Colorful finished art in Las Palomas, Santa Ana
Colorful finished art in Las Palomas, Santa Ana

Costa Rica is one of the world's leading destinations for eco-tourism and sustainability, which is why I love it so much! A lot of native Ticos use their hands to keep traditional arts alive, and let me tell you, the pottery they create is impressive. You may think that I just travel through the national parks and wildlife reserves in Costa Rica, but I'm a sucker for art as well. At the end of your visit, there's no true way to capture the friendly, vibrant and laid-back lifestyle and bring it home with you (unfortunately), but purchasing handmade souvenirs created by the locals may be the best solution.

Little pigs made with clay in Santa Ana
Little pigs made with clay in Santa Ana

Guaitil Pottery

One of my favorite places to visit when I travel to the Nicoya Peninsula is the Guaitil Pottery Studio in Tamarindo Beach. For more than 800 years, the Chorotega Indians have produced organic coil pottery. Today, it is one of the last remaining indigenous crafts, and Arbin Espinosa Guevara is one of the best at this ancient art. One time I was lucky enough to hop around his studio and discover many of the pieces he has created. Every piece has brightly colored hues and intricate patterns - it amazes me how he can make these!

For more than 15 years, Guevara has blended traditional designs with original patterns in his studio. You can purchase everyday pottery, wall sconces, table-top sinks, cookware or table lamps at his shop. The products he creates are 100 percent organic, and the clay is made from materials found in Guaitil. He mixes fine sand with dense soil and water by foot to make the dark brown clay for the pottery. Yeah, by foot! Have you ever seen someone crush grapes with their feet? It's a similar process.

Inside pottery factor at Guaitil
Inside pottery factor at Guaitil

Make your own Pottery

Although - of course - I couldn't participate, I was able to sit in on a pottery lesson where travelers learn how to create, paint and fire their own handmade pottery - how's that for a unique piece of pottery to take home? You'll need to dedicate three days of your time, but only one hour a day to complete a beautiful work of art.

Galeria Namu

Galeria Namu has pottery and other fine works of indigenous crafts and folk art of Central America. The gallery is named after one of Costa Rica's most beloved animals, the jaguar, which is often considered sacred by many tribes. If you're visiting San Jose or staying in Costa Rica all inclusive resorts in the city, you cannot miss this gallery! The wonderful people here are dedicated to preserving the legacy of Costa Rican natives. You will find some pieces of art from other areas in Central America, but the large collection is definitely one of the finest in the country. You can find traditional tribal arts, contemporary indigenous art and pre-Columbian reproductions at the gallery, as well as pottery and other fair trade products

Clay
Clay "torno" work station in Las palomas, Santa Ana

Ceramica Las Palomas

Located in Santa Ana, Ceramica Las Palomas is a create place to find pre- and custom-made products - they'll make anything you need! This little shop is run by the Deschang family who came to Costa Rica from France in the 1990s. Although it is not traditional Costa Rican pottery, the artists here are just as talented. You can purchase high-quality, durable clay pieces that are rare and beautiful - I wish I had a home so I could buy something here!

Have you found any amazing pottery I missed? I've traveled so far, sometimes I forget about all the wonderful places that I've been to!

Beautiful finished sinks in Las Palomas, Santa Ana
Beautiful finished sinks in Las Palomas, Santa Ana
Amazing handcraft store Las Palomas, Santa Ana
Amazing handcraft store Las Palomas, Santa Ana