By No Vacation Required, on October 16, 2013

Costa Rica retreats

In Costa Rica, there is a common term that literally translates to “pure life.” But its real meaning goes far beyond that simple translation. The phrase “pura vida,” which can be used as a greeting, farewell, or even a way to say, “all is good,” is indicative of the spirit that permeates Costa Rica.

“Pura vida” is one of those things that must be experienced to be understood. Fortunately, Costa Rica is famous for having some of the world’s best hotels – minimalist resorts that are imbued with a sense of calm, connection to nature, and positivity.

We’ve been to Costa Rica several times and have had the good fortune to visit many resorts. Here are some of our favorite places to get away from the everyday madness of life and begin to discover what it means to live “pura vida.”

El Silencio Lodge

This luxury eco-lodge is tucked deep in Costa Rica’s Central Volcanic Valley. One of our favorite activities in this lush mountain retreat was to sit in the rocking chairs on our private patio, enjoy the complimentary hot chocolate, and watch the jungle disappear into the mist that rolls over the hills.

Chilling out at El Silencio Lodge

Hiking is one of our favorite ways to clear the mental clutter, so we reveled in trekking El Silencio Lodge’s 500-acre property to see some of the dramatic waterfalls that lie deep in the jungle.

Iguana Lodge

This is another remote jungle retreat. But instead of being in the mountains, it sits on a beautiful stretch of beach in Costa Rica’s verdant Osa Peninsula. You don’t have to totally disconnect here – the Internet is surprisingly fast – but the lodge is so relaxing that you won’t feel like doing much more than watching the monkeys jump around the trees.

Viewfinder Tip: Don’t overlook Costa Rica’s impressive Osa Peninsula.

Speaking of wildlife, we saw a sloth that lulls about the property. It didn’t take long before we understood why the sloth moves so slowly; when you live in a place as beautiful as the Iguana Lodge, there is simply no good reason to rush off.

Harmony Hotel

We loved the mid-century glamour of the Harmony Hotel. It really felt like a wellness retreat for 1950s movie stars. On our visit, we took our time enjoying beautifully prepared breakfasts, spent too long sipping fresh brewed “chorreador” coffee, and idled away the hours lounging by the classic kidney-shaped pool.

Harmony Hotel’s inviting pool

We also took one of the most relaxing yoga classes of our lives in the property’s open-air yoga space. The best part is that the state of Zen doesn’t quickly fade away when your biggest choices of the day include what kind of drink you are going to have and how much time you want to spend walking along the beach.

Costa Rica is the perfect place to get away from the rat race and disconnect for a while. Even if you don’t speak Spanish, once you’ve spent some time in Costa Rica, you’ll have a very good idea of what “pura vida” means.

What’s your favorite Latin America retreat?