"Is Samara the black hole of happiness? That’s what more than one expat has said after stopping here on vacation and never leaving."
This time of year, when the sun starts to tease us into thinking about what it would feel like to be laying on a beach somewhere exotic, always brings me back to the 6 glorious months I spent in Costa Rica three years ago. I have been in love with the scenery, the people and that general Costa Rican vibe you won’t find anywhere else ever since, and I am always secretly planning my next opportunity to lose myself there again once more.
For me, three things sum up the beauty of Costa Rica. If you haven’t been yet, the first of these three should be enough to persuade you to buy your ticket right now.
1. The beaches
It’s fair to say I am pretty addicted to the beach, as anyone I have ever travelled with in the past will be familiar with. I was lucky enough to find myself living right on the coast in a small beach town called Sámara in the Nicoya Peninsula on the Pacific Coast. Naturally, Sámara is my absolute favourite of all Costa Rican beaches. In fact, as anyone who has ever spent a significant amount of time there will testify, it is impossible to live there without falling head over heels in love with it.
However, be sure to also visit the many other gems along the Pacific Coast, such as Montezuma, where you can indulge in your bohemian, hippy side, the stunning Manuel Antonio, and the aptly named Playa Hermosa.
2. The people
According to the Happy Planet Index, Costa Rica is the happiest country in the world. At first glance, its not difficult to see why, with the thousands of kilometers of breathtaking scenery they wake up to every day, however it would be naïve to think that the Costa Rican population don’t have their fair share of problems to overcome, and I was deeply inspired and touched by their positive outlook on life during my time in Sámara. I was actually fortunate enough to experience this first-hand, thanks to a 7.6 earthquake that struck as I was brushing my teeth on the 5th of September 2012. Whilst I spent the day worrying and planning my escape route in true British style, everyone around me headed to the beach to celebrate their survival, with the help of a little cuba libre. It is this positivity that make the people of Costa Rica the most relaxed, friendly, helpful and genuine people I have ever met, and certainly a reason to jump on a plane to go and experience what they and their country have to offer.
3. The language
I would not be a true linguist if I did not mention the beauty of Latin American Spanish, and there is no better place to go and learn it than Costa Rica. If you do get the opportunity to spend some time abroad to improve your Spanish, I really do urge you to go to Costa Rica, as you won’t find people so happy to help you anywhere else in the world. You can also pick up all sorts of handy words and phrases that are unique to Costa Rica, such as mae, pura vida and tuanis, which will have you speaking like a Tico in no time.