Want To Live Like The Blue Zones? Costa Rica Can Show You How. – Forbes


Harmony Hotel’s open-air yoga studio

Source: Harmony Hotel

Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula is known as one of five Blue Zones across the globe, areas designated by a group of researchers as those with the highest per capita number of centenarians. The large number of 100-year-old and up residents has been attributed to lower than usual stress levels, strong community relationships, regular and natural movement, sense of purpose, strong ties to faith and adherence to a mostly plant-based diet. 

For those wanting to get a taste of Blue Zones living, a visit to Costa Rica can help establish a blueprint of what a true balanced lifestyle looks like. 

Arriving in San Jose

After flying into San Jose Airport International airport, a night’s rest is recommended before taking on the big drive to Costa Rica’s northwestern Nicoya Peninsula. Options for a quick rest-up include countryside eco-lodges and city-center hotels. 

The colonial-inspired Grano de Oro could hold its own among the five-star hotels of  larger South American cities, and is a stunning example of turn of the 20th century architecture. For plush digs to rest up, it’s an easy go-to. After packing up in the morning, a tour into town is worth the detour to visit three major sites: the National Artisan Market (for souvenirs), the Central Market (for fresh fruits, snacks and more souvenirs) and the National Theater, a magnificent example of neoclassical architecture, built in 1897. 

If getting outside of city lines straight away is a priority, then Asclepios, a Greek-inspired property with daily fitness classes, a hammam-style sauna, flotation chamber, and organic-focused restaurant; is just a 20-minute drive from San Jose International Airport. The hotel is a quiet escape, with beautiful lap pools, daily fitness classes and a produce-driven restaurant onsite. Its owners are committed to sustainable hospitality, participating in reforestation campaigns of native plant species to improve the environment for wildlife, as well as soil stabilization and water conservation. Rooms have ceiling fans for cooling and large windows for the circulation of fresh air to save energy. 

Even further, the El Chayote Lodge is a new eco-lodge 45-minutes’ drive from the airport that beckons with 180-degree views from all very private guest bungalows. Located at 5,000 feet above sea level, and nearby some of Costa Rica’s many coffee producers, the sweeping scenery is always top-of-mind, and a yoga reflection pool is available to practice some DIY morning sun salutations before continuing on. 

Destination: Nosara

Located on the northwest coast of Costa Rica, the Nicoya Peninsula is home to a large density of surf lodges and wellness-inspired resorts, the best known of which is the surf town of Nosara, located off of a dirt road, approximately 25 kilometers from the main, paved highway. 

Where to Stay 

The Gilded Iguana is Nosara’s best-known destination for adventurous city dwellers looking to experience a slice of Nosara without leaving all creature comforts behind. The property is a self-proclaimed hotel ‘for surfers, by surfers.’ Designed by acclaimed architect Benjamin Saxe and San Jose-based interior design firm Sofa Interiorismo, the property is just 200 meters from famed surf break Playa Guiones. All guest rooms contain indoor-outdoor showers and breakfast is one of the most colorful of any served in the area. 

Or if resting your head in a bungalow built from local woods and starting each morning with a series of sun salutations in an open-air yoga studio are more your speed, the newer Harmony Hotel might be more your speed. Opened in 2004 and designed by noted architect Fernando Santangelo as a Polynesian-style, casual-luxe retreat, the property offers 24 charming bungalows and a handful of larger villas of up to 2875 square feet that can accommodate up to six adults, as well as a healing center and juice bar. The menu served in the property’s open-air restaurant has the smallest carbon footprint of any local hotels, and the property recently became the first in the northern Pacific region of Costa Rica to receive a five-leaf rating from Costa Rica’s Certificate for Sustainable Tourism organization (CST). 

For stunning coastal views, Lagarta Lodge is a nearby property where many guest rooms have private terraces that look out on 180-degree views of the Nicoya Peninsula. The property also offers daily yoga classes taught in a fully enclosed yoga studio (excellent for rainy days). The property also has a relationship with a certified forest bathing guide for an immersive rainforest experience like no other.

What to Do

Take A Surf Lesson

Nosara is a world-renowned surf town, with most of the most consistent, beginner-friendly surf and warmest water out there. There are many local surf schools that can set you up with board rentals and a lesson directly or through your hotel, one of which is Layma Tours. Beginner lessons include a quick mechanics discussion on the shore before paddling out in the waves, accompanied by an instructor. 

Eat at La Luna

La Luna is what us city-dwellers might imagine when we think ‘dreamy beach dining after a day of surfing’. A glammed up take on surf town fare, complete with string lights and white-washed wood furnishings, it’s a not-miss dining destination in Nosara popular with locals and visitors.

Take A Day Trip Up The Hill

Blue Zones co-founder Dan Buettner has meticulously combed the region for the components that give the area such a leg up on longevity. He shares that,”If you want a true Blue Zone experience, go up the hill twenty miles above Nosara in into Nicoya. There’s a women’s cooperative in Nicoya where they make beans and tortillas, both core to the Blue Zone diet.” He advises to, “stay away from the meat,” and instead to, “try the tropical fruits. There is a market there where you can get a chilero, a local hot sauce. The tropical fruits are amazing: the papaya are ubiquitous, the mangos at a certain time of year are unlike anywhere else.” He recommends going to higher elevation from the beach towns to villages such as Ohancha for the most authentic Blue Zones experience.

The entire region is spectacular for outdoor adventure and finding real peace. But with increased amounts of development, it is getting trickier to locate the real pockets of Blue Zones living. Dan reminds us that, “the people in Nicoya are no different than the people who live a few miles north in Nicaragua, or a few hundred miles south in Panama. But they have been living 20-30 years longer because the healthy choice is the easy choice.” In addition to the clean air and strong community ties and low-stress lifestyle, “they have maintained the Chorotega Diet, a traditional Native Americans diet that is made up of essentially beans, corn and squash.”

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Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula is known as one of five Blue Zones across the globe, areas designated by a group of researchers as those with the highest per capita number of centenarians. The large number of 100-year-old and up residents has been attributed to lower than usual stress levels, strong community relationships, regular and natural movement, sense of purpose, strong ties to faith and adherence to a mostly plant-based diet. 

For those wanting to get a taste of Blue Zones living, a visit to Costa Rica can help establish a blueprint of what a true balanced lifestyle looks like. 

Arriving in San Jose

After flying into San Jose Airport International airport, a night’s rest is recommended before taking on the big drive to Costa Rica’s northwestern Nicoya Peninsula. Options for a quick rest-up include countryside eco-lodges and city-center hotels. 

The colonial-inspired Grano de Oro could hold its own among the five-star hotels of  larger South American cities, and is a stunning example of turn of the 20th century architecture. For plush digs to rest up, it’s an easy go-to. After packing up in the morning, a tour into town is worth the detour to visit three major sites: the National Artisan Market (for souvenirs), the Central Market (for fresh fruits, snacks and more souvenirs) and the National Theater, a magnificent example of neoclassical architecture, built in 1897. 

If getting outside of city lines straight away is a priority, then Asclepios, a Greek-inspired property with daily fitness classes, a hammam-style sauna, flotation chamber, and organic-focused restaurant; is just a 20-minute drive from San Jose International Airport. The hotel is a quiet escape, with beautiful lap pools, daily fitness classes and a produce-driven restaurant onsite. Its owners are committed to sustainable hospitality, participating in reforestation campaigns of native plant species to improve the environment for wildlife, as well as soil stabilization and water conservation. Rooms have ceiling fans for cooling and large windows for the circulation of fresh air to save energy. 

Even further, the El Chayote Lodge is a new eco-lodge 45-minutes’ drive from the airport that beckons with 180-degree views from all very private guest bungalows. Located at 5,000 feet above sea level, and nearby some of Costa Rica’s many coffee producers, the sweeping scenery is always top-of-mind, and a yoga reflection pool is available to practice some DIY morning sun salutations before continuing on. 

Destination: Nosara

Located on the northwest coast of Costa Rica, the Nicoya Peninsula is home to a large density of surf lodges and wellness-inspired resorts, the best known of which is the surf town of Nosara, located off of a dirt road, approximately 25 kilometers from the main, paved highway. 

Where to Stay 

The Gilded Iguana is Nosara’s best-known destination for adventurous city dwellers looking to experience a slice of Nosara without leaving all creature comforts behind. The property is a self-proclaimed hotel ‘for surfers, by surfers.’ Designed by acclaimed architect Benjamin Saxe and San Jose-based interior design firm Sofa Interiorismo, the property is just 200 meters from famed surf break Playa Guiones. All guest rooms contain indoor-outdoor showers and breakfast is one of the most colorful of any served in the area. 

Or if resting your head in a bungalow built from local woods and starting each morning with a series of sun salutations in an open-air yoga studio are more your speed, the newer Harmony Hotel might be more your speed. Opened in 2004 and designed by noted architect Fernando Santangelo as a Polynesian-style, casual-luxe retreat, the property offers 24 charming bungalows and a handful of larger villas of up to 2875 square feet that can accommodate up to six adults, as well as a healing center and juice bar. The menu served in the property’s open-air restaurant has the smallest carbon footprint of any local hotels, and the property recently became the first in the northern Pacific region of Costa Rica to receive a five-leaf rating from Costa Rica’s Certificate for Sustainable Tourism organization (CST). 

For stunning coastal views, Lagarta Lodge is a nearby property where many guest rooms have private terraces that look out on 180-degree views of the Nicoya Peninsula. The property also offers daily yoga classes taught in a fully enclosed yoga studio (excellent for rainy days). The property also has a relationship with a certified forest bathing guide for an immersive rainforest experience like no other.

What to Do

Take A Surf Lesson

Nosara is a world-renowned surf town, with most of the most consistent, beginner-friendly surf and warmest water out there. There are many local surf schools that can set you up with board rentals and a lesson directly or through your hotel, one of which is Layma Tours. Beginner lessons include a quick mechanics discussion on the shore before paddling out in the waves, accompanied by an instructor. 

Eat at La Luna

La Luna is what us city-dwellers might imagine when we think ‘dreamy beach dining after a day of surfing’. A glammed up take on surf town fare, complete with string lights and white-washed wood furnishings, it’s a not-miss dining destination in Nosara popular with locals and visitors.

Take A Day Trip Up The Hill

Blue Zones co-founder Dan Buettner has meticulously combed the region for the components that give the area such a leg up on longevity. He shares that,”If you want a true Blue Zone experience, go up the hill twenty miles above Nosara in into Nicoya. There’s a women’s cooperative in Nicoya where they make beans and tortillas, both core to the Blue Zone diet.” He advises to, “stay away from the meat,” and instead to, “try the tropical fruits. There is a market there where you can get a chilero, a local hot sauce. The tropical fruits are amazing: the papaya are ubiquitous, the mangos at a certain time of year are unlike anywhere else.” He recommends going to higher elevation from the beach towns to villages such as Ohancha for the most authentic Blue Zones experience.

The entire region is spectacular for outdoor adventure and finding real peace. But with increased amounts of development, it is getting trickier to locate the real pockets of Blue Zones living. Dan reminds us that, “the people in Nicoya are no different than the people who live a few miles north in Nicaragua, or a few hundred miles south in Panama. But they have been living 20-30 years longer because the healthy choice is the easy choice.” In addition to the clean air and strong community ties and low-stress lifestyle, “they have maintained the Chorotega Diet, a traditional Native Americans diet that is made up of essentially beans, corn and squash.”



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