If you visit Costa Rica, you will undoubtedly hear or see the term “Pura Vida” countless times during your adventure. Pura Vida means “pure life” or “simple life”, but for Costa Ricans, Pura Vida is a way of being. The people of Costa Rica are very warm, welcoming and generally happy, which is a reflection of the Pura Vida mindset. They live life in gratitude over what they have and don’t dwell on what they don’t. Pura Vida lifestyle is all about letting go and embracing what is. Enjoying the life in front of you instead of worrying about the times behind you. It’s a mentality that we should all aspire to embrace in our daily lives. Thanks to the pervasive Pura Vida culture, Costa Rica is a very safe country making it the perfect destination for an adventurous solo traveler.
Costa Rica is a beautiful green mountainous region with a temperate climate year-round; the temperatures rarely reach extreme highs or lows, unless you are at very high elevations in the mountains. Great weather year-round, means Pura Vida life is ready for you whenever you’re ready to escape!
If I am ever reincarnated as a cow🐮 , I’m putting in my bid to end up in Costa Rica.😂 The lush rolling green hills and mountains are a grazing animal’s dream! This is the place to get lost in nature’s raw beauty. During my road trip across the country from San Jose to Guanacaste, I lost count of how many times I looked out of the driver’s side window and said “wow” as I took in all of the beauty around me.
Costa Rica has something for everyone. If you enjoy the faster-paced city experience with all the comforts of home, San Jose is the place for you. San Jose is sprawling with American tech companies, restaurants and shopping galore. If you want to experience Caribbean life and culture you can explore the cities along the Caribbean coast like Limón. If you crave the laid back beach life, venture out to the beaches of Guanacaste on the Pacific. If you truly want to get away you can can ascend up one of the many mountain towns around the country to experience beautiful lush jungles and waterfalls. I’m really glad I took the plunge and decided to road trip across the country solo so that I could take my time experiencing the countryside. While I spent some of the time reflecting during my drive, I also used it as an opportunity to just be present. I focused on my surroundings and enjoyed the drive in a mindful way to take it all in.
Tip: Because of its position in relation to the equator, the sun sets around 5-5:30 each day regardless of the season. Keep this in mind as you are planning daytime activities that require driving long distances. I don’t recommend driving late at night if you’re traveling in the more rural areas of Guanacaste because the lighting is scarce and road hazards can be unpredictable. If you followed my journey on Instagram, you saw I got myself into some “fun” roadside adventures while traveling to the beaches along Guanacaste. Check out one of the videos I captured below! 😆
How long I stayed: 6 nights
Where to Stay:
I spent 3 nights with friends in their San Jose townhome, and another 3 nights at Casa Aire, an absolutely stunning modern 2 bedroom home in a gated compound in Playas del Coco. The incredible part? It only cost me $336 for 3 nights. This property was modern with beautiful rustic design elements and each room was incredibly spacious. Each bedroom had its own ensuite bathroom with a large overhead rain shower. This is a great property for a couple’s trip or BFF getaway.
- How much cash I brought: $300
- Currency: The official currency is the Costa Rican Colon. However, the overwhelming majority of Costa Rican businesses accept the US Dollar. I never had to convert my money.
Things To Do:
- Irazu Volcano National Park – Head here from San Jose to visit one of the many volcanoes in Costa Rica with a beautiful lagoon in the crater. Keep in mind that the lagoon may or may not be visible depending on the weather and amount of fog.
- La Paz Waterfall Gardens – This is a truly beautiful place set in the mountains outside of San Jose. Entry was $45 (US) per person which included an all-day pass to visit the animal sanctuaries, waterfalls, and other attractions. There are restaurants, a bar, and lodging on site.
- Diamante Eco Adventure Park – This is where you go for adventure and wildlife! I tried ziplining for the first time off their beautiful mountains and had the time of my life!
I highly recommend getting their day pass and getting there early so you can experience all the park has to offer. The day pass is $118 and includes a buffet lunch at their ocean-view restaurant.
- Other activities:
- Wildlife sanctuary (see the sloths!)
- Botanical garden
- Other activities:
Take a look at the video compilation of my ziplining adventure! 🤩
- Explore the various beaches in Guanacaste: Playa Flamingo, Playa Conchal, Playas del Coco, and Tamarindo are all popular destinations
- Go horseback riding with a local on the beach!
- Tip: If you’re visiting any of the beaches in Guanacaste with a rental car, do not leave anything of value visible in the car. Petty car break-ins are a known issue, but if you tip one of the locals looking after the cars they will watch over your vehicle for you. This is the most you’ll likely have to worry about in Costa Rica. I personally didn’t run into any issues by following these rules.
Where to Eat:
- El Mestizo Gastronomy Market in San Jose is a food market with restaurants boasting cuisine from all over the world. It’s in the middle of a beautiful shopping plaza with open-air seating. This is perfect for a group of travelers with varying palates as there is something for everyone. This is a great place to eat, hang out, grab a drink and people watch.
- Father Rooster’s in Guanacaste is a must if you’re near Ocotal Beach. Set on the beach with live music and local cuisine, this is the perfect place to grab a sunset dinner. The service was impeccable, the food was fresh and flavorful and their fish ceviche was to die for!
- Santorini Restaurant is a hidden gem tucked away in a country club in Playas del Coco. The food and service made me come back two days in a row! I highly recommend the Saganaki style shrimp appetizer and the tiramisu served chilled in a martini glass.
Costa Rica has two international airports, one in San Jose (SJO) and Liberia (LIR). Liberia is closest to the beaches in Guanacaste and SJO is close to San Jose and the Caribbean side of the country. I purchased a multi-destination flight and flew into SJO and out of LIR so that I could explore as much as possible without having to drive back to my original airport.
For reference: SJO and LIR are 131 miles apart or 3-4 hours driving time depending on traffic and road conditions.
- If you are planning on exploring beyond your hotel or resort, I highly recommend renting a car while in Costa Rica. Public transportation is sporadic and Costa Rica is small enough where you can easily drive across the country in less than a day. A rental car will allow you to explore as much as possible and get the most out of your trip. The highways were well paved, but be mindful of the more rural areas. Depending on the weather/season you may have to traverse flooded roads, which is why a 4×4 is a must!
I hope you found this helpful as you think about your next travel destination! Costa Rica was an incredibly beautiful place with some of the sweetest people you’ll ever meet. Go get your Pura Vida on!
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me with your questions!
Love & Light…💛✨