I first visited Costa Rica's southern Pacific coast in 2005 on my honeymoon. Back then, it felt like a real adventure to get to what is officially known as the Southern Zone. The coastal highway was incomplete, with a long, bone-rattling section of rutted dirt and gravel. And the bridges looked like they might fall over in a stiff breeze.
Among the 2.6 million visitors who come to Costa Rica each year, a big percentage (maybe even the majority) head to the Pacific coast. For good reason: the country’s beaches are among the most beautiful in the world. And there is a large variety of types of beaches and beach communities too.
Samantha Wei lives on Costa Rica's northern Pacific coast, just inland from the surfer hotspot of Tamarindo, with her boyfriend, Yeison Kim. But you never know where the couple might be on any given day.
Costa Rica may be a small country—it’s about the size of West Virginia—but it’s incredibly diverse as far as the landscape, climate, lifestyle, and “feel” you’ll experience in its different regions. You’ll find plenty of lush rainforests filled with capuchin monkeys and sloths, and jungle-covered mountains cascading down to the glittering Pacific.
From the first time Steve Reyer visited the trendy Costa Rican beach town Nosara—way back in 1992—he was smitten. A lifelong surfer, he instantly fell in love with Nosara's breath-taking Pacific coast, spectacular surf, and laidback atmosphere.
Turns out one of the best places to find small-town America… is in Costa Rica. I’m talking about Atenas, a village of 5,000 in the Central Valley region in the interior of the country. Expats that have made their home here—mostly retirees—say the warm and friendly locals and a very welcoming expat community remind them of where they grew up.
The original plan was to try out retirement abroad—a short test drive. But after just a few months on Panama’s Pacific coast, Rex, 77, and Colleen Swanson, 68, were ready to stay for at least two years.
Even though Costa Rica is only about the size of West Virginia, it has a variety of climates and landscapes to suit every taste...and a choice of locations to suit every budget. One of the most popular areas of the country with expats is the Central Valley.
At the southeastern tip of Panama’s Azuero Peninsula is an up-and-coming beach community that has become a favored spot for surfers, beach-loving tourists, and entertainment-seeking expats.
For Patrice Wynne, the arts-rich, colonial town of San Miguel de Allende was the only option when she moved overseas. "There's no other place that's even close for me," says Patrice. "The people, both Mexicans and expats, are so kind, so caring, so decent, so noble."