It’s hard to put into words the vibe and energy of Costa Rica. I guess the best way to describe it is “pura vida”. If you’ve every been there you’ve heard this said over and over again and I’m sure you will also agree. I have compiled footage from my 3 trips to this amazing country to capture the vibe, culture and people of Costa Rica. Watch the video here.
Of the 60+ countries I’ve visited, Costa Rica is definitely at the top of my list for favourite places to visit. From the first time I visited, I knew I’d be back many times again.
It’s truly a special country where the people are friendly, the country is safe, the food is healthy & delicious and adventure is everywhere. Zip lining, diving, surfing, hiking volcanoes and swimming in waterfalls, there is no shortage of awesome things to experience.
I love the raw beauty of Costa Rica. I enjoy the fact that it’s still a developing country and many parts still feel untouched. Over the past 2 years I’ve visited 3 times and have explored the country from coast to coast. There are many difference sides to Costa Rica and each town has its own vibe and attraction. Some parts have become very touristic like Tamarindo aka Tamagringo and Jaco. These places have become quite commercialized and don’t have the same vibe as other towns like Samara, Nosara and Santa Teresa.
Samara is a small beach town with a very chill vibe with lot’s of North American expats who have traded city life for beach life.
Nosara has an infamous stretch of beach that has perfect 4 foot waves rolling in from sunrise to sunset. It truly is a surfers paradise with dozens of hotels and hostels lining the beach front with lots of great restaurants and bars to enjoy post-surf.
Santa Teresa is actually my favourite place to visit in Costa Rica. It really offers the best of both worlds with beautiful, secluded villas with perfect unoccupied beaches near by in Hermosa and many great restaurants and beach clubs located on the one road that runs through Santa Teresa. Many people say that Santa Teresa is what Tulum was 10 years ago. (I really hope it stays this way).
All these towns I’ve mentioned are on the Pacific coast in the Nicoya Peninsula. The other parts of Costa Rica I’ve visited and recommend are Monteverde, Rio Celeste and Puerto Viejo.
Monteverde is located in the middle of the country and is referred to as the Cloud Forest for obvious reasons. The town is located at a very high elevation, literally in the clouds. To reach there you have to drive up through winding roads that cut through the dense jungle. The climate is dramatically different from Nicoya, it’s much cooler and often very wet. The view from the top of Monteverde is absolutely spectacular and it offers a unique experience from other parts of Costa Rica (check out the time lapse of the Cloud Forest I shot during sunset) I highly suggest you try the zip-lining while there. They proudly boast that they have the longest zip-lining runs in all of Central America. True statement, I tried it and half way through the longest one I had more than enough time to think about how long it would take my friends to find me if the cable snapped. Good news, it didn’t.
If turquoise waterfalls are your thing, make sure to add the Rio Celeste Falls to your list. The water is literally turquoise. The water is this colour due to the algae from the river water and the mountain water mixing together. To get to the falls it’s a 30 minute hike in the Tenorio Volcano National Park and once you’re there you can walk the path along the river through the jungle crossing a few bridges (great photo opp).
Puerto Viejo is located on the Caribbean side and offers a different experience. It is about an hour south of Limon airport and only a couple hours north of the Panama border. The town has small stores and restaurants and lower priced hotels and hostels. Personally I prefer the vibe and experience on the Pacific Coast but I do suggest checking it out if you want to see both sides of the country.
I first heard about Costa Rica from my friend Linley Edwards when we met in Miami back in 1997. Years ago I remember him telling me about the magic of Costa Rica and how he spent a month there every year, surfing and living on the beach enjoying the pura vida life. He recently moved to Santa Teresa after spending over 2 decades living in Miami, running some of the top venues in South Beach. Linley decided that he wanted his kids to grow up on the beach so he packed up his life in Miami, built a house in Santa Teresa and opened a beach club called Rocamar on Hermosa beach. While I was there we had the chance to hang out and he told me about the magic of Costa Rica and why he made the move.
Did you know that on our planet there are 5 places that are designated Blue Zones, where people live past 100? The Nicoya peninsula is one of these rare 5 places. What makes this part of the world so special? Maybe its the incredible weather or the lush rain forests?
Maybe it’s the abundance of nature and healthy food? Or maybe it’s just the pura vida energy. I encourage you to find out the answer for yourself and visit this amazing country, I promise you won’t regret it.
I’ve included some travel tips and recommendations for you in the blog article below. I hope you find it helpful and you make it to Costa Rica.
And if you do stop by Nosara, make sure to drop by the Jungla House and look for the silver haired surfer and tell Jimi that I sent you and ask him to make you a Jimirita ?
How to get there:
To experience the Pacific side I suggest flying to Liberia, rent a car and drive down the coast. It’s easy to get from town to town and if you want do a day trip to the Rio Celeste Falls or hike a volcano in the Arenal National Park, you’ll need a car to get there. From Liberia to Nosara or Samara (yes skip Tamagringo) is approx 3-4 hours.
Another option if you want to end up in Santa Teresa (which I highly recommend), is to fly to Liberia or San Jose and catch a quick flight on local airlines Sansa or Nature Air to Tambor , from there it’s approx a 45 minute drive
To visit Monteverde the shortest route is to fly to Liberia and drive approx 2.5 hours from there.
To get to Puerto Viejo you also have to fly to San Jose and you can catch a quick flight to Limon and then drive south for an hour. We rented a car and drove 5 hours from San Jose to Puerto Viejo. *A word of advice, if you are going to do the drive you definitely want to leave in time to do the drive during day light. The highway and winding roads are filled with transport trucks on route to the industrial town of Chiquita (yes like the bananas). We left late and had to do half of the drive in the dark and got caught in the rain.
Where to stay:
Samara – Casa del Halcon
Nosara – Jungla Beach House
Santa Teresa – Mystical Green Properties
Hermosa Beach – Villa Rancho Cielo
Monteverde – Hotel Belmar
Rio Celeste – Rio Celeste Hideaway
Places to eat:
Samara – Luv Burger
Rocamar Beach Club *Make sure to check out their Sunday sunset party
Katana Asian Cuisine
Nosara – Beers & Burgers