Unlocking the Essence of Pura Vida: Understanding Costa Rica’s Pure Life Philosophy

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    In this blog, we dive into the heart of Costa Rica’s cultural gem, “Pura Vida,” unlocking its profound significance and how it shapes the vibrant lifestyle of this Central American paradise. Andrea has spent a decade exploring and embracing the ethos of Pura Vida and offers her insights honed through extensive immersion in the local culture. She offers a comprehensive understanding of how to authentically embrace this carefree, gratitude-infused way of life. From its cultural roots to practical applications, Andrea’s guidance will help you understand Pura Vida and implement it in Costa Rica and beyond.

    Costa Rica is “pura vida” where the meaning of “pura vida” here refers to one of the happiest countries in the world. With spectacular natural beauty, a peaceful culture, and a relaxed pace of life, it’s easy to see the way they celebrate life. But there’s a much deeper cultural philosophy that lies underneath the cheerful Costa Rican lifestyle: the mantra of ¡pura vida.

    pura vida cost rica

    “Pura Vida Culture in Costa Rica”

    What Does Pura Vida Mean In Costa Rica?

    In Spanish or español, it means “pure life” or “simple life.” But the true meaning of “pura vida” goes much deeper than just two simple words. When Costa Ricans or Ticos say “pura vida,” it’s a way of saying hello. For the Costa Rican people, it represents a way of life that welcomes a minimal lifestyle, celebrates good fortune, and encourages you to take things in your stride. 

    Locals use “pura vida” as a greeting, where the term “pura vida” is comparable to saying “hi” or “how’s it going?” Costa Ricans also use it to say “I’m doing well,” “You’re welcome,” “Everything’s cool,” “Everything’s good,” “That’s great,” and even “Oh well.” However, the expression focuses on molding the attitude and approach to life that Ticos led in Costa Rica.  The pura vida lifestyle highlights simplicity, stress-free living, and gratitude for what they have.

    Cultural Significance in Costa Rica

    The national motto seems to revolve around this phrase. It’s called “Pura Vida” to demonstrate the laid-back, happy-go-lucky attitude of the locals and their viewpoint of living life to the maximum.

    This phrase promotes optimism, an easy-going approach, positivity, and tranquility. It suggests living in the present and unwinding in a way that allows you to let go of trivial matters.  You’ll hear a Tico say life’s simple. This culture promotes positive relationships and helps not to sweat over small things.

    When you’re visiting Costa Rica, you’ll see ¡pura vida everywhere – on t-shirts, coffee mugs, sticker labels, shops, and more. Hearing this expression immediately gives us a sense of the local mentality and how they lead their lives.

    How Locals Include Pura Vida into Daily Life

    “She greeted me with a wave of her hand and said, Pura Vida.” 

    Every aspect of daily life in Costa Rica is centered on this phrase. Locals move at a more relaxed pace without getting stressed out about deadlines or schedules. They require time to enjoy the good life, including taking pleasure in good food, blending with nature, and sustaining a manageable household. Locals live in the moment rather than stressing over the future.

    The pure life mantra is revealed through frequent social interactions and tight-knit communities. Blessed with a positive and friendly mindset, the locals always greet each other with a native “hello” and a welcoming smile.

    Leisure activities like community events, and beach trips are important aspects of this lifestyle. For example, community projects organized by groups like Raleigh International reach even the most remote areas in Costa Rica. The local lifestyle encourages groups to travel to areas like the Alto Chirripó Indigenous Territory where they spread education by working with the Ministry of Education in Costa Rica.

    Origins and Evolution of Pura Vida Over Time

    “I have a chance to watch what inspired the Pura Vida culture.”

    Though the term has existed for centuries, the widespread appeal of the expression itself is frequently credited to a 1956 movie.

    In the film, the phrase is used as a greeting or to say goodbye. The phrase became Costa Rica’s slogan and what seemed to be a casual expression opened up a whole vista of opportunity. This phrase quickly became part of the country’s nationwide vocabulary and culture.

    Over time, a simple phrase used in Costa Rica to say simple things evolved into a complete philosophy of life. The positive results were there to be seen, as Costa Rica became one of the most stable and happiest nations in Latin America. Pura vida came to represent the peaceful, rewarding method of living that the locals delighted in. Now, when someone asks you how many days or días you spent in Costa Rica on the playa or beach, it means that people want to know if you had the time to relax when you went around Costa Rica. This phrase could also be used to say a ton of things.

    How to Respond to Pura Vida in Costa Rica

    “I saw them shake hands and say Pura Vida to each other.”

    As a visitor to Costa Rica, you’ll likely hear it a lot during your travels. Here are some ways to respond.

    If someone uses this local greeting, reply back with the same greeting. 

    When you say “¿cómo estás?” which means “How are you” in Spanish, the locals say POO-rah VEE-dah.

    You can use the phrase if you feel you’ve got a good price on a shopping item or if you found the drink or food to your liking at a local restaurant.

    Say POO-rah VEE-dah when you’re happy or doing well. 

    Pura Vida Reflects Local Lifestyle

    From the serene cloud forests to the vibrant reef, Costa Rica’s spectacular natural landscapes promote this lifestyle. The country’s lavish forests and sunny beaches offer a relaxing atmosphere where life can be enjoyed at a slower pace.

    The laid-back local mindset has been rewarded, as Costa Rica is considered a “blue zone” and a secure state.

    Tasty, fresh regional cuisine, abundant with tropical fruits, likewise supports the native pursuit of pure living.

    Locals take the time to mingle at cafes, greet complete strangers warmly, and take part in activities like surfing on impulse. These daily activities give them immense satisfaction.

    The Path to Wellbeing and Happiness

    For lots of visitors, experiencing the local culture on a trip to Costa Rica brings in a sense of well-being. It shows the way to let go of needless tension, accept imperfections, go with the flow, and find the pleasure that a simple daily life has to offer. 

    This attitude trains the mind to focus on today instead of continuously worrying about the future. By practicing gratitude, mindfulness, and a positive outlook, we attain higher levels of life satisfaction. 

    Experience the Costa Rica Lifestyle

    Experience the Costa Rica Lifestyle

    “I had a great time photographing birds in the Monteverde Cloud Forest”

    To experience the simple lifestyle, it’s important to check out little neighborhoods and see how the residents live. Accept an invitation to the village or try out a rental place that the Costa Ricans use.

    Join hikers on a trip to the Arenal Volcano, try zip-lining, or simply go birding in Costa Rica to enjoy its biodiversity. 

    Once you’ve planned for your trip, enjoy the casual events that come your way. 

    Walk with the locals. See how they engage in conversation and find joy in daily events. 

    Try to enjoy the food, take in the smells of the countryside, and enjoy your leisure trips into the jungle. 

    Imperfections are accepted, and simplicity is the mantra.

    Blend with the surroundings to leave the daily grind behind.

    Look for opportunities to meet new people and gain new experiences.

    Bringing Pura Vida Home – Be Happy with Pura Vida

    Reduced stress and increased overall happiness are what make people happy in Costa Rica.

    As one local had to say “Here, life is supposed to be enjoyed, not endured.” 

    Grab the opportunity to reduce the suffering of drug addicts and alcoholics. For instance, groups like PuraVidaForGood provide structured recovery housing to the families of these people to create an atmosphere where family members can experience a sober lifestyle without stress.  Regardless of obstacles, locals in Costa Rica agree that this low-stress culture boosts quality of life and social ties.

    However, the sluggish rate and emphasis on leisure could make it possible for a lack of motivation or performance issues for some. As a migrant commented, “It’s easy to just veg out at the beach every day instead of accomplishing goals.” Furthermore, the leisure lifestyle may not prepare youth for competitive international jobs requiring long hours. Strong family ties in Costa Rica may help bring an end to the threats of violence and drug traffic, especially when you consider the fact that the country is the world’s largest drug market and the biggest producer of cocaine.

    Pura Vida Differs from Aloha and Other Lifestyles

    This local lifestyle of Costa Rica is similar in many ways to tropical cultures like Hawaiian “Aloha.”  the Balinese “jam sare” and Brazilian “jeito,” In Liberia, people greet each other with a big smile and a handshake that ends with the fingers making a snapping sound. It’s like two locals saying “hi” to each other. But the similarities end there. Visitors often say they’re living the good life. It’s like saying people in this Central American country take pleasure in basic enjoyments. Part of Costa Rican culture is spending time with family and friends. This helps overcome the stress that the busy lifestyle in many Asian and other American countries brings in. While some cultures celebrate accomplishments and status, Pura Vida runs deep and encourages a relaxed attitude over the non-stop go-getting state of mind in places like Tokyo and New York City. Though some elements of this lifestyle are found elsewhere, few places can wholly embody an attitude of unwinding by the minute like what takes place in Costa Rica.

    FAQs About Pura Vida

    How do you pronounce “pura vida”?

    It’s a catchphrase that you phonetically pronounce as POO-rah VEE-dah. 

    What gesture accompanies pura vida?

    When responding to a greeting or welcoming someone, Costa Ricans often raise their hand in a laidback style without exclamation. It’s a positive attitude. You are not turned away. It can be directly translated as “hi” or “thank you.”

    Are there any mistakes to avoid when using this expression?

    When you realize the much deeper significance of pura vida firsthand, you avoid saying it out of context. 



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