The rugged Nicoya Peninsula, the largest peninsula in Costa Rica, is located on the country’s northern Pacific Coast. With its multiple nature preserves, quaint beach towns, and stellar surf breaks, it’s a popular destination for tourists from all over the world.
But perhaps the most enchanting thing about this serene and beautiful spot is that it’s a so-called blue zone. Blue zones are areas where people regularly live to be 100 years old; National Geographic calls them “hot spots of longevity” where the world’s healthiest people are clustered. There are other blue zones in California, Italy, Greece, and Japan.
Here are some of the factors that make Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula a blue zone worth visiting.
Warm, Sunny Climate
Due to the Nicoya Peninsula’s location in Central America, the area has an abundance of warm days with tons of sunlight. This means that the peninsula’s residents never have to worry about vitamin D deficiency. According to the Mayo Clinic, vitamin D is necessary for building and maintaining healthy bones. It can even help prevent some cancers! The weather also allows Nicoyans the opportunity to exercise outdoors for most of the year.
The Nicoya Peninsula’s water is the hardest in all of Costa Rica; that simply means it has the highest concentration of calcium. Maintaining a healthy calcium intake is linked to proper function of nerves, heart, and muscles as well as overall bone health. This translates to fewer hip fractures that could otherwise be devastating for an elderly population.
Besides the calcium-rich water, those living on the Nicoya Peninsula enjoy a number of other health benefits. They eat light dinners; incorporate plant-based foods like squash, corn, and beans into their diets; and have access to plenty of whole grains, veggies, and fruits.
Strong Community Ties
Nicoyans are often good friends with their neighbors, which contributes to a sense of connectivity and purpose. It’s also common in the region for many generations to live under the same roof, which means familial ties are robust. Costa Rican centenarians report that regular contact with their children and grandchildren fosters an overall sense of belonging and provides much-needed community support. Additionally, a common history strengthens the community’s ties.
Another reason the residents of the Nicoya Peninsula live so long is that they are physically active throughout their lives. Many in the community have jobs that require lots of movement. The residents complete many household chores that require physical exertion, and they often stay active into old age. The warm weather in the region means that Costa Ricans can work outside almost any day of the year.
Plan De Vida
Another factor contributing to the long lives in Nicoya is a plan de vida. This simply translates to “reason to live,” and it inspires optimism in elderly populations. Costa Ricans possess a strong sense of purpose that results in longer-than-usual lifespans. This is part of the pura vida, or low-stress, laid-back lifestyle that the Latin American country is known for.
Visiting The Nicoya Peninsula
If you plan to travel to the area, consider flying into the Liberia International Airport. Otherwise, be prepared for a 4-hour trip from the capital city of San José’s airport. Depending on what you would like to do, the Nicoya Peninsula, and Costa Rica in general, can deliver on a number of itineraries. The area’s beautiful beaches are perfect for relaxing or enjoying water sports. Some serene spa and yoga properties have sprung up due to the focus on wellness in the famous blue zone. The Nicoya Peninsula is also known for its wildlife and natural resources.