Valentine’s Day in Costa Rica is here and although this may be the age of cooties, love is still in the air in 2021.
It’s that time of year that people are reminded to celebrate love and romance. But here in Costa Rica, Valentine’s Day is about more than just affection for your partner or spouse. Costa Rican culture has celebrated February 14th for decades as “Dia del Amor y Amistad,” meaning “The Day of Love and Friendship.” This is because to Costa Ricans, life is not just about love between two people — it is about celebrating the love you share with all the people closest to you.
One of the most inspiring aspects of Costa Rican culture is that their values are centered around family and friendship. Especially in our more low-key, simple-living South Pacific region, life can be feel easier when resources are pooled and shared accordingly. Not everyone needs to possess everything themselves if you have a close knit group who are willing to give and take where needed. And although this community spirit is celebrated every day in the pura vida attitude, Valentine’s Day has become a special day in the year to show the people who you appreciate that you are grateful for what they contribute to your life.
So if you want to celebrate the day of love and friendship like a Tico, below are just a few of the ways that you may enjoy the day with more than dinner out and a box of chocolates (although Costa Rica does produce some incredible cacao…)
Birding on the day of love
Although Valentine’s Day is thought to have bloody, Roman Era origins, during the Middle Ages, it was commonly believed in Europe that February 14 was the beginning of birds’ mating season, sparking the idea that Valentine’s Day should be a day for romance. In Costa Rica, this also happens to be a time to see Resplendent Quetzals mating in higher elevation forests, or hearing toucans and trogons giving mating calls in our tropical backyards. Valentine’s Day in Costa Rica can actually be the perfect day to make an early trip with your loved ones to spend the morning chasing feathered love birds with your binoculars.
Walks on the beach
It may be one of the most cliche things that has ever gone on a dating profile but it’s true: we all seem to love long walks on the beach. And when I say “we all,” I mean not just the young lovers — young children, aged grandparents, our dogs, and all of us in between. People celebrating Valentine’s Day in Costa Rica will most often take the day to spend at the beach with their families and friends, wriggling sand between our toes. We bring food, drinks, and a small grill and spend the day wading in the waves and walking along our soft sand beaches until the sun sets in all of its colorful glory over the Pacific horizon.
Romantic massages in Costa Rica
A more traditional form of Valentine’s Day celebrations is the couple’s spa date. But have you visited an outdoor spa in a tropical setting in February? Those of us lucky enough to live in Costa Rica love that we can get a massage in a shaded, breezy, indoor-outdoor location with the riveting symphony of nature naturally lulling us into relaxation. It does not ever get cold here in the South Pacific so a mid- February massage on the beach is almost never out of the question.
Getting away from daily routines
Whether it be going on a snorkeling expedition, hiking in the mountains, visiting a village you haven’t been to, going to a baby turtle release, or trying out a dance class with your group of friends, Valentine’s Day in Costa Rica is about stepping out of your usual routine and celebrating your shared zest for life!
Dining on love
Romantic dinners with your friends in a candlelit, open air restaurant surrounded by ferns, palm fronds, and a rainbow assortment of flowers offers romance-loving diners an extra-delicious sensory experience. With so many hotels, bars, and exotic restaurants in Costa Ballena, this is a destination that will satisfy all tastes, whims, and budgets. Fresh, pallet-enticing concoctions are abundant and sure to delight in the most popular spots. This is the day to take your loved ones to that special place you’ve been excited to experience but you’ve been hesitant to spoil yourself with the rest of the year.
Making a public declaration of your feelings
In Costa Rica, you are never too old to express your love for someone. Latin culture is typically warmer and more romantic than its counterparts and Costa Ricans really go wild with flowery text messages and other public declarations of their love. Latin culture is known for being extremely expressive and it is inspiring to see a culture that does not feel ashamed or embarrassed to display their feelings towards one another to the world. When in Costa Rica, Ticos send cards, flowers, and text messages to their closest amigos along with their romantic partners. If you find yourself alone on this day, do not be surprised if locals go out of their way to show you a bit of affection on this special day.
How refreshing that in Costa Rica, natives focus on friendship and family on this day in addition to romantic relationships? Ticos are known for being some of the friendliest people in all of Latin America and on Valentine’s Day, it especially shows. Perhaps it is the lack of military, the significance placed on eco-tourism, or maybe that higher education is offered for free to everyone. Whatever it is, we are happy to find ourselves living and loving amid such a wholly life-loving culture in Costa Rica.