Pura Vida: meaning “pure life” in Spanish. After spending a week in Tamarindo, Costa Rica, I learned that “pura vida” isn’t just a saying, but a way of life. Costa Ricans don’t stress about little things and have a simple way of looking at life. They are grateful for what they have and don’t dwell on the negative. I think more people would benefit viewing life this way, you feel more relaxed and happy. I definitely lived the “pura vida” during that week and below are my favorite activities I experienced in Costa Rica.
- Surfing- a challenging, but exhilarating sport (and maybe a bit painful at times). After falling on my face quite a few times, I managed to pop up and ride a few (baby) waves, which basically makes me a pro right? I took a lesson through Witch’s Rock and they had excellent instructors who were both fun and motivating. Our instructor taught us the ins and outs of surfing and even taught us how to be safe surfing in a new place.
- Scuba Diving- hands down the best experience I have ever had. I am not certified (although I plan on getting certified ASAP), but Agua Rica Diving Center offered a beginners course which allows you to learn the basics and then go on two dives with a dive master. If you know me well, then you know I LOVE the ocean and sharks. It was my lucky day because the second I descended I got to see a white tip reef shark! Being in the underwater world is very serene and being able to see marine life outside of an aquarium is amazing. I highly recommend this activity to anyone who loves adventure and the water.
- Catamaran excursion-My boyfriend and I did an excursion through Blue Dolphin Sailing and it was an absolute blast, plus I didn’t get sea sick so that was a plus. They pick you up off the beach and you take a ~ 45 minute ride to a private cove. There they allow an hour for water activities and then you eat. They let us kayak, paddle board, snorkel, and just relax in the water on noodles. The best part was if you yelled “torpedo” while in the water, they threw a beer at you (talk about great service). The food they served was also delicious! On your way back you watch the sunset and let me tell you, Costa Rica has some amazing sunsets. Pro tip: take dramamine if you are known to get sea sick (half of our boat slept the whole time due to sickness) and bring sunscreen (or else you burn like me).
- Volcano Brewing Company- this brewing company was connected to Witch’s Rock surf camp located right on the beach and it hit the spot after a morning of surfing. The company has an awesome back story as the founder took a road trip from San Diego to Costa Rice in search of epic waves and they found the surf town called Tamarindo. They started the brewing company to share quality craft beer with surfers and travelers from around the world. The three beers brewed there are Witch’s Rock Pale Ale, Gato Malo Brown Ale, and Hasselhopp IPA.
- Rincon de la Vieja National Park- we took an all day excursion through Trip Advisor and I would highly recommend this trip. We got picked up directly from our hotel and we lucked out and ended up being the only two in our tour group. The drive was two hours out of Tamarindo. This first stop is a hike through the rainforest at the base of the active volcano. Our guide was very knowledgable and was quick to find all of the wildlife. We got to see three different kinds of monkeys (white faced, spider, and howler) jumping from tree to tree. We also got to see mud pools and volcanic activity throughout the hike which really made me feel like I was in Jurassic Park. The next stop was Oropendola Waterfall and it was absolutely breathtaking! The guide allowed us to swim in the freshwater waterfall and cool off after hiking. We then got a delicious lunch and made our way to the final stop which were the hot springs and volcanic mud baths. This was one of my favorite experiences I had in Costa Rica. You first had to sit in one hot spring for 5 minutes to get all of the sunscreen, sweat, etc. off of you. Then you got a paintbrush and a bowl of mud in which you painted your whole body and then let it dry for ~10 minutes. Then you showered off the mud and then relaxed in the hot springs. And let me tell you, the mud made your skin so smooth and I wish I could take these mud baths everyday. It was basically a spa, but in the middle of the rainforest.
- Tamarindo Beach- our hotel was right on this gorgeous beach. We were able to walk on the beach and find surfing, beach front restaurants/bars, tide pools to explore, and amazing views to take in and relax. The sunsets on this beach are also one of the most amazing views I have ever seen.
- Food- being on the coast always leads to amazing seafood! The perks of not being at an all inclusive resort was we got to try a new restaurant for lunch and dinner everyday. Where we were is also a huge fishing hot spot and most resturaunts were willing to cook fish that you catch yourself (we did not go fishing, so I did not experience that). But we splurged on tons of delicious seafood dishes and drinks. Although known for seafood, we did find a small hidden Italian place with the BEST food called, Enea’s La Vera Cucina Italiana. The man that owns the place was very personable and makes some mean ravioli and bruschetta.
Whether you are looking for an adventure filled or relaxing vacation, Costa Rica is the place to go! There is so much to do and see that I definitely needed more than my 7 days there. Pura Vida!