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Pura Vida – Costa Rica’s DNA

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Costa Rica

When you travel to Costa Rica, you will experience so much more than its sights and attractions.

A visit to the Central American country also gives you an insight into the way of life of its people, which is known as pura vida. And it is very different to the lifestyle we lead in the UK.

What does Pura vida mean?

Directly translated from Spanish to English, Pura vida means the pure life or the simple life.

The term is used in several respects. The Costa Ricans, known as ticos, use pura vida when, for example, they say hello or goodbye. But the term is more than that.

It’s a lifestyle.

What is Pura Vida?

Pura vida

The Costa Rican population lives by the motto, pura vida.

The concept of pura vida is hard to describe.

But in essence, it is about being grateful for life, enjoying life and not focusing on the negative things in life. Quite simply, being happy.

People do not stress over life’s obligations, but take things in their stride.

Ticos quite simply have a more relaxed and simple approach to life than many of us in the West.

Pura vida is a life philosophy.

How do Ticos live the pura vida lifestyle?

Ticos focus on the good things in life. On being happy.

But the life philosophy runs deeper than that.

The people of Costa Rica are, for example, extremely proud of the fascinating wildlife the country has.

If they can support their family without killing the animals, that’s what they do. This is pura vida.

And just as respect for animals is pure vida, so too is respect for the family. Choosing not to use pesticides, and thus looking after the soil, is also pura vida.

Pura Vida is about appreciating life, the planet and the creatures on it.

How do Ticos practise pura vida in their everyday lives?


If two Ticos meet by the chiller counter in a supermarket, the conversation might go something like this:

  • “How’s things?” “Fine, pura vida”.
  • “How was work today?” “Pura vida”
  • “See you!” “Yeah, see you. Pura vida.”

In short: Pura vida permeates daily life in Costa Rica. Everything they do, everything they say is pura vida.

Where does the pura vida concept come from?


It is believed that Pura Vida came to Costa Rica in 1956, along with the Mexican film ¡Pura Vida!.

In the film, the main character uses the expression pura vida, even though life does not go quite to plan. In spite of the film character’s trials and tribulations, he focuses on optimism and happiness.

The expression and way of life were embraced immediately by some, but pura vida really captured the population in 1970, and today it is an inherent part of the Costa Rican spirit.

Want to experience pura vida?

To get a feel for pura vida, you need to meet the locals.

It’s the only way to truly become acquainted with the way of life.

Travel with TourCompass to fantastic Costa Rica. Experience magnificent nature, wonderful people and pura vida!

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