Travel Diaries

Finding Pura Vida in the Papagayo Peninsula

by Casey Carlson

Secluded and luxurious with sparkling shorelines and sun that tickles your skin in its own magical je ne sais quoi way—that’s the Papagayo Peninsula of Costa Rica. There are only a few hotels in this region of the country, and nestled into the peninsula’s hillside shoreline is one of its standout properties, Andaz Papagayo, where my husband and I stayed for two nights on our recent trip to Costa Rica. It happened to be our first nights in the country, and I’d be lying if I said it didn’t set the bar ridiculously high!

Officially Quigley at Andaz Papagayo Local monkeys in Costa Rica

When we arrived, the staff immediately became our friends, and we even made friends with the animals who lived on the property—butterflies, giant lizards and cute little monkeys that hung from the trees by the beach. There was no shortage of OMG moments.

When you think of Costa Rica, it’s hard not to imagine lush greenery, exotic animals, and high energy adventure. But what I found to be understated by the hype leading up to the trip was the weather: the sun was the star of the show for our two days at Andaz. We loved relaxing by the pool and soaking in the sunshine. It was nearly 90°F (32°C), but not too humid with a perfectly intermittent breeze—exactly what you want out of a tropical vacation.

Poolside at the Andaz Papagayo

You can’t go to Costa Rica without hearing the national catch phrase, “pura vida.” Used and adopted as a greeting, when you meet a local in Papagayo, they will most likely welcome you with these two words which translate as “pure life,” but it’s an expression that encourages you to embrace life to its fullest. How cool! We took our time in Costa Rica to explore the local culture—visiting waterfalls, checking out local fruit stands and visiting historical sights. We did our best to soak up and embody as much pura vida as possible.

One of the highlights of our trip was our Dinner at Ostra, an amazing culinary experience onsite at Andaz that features fresh seafood specialties prepared and served on a scenic terrace. When we walked in for dinner, one of the chefs was teaching a ceviche class right in the center of the restaurant. Everyone was huddled around as he prepared tons of fresh recipes. He taught techniques as everyone sipped tequila and laughed alongside his table. It was such cool experience! We ordered the ceviche sampler, and it was hands down the best ceviche I’ve ever had.

Officially Quigley visiting fruit stands Ceviche at Ostra

We truly enjoyed our time at Andaz Papagayo and can’t wait to go back!