Fiesta Sabanera at Hacienda Pinilla

Join us at beautiful Hacienda Pinilla on Thursday, April 17th for the Fiesta Sabanera where you can enjoy a colorful display of local horsemanship, music and dance!

The Fiesta is perfect for horse aficionados and anyone interested in learning more about Costa Rica’s cultural roots. The celebration will take place at Hacienda Pinilla’s equestrian center.  The Center has more than 40 horses available for tours throughout the area.

It also has an equestrian school and riding ring for visitors.  Even if you are not a horse rider, this is a great experience to view the beauty of these four-legged creatures and learn more about this aspect of Costa Rican Culture.

Date:  April 17
Time:  4 p.m.
Place:  Equestrian Center Hacienda Pinilla
Cost:  $10 admission; Free for children under 12

The Day of Happiness

Today, March 20th,has been designated the United Nations International Day of Happiness. According to the founder of Action for Happiness, “Happiness means feeling good about our lives and wanting to go on feeling that way.  Unhappiness means feeling bad and wanting things to change.”

Costa Rica has been ranked the happiest country on earth for several years in a row. What better day than today to explore what makes Costa Ricans so happy and what factors in general have the ability to make people happier.

Costa Rica is a country with beautiful ocean vistas and incredible biodiversity.  It has been an ecological pioneer, aiming to create a small ecological footprint.  Costa Rican’s have the joy of exploring gorgeous beaches on both sides of the country, and possess the ability to step outside their door to gaze upon beautiful mountain vistas.  Their emphasis on preserving this natural beauty has also boosted its economy, creating more jobs and opportunities.  And with no standing army, more money has been redirected to education (Costa Rica has a 96% literacy rate, the highest of any Latin American country).  Costa Ricans also find joy in the company of friends and family, placing a strong emphasis on loved ones over social capital and financial gains. Perhaps it’s these factors that contribute to Costa Rica’s unofficial slogan, Pura Vida, pure life.

We all want to live happy, fulfilling lives and want the same for our loved ones.  Many different factors can influence happiness:  genes and upbringing, external circumstances, but we can also influence our own happiness by our own choices, personal values and our sense of purpose.   Some people think that success is the key to happiness.  But recent psychological studies show that this is not the case.  Instead, its said that happiness fuels success, rather than the other way around.  When we are positive we become motivated, creative and productive.

One form of the success many people seek is financial. The idea that money can’t buy happiness has been around a long time, but that’s not to say there is no connection between income and happiness.  People with a comfortable living standard are happier than people living in poverty. “Comfortable standard” varies across countries. However, once we reach that standard, anything beyond that does not bring additional happiness.  Buying more things for ourselves- fancy cars or designer clothing, are not effective in turning money into happiness.   Instead, studies show that if you spend on yourself, you should buy experiences, not things.  An evening out with friends, a family trip to the beach will apparently make you happier in the long run than a new designer watch.   Also, the study shows, we should focus on buying for others.  This means indulging less in ourselves and giving others the opportunity to indulge.

Below we have outlined the Action for Happiness 10 keys to happier living. While in Costa Rica we are the happiest people in the world there is always room for growth and ways to make our lives and the lives of others a little sweeter.

Action for Happiness 10 keys to happier living

  • Do things for others
  • Connect with people
  • Take care of your body
  • Notice the world around you
  • Keep learning new things
  • Have goals to look forward to
  • Find ways to bounce back
  • Take a positive approach
  • Be comfortable with who you are
  • Be part of something bigger

A New International Airport in Quepos, Costa Rica?

by Rod Martin

For nearly a decade, there has been a lot of speculation about the new airport in the southern Pacific zone of Costa Rica.  The location (Palmar, Sierpe, somewhere closer to the Panama border) of the airport has changed a few times.  The optimistic timeline for “now open” status has been delayed over and over.  The fact is… nobody knows when it’s going to open or where.

This last point has been highlighted after the recent article in Costa Rica’s #1 newspaper, La Nacion, “Comienza Ampliación de Aeropuerto de Quepos” (Expansion of the Quepos Airport To Begin”).

The Civil Aviation Technical Council (CTAC) has begun the process of enlarging the Managua Regional Airport.  According to the director of Civil Aviation, Álvaro Vargas, the expansion will enable the terminal to receive larger national and international aircraft.

The “international aircraft” point is potentially big news for the area.  The Quepos airport currently receives around 15 regional flights and approximately 240 passengers per day.  Improvements will include extending the runway, construction of a terminal for passengers, a fire station, a hangar for aircraft maintenance, and additional parking among other minor changes.

Álvaro Vargas went on to say that the initial work on the runway expansion will be completed in 2015, and “the approximate cost of the purchase of land to extend the runway and make new improvements is $5 million.”

What does it mean for Quepos and the Southern Pacific Zone?

The economic impact will be felt by Quepos sectors like—hotels, restaurants, car rental, tour companies, and real estate—immediately.  More visitors will likely mean a boost to an already strong Manuel Antonio real estate market, which includes the Pez Vela Marina and luxury homes like this, Beachfront Indonesian Estate and exceptional larger parcels, like this Protected Eco-Reserve in Parrita.

The effect on the Costa Ballena, roughly the coastal area between Dominical and Ojochal, will be substantial, as well.  Now that the Coastal Highway is complete, the trip from Quepos to Dominical is a quick 30 minutes.  The Costa Ballena is highlighted by gorgeous beaches and waterfalls, majestic mountains, and ocean view property.

At the time of this article’s release, there has been no word on how the proposed international airport in the Palmar/Sierpe area will be affected.  News of the expansion of the Quepos Airport could delay, or possible spur on, the construction of this new international airport.

Either way, news of the Quepos airport expanding to eventually accept international flights has the southern zone buzzing.

Valentine’s Day in Costa Rica

Valentine’s Day has arrived!  Which means it’s time to celebrate the people we hold dear to our hearts.  In Costa Rica Valentine’s day is actually called “El Dia Del Amor y la Amistad” (love and friendship day).  All across Costa Rica today people express their appreciation not just for their spouse or partner but also for their friends, family, colleagues and even clients.  In fact, today, Costa Ricans will send ten million text messages to their friends and loved ones.   In a country of only approximately 4.5 million people, that’s a lot of love!

No matter who you’re thinking of on a day like today, what better way to express your love than taking a stroll on the beach with a close friend or spouse, catching the waves with your son, chasing your newly active toddler across the sand, kicking back with a beer and a buddy, or having girl talk by the pool… all topped off with a gorgeous sunset at the end of the day.

If romantic love is what you have in mind, Costa Rica is the perfect backdrop to kick-start your life as a couple with a romantic proposal! Click here and here for some beautiful images from proposals in Costa Rica.  Perhaps you’ll find your inspiration!

We have many amazing properties that could provide the perfect location for a beautiful getaway whether it be to show your appreciation for family and loved ones or plan that perfect proposal!  Click here or view our galleries and find the perfect property to make some memories filled with love.

Feliz Dia Del Amor y la Amistad to all our friends from Properties in Costa Rica

 

 

 

Year In Review – 2013

by Rod Martin

The end of another year.  Time for gratitude and reflection, both personal and professional.  In terms of business, it allows us to chart this Costa Rica real estate market we deal with on a daily basis.

After 5 years of trickling activity and decreasing property values, the “high season” (roughly the end of November thru March) saw an uptick.  The big question on our minds this time last year was “will it continue throughout the year or will the market be slow until next “high season”.  The answer… was resoundingly positive.

Sales are up

As you can see in the graphic (A1), the year over year increase in sales (think- buying) was 15%.  Market movement/growth was basically flat lined for the previous 4+ years, so this upturn was encouraging news.  The overall market is improving, but let’s look a little closer at the internal market dynamics.

Home sales led all categories on the Costa Ballena, a gorgeous stretch of coastline in the southern Pacific zone of Costa Rica.  Not only was the number of sold houses impressive, but two luxury estates over $2,000,000 sold, as well.  Although less than 50% of these new owners are relocating after their purchase, over 50% are smartly using it to generate revenue.  The vacation rental market is very strong on the Pacific Coast.  People want turn-key options, and this is not limited to affordable villas and luxury estates.

Six hotels sold on the Costa Ballena in 2013.  These ranged from low budget hotels to those valued at over one million dollars.  Like the vacation rental market, profitable hotels allow people a way to pay bills and, in some cases, start a new life!

I believe this is the first year that turn-key options (houses and hotels) have out numbered raw land sales, if only by one or two.  One trend we often see is when house hunters can’t find the right home, they buy and build it!  This is a smart strategy since you have the freedom of choice for location and design of the home.

More good news for buyers

Like the sunsets, the news just keeps getting better and, in fact, it’s two-fold.  First, many home owners who have been sitting on the sideline now see the market picking up and are listing their houses with us.   More listings = better selection.  Second, property values are still low.  As with any real estate market, there is a time delay between uptick in sales and stronger property values.

Purchase price vs. List price

As reflected in the second graphic (A2), many sellers are negotiable on their list price.  The average sale price is 13% lower than the list price.  Obviously, this varies depending on the sellers, their motivation, and fiscal elements like “all cash” or financing.  As the market gets stronger, that percentage will disappear like the setting Sun over the Pacific.

The 2014 “high season” has already produced a lot of activity, and it’s no surprise.  Fantastic properties at good prices… come take a look today!

 

 

Find Great Value in the Southern Zone

Costa Rica’s Southern Zone has been drawing a lot of attention recently. This is hardly a surprise considering its natural beauty is unparalleled and prices of property are very much within reach. International Living Magazine says this is the place where you can find “ocean views that won’t break the bank.” Despite a growing interest from buyers and agents there are still amazing homes and properties available at excellent prices. According to International Living the prices for ocean view homes in the Southern Zone (starting at $150,000) are one quarter the price one would pay for a similar property in Southern California. But even if we look at prices of comparable properties in other parts of Costa Rica, the Southern Zone is still a bargain by comparison. Homes in the region are still a fraction of the price of similar homes in the very popular Guanacaste region.

Dominical Real Estate Dominical Real Estate

With all the attention that the area has been receiving lately, is it possible that we are on the brink of a boom? Is the Southern Zone the “new” Guanacaste? While we can definitely expect a steady increase in prices as more attention, amenities and comforts arrive to the area, there are a lot of factors to counterbalance this. First, there is a tremendous amount of protected acreage. But second, there is the simple fact that it’s the views and nature in all its simplicity that draws people to the region. It is precisely the lack of sprawling resorts and condominium high rises that attract potential buyers to the area. We probably won’t be seeing large-scale disruptive development, or huge condo complexes anytime soon. But if you haven’t thought about the Southern Zone, you should probably start paying attention to the region. Property values are surely on the rise.

If economic factors are not motivation enough, you get so much more than just value in the Southern Zone. The area is home to 3% of the world’s species. Here, you’ll find more acres of preserved land than in all of Costa Rica. Ballena National Marine Park is great for spotting humpback whales (giving rise to the nick-name “Ballena (Whale) Coast”). The landscape is postcard perfection with expanses of lowland rainforests and green mountains that melt into the seascape. The new coastal highway makes it an easy three-hour trip by car from San Jose. You’ll also find a growing population of expatriates who have brought with them new restaurants and a variety of international dining options. For someone looking to connect with nature and get back to the real, unspoiled Costa Rica, the Southern Zone is the perfect place.

If you are interested in exploring this beautiful region, Joshua Kanter is one of our Properties in Costa Rica’s best resources for finding a home in the Southern Zone and was recommended in International Living’s article. He lives full-time in Dominical and knows the ins and outs of finding the perfect property in the area.

Contact us for assistance and to view any of our listings

 

In Costa Rica we have much to be thankful for

On the Thanksgiving holiday we are reminded to be grateful and practice generosity with others.  In real estate we can apply this principle at various levels.

As a broker or agent it can help us to redirect negative energy into positive energy.  For example, when faced with adversity such as a difficult client or a challenging project or listing, we should strive to take negative feedback and turn it into positive energy and make ourselves more productive by listening, absorbing feedback and making the necessary modifications.  It’s what will make us better and what sets us apart here at Properties in Costa Rica.

In Costa Rica we have much to be thankful for:  beautiful weather, gorgeous backdrops, the ocean and beaches- sometimes all in our own backyards.  We should also keep in mind the importance of simple acts of generosity and balance success with kindness.

Especially in a country where balance is so crucial.  We have new construction- hotels, restaurants, resorts, homes, shopping areas- all surrounded by natural beauty and wildlife.  As real estate brokers, developers, prospective property owners we must keep in mind that this is what is important in Costa Rica.  It’s what draws people here and keeps us here.

We need to be thankful and mindful.

 

 

Educating Kids in Costa Rica

By Rod Martin

Simply put, the reason most families do not send their children to private school is the cost.  The best private elementary schools in Costa Rica can run up to $275/month.  However, many parents understand the benefits— bilingual studies, text books, exceptional teachers, and well-equipped classrooms— to name a few.  Extra-curricular activities often include some form of art or dance, sports and community projects.  These creative activities teach kids so much more than memorizing dates in history and are often highlighted in private schools.

Interestingly, higher education reflects the opposite paradigm— fewer public schools with better reputations and (often) results for graduates.  Currently, there are six public and 60 private universities in Costa Rica.  According to StateUniversity.com, “…higher education is free for nearly 50 percent of the enrolled students.”

The increase in private universities is a good sign for the future of the Costa Rica, but what about options for the parents of younger kids?

Private Education For Kids

To give you an idea of how “private school” has become synonymous with success, there are now two private schools in Uvita, a small town on the Costa Ballena, quickly becoming the center of the southern Pacific zone.  They are called Escuela Verde and the new Uvita Christian Academy.

Escuela Verde is a private elementary school was founded by a couple of parents who were unimpressed by the public school options in the area. Their mission statement is clear–

“Escuela Verde prepares children to be resourceful and independent while inspiring them to give back to their multi-cultural community and the natural environment.”

The school follows Costa Rica and U.S. grade level guidelines, and many subjects are taught in both English and Spanish.  Homework assignments are common as are extra-curricular activities.  In 2012, they received their certification.  They have scholarships for local families, and there is always a waiting list.

The Uvita Christian Academy, opened in Uvita in 2013.  They have received positive reviews, and they also have a waiting list.  Students are first tested to determine any gaps in various subjects.  The curriculum then focused on filling those gaps, so the students have a strong foundation to build on.

A Melting Pot Of Ideas

Compared to topics like crime and politics, education does not receive a lot of publicity in the media; however, it is at the top of the list for many parents who want to raise their children in Costa Rica.

And children aren’t the only ones with an opportunity to grow in new and exciting ways.  Virtually every town in Costa Rica has someone who is offering Spanish as a second language.  In fact, Uvita has a few tutors available to help.  Adding another language to your life enriches more than your vocabulary; it enriches your life.

The progressive ideas of many foreigners blend well with the grounded, family focus of the typical Tico community.  Popular ideas like sustainability, preservation, and education are lighting the way for a brighter future.

Education in Costa Rica

Parents frequently ask us, “What’s the education like in Costa Rica?” It’s an important question for anyone with young children or a teenager who is considering relocation to Costa Rica. The quality and availability of education are arguably the best in Central America, and it continues to improve, albeit slowly. Here’s why…

The Costa Rican government is constitutionally obligated to use at least 6% of the country’s GDP on educational programs, and it often exceeds that number. In fact, the only countries that spend more are Norway and Saudi Arabia. In addition, Costa Rica sports the highest literacy rate in Central America at 95.8%.

Public Schooling and Universities

Public school is free and for children between the ages of 6 and 13, or 1st through 6th grade, in Costa Rica. The main observable differences are that students are required to wear a uniform, typically dark blue pants with a white or light blue shirt. Subjects include a core of Spanish, Math, History, and Science. Since 1998, English and Computer Sciences are also a standard part of the curriculum.

The Costa Rican school year begins in February and ends in December, with a two-week break in March (Holy Week) and another break in July. After kids pass their final elementary school testing, they then start a five-year stretch in colegio (aka- high school in North America and Europe).

When high school students graduate, they have an opportunity to then apply for admittance into a private universities or one of the four public universities. These institutions are still the largest and most prestigious in the country.

What Are The Negatives

In many cases the public school “negatives” (at least for parents coming from outside of Costa Rica) can be significant—many random days without class, no substitutes, a lack of books and homework, and so on. Despite the 6% of GDP the government allots to education, there are still public schools, especially in rural areas, with tight budgets. The good news is… there are an increasing number of education options in the emerging private school sector.

Multi-Cultural, Global Citizens

Moving to Costa Rica is an education unto itself, and without question the best way to add a second language in a child or an adult’s life. Immersion is key that opens the door to a more diverse linguistic and life experience.

In Part 2 of this article, we will share arguably the best educational option in Costa Rica— private school. The article also includes important information for continuing education for adults, namely… learning Spanish!

 

Conservation and Private Reserve Ownership in Costa Rica

In 2011, Forbes ranked Manuel Antonio National Park as one of “the world’s most beautiful national parks”.  It is also one of the most popular national parks within Costa Rica.  The 26 national parks and 13 additional “protected areas” within Costa Rica encompass primary and secondary rainforests, cloud forests, tropical dry forests, marine environments and wetlands.  They cover over 26% of Costa Rica’s landmass according to the SINAC website, making the country a world leader in conserved land mass.

Working in conjunction with the many national parks, investors have established private reserves in order to assist in maintaining the biological corridors surrounding the many protected areas.  According at the Watershed Markets organization website- “A combination of political leadership and the continuous evolution of forestry sector laws since the 1960s (forest cover decreased from 72% in 1950 to 26% in 1983.  By 2002, it had recovered to 45%). During the mid-1990s Costa Rica, faced with the Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAPs) of the World Bank, was forced to withdraw the generous subsidies it had offered landowners for reforestation. This led the forestry lobby to search for other financing means, which in turn prompted the strong environmental movement.”

Watershed Markets goes on to point out the incentives for land owners- “The government-led Costa Rican PES Program (Payment for Environmental Services) rewards forest owners for four bundled Environmental Services their forests provide– watershed protection, carbon sequestration, landscape beauty and biodiversity protection… Fondo Nacional de Financiamiento Forestal (FONAFIFO) and local NGOs like FUNDECOR, play important intermediary roles.”

This PES Program has benefited more than 7,000 land owners, and thus recaptured 26% of Costa Rica’s land-mass-to-forest-cover from 1987 to 2000.  Privately owned conservation projects have allowed tourists and locals to intimately experience the flora and fauna of Costa Rica.

What this means for property owners is that through their dedication of land for conservation to the FONOFIFO program, they will be rewarded with funds to maintain this natural and undisturbed beauty.  Some owners use these private preserves for biodiversity education and research, while others establish retreats that are open to the public.

If you are interested in getting back to nature and being your own “steward of the land”, look into the conservation of private land covering large acreage.  This is an investment that can be used as a means of living, while giving your investment a meaning worth living for.

by Rod Martin

Wildlife Calms The Soul In Costa Rica

Here’s the progression… you visit the southern Pacific zone of Costa Rica, you fall in love with the southern Pacific zone of Costa Rica, you eventually buy property in the southern Pacific zone of Costa Rica. But, many of you are still wondering why you should visit this tropical, Jurassic part of the world? One of the top reasons… is wildlife.

Since the monkeys, sloths and toucans get most of the publicity, we thought a focus on the aquatic wildlife was in order.

Parque Nacional Marino Ballena

Recognized in 1989, the Marino Ballena National Marine Park was the first national marine park in Costa Rica. It was created to protect the marine ecosystems associated with the beaches, mangroves, islands and fragile coral reefs, one of the largest on the Pacific Coast of Central America. The park stretches from Uvita’s famous Whale’s Tail south to Playa Piñuela, and then 9 miles out into the Pacific Ocean. The islands called Tres Hermanas (The Three Sisters) and Isla Ballena are contained within this triangular park.

In addition to enhancing many of the ocean view properties in the area, these coastal landmarks are home to thousands of aquatic and terrestrial species.

Larger Than Life 

“Ballena” means whale in Spanish. Both the southern and northern hemisphere female humpback whales visit the area between the months of November to March. They arrive to give birth and nurture their calves in the calm, aquatic environment. Although there are daily whale sightings in the peak season, this majestic mammal is still on the endangered species list. If you haven’t seen one up close, you will want to add a whale-watching tour out of Uvita on your Bucket List.

For those who do not enjoy boats or the open ocean, you can still enjoy the experience from land. We frequently see whales spouting from the beach many times, but one event during a visit with my parents stands out. We were enjoying a nice, ocean view breakfast when suddenly a slate blue whale suddenly breached in the middle of the bay. Over the next half hour, it continued to jump, twist, and crash sideways at least 20 times. Without question, it was the most memorable breakfast we have ever shared together.

Return Of The Ridley

The humpback whales and dolphins are just a couple of many creatures inhabiting the marine park. Sea turtles are another majestic species that return to nest on these specific beaches every year. Thanks to conservation efforts, Ridley turtle numbers are actually rising in the southern Pacific. You can see them while snorkeling around the Whale’s Tail or one of the islands off the coast. Watching a baby sea turtle dig out of its sandy nest and instinctively scratch its way to the water makes a lasting impression for people, young and old.

Without question, the great outdoors, including the rich variety of marine life found in Parque Nacional Marino Ballena, is at the center of the Costa Ballena experience. It is one of the primary reasons tourists visit and why many of those tourists eventually invest in real estate and/or relocate in this part of Costa Rica. The immediacy of wildlife in the southern Pacific zone, like a 50-foot whale breaching during breakfast, adds value beyond measure.

by  Joshua Kanter

Let the Negative Outweigh the Positive, Ions That Is.

The world we live in today is streaming with Positive ions. But this saturation of positive ions due to the ever developing electronics in our homes and offices, the radiation we are exposed to on a daily basis and the chemical and pollution our bodies come in contact with, is actually not a positive thing. This abundance of positive ions contributes to an imbalance of the acid-alkaline levels within our bodies, thus contributing to free radicals which are believed to advance aging and the development of cancer.

Negative ions are said to cause biochemical reactions within our bodies, stimulating our immune system, the release of serotonin and increasing alpha brain waves. There are an estimated 2,000 to 4,000 negative ions to each cubic centimetre of fresh air; whereas there can be less than 100 in polluted city air. The amazing thing about the ocean, waterfalls and even just taking a shower, is that the force behind the falling water causes splitting of neutral air molecules causing the freeing of electrons which attach to other molecules creating a negative charge. Simply put, swimming in the ocean waves or enjoying a refreshing waterfall is of great benefit to your health!

Many have relocated to Costa Rica because they are in need of a lifestyle change. The only way to decrease our exposure to positive ions is to remove ourselves from the contributing factors and expose our bodies to negative ions. The ocean is teaming with negative ions. The air is full of negative ions after a lighting storm. The negative ions resulting from cascading waterfalls not only refresh your body, it refreshes your mind. Plus living away from the pollution of the city, away from electronic driven society, will already decrease the intake of positive ions into your lungs and mind. If you ever wanted a creative justification for retiring in Costa Rica, this is it! Surfing the churning waves or swimming in the warm waters of the Pacific Ocean, this is the key to unlock better emotional and physical well being!

by Zoe Longworth

Seller Financing Saves The Day

Costa Rica real estate is typically a cash market for foreign investors.  The main reason is Costa Rican banks lend money at a significantly higher interest rate than the Prime rate, which has been cut to historically low level since January of 2009.  However, you don’t have to give up the dream of owning your own piece of paradise, because there are two elements working in your favor—lower prices and seller financing.

Pricing After The Downturn

Whether you desire a luxury home or an ocean view lot, there’s never been a better time to buy Costa Rica real estate.  Land values are down by 50-60% from the peak in 2008.  Houses have held their value a bit more, but even these turnkey options are lower.

Seller Financing Is Easy

Before the downturn, most foreign buyers—Americans, Canadians, Europeans—traveled to Costa Rica with cash to invest.  Then, the downturn hit and property values around the world decreased… dramatically in some areas.  Equity in their home dried up along with previously abundant lines of credit.  This is where property owners in Costa Rica got creative.

In fact, “holding paper” in the form of a registered mortgage, became more than an option, it quickly became common.  “Holding paper” means the seller is willing to take a portion of the purchase price up front and hold a note in the form of a trust or mortgage.  Your lawyers set up a trust or a mortgage here in Costa Rica.

Here’s the security for the seller… If the buyer defaults on the terms of the trust or mortgage (usually by missing payments), the seller can initiate the foreclosure process.

Term-inology

Generally speaking, we see certain deal points common to the seller financing deals (e.g., approx.. half of the purchase price down, a term of less than 5 years).  While other details like interest rates, ballon payments, and monthly/annual payments vary greatly.

Cash is still king in the Costa Rica real estate market.  If you, as a cash investor, have been sitting on the sidelines waiting for the right time to buy your dream property in the tropics, your time is now.  You have the maximum buying power with the maximum inventory of ocean view land.

by Rod Martin

Forget the Bottle, Drink it Straight from the Coconut!

A Superfood is defined generally as “a food considered especially nutritious or otherwise beneficial to health and well-being”.  Many move to Costa Rica in hopes of doing that very thing, benefiting their health and well-being.  In this day and age there are varying discussions on superfoods (Are they really super?) but it is certain, eating healthy is smart.  This is one easy thing to accomplish in Costa Rica and if you are into the superfood movement, you will love it here.

Cacao.  Not only are Cacao seeds the main ingredient in chocolate but they can be turned into cacao butter, cacao oil, cacao powder, all which have varying uses and all of which smell like chocolate.  Yum.  But it is the antioxidant flavanols which you find in cacao that are of benefit to your health.  Cacao plants grow very easily in Costa Rica, particularly in secondary rainforest areas.  What to try something really different?  The fruity, somewhat slimy, “meat” of the Cacao is a unique experience in itself!

Kale.  Grown mainly in the central valley area of Costa Rica, you will find a couple different leaf types of kale are available here.   Kale is from the same family as broccoli and contains the same vitamins and anticancer chemicals.

Chia Seeds.  Chi chi chi chia, we all know the infomercials where you can own your very own pottery pet that grows a chia fur, well who ever thought people would eat those seeds? The proper name for Chia is Salvia Hispanica.  This tiny seed is known for its high omega-3 fatty acid content, as well as calcium, phosphorus and manganese.

Coconut oil.  One of the best oils to cook with, coconut oil promotes heart health, brain health and the immune system.  It is easy on your digestive system and great for use as a topical moisturizer.  Plus, it adds a nice coconut flavor to any dish.

Agua de Pipa.  Drinking coconut water has become a trend; companies are capitalizing on the bottling of this refreshing juice.  This clear “water” is taken from young green coconuts called pipas and is sold on practically every corner of every beach town in Costa Rica.  Here you don’t buy it in a bottle; you drink it straight from the coconut.  If you can’t find a vendor, just look for a tree and knock one down (of course you will need a machete to open it).  Known for its rich electrolyte concentration, this juice also contains high amounts of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, antioxidants and plant hormones called cytokinins.

These are only a few of the superfoods available in Costa Rica that you will find at most local farmers markets, plus usually they are organic.  Due to the marketing and distribution of these kinds of foods, they can be quite costly at the supermarket in Canada or the US, but in Costa Rica they are very affordable.  How does $2 for a bunch of kale or $1.25 for a pipa sound to you?  It is easy to make these, and other, superfoods part of your healthy lifestyle in Costa Rica.

by Zoe Longworth

Grand Opening Vista al Valle this Saturday June 29th

Located up the hill on Alto Las Palomas, Vista al Valle Santa Ana is a unique and exclusive development that represents the meaning of a relaxing and distinctive lifestyle away from the crowd but just minutes from all modern amenities in both Escazu and Santa Ana.