Number 1 in Eco-Friendly Travel: 5 Amazing Places You Must Visit in Costa Rica
There is a commitment to eco-tourism in Costa Rica and this attracts thousands of tourists to this small, beautiful country every year. With its extensive National Parks and highly protected areas, Costa Rica has an amazing array of ecosystems and incredible biodiversity, making it one of the leading countries in eco-tourism!
Conservation of the natural surroundings and development of the local community are at the forefront of tourism, this includes: sustainable hotels and eco-friendly lodges run off almost entirely clean energy, and projects for tourists which aid development in Costa Rican communities.
Costa Rica has set the standard! This is one of the best examples of eco-tourism in the world and is something that has become increasingly popular for tourist boards everywhere - great news for both international development and our planet!
Below are our top 5 things to see and do in this beautiful little wilderness.
This magnificent volcano has been one of the most active in the world in the past few years. It is currently in its resting stage so is not active at present but is still an impressive feat of nature. Its perfect conical shape emerges from lush jungle and stands tall in the National Park named after it to the North East of Costa Rica. The volcano was dormant for hundreds of years, in 1968 it unexpectedly erupted destroying a small town, it was then active- frequently producing lava flows, strong explosions, eruptions and spewing ash and gases up until 2010, when it was declared dormant again.
Corcovado National Park
One of the most biodiverse places on earth; this is ecotourism at its best! Located on the Osa Peninsula, the park is incredibly beautiful and home to a whole range of endangered plants and animals. It was designated a national park in 1975 to protect the region from illegal gold mining and logging and has become an increasingly popular tourist attraction. It has an impressive 13 different ecosystems in just one park! These include everything from lowland rain forest, jolillo palm forest, highland cloud forest, mangrove swamps, as well as coastal marine and beach habitats. If you visit Corcovado there are good opportunities to spot some shy and endangered species such as Baird’s Tapirs, Jaguars, Scarlet Macaws, Harpy Eagles, Red-backed squirrel monkeys and White-lipped Peccaries. The park offers some fantastic hiking options and is home to a few eco-friendly jungle lodges and rainforest resorts.
Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve
Shrouded in clouds and mystery the amazing landscape of Monteverde Cloud Forest is located in North Puntarenas, around 2 hours north of San José, and is known as one of the most breath-taking nature reserves in the entire world. Standing at 1,600 meters above sea level the ‘cloud’ that blankets the forest is actually mist produced by the high humidity producing a mysterious and unique steamy covering. The reserve is home to more than 500 species of plants and animals including the red-eyed tree frog that has become an iconic image of Costa Rica! Contained within the forest is the continental divide so you can stand with one foot on the Caribbean side and one on the Pacific side and there are fantastic views of both oceans within the reserve. For visitors, there is a complex network of trails that take you through the forest as well as numerous ‘overlooks’ and viewpoints where you can get the best views of mountains and coast. For the adventurous, there is a skywalk, a zip-line and a canopy tour, where visitors can experience the forest from a series of bridges and cables that offer a bird's eye view!
La Paz Waterfall Gardens
Just an hour from San José and situated on the slopes of the Poas volcano stand the extraordinary gardens of La Paz. They have a rich biodiversity and stand at 5,000 feet at their highest. It is home to the largest butterfly observatory in the world, bromeliad gardens, a serpentarium, a huge frog pond, hummingbird gardens and 5 stunning waterfalls. There are many different trails around the area leading to incredible views of the waterfalls from below, above and right in the middle of the water flow. There is also a trout lake where you can fish for your own dinner of you wish! The trout are monitored and looked after as, again, sustainability and eco-friendly living is the philosophy of this attraction.
Santa Teresa Beach
Situated on the western edge of the Nicoya Peninsula, Santa Teresa is a tiny beach village that has grown and grown in popularity, but its authentic nature has not been ruined. The area draws in surfers, in particular, due to the excellent swells they get there. In the last few years, this little town has thrived on visitors and has become a number one travel destination. Although it’s small, Santa Teresa has been named as the best surfing spot in Costa Rica – with a number of different tiny, white sandy beaches and crystal clear seas it is a paradise for, not only surfers, but anyone wanting some time to relax and get away from it all! The best way to get to Santa Teresa is by ferry which takes around 65 minutes and is a beautiful trip around the southern tip of the Nicoya Peninsular.
Tortuguero National Park
An important turtle breeding ground in the Caribbean, Tortuguero National Park is home to four of the eight species of marine turtles in the world as well as the endangered West Indian manatee. Known for its winding rivers and gorgeous lagoons, the park is located in the north-eastern region of the country lying on Costa Rica’s beautiful Caribbean coastline and attracts tourist from all over the world to its unique habitat. In 1970 the area was declared a National Park to bring the green turtle population back from the brink of extinction. The park also acts as a wildlife sanctuary for monkeys, jaguars, green macaws, tapirs, and a variety of other mammals and reptiles. It is a great place for bird watching with numerous rare bird breeds including egrets, trogons, herons, parrots, toucans, jacanas, kingfishers, anhingas, kites and hawks. This area is a nesting ground for sea turtles; nesting usually happens around March to mid-October and occurs when the moon is fading. You can see the turtles nesting at Tortuguero, but it must be after 6pm and with a guide – nobody is allowed on the beach unaccompanied outside of this time to ensure there is no interference with the turtles nesting habits. The best way to see it, is from a boat or kayak off shore to ensure you don’t disturb the turtles!