Pura Vida in beautiful Costa Rica

by W. Andrew Powell
Costa Rica sunset

Pura Vida is a way of life in Costa Rica. The “Pure Life” or the “Simple Life” is more than just taking it easy in the stunningly beautiful, down-to-earth, and relaxed country though. Pura Vida is also about how people relate to each other, and being grateful for every blessing.

And there’s a lot to be grateful for in Costa Rica.

My family and I spent a week exploring the Guanacaste region, and we fell in love on the first day. We started out at the Hotel Punta Islita for four nights, and then went on to the El Mangroove Hotel for another three nights. It was like visiting paradise.

What we really loved was how these two sister hotels in the Autograph Collection compliment and contrast each other. Both hotels are part of Enjoy Group’s luxury properties, and yet they have such different styles and moods. They complimented each other perfectly.

Hotel Punta Islita
Hotel Punta Islita

Hotel Punta Islita is a rustic and more remote property, located on a hill in the middle of a jungle, looking out over the ocean and a small cove. Each suite is it’s own small house, and we had a plunge pool in our back yard, with a hammock and the most incredible view down to the water.

Even at night you could hear the waves on the shore, and the hotel is a short walk or drive to the small village of Islita where you can find an art gallery dedicated to local artists and the heritage of the area.

Punta Islita also has a lot of activities, all organized by the hotel itself, so you can be zipling through the trees, or on a quest to find the group of local monkeys within minutes. And we did a lot of the activities, from watching baby turtles make their way to the ocean, to making locally-inspired keychains with beads, shells, seeds, and wood.

And the hotel had fantastic locally-sourced food served right on the beach, or overlooking everything from the main restaurant that sits on the hilltop.

It felt like the kind of place that inspires people to move to Costa Rica and never look back. It was serene, and authentic.

El Mangroove Hotel
El Mangroove Hotel

Closer to Liberia airport, off of Culebra Bay, El Mangroove is an upscale boutique hotel that’s sleek, modern, and so inviting. Steps from the ocean, the hotel has four pools, cabanas, and soon to be three restaurants with the most incredible menus.

It’s classy and iconic, with lots of activities, and every guest we met was as welcoming and friendly as the incredible staff.

We loved every second at the hotel. We went out on a boat cruise to see the whole bay and watch the sun set, and the property is close to activities, and a lot of local restaurants in the area. It’s also hard to top a hotel that’s only 20 minutes from the airport, but feels private and secluded.

If I could book a trip back to Costa Rica right now, I’d love to see more of the country, but I would also book both of these hotels again in a heartbeat. They offer so much that’s also so unique.

Plus, I can’t say enough about travelling during rainy season in Costa Rica.

September and October are the rainy season in the country, and while that may not sound ideal, it was wonderful. Costa Rica is green and vibrant during rainy season, the temperatures are humid and warm but cooler after the rain, and it usually only rains for a couple of hours after lunch and then it’s clear skies again by sunset.

Playa Carrillo
Playa Carrillo

Costa Rica is also quieter during rainy season, and it’s usually cheaper to stay at hotels during this time. If you come from November to around March, it can be busy and pricier too, and after that it gets very hot and dry.

I’m sure any time of year would be amazing to explore the country, and there’s a lot to see from a volcano to dry regions, and the capital city of San José, but my first recommendation would be to consider rainy season for the lush, green, natural wonder of it all.

Thanks to the Hotel Punta Islita and El Mangroove Hotel for the wonderful hospitality, and to all of the staff who made our visit so perfect. It was so beautiful that I brought Pura Vida home with me.

I’ll have a lot more on the trip coming up soon including full reviews, highlights on activities, the restaurants, and a few videos from our adventures. Check out a few Instagram highlights below.

All photos by W. Andrew Powell/The GATE.

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