Lonely Planet Writer

Costa Rica is promoting itself as the perfect place for “earthing” and “forest bathing”

If you can’t resist trying out all the latest travel and wellness trends, start planning a trip to Costa Rica where travellers are being encouraged to take part in practices like “earthing” and “forest bathing”.

Get some nature at Cerro Chirripo in Chirripo National Park. Image by ©Max Illy/ EyeEm/Getty Images

The Costa Rica Tourism Board is promoting itself as the perfect destination for “innovative wellness therapies”, particularly ones that will get travellers out and into nature. The country is billing itself as a great place to get beyond the old classics like spas or yoga retreats and into something a little bit more interesting.

For example, earthing is popular is the Central Valley, Caribbean and the Pacific regions, according to the tourism board. “Earthing, which involves physically touching the ground with your hands or bare feet, can be practiced with a short barefoot walk along any one of its many pristine beaches or deep in the mystical rainforests of Costa Rica”. The practice is said to allow the body to “absorb free electrons which enter the body and act like antioxidants—to neutralize the damage caused by free radicals”.

It’s similar in concept to forest bathing – or shinrin-yoku – a term coined back in 1982 in Japan and included in the country’s national health programme. That involves taking a leisurely stroll through the forest and soaking up the landscape in order to relax and stay centred.

The cloud forest trail winds through lush groves of Escallonia trees in the Poas Volcano National Park. Image by ©Istvan Kadar Photography/Getty Images

The tourism board does make a case for the country as a giant nature retreat, as it offers opportunities to visit the active Irazu volcano, the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, or national parks like Arenal Volcano National Park, which is home to 75% of Costa Rica’s bird population.

But if you’re looking for something a bit more mainstream than earthing or forest bathing, there are also options like silent retreats, mud baths and thermal mineral hot springs therapy for anyone seeking a bit of wellness. There are 72 hot springs in Costa Rico, and “it’s been reported that the ancient healing powers of a soak in mineral-rich waters helps improve circulation, boosts the immune system and detoxifies”.

Get back to nature in Costa Rica. Image by Jeff Diener/Getty Images

Naturally, you can take part in a bit of earthing or forest bathing closer to home, but now there’s a pretty compelling case to at least consider a trip to Costa Rica.