Shannon, Villa Caletas

Pura Vida: R&R in Costa Rica

People refer to relaxation as an ‘art’, and I’m in full agreement. It’s something that not everyone’s great at doing, and it can take a while to master. Many of our guests in Anguilla mention that it takes a few days to really decompress; to allow your mind and body to understand that they can go into relaxation mode. Of course, relaxing and disconnecting are different for everyone. For some, it’s going fully off the grid – no phone and no emails so they can fully escape and mentally vacate for a brief while. For others, it’s a balance. It’s a morning and/or evening check of the emails but mostly eschewing responsibility insofar as possible to try and mellow out without incurring the ironic stress of returning to reality. I fall into the latter group. I didn’t need a full off-the-grid escape, just a place that would allow us to turn off a bit and enjoy the simple beauty of relative nothingness.

We headed to Costa Rica on a four-day escape to clear our minds and recharge in the middle of a busy season in Anguilla. With four full days to unwind, we set our sights on finding a hotel that could feel like an escape in and of itself. We needed something relatively close to San Jose since we were dealing with a quick getaway, and discovered Villa Caletasa luxury boutique property that had our names written all over it.

In a concerted effort to sleep in, I woke up at 5:50AM, somehow actually feeling more well rested than I had for weeks. With a sliver of daylight peeking through our blackout curtains, I was excited to see what our surroundings looked like. We had arrived fairly late on our first evening, which obscured the foliage and the views from the hotel’s elevated location.

Waking up to a cotton candy sunrise over the palms and Pacific was a wow-inducing beginning.

Villa Caletas, Jaco, Costa RicaVilla Caletas, Jaco, Costa RicaBreakfast at Villa Caletas, Costa Rica

I fumbled through the first few hours of our day in an effort to try this relaxation thing out. I worked in 10 -15 minute increments: from the private pool deck to our patio chairs to the bedroom and back. I attempted part of the time with a book in hand and part just taking in the sounds of the world waking up around me. Within a few hours, I began finding the groove of disconnecting, starting poolside at the resort’s jaw dropping infinity pool, and continuing to the spa.

Villa Caletas, Jaco, Costa RicaVilla Caletas, Jaco, Costa RicaVilla Caletas Pool, Jaco, Costa RicaPURA VIDA IN COSTA RICA - THE WANDERLUST EFFECTSpa atVilla Caletas, Jaco, Costa Rica

With the exception of dinner, which we did in Jacó, we spent the entire day at the hotel, reading and alternating between the pool deck, the main pool and our private pool. Truthfully, minus the intermediate checking of emails (wifi is a blessing and a curse) it didn’t take me that long to feel like I was getting into a restful groove. By the time we were enjoying sunset I was beginning to understand the simple beauty of an actual vacation.

Villa Caletas, Jaco, Costa Rica

Pura Vida in Costa Rica

Sunset at Villa Caletas, Jaco, Costa Rica

Even if you haven’t visited Costa Rica, you’re probably familiar with the pervasive term ‘Pura Vida’, which is practically synonomous with the Central American nation. It seems like a simple enough translation to English, but in actuality it captures something broad and beautiful. When a server would bring a check, they would say thank you, followed by pura vida. When we talked to Costa Ricans about Costa Rica, they would proudly beam and profess the beauty of their nation: It’s pura vida. When we would say hello or express thanks, we would hear the term as a response, pura vida. 

It’s something that speaks to the pride of the Costa Rican population, a nation that boasts one of the happiest people on earth. As I could feel by the end of the day, just within the space of our hotel overlooking the Pacific Ocean, I had a real sense of what pura vida means to the happy, proud and grateful people who live there. Living – or just being – in Costa Rica is the good life for many. It’s happiness, it’s natural beauty, it’s clean air, it’s vibrantly green trees. It’s balmy days, it’s the simple beauty of a dreamy sunset, and the sound of the morning before the rest of the world rises. While we left with parts of our experience that we loved and parts that we didn’t love so much, I could understand the appeal in general and why it resonates with visitors. Indeed, Costa Rica as a getaway destination for rest and relaxation is pura vida.

Stay tuned for photos and recaps from our time at Manuel Antonio National Park
and from our experience zip lining in Herradura.


Shannon Kircher, The Wanderlust Effect

More about Shannon Kircher

Shannon Kircher is the founder and editor of The Wanderlust Effect. Founded in 2009, she has continued to document her international escapes as an expat in Europe and the Caribbean. Additionally, Shannon is the founder of Compass & Vine, a luxury boutique travel design firm, and is the Director of Marketing for the Frangipani Beach Resort. Shannon holds an MSc in Social Policy and Development from the London School of Economics and is a current candidate for WSET Level 3 in Wines & Spirits.