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The good life in Costa Rica’s blue zone

This time last year my boyfriend and I were sitting on a beach in Costa Rica. It was just coming to the end of the rainy season and subsequently there were still relatively few tourists around. Those that were there were surfers, typically North Americans or Europeans, who had rented a room for six months to take advantage of the cheap long-term ‘green season’ rates, the epic waves and the empty beaches. We were also coming to the end of our own six-month trip, during which I’d been working as a freelance travel writer in Ecuador and Guatemala. And Santa Teresa, on the Nicoya peninsular, was the perfect place to stop, re-group and take it all in.

Costa Rica scores near the top of international well-being surveys and in fact Nicoyans live the longest, healthiest lives of everyone on the planet. Nicoya is one of the five ‘blue zones’ (along with Okinawa Japan, Sardinia Italy, Icaria Greece and Loma Linda California) where more people live active happy lives past the age of 100 than anywhere else. Indeed, after only two days there I could see why people were so happy and so I ended up staying two weeks but I really didn’t want to leave at all.

  • The scenery was spectacular: long white beaches with perfect waves and backed by lush green rainforest
  • The community was very welcoming:  the mix of locals and international travellers gave the town a relaxed boho feel
  • The wildlife was all around us: we hung out with huge iguanas on the beach; watched monkeys in the trees above our heads; fed pretty but very cheeky tropical magpies; saw bright green and red parakeets from our veranda and were kept awake by howler monkeys
  • The food: although quite a few places had not yet opened for the high/dry season we were well fed on fresh fish, vege-specials, real Italian pizza and for a an extra special treat – the sushi nights at the Funky Monkey made me a very happy bunny
  • The room: a luxury private cabana for only $50 a night with private hot-water shower under the flowers – or stars, a double hammock and views across the rainforest canopy to the sea (see http://www.funky-monkey-lodge.com/).

Life was good, how it should be. And although it did rain a little there were definitely advantages to going out of season. Have a look at the evidence – we had just had our digital camera stolen but even using a poor quality disposable alternative the happiness on the Nicoya peninsular clearly shines through.


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