Pura Vida from Costa Rica,

Nearly everyone now has a friend or family member who has vacationed in Costa Rica, the name aptly given by Christopher Columbus, which means “Rich Coast.” But when I first visited Costa Rica on Mother’s Day, August 15, 1970, virtually no one had heard of this tropical rainforest paradise.

Being a scuba diver, I searched for a dive shop or even a couple of scuba tanks to rent, but there weren’t any to be found in the country. With opportunity staring me in the face, I returned to Costa Rica with my scuba gear and a couple of tanks in hand, which I was able to fill at Miller Gas — the only compressor in the country!

I fell in love with the “Ticos” and soon moved to Costa Rica. I began teaching scuba to university students, opened the first dive shop in Costa Rica and later the first resort dive center in the country. My biggest obstacle when starting a resort-based dive center was convincing the local free divers that it was more profitable to learn scuba and show the tropical fish over & over again to the tourists rather than collecting them once to sell.

With this one action, sustainable tourism in Costa Rica was born and as a result Costa Rican dive masters continue to make a living today showing those same fish to thousands of tourists. All of the dive masters working on live-aboard vessels heading to Cocos Islands were trained during those early classes in San Jose, as well as the police and fire departments.

We started working with naturalist guides doing turtle tours and white-water rafting, later adding zip-lining and canyon rappelling tours. Costa Rica was an early adopter of eco-tourism, which has always been the foundation of Bill Beard Costa Rica’s vacation packages.

Our business practices are designed with continual education of locals and tourists and close involvement within the community of Costa Rica to ensure it will remain “Pura Vida” – a “pure life” place to visit and vacation.

Bill Beard