My Costa Rica Experience – “Pura Vida”

By:  Marquez Hughley

            I’m a person who wholeheartedly believes in living your “best life” NOW.  Far too often, people choose to postpone living their dreams and desires to a future date; which seems to never arrive.  One of the things that none of us can afford to waste is TIME.  With that being said, I want to share with you about my choice to go to Jaco, Costa Rica to celebrate my 37th birthday.  It was such an incredible experience; and I’m so glad that I decided to do it.  I could have easily opted to do something in the U.S. at that time.  I’m happy to say that my time in Costa Rica did NOT disappoint.  Here’s a little summary of how my journey went.

I booked my hotel stay at an awesome place called, Hotel Pumilio; which is conveniently located about 5 mins away from the Jaco Beach area.  I chose this hotel because of its beautiful scenic views and amenities.  The pictures that I found on the internet of this place were undeniably alluring.  Then, after reading about 10+ reviews of other people’s experience there; I was convinced that it was also the place for me.  When I arrived in country at the San Jose International Airport; I was excited to see that the hotel had my driver already waiting outside holding a paper sign with my name on it.  One funny thing to note was that the sign had my name misspelled; it was missing the letter “e” out of my first name.  I took a picture of the guy holding the sign to capture the memory; and thought to myself, “Close enough!”

The ride to the hotel from the airport lasted for about an hour and a half; which gave a lot of time for me to see the country’s topography.  It was both mountainous and tropical; something that was quite a sight to see, especially for a “first-timer.”  Upon arrival at the hotel, we drove through a gated entrance; and pulled up to an attached building that housed the reception area for the hotel.  The impressive staff of Hotel Pumilio began to show me personally why they receive such great reviews from past patrons.  They immediately began providing excellent customer service from the time you step on the property.  They also provide you with a beverage of choice in a glass while you’re checking in.  I thought this was a really nice gesture; and very appropriate after such a long drive in as well.

The property only has 10 suites; which I ended up loving the fact that it wasn’t a huge hotel.  They pride themselves in making their guests remember how awesome it was to stay there; catering to the needs of each with extreme care.  They also have an amazing pool, outdoor kitchens, special massage area, etc. They even cook breakfast for you outside in the morning!  I really love the food in Costa Rica.  My first night in country, I had breaded fish, rice, vegetables, and beans from a small local spot about a mile away from the hotel.  The lady who was the main chef even threw in a free sample dessert!  She smiled and laughed as I explained that I wanted to take “a selfie” pic with her; and she agreed to take the picture.

During my stay in Jaco, I also booked three excursion events:  (1) Zip line; (2) ATV ride for 2 hours; and (3) a full day trip to Tortuga Island.  For the zip line sessions, my group did 10 lines; this was actually my second time zip lining.  My first was in the Big Island in Hawaii; the interesting thing about it is that I told myself that I would not do it again (that Big Island zip lining was nothing to play with!) This time around, I signed up for more lines than my previous time.  I was really excited to be able to get this new experience in Costa Rica.  On one of the ten lines, they wanted us to zip line while positioned upside down.  I didn’t do this because I was concerned about losing my cell phone, hotel keys, or something else important!  It still was a lot of fun; and they had fresh fruit waiting on us as we finished our final line of the day.

Shortly after the zip line experience, about half the people from the original group was also signed up for a 2-hr ATV driving session.  This was my first time driving an ATV; so I was eager to jump on the one assigned to me and get rolling!  Our lead instructor gave us a quick class on how to operate the ATV and hand signals that he would use to direct us.  I was 2nd in the convoy, just behind our guide.  We rode through water, mud, cow manure…yeah, we did that!  It was an awesome experience though.  We drove to the top of a small mountain before stopping for a water break.  The views from atop were incredible.  By the time we returned back to the main area, we were soaking wet and muddy; but greatly pleased with the ATV session.  Looking forward to being able to ride an ATV again actually!

On my birthday, I took a tour of Tortuga Island; which included snorkeling, banana boat ride, and eco hike.  To get to the island, we had to take a 45-minute boat ride out.  They provided us muffins, fruit, and beverages during the trip over.  As we approached the island, we all got excited because the scenery was like something from a post card! They prepared lunch for us as well. Again, the food was simply amazing in Costa Rica!  Even their pineapples tasted better than anything I’ve had in the United States.  I highly recommend taking this tour if you ever come to Jaco; you won’t be disappointed. I also went on the eco-hike with a few people that I met while on the tour. Our group decided to take the “extended eco hike” tour (because there was an abbreviated version for those who didn’t want to walk that far). It was definitely an exhausting climb to the top; but we all could not deny the beauty we encountered after we finally finished the journey up.  The following picture was taken from a lookout point during our hike:

I bought souvenirs during my trip of course; but it was brought to my attention that Costa Rica has a similar mantra as I do.  My mantra is “Crown Life,” from my framework that directs my leadership development, speaking, and consulting business; and their mantra is “Pura Vida;” which means “Pure Life.”  I bought a t-shirt with this statement on the front and wore it, along with a Costa Rica hat, on my return trip home.  When I left the airport headed back to Tampa, I was so grateful for the experience in Costa Rica; and I’m sure I will be back.  There was so much more that I wanted to do, but the time would not permit.  If you are looking for a great place to travel, I highly suggest going to Costa Rica.  I had previously heard nothing but great things from others about the country; and now I know why! Keep living your “CROWN LIFE” daily; or as they say in Costa Rica, “Pura Vida!”

To learn more about Crown Life, visit:

Marquez Hughley

Author / Speaker / Leadership Expert

Crown Life Enterprises, LLC.


Share Button