The Real Meaning of Costa Rica’s Iconic Phrase “Pura Vida”

If you’ve ever been to Costa Rica, interacted with a Tico (a native Costa Rican), or even read about the country’s culture, there’s a phrase you’ve undoubtedly come across: “Pura Vida.” But what is the meaning of “Pura Vida”?

It’s not only words that reflect the true meaning of Pura Vida! It is a way of life for Ticos. Not surprisingly, Costa Rica has been named one of the happiest countries in the world. Ticos appreciate a laid-back lifestyle with a simplistic outlook on life.

Continue reading this blog post to learn more about this iconic phrase.

Pura Vida meaning: A particular phrase in Costa Rica that means "Pure Life."

What Does Pura Vida Mean?

“Pura Vida” is a particular phrase in Costa Rica that means “Pure Life,” it is pronounced poo rah vee dah. It’s more than just a Spanish phrase; it’s like Costa Rica’s slogan and a way to embrace the good life.

For Costa Ricans, it’s a way to say hello, thank you, or express that things are going well. It captures their positive and relaxed attitude toward life.

In Costa Rica, you’ll hear people say “Pura Vida” often, reminding each other to enjoy the simple things and be happy. So, in a nutshell, “Pura Vida” is all about celebrating life and staying optimistic, no matter what.

How is “Pura Vida” commonly used in everyday conversation among Costa Ricans?

“Pura Vida” is like a Swiss Army knife of phrases in Costa Rica; it has many uses! In everyday conversations, Costa Ricans (or Ticos, as they’re often called) use “Pura Vida” in several ways:

  • Greetings: Instead of saying “hello,” “good morning,” or “How are you?” they might just say “Pura Vida.” It’s a friendly way to greet someone.
  • Expressing thanks: If someone does you a favor or hands you something, replying with “Pura Vida” is like saying “thank you” or “much appreciated.”
  • Everything’s cool: Ask a Tico how they’re doing; they might respond with “Pura Vida.” It’s their way of saying everything’s good or that life is excellent.
  • Goodbye: Yep, “Pura Vida” can also be used when parting ways, much like saying “take care” or “stay well.”

Why Is Costa Rica Known for Pura Vida?

Costa Rica’s association with the phrase “Pura Vida” runs deep, both in its history and in the cultural ethos of its people. But why is Costa Rica particularly known for “Pura Vida”? Here’s a closer look:

Cultural Adoption

While the origins of the phrase “Pura Vida” can be traced back to a Mexican movie in the 1950s, its resonance with the Costa Rican way of life led to its swift adoption. 

The film’s main character faced setbacks but remained optimistic, often exclaiming, “Pura Vida!” Over time, Costa Ricans, renowned for their cheerful disposition, adopted and embedded the phrase into their daily discourse.

Over time, Costa Ricans used the phrase so widely that it became synonymous with the country itself.

Reflection of Lifestyle

Costa Rica boasts rich biodiversity, stunning natural landscapes, and a slower pace of life, allowing its inhabitants to be closely connected with nature. The simplicity and beauty of daily life in Costa Rica align perfectly with the essence of the Pura Vida Lifestyle. The phrase encapsulates the country’s laid-back attitude, its emphasis on family and community, and the importance of living and appreciating a simple life.

Optimistic Outlook

“Pura Vida” also mirrors the nation’s optimistic approach to challenges. Instead of getting bogged down by difficulties, Costa Ricans use the term as a reminder to focus on everyday life’s positives and beauty.

Tourist Appeal

Visitors quickly picked up on the ubiquitous phrase as tourism in Costa Rica grew. Enchanted by the country’s landscapes and the genuine warmth of its people, tourists began to associate the term “Pura Vida” with the unforgettable Costa Rican experience. Over time, travel literature, blogs, and word of mouth propagated the “Pura Vida” association with Costa Rica globally.

How Do Tourists Experience the “Pura Vida” Lifestyle Firsthand?

Tourists in Costa Rica don’t just hear about “Pura Vida”—they get to live it! Here’s how visitors dive right into this vibrant way of life:

  • Friendly Locals: One of the first things tourists notice is the Costa Ricans’ warmth, friendliness, and positive attitude. From a cheerful “Pura Vida” greeting at a cafe to helpful advice on the street, Ticos are eager to share their culture with visitors.
  • Nature’s Beauty: Costa Rica is a natural wonderland, from its beaches to rainforests. Tourists often find peace and relaxation just soaking in the environment, truly experiencing the “pure life” that the land offers.
  • Local Cuisine: Sharing a meal is a wonderful way to connect with a culture and celebrate life. By trying traditional dishes like “Gallo Pinto” or savoring Costa Rican coffee, tourists get a tasty bite of the “Pura Vida” lifestyle.
  • Community Events: Joining local events or festivals allows tourists to witness the community spirit of Costa Rican people. Dancing, music, and celebrations are all infused with “Pura Vida” energy.

Ready to Pronounce Pura Vida in Costa Rica?

It’s amazing how two simple words can carry so much meaning. So, when visiting Costa Rica, remember to sprinkle your chats with a little “Pura Vida.” It’s a surefire way to sound like a local and share their positive vibes!

Next time you find yourself admiring a sunset, enjoying a hearty meal, or simply taking a moment to breathe, remember the spirit of “Pura Vida.” It’s a call to appreciate the now, to live life with joy, and to remember that no matter the ups and downs, life, in its essence, is beautiful.

Contact Find My Costa Rica to prepare for your next trip and learn more about the Pura Vida, Costa Rica lifestyle.

Celebrate Pura Vida in La Fortuna, Manuel Antonio, and other lovely places in Costa Rica.


  1. How do you respond when someone says “Pura Vida”?

You can simply reply with a big smile and say “Pura Vida” right back! It’s like returning a warm, friendly handshake using words.

  1. Are there any books, movies, or songs that capture the essence of “Pura Vida”?

While there’s no single piece of media that defines “Pura Vida,” many songs by Costa Rican artists evoke this spirit. Additionally, films showcasing Costa Rica’s landscapes and documentaries about its way of life often resonate with the “Pura Vida” essence.

  1. Has the concept of “Pura Vida” played a role in Costa Rica’s approach to sustainability and the environment?

Yes, indeed! “Pura Vida” is about cherishing life’s simple and natural joys. This love for nature has steered Costa Rica towards eco-friendly practices, making it a leader in sustainability and conservation.

You may also like

A Complete Guide on How to Get to Las Catalinas, Costa Rica

A Complete Guide on How to Get to Las Catalinas, Costa Rica

Do you want to know how to get to Las Catalinas, Costa Rica? This coastal town offers beautiful beaches, natural beauty, a laid-back atmosphere, and endless things to do. But navigating the logistics of reaching this destination can be overwhelming. You need to...

11 Best Las Catalinas Restaurants for Unique Dining Experiences

11 Best Las Catalinas Restaurants for Unique Dining Experiences

Are you in Las Catalinas looking for authentic dining experiences that let you taste the local culture? The town offers a world of culinary exploration waiting for you!  Navigating the many dining options can be overwhelming. You might wonder where you can find...

Experience Paradise at Las Catalinas Costa Rica Hotels

Experience Paradise at Las Catalinas Costa Rica Hotels

Are you looking for a destination that promises luxury and nature? Las Catalinas offers just that, along with a perfect harmony of tranquility and adventure. But where should you stay? With various options, it's challenging to distinguish the exceptional from the...