What does Pura Vida Mean?

Published on December 22, 2023 | Updated on January 11, 2024

Costa Ricans or Ticos usually say “Pura vida” in different situations, but you might come across the phrase when you greet us.

The translation of “Pura Vida” in English is “Pure Life” but such translation doesn’t help figure out how or when to use it.

“Ticos” and “Ticas,” integrate “Pura Vida” into our daily interactions:

A¿Todo bien?
BTodo Pura
A¿Cómo está la gente?
BTodo están pura vida
A¿Todo bien mae?
BTodo Pura vida
A¿Qué tal es ese mae?
BEl mae es pura vida

So basically, we use “Pura Vida” to indicate that everything is ok, a person is really friendly, polite, helpful and that a person or a group of people is doing good.

Pura Vida and Tourism

“Pura Vida” is something we say all the time but it is a phrase, I bet some Ticos and Ticas might attach a philosophy of life to it but lots of people don’t.

I think the idea that “Pura Vida” is more than just a phrase in Costa Rica; that it’s a way of life, a cultural emblem, and a profound expression of the country’s unique ethos is probably

  • The way tourists see us.
  • The way people who work on Tourism want the rest of the world to see us.
  • The realization that Ticos and Ticas came into when they moved to a country in which people don’t tend to be so friendly.

For the rest of the Ticos or Ticos, we are “Pura Vida” and that’s it. (At least we try)

#1 Are Ticos and Ticos Laid-Back?

Some of us are , some of us are not immersed into making more money so we can brag and boast but I know lots of people who are working their butts off because they want to make more. Not everyone is into this simple life philosophy.

#2 Are Ticos and Ticos Friendly?

I think we are friendly and people who work in tourism tend to be friendlier than the rest of us.

Most “Ticos” probably don’t know how friendly we are because we haven’t traveled to other countries and experienced the cultures there.

I lived in Guatemala for two years and I found that people were also “Pura vida” there. They just don’t have a word for it.

#3 You don’t have to say “Pura Vida” When you Go Through sh*t”

I read this in a blog and it blew my mind how wrong they got it in this paragraph:

What if the airport lost your luggage? Instead of getting upset or saying it’s OK, you can say “Pura vida.”

¡Pura Vida! Costa Rica Lifestyle

I wouldn’t say “Pura Vida” to any airport authority losing my luggage and I wouldn’t expect anyone to do so.

“Pura Vida” is not the Tico Version of Hasa Diga Eebowai.

#4 What’s My Point?

My point is that we didn’t make up a word to attach a philosophy to it and then sell it to the rest of the world.

Costa Rica is a beautiful country you should visit and Spanish is a beautiful language you should probably learn.

If you consider us “Pura Vida”, we are not trying to sell you a tour or vacation packages.

Manuel Campos

Manuel Campos

I live in Costa Rica, I am an Spanish Native speaker and I am English teacher so I am sure that I will share valuable insights if you really want to learn Spanish