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PURA VIDA LESSON 3: RELAX.

Relaxation is the keystone of the easygoing Pura Vida mentality. Therefore, indulging in rejuvenating and therapeutic experiences is essential.

The Kuö Spa at the Costa Rica Marriott Hotel San Jose is less than 15 minutes by car from the Juan Santamaría International Airport, yet it sits on a coffee plantation with sweeping views of the rugged Central Range mountains. The spa facility is luxuriously designed to feature materials characteristic of the area and incorporate spiritual values of the indigenous Cabecar people. “The spa is designed with many open areas for more contact with nature,” says spa director Danilo Dominguez. “We also use coffee in the decor at the Kuö Spa to signify the transformation you’ll experience.” Some of the spa’s signature treatments are inspired by volcanic ash and other natural ingredients, but my favorite is a scrub and massage using grounds from coffee grown on-site.

A visit to one of Costa Rica’s volcanic hot springs is an outdoor take on a traditional spa experience. The Arenal region is home to Costa Rica’s most popular pocket of hot springs, with facilities ranging from luxurious to traditional. For a local Costa Rican experience, the family-owned Eco Termales hot spring offers four pools to a limited crowd while the popular Tabacon Grand Spa Thermal Resort hot spring offers more services.

An offbeat way to merge Costa Rica’s outdoors with fitness is to take a yoga course on a stand-up paddleboard. “I can’t quite describe the feeling of floating on water and seeing the coastline of Costa Rica from an altered view through [the yoga position of] downward-facing dog,” says instructor Rachel Robinette of outdoor outfitter Kaludus.­ “Being in an outdoor space without limits heightens our senses and allows us to be more present in the moment and in the practice.” Robinette is trained in yoga and as a surfer, and it’s quite impressive to see her demonstrate a headstand in the middle of Herradura Bay. My sunset lesson right offshore from the Los Suenos Marriott Ocean & Golf Resort was restorative and ultimately helped me relax more than any yoga or stand-up paddleboard session that I have had before.

Through these atypical adventures, I found a personal version of Pura Vida — and maybe that’s the secret to the life-is-wonderful attitude that defines Costa Rican culture. It’s different for everyone, as long as each day is full of delight and appreciation. For me, enjoying Costa Rica with a setting sun or a unique twist is how I truly relaxed: surrounded by nature, enjoying a cocktail by the beach. Pura Vida. 

Through these atypical adventures, I found a personal version of Pura Vida — and maybe that’s the secret to the life-is-wonderful attitude that defines Costa Rican culture. It’s different for everyone, as long as each day is full of delight and appreciation. For me, enjoying Costa Rica with a setting sun or a unique twist is how I truly relaxed: surrounded by nature, enjoying a cocktail by the beach. Pura Vida. 



Annie Shustrin is a travel writer and a blogger who seeks Pura Vida at her home base in Brooklyn, N.Y.