Costa Rica: Pura Vida Eden
A thin stretch of geological arm links the vastness of the northern region of the Americas to the equally expansive continent to its south. This land bridge is Central America. Though small in the grand scale of the entire landmass, it is blessed with vast biological diversity and rich cultures. This Mesoamerican region is made up of seven independent nations, one of which is Costa Rica. The environmentally-conscious country is renowned for its eco-tourism, as it maintains a careful stewardship of the environment and offers a bevy of adventure sports. A tropical eden, it is home to a dizzying and dazzling variety of wildlife that can be found all the way from the low-attitude wetlands to the high-altitude cloud forests. Many animal and plant species are endemic to Costa Rica and are strewn all over their natural settings, whether in perfect camouflage or in colorful contrast to the surroundings. Topographically, the region is variegated with volcanic mountains, many of them active, the groundwater of which makes relaxing thermal springs possible. In an idyllic sanctuary such as this, it is no wonder that the country adopts the mantra of “pura vida” (the pure life).
For those seeking solace in the embrace of nature, the shaded grounds beneath the tall-growing trees with shielding canopies become as soothing a refuge as a hushed cathedral. The sounds of singing birds and insects can be imagined as the invocations of earthly creatures to the divine. In the stillness of the forest, the experiences of the senses are sublimated. As one of the finest natural reserves in Costa Rica, Manuel Antonio National Park is where we can enliven these sensory realities.
The park boasts an evergreen tropical forest, fertile mangrove swamps and beaches of turquoise waters and white sands. It abounds with uniquely evolved natural wonders, and sloths, armadillos and many animals of both nocturnal and diurnal habits animate this habitat. This explosion of life rests on a foundation of ancient rocks, and the seashore is visibly dotted with verdure-covered rocky outcrops.
Manuel Antonio is spectacular when seen from an elevated perch: a cascade of green hills stretching to the edges of a sea of endless blue. Gaia Hotel and Reserve sits on this prime location. And from here, commanding vistas are par for the course. The elegant establishment provides a sense of seclusion, where the beauty of the ocean can be savored from a poolside balcony. Surely, nature is a balm that appeases the soul, but the holistic spa treatments at Gaia also help calm and nourish the mind and body.
In daytime, the enjoyment of the geothermal spring water can be experienced in view of the impressive volcano and under a canopy of green, with the accompanying siren song of birds. While at night, the sublime heat of the springs is marked against the cooler evening air. There are 28 hot springs of differing temperatures at The Springs Resort and Spa, each with spectacular views to boot. Staying here also means being in inviting rooms that are well-appointed with marbled bathrooms with jacuzzi tubs, hammocks and terraces that overlook the majestic peak and the lively wonderworld that encircles it.