The Costa Rica Tourism Board (ICT) has launched a new tourism strategy for 2018 –‘Wellness Pura Vida’ – a new ethos that redefines what it means to look after the body and soul. According to the World Health Organization, “burnout”, the state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress, is now a global issue. To combat this, travelers are increasingly combining travel with wellness, a trend that the tourist board is responding to with this new movement for 2018.
The phrase “Pura Vida” itself can be heard echoing throughout Costa Rica. Used as a greeting or expression of happiness, the phrase literally translates to “pure life,” however its truer meaning is “full of life,” which accurately symbolises the Costa Rican mind-set of energy and positivism that awaits visitors.
Mauricio Ventura, Minister of Tourism explains that “With Wellness Pura Vida, we seek to position the country as one of the world’s leading wellbeing destinations, offering unique and transformative experiences, which improve the quality of life of our inhabitants and those who visit us.”
Under the new ‘Wellness Pura Vida’ strategy, ICT will:
Work with key stakeholders to build on their existing wellness product offering
Work with local leaders to ensure that the boost in tourism benefits the local community
Promote the use of the newest wellness techniques, but ensuring that they have a ‘Tico twist’ (Tico being the informal word for Costa Rican); incorporating elements such as activities, sports and local community outreach – a 360 degree attitude to wellbeing which differentiates the country from its international competitors
Promote the importance of increasing wellness tourism without adversely harming the environment
Promote local and indigenous gastronomy as part of the wellness offering
Costa Rica offers a huge number of authentic natural wellness experiences for all visitors looking for a healing holiday. These activities include yoga, meditation, earthing, forest bathing, treatments with hot springs, thalassotherapy amongst others, and can be carried out in pleasant and tranquil natural spaces throughout the country. Smoking volcanoes, dense virgin forests, unique wildlife and endless tropical beaches make this Central American paradise one of the most diverse places on earth for a healing holiday. See our roundup of the top five iconic Costa Rican wellness experiences below:
1. Reconnect with nature at a wellness retreat
Costa Rica is the place to disconnect from the world. Visitors can swap technology and tweeting for an energising morning yoga session in a rainforest, a midday jungle trek and an afternoon surf lesson in a laidback Caribbean coastal town. They can reboot and recharge at one of the country’s wellness hotels, many of which have practitioners which focus on the mind as much as the body.
2. Live the Pura Vide lifestyle
Costa Rica is not only renowned for being one of the happiest places on Earth, but also one where people live the longest. The Nicoya Peninsula has one of the highest percentages of centenarians in the world, and the region has been declared as an official ‘blue zone’ (one of five geographic areas in the world where people live statistically longest) by explorer and researcher Dan Buettner.
Visitors should live this ‘Pura Vida’ lifestyle whilst in Costa Rica, taking home new healthy habits, starting with its healthy food based mainly on grains including rice and beans (called “gallo pinto” when mixed). No trip is complete without drinking the calcium-rich water, indulging in the fresh fruits and sampling the local coffee. Other Pura Vida wellness experiences can include ‘forest baths’ (breathing in the fresh air of the forest) and ‘earthing’ (barefoot walks on the earth/sand). Reaching 100 is not guaranteed, but relaxation is!
3. Drop off the radar
Visitors hoping for a slice of Zen should head to the lesser known corner of Costa Rica – the Osa Peninsula. Located on the South Pacific coast, this region is a haven for those looking to experience complete unspoilt beauty and escape Wi-Fi. The opportunities for exploration are endless; iconic activities include watching the magnificent humpback whale migration, exploring the mangroves by kayak and the beaches and mountains on a recreational cycling tour, bird-watching, yoga, forest bathing and having a healthy organic meal on the beach. The area is also home to Corcovado National Park, the largest of Costa Rica’s parks and home to some of the most unique wildlife in the world.
4. Learn something new
As well as being a wellness oasis, Costa Rica is an adventure playground. Being active and outdoors is a vital aspect of the ‘Pura Vida’ ethos and something which is an integral part to any wellness holiday to the country. Visitors can expect sunrise yoga, beach Pilates and al fresco group meditation. However they can also learn something new and challenging, such as surfing, horse riding, bird watching and paddle boarding.
5. Enjoy the volcanic hot springs
No wellness holiday to Costa Rica is complete without a visit to the hot springs, which are said to have healing and restorative properties due to the high mineral content. Visitors can harness the water for personal renewal by letting positive energy flow throughout the body. Arenal, Rincon de la Vieja, Miravalles Volcano, Orosi area, Perez Zeledon and the Caribbean are the country’s best destinations for thermal soaks, some of them boasting highly-rated hot springs, mud baths and spa facilities.