Explorer, writer and documentary maker Levison Wood reveals the magic of Costa Rica that keeps him returning time and again.
What drew you to Costa Rica?
‘Pura vida’ – it’s an expression you hear wherever you go in Costa Rica. It directly translates as ‘the pure life’, but it’s also used for phrases such as ‘goodbye’ and ‘have a great day’. Pura vida is always said with a smile, and sums up the positive attitude of Costa Ricans, which is infectious and keeps drawing me back.
The hot springs at La Fortuna – one of the key attractions for travellers in Costa Rica
How did you get around?
I’ve visited Costa Rica four times now. Travelling around is easy: there’s a great network of small planes that link all the remote areas, and we also used a combination of cars, boats, kayaks, quad bikes and horses. Everywhere you look is beautiful, so going from place to place is part of the experience.
What wildlife did you see?
Costa Rica is a wonderland for wildlife lovers. I was lucky enough to see squirrel monkeys, sloths, humpback whales, tapirs, white-nosed coatis, peccaries and crocodiles – plus countless bird species.
Breath in, and breathe out: Enjoy yoga with breathtaking views of the ocean
Did you try any other activities?
The environment of Costa Rica means that it’s also an adventure lover’s paradise. You can kayak, hike volcanos, surf, go white-water rafting and trek to waterfalls through jungles. I’m known for going on extreme expeditions, but I also love to write and take photographs. Every time I visit Costa Rica, I feel a sense of calm, peace and relaxation.
If you could pick one highlight, what would it be?
My favourite thing about being there is meeting local people who are enjoying every moment of their lives – I think all of us need a little bit more ‘pura vida’. Go and experience the magic of Costa Rica for yourself. You won’t regret it.
David Harland, CEO of Cornwall’s Eden Project, on how the Central American country is pioneering sustainable ecotourism
How often have you visited Costa Rica?
I’ve been four times, most memorably with my family over Christmas 2019. We travelled around the Nicoya Peninsula, up to Arenal to see the cloud forest, and then across the country to Limón.
Feeling brave? Why not try ziplining through the rainforest in Isla Tortuga
What makes it great for eco-tourists?
At Eden we talk about how consumers can use their ‘wallets as weapons’ by buying goods and services from suppliers with ethical and sustainable principles. Many countries are waking up to the need to genuinely embrace ecotourism rather than simply as tokenism. Costa Rica is some way ahead of the pack.
What did you learn about its approach to conservation?
Costa Rica boasts incredibly rich biodiversity, much of which is found in protected areas. Its people have a deep understanding of our dependence on nature and the need to ensure it not only survives, but thrives.
Arenal Volcano, the best known in the country, built on layers of ash, rock and lava
What adventures did you experience?
There are almost too many to list! One highlight was ziplining through the rainforest with my children, who were aged almost three and seven at the time. A lot of people don’t realise how brilliant the coastline in Costa Rica is, so that’s up there as well.
How did you find the cultural and food scene?
There’s a lot of variety across the country, with great pockets of culture and fantastic restaurants. The coast offers the best and freshest food in my view, and you can’t beat some of the delicious fruit.
Carrillo Beach stretches 1.5 miles where travellers are free to swim, surf and fish
What would you say to those considering a trip to Costa Rica?
Do it! You won’t be disappointed – many adventures await. And if you are going to travel, this is one of the more sustainable choices. It remains my number-one favourite country to visit.