Costa Rica is well known for the exceptional health status enjoyed by the local citizens and residents, and this boost of life expectancy and energy level is well earned. Costa Rica has created a culture that prioritizes healthy eating and heightened activity levels while the government maintains one of the most well-run, low-cost universal medical care systems in the entire world. With such a strong national value on health and fitness, it’s no surprise that Costa Ricans are very proud of their sports. Athleticism and team sports have seeped into every aspect of day-to-day life in this tropical country, and not only do most people engage in some sort of organized exercise, but team loyalty is at its strongest. Bars fill up before every soccer game or boxing match, and you’ll see team jerseys sported all over the country.
This small Central American country is teeming without outdoor adventure opportunities, but national sports achievements go further than weekend activities. Currently, Costa Rica is one of the only Central American countries to participate in both the summer and winter Olympic games, even bringing home a gold medal. If you spend an extended amount of time in this health-conscious country, odds are you’ll be asked to join a watch party. Food and drinks are virtually endless, and wearing your favorite jersey is a must at these game day parties. Prepare yourself to take part in one of the most relatable cultural factors of Costa Rica by studying up on their top 5 national sports.
By far, soccer is the favorite sport of Costa Rica. The National Stadium is large and fills to the brim on game days, and these exciting events can’t be missed. If you aren’t able to get a ticket to the game, buy a jersey and head to the nearest bar. Any restaurant with a TV will be watching the game and you’ll find a happy community of welcoming, excited fans ready to celebrate a win. This is a great way to meet people, as wearing a national jersey is enough of an invitation for fellow fans to start up a conversation.
In 2014, the Costa Rican soccer team went further than ever before in the World Cup, and the “futbol” craze became stronger than ever. Many adults join casual leagues, and a National Beach Soccer Team has joined international leagues. Starting up a conversation about Costa Rican soccer is the quickest way to engage locals in this die-hard community.
Surfing has become a favorite hobby among people living on either coast, and recently has developed into a spectator sport as well. If you find yourself visiting the coast, research to see if a surf competition is planned during your stay. You’ll join crowds of hundreds of people sitting in the sand eating tropical fruits and downing ice-cold beers while watching their favorite local athletes. These are fun and inclusive events, so if you’ve surfed competitively before, you may even be able to sign up as a competitor. The winners of these local competitions often go even further, and in 2016, Costa Rica received near perfect scores at the World Surfing Games in Rivas, Nicaragua, edging out all other Central American countries.
3: Bull Riding
Bull Rides are closely related to rodeos, and the bulls used are athletic, strong, and never hurt during the competition. The bravest (or craziest) local cowboys take turns trying to stay on top of the bull using just one hand for support. The rider who is able to stay atop the bull for the longest amount of time wins. Bull Riding competitions are common during all local festivals and carnivals, most notably during the Zapote Fair. These are family friendly occasions, and the air will be filled with the happy shrieks of children and the smell of traditional food.
4: Extreme Adventure Sports
Costa Rica is the adventurer’s delight, and it’s no mystery as to how the country’s favorite past times have turned into professional sports leagues. Almost anything you can do during your active vacation is done professionally. This includes scuba diving, white water rafting, mountain biking, and all-terrain triathlons. Multiple competitions will be held yearly for each extreme sport, and participants will range in age, nationality, and gender.
5: Fitness Training
In Costa Rica, you’ll find that almost everyone has a workout routine, whether they surf after work, take long walks in the morning, or spend hours with heavy weights at the gyms. This, of course, has turned into a professional spectator sport as well. Professional body building and crossfit competitions have broken out all over the country, and they are open to athletes of every kind. While many people train specifically for body building, among the competitors you’ll find surfers, soccer players, and gym rats. Regardless of your experiences in sports competitions, you’ll be invited to sweat with the best in national crossfit events. For those who chose not to participate, you’ll be well accompanied by a large, enthusiastic group of spectators.