Pura Vida in Costa Rica

Pura Vida in Costa Rica : More Than a Motto

Experience the Essence of “Pura Vida” in Costa Rica

Unveiling the Captivating History of “Pura Vida”

When you step into the heart of Costa Rica, you’ll encounter a phrase that resonates throughout the nation— “Pura Vida,” or “pure life” in Spanish. While pura vida literally translates to pure life, it also means hello, goodbye, I’m great, thank you, and more.

The phrase Pura Vida is more than just words; it’s the embodiment of a way of life that has made Costa Rica one of the happiest countries on Earth. But to truly grasp the profound meaning of “Pura Vida,” one must journey back through the annals of Costa Rica’s history.

The Origins of “Pura Vida” in Costa Rica

In the 16th century, Costa Rica was inhabited by indigenous people, living harmoniously with the land. It was an era of connection with nature and simplicity.

However, the Spanish Empire, one of the largest empires in history, expanded its dominion into Latin America and arrived at the Costa Rican shores. The Spanish conquest reshaped the destiny of this lush land. Yet, it wasn’t until 1821 that Costa Rica celebrated its independence, marking a pivotal chapter in its history.

Despite relatively stable political developments, Costa Rica experienced occasional turbulent episodes. The most remarkable of these was the brief but intense civil war in 1948, lasting only 44 days but resulting in the loss of about 2,000 lives.

What followed was a radical decision—one that continues to define Costa Rica to this day. In 1949, the nation abolished its army, embracing a peaceful path that set it apart from many other countries.

The Birth of “Pura Vida” as We Know It

The phrase “Pura Vida” as we know it today wasn’t coined until the mid-20th century. In 1956, a Mexican film titled “¡Pura Vida!” graced Costa Rica’s screens and became an instant hit. The film portrayed an eternally optimistic character who often used the phrase, even in challenging situations.

Costa Ricans quickly embraced “Pura Vida” in the same spirit. It became a way of expressing a positive outlook on life, no matter the circumstances.

“No matter what life throws at you, things could always be worse.”

“Pura Vida” in Costa Rica Today

Today, with a population of over 4 million, Costa Rica is celebrated for its progressive environmental policies. In 2009, it earned the title of the “greenest country in the world,” a testament to its commitment to preserving the environment.

This forward-thinking nation isn’t just environmentally conscious; it’s also known as one of the happiest places on Earth. There’s an undeniable connection between the “Pura Vida” way of life and Costa Rica’s remarkable achievements.

Costa Rica, despite its relatively small size, boasts an astonishing 5% of the world’s biodiversity. Approximately 25% of the country’s land area is protected within national parks. Nature’s splendor is an integral part of the Costa Rican experience.

In this context, “Pura Vida” serves as a gentle reminder to put personal worries into perspective, echoing a sentiment of, “Look at the sheer beauty of this place; is your life really as challenging as you make it sound?”

Pura Vida, Costa Rican landscape Source: theculturetrip.com

The Connection Between “Pura Vida” and Environmental Stewardship

The deep-rooted appreciation for the environment is closely intertwined with the “Pura Vida” philosophy. Costa Ricans have learned to be thankful for the natural treasures that surround them.

Despite its small size, the country is a global leader in protecting the environment. This approach to sustainability contributes to the nation’s happiness and the celebration of life, further exemplifying the essence of “Pura Vida.”

But “Pura Vida” isn’t just a concept; it’s a phrase you’ll hear in daily conversations in Costa Rica. Wondering how to use it?

Discover the meaning of “Pura Vida” in Conversations: How to Use the Phrase Pura Vida in Costa Rica

In Costa Rica, “Pura Vida” is more than a greeting; it’s a way of saying hello and goodbye, a question, and an answer. It’s a versatile phrase, much like the Italian “ciao” or the French “salut.” You can use it to greet someone:

– ¡Pura Vida! ¿Cómo estás? / Hi, how are you?

– Bien, ¿y tú? / Good, and you?

– Bien, gracias. Lo siento, pero tengo que irme. ¡Pura Vida! / Good, thanks. Sorry, but I have to go. Bye!

It can also mean:

– ¿Cómo estás? / How are you?

– Bien, ¿y tú? / Good, and you?

– Bien, Pura Vida, ¿sí? / Good, everything’s good, yes?

– Pura Vida / All good

– Bueno, ¡qué dicha! / Good, how fortunate!

And “Pura Vida” can signify acceptance or agreement:

– ¡Vamos a su casa para las vacaciones! / Let’s go to your house for the vacation

– Sí, vamos / Yes, let’s go

– ¡Pura Vida! / Let’s do it

Other Costa Rican slang terms

When traveling to Costa Rica, get ready to use and hear pura vida daily. However, Costa Rica has plenty of other Spanish slang in addition to pura vida. Here is a guide to some of the other popular Costa Rican slang terms you might encounter:

Tuanis/ Cool, neat, fine, ok

Mae/ Dude, bro

Chivo/ Cool

Goma/ Hangover

A cachete/ So cool, awesome

Tico, Tica/ Costa Rican man (Tico), Costa Rican woman (Tico)

Spanish Surfing Terms

While these aren’t limited to Costa Rica, they’re important terms to know when you’re surfing in Costa Rica! Here are some common and important Spanish words and phrases related to surfing.


Derecha/ Right breaking wave

Izquierda/ Left breaking wave

Tubo/ Barrel

Marea/ Tide

Espuma/ Foam, whitewater

Hay mucho viento/ There is a lot of wind

Tabla/ Surfboard

Quillas/ Fins

Wax/ Cera

Corriente/ Current

Rocks/ Rocas

Sand/ Arena

Surfear/ To surf

For more fun surf content like this, check out our post on the most inspiring surf quotes.

Ready to Experience “Pura Vida” in Costa Rica?

Costa Rica offers a remarkable journey filled with the essence of “Pura Vida.” If you’re planning a trip to this vibrant nation, we recommend exploring beyond overdeveloped beach towns and choosing a remote ecolodge in the forest or near a secluded beach. This is the Costa Rica that captured the world’s heart, and it’s the kind of journey that reminds travelers of the true meaning of well-being.

At Surf Expedition, we’ve based our philosophy on “Pura Vida” as well. Join us for an unforgettable experience at our Surf Camp and Yoga Retreat where you can immerse yourself in the beauty and serenity of Costa Rica while riding the waves and finding your inner peace.

Are you a beginner surfer wanting to surf in Costa Rica? Here is everything you need to know as a beginner surfer in Costa Rica.</>