There is much to do and see in Costa Rica, from rainforest adventures to beautiful beaches with blue waters. Regardless of where in Costa Rica you are going, there are some phrases you will need to be clued up on. Knowing these phrases will help you have a more enjoyable time in Costa Rica.

Costa Rica is a Spanish country, but English is widely spoken. Dusting off that Spanish book and recalling your high school Spanish lessons would be advisable. Every region has its colloquialisms and nuances in the language. One word may mean something in the southern region and something utterly different inland. We have compiled a few phrases to keep handy while exploring Costa Rica. 

About Costa Rica

Costa Rica, located in Central America, is a tiny but active country recognized for its breathtaking natural beauty, diverse wildlife, and dedication to environmental conservation. Costa Rica is bordered by Nicaragua to the north and Panama to the south, with the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Caribbean Sea to the east.

Despite its tiny size, Costa Rica has a stunningly diversified landscape, ranging from lush rainforests and towering mountains to beautiful beaches and active volcanoes. The country has various national parks and protected regions, making it an ideal destination for eco-tourists and outdoor aficionados. 

Costa Rica is also known for its advanced environmental legislation and sustainability efforts. It has set lofty objectives for being carbon neutral by 2050. It has achieved tremendous progress in renewable energy generation, with a large amount of its electricity coming from renewable sources, including hydro, wind, and solar power.

In addition to its natural beauty, Costa Rica is noted for its kind and inviting culture, as well as its “Pura Vida” lifestyle, which encompasses the country’s laid-back attitude and respect for life’s simple pleasures. Costa Ricans, known as Ticos and Ticas, are well-known for their kindness, hospitality, and sense of community. 

Costa Rica’s economy is primarily driven by tourism, agriculture, and technology, with an increasing emphasis on sustainable development and innovation. The country has a stable democracy, a high literacy rate, and a strong dedication to education and healthcare, making it an appealing destination for visitors and expats. Overall, Costa Rica is a genuinely outstanding Central American destination, offering a unique combination of natural beauty, cultural depth, and progressive ideals.

Pura Vida

The literal translation of pura vida is pure life. You can use the phrase in a greeting or when describing how good something is. An example: “¿Cómo está?” “Pura Vida!”- How are you? I’m Pura Vida! So you can use the phrase when saying goodbye or hello. 

Buena Nota

Translated, buena nota means a good grade. In slang, though, it’s used to say thanks or describe somebody who did something good. An example is buena nota mae gracias por traerme las chanclas (thank you for bringing me flip-flops). 


The word mae comes from ‘maje’, which means dude or bro. So it’s a word used among friends—a simple example: mae vamos (dude, let’s go). You can use it if you want to tell your bro about the SUP rentals you saw on

Por Dicha

Por dicha is an expression of luck or good fortune. Its literal meaning is ‘bliss’. You can use it in a sentence to express how lucky you are that the bus didn’t leave you behind. “Por dicha, no llegué tarde a cenar.” – Luckily, I wasn’t late for dinner.

Gallo Pinto

Traditionally, the term goes for a spotted rooster; now, it describes a traditional dish that can be eaten anytime. The dish has a base of rice and beans and can be found in any restaurant.  


There are varied theories about where this term originates; some speculate that it comes from the English term ‘too nice’; another theory is that the word is a variation of the phrase beuno. Taunis means cool or awesome, so you can use it to describe something or someone. 

Ahi los videos

This is a simple term to get the hang of. It means ‘see you there’. So you don’t have to worry about correctly using it in a sentence. When someone invites you somewhere, you can respond with ahi los vidrios. 

Jalarse una torta

This is a Spanish idiom that means to mess up or screw up; the literal meaning of the phrase is to pull a torte or pull a cake. 


If you go to Costa Rica bars and clubs to let loose, this is one word you will hear or use often. Goma means hungover; an example is ‘estoy de goma’ (I am hungover). 


Suave means calm down. So, if you are in a heated argument, you can use the word ‘suave’ to calm down the situation.

Heritage of the Natives of Costa Rica

Costa Rica’s inhabitants, particularly its indigenous peoples, have a profound connection to the country’s history and culture. Costa Rica was inhabited by a variety of indigenous communities before European immigrants arrived, each with its own set of customs, traditions, and languages. While Costa Rica’s indigenous population is relatively tiny today, its cultural history continues to shape the country’s character.

The Bribri people are one of Costa Rica’s most important indigenous communities, living in the Talamanca area on the country’s southern Caribbean coast. The Bribri have a diverse cultural legacy, including traditional farming activities, spiritual beliefs, and creative representations like weaving and ceramics. 

Another important indigenous tribe is the Cabécar people, who live in the Talamanca area. The Cabecar people have a strong connection to their land and are well-known for their comprehensive knowledge of therapeutic plants and natural resources.

In addition to the Bribri and Cabecar, other indigenous communities in Costa Rica include the Boruca, Ngabe, and Teribe, each with its own distinct cultural legacy and contributions to the country’s variety. 


So there you have it! These are some of the basics you need to know before you pack your bags for Costa Rica. This blog is handy for you, after all, as you traverse through the exotic lands of Costa Rica. Have a wonderful journey!

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