World-renowned surfing, towering waterfalls, and rainforests so green you’re a better person just for breathing here. That’s Costa Rica, of course, and travel guide Kasey Austin of Austin Adventures has only just landed back in the States from her latest expedition there, guiding a small group of travelers for the newly launched Life is Good Vacations by Austin Adventures.
Recognized as the World’s Top Family Guide of 2014 by OUTSIDE Magazine, Kasey grew up in the family business learning about adventure travel from every perspective. Now the vice president of operations, she works with ground operators and domestic guides around the world to plan every detail of her trips—and the Life is Good Costa Rica experience is no exception.
We could go on and on about Costa Rica’s lush, volcanic mountains, diverse wildlife (spoiler: there are cute spider monkeys), and notoriously friendly locals, but we’ll let Kasey do the talking.
You’re outside every day. What’s the greatest lesson that the great outdoors has taught you?
KA: Being in nature has taught me that it’s good to slow down and keep things simple. And there’s no age limit on that—no “you must be this tall to simplify.” Even kids take a couple of days to slow down and forget their phones, but then they’re playing cards together instead of going back to the hotel to watch TV, and getting excited by what they see on hikes.
You’ve guided many an adventure trip. How is Life is Good Vacations different?
KA: The group size is a smaller than the average trip, which makes it a more intimate and personal experience. And we make sure the Superpowers play a part in everything we do, acknowledging openness and simplicity and courage. That’s not to say we’re singing kumbaya around a campfire, but starting these conversations can help you realize how life really is good. And, ya know, being in a place as beautiful as Costa Rica helps
Let’s talk Life is Good Superpowers, the tools we all have for living a happy, fulfilling life. Which is your favorite and why?
KA: Love. I don’t have a ton of friends, but the ones I do have are iron gridlock. Life is all about forming that inner circle that will support you no matter what, and I feel really lucky to have that.
What makes you most excited to share Costa Rica with guests?
KA: Everyone there is always saying pura vida, which translates to something along the lines of “simple life.” It’s something that radiates throughout everything there; in the culture, their people, everything. Everyone is always smiling and welcoming you—even people on the street. There isn’t a better place to be for a Life is Good trip.
What does pura vida mean to you?
KA: In my book, it means life is good. You just go with the flow. You don’t worry. You just take whatever happens with a grain of salt.
What’s something the average person doesn’t know about Costa Rica?
KA: There’s a little bit of everything to do there that would apply to just about any personality type. Plenty of beautiful beaches for surfing or relaxing, and there’s zip lining or repelling off waterfalls for the adventurous. Costa Rica has a lot of different faces; I see something different every time.
How would you spend a perfect day there?
KA: Oh, I’ve got a couple of those in mind. First, I’d probably wake up and have big Costa Rican breakfast—rice and beans—and then do an activity later in the morning to get the adrenaline pumping. Then I’d do lunch, somewhere laidback and local, have a beer, and enjoy a little beach time in the afternoon. There would definitely be a pina colada involved; there’s so many fresh pineapples there. And, of course, I’d watch the sun go down over the ocean.
Finish this sentence and we’ll let you get back to planning that perfect day: Life is good because…
KA: Life is good because people are good. We’re social creatures, so being able to develop relationships and maintain the ones that I have—that’s what keeps me going everyday.