to use the phrase while you’re there.

This is the essence of pura vida – locals often enjoy it when tourists repeat the phrase back to them, as it strengthens their cultural identity and perception of themselves.

The Nicoya Peninsula is comprised of the Guanacaste and Puntarenas Provinces, each with pristine beaches and vibrant forests. It boasts one of the greatest surfing coastlines in the world on the Pacific side. People enjoy seeing sea turtles lay their eggs in the sand, or swimming and fishing in the bays.

Tamarindo is a popular tourist spot, a beach town and the surf capital of Guanacaste. Wellness travelers may enjoy Nosara, a yoga and surf community that prioritizes physical and spiritual fulfillment.

The best part about traveling to Nicoya is that you will see one of the longest-living communities of people in the world. You’re bound to feel more carefree and happy after spending time in a place like Nicoya, Costa Rica.

Avatar photo
Written By

Tenley Brown is a sophomore in college studying anthropology. She loves traveling and learning about different cultures.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like

Copyright © 2022 Trill! Mag