Nestled in the heart of Central America, Costa Rica stands as a prime example of a nation that blends tourism with an unwavering commitment to sustainability. This tropical paradise boasts beautiful landscapes, abundant biodiversity, and a laidback lifestyle that invites travellers to explore the world without costing the planet. So what makes Costa Rica a sustainable destination?
Tip: When considering a flight to Costa Rica, you can utilise platforms like Skyscanner or Kiwi to compare flight costs and identify flights that minimise your carbon emissions. Additionally, if you are able, you can offset your flight’s environmental impact through Offset.
At the forefront of the global sustainability movement, Costa Rica’s advanced renewable energy production, leads the way towards carbon neutrality by 2050. An astounding 98% of the country’s energy stems from renewable sources including solar, wind, and hydropower. This commitment to sustainable energy not only serves as a blueprint for other nations but also weaves into the tapestry of the country’s policies and cultural ethos.
Beyond energy, Costa Rica’s efforts to preserve its natural beauty also extend deeply into its policies and societal fabric. The nation has almost no deforestation and over 30% of its land is dedicated to national parks and reserves. From education and low-waste initiatives to green transportation networks and sustainable food sourcing, sustainability is intrinsic to Costa Rica’s way of life. By starting your travels here, you not only gain access to the country’s natural splendours but also contribute to the local economy and the sustainable practices that define it.
Related Reading: Where to Book Sustainable Accommodation Online
With its commitment to environmental preservation, Costa Rica serves as a sanctuary for an astonishing array of wildlife. This nation is home to 6% of the world’s land biodiversity and 3.5% of its marine biodiversity, and the opportunities for responsible wildlife encounters are endless. Parque Nacional Tortuguero, a protected wilderness on the Caribbean coast, gives you the chance to see the endangered green turtle, sloths lazily recline amidst the treetops of the Osa Peninsula, while humpback whales grace the waters of Parque Nacional Marino Ballena. Macaws, hummingbirds, and monkeys are also easy to see, all in a responsible and sustainable manner.
Related Reading: Ethical Animal Encounters
Recommendation: Here are some companies offering sustainable and responsible tours and tourism in Costa Rica –
– G-Adventures, for small group travel with locally based guides, supporting local communities.
– Tripaneer, for wellness experiences and retreats.
– Get Your Guide, for day trips and short trips.
The fruits of Costa Rica’s conservation efforts are rich and diverse, resulting in a tapestry of landscapes for travellers to explore. There are 27 National Parks, six different forest types and an 800-mile coastline, meaning that whether you yearn for beaches, rainforests, or mountains, Costa Rica has something to offer.
Those 800 miles of coastline, bring over 300 beaches to explore. Many of these lie within protected areas and national parks, ensuring their pristine beauty remains intact. Among these, Playa Manuel Antonio stands out. Nestled along the edge of Manuel Antonio National Park, this coastal rainforest offers both sea, sand and wildlife. A 30-minute hike through the park leads you to its stunning shoreline, inviting you to share the habitat with the vast array of exotic wildlife that live there. If you’re adventurous, the park’s interconnected trails reveal other hidden and untouched beaches for you to experience. The vibrant underwater universe, safeguarded by marine conservation initiatives offers a window into the mesmerising reefs and aquatic world for snorkelers and divers alike.
Yet, Costa Rica’s landscape extends beyond its beaches. Home to 67 volcanoes, including six active ones, and 498 Mountains, the country holds a stunning geological diversity. Perhaps the most visited in the Arenal Volcano, right in the heart of the Arenal Volcano National Park. Within this sprawling 29,692-acre sanctuary, which resides within the broader Arenal Conservation Area, a realm of geological wonders and activities await, from hiking to river rafting, and of course the rejuvenating hot springs.
As well as beaches and mountains, you’ll encounter six different forest types: tropical rainforest, cloud forests, tropical dry forests, mangroves, lowland rainforests and riparian forests. Visit the Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve to wander through the last 1% of this forest type or head to Corcovado National Park, the largest lowland rainforest in Central America, an early pioneer of the country’s conservation ethos.
Related Reading: 20 Sustainable Things to Do When Traveling in Costa Rica
Culture and Cuisine
Embedded within Costa Rican culture is the spirit of “Pura Vida” – a way of life that emphasises harmony with nature. This philosophy is deeply ingrained in the people, underpinned by an education system that imparts sustainable principles from an early age. Waste is also kept to a minimum, with numerous national parks banning single-use plastics. Keen recycling and “pay as you throw” waste programs, where residents are charged based on their trash weight, further amplify the nation’s commitment to sustainability.
Costa Rica’s devotion to sustainability is seen not only in its environmental preservation, but also in its cuisine. Staples like “casados” compose the Costa Rican diet, combining rice, black beans, plantains, salad, a tortilla, and an optional protein source, making plant-based eating effortlessly accessible. Locally sourced and organic food are also key to the nation’s way of living.
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– SafetyWing, for long-term travel insurance that starts at $42 per month.
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As evident from the above, practising sustainable travel in Costa Rica is easy. With its ingrained sustainability practices and a substantial portion of the economy driven by tourism, eco-tourism initiatives thrive. However, to minimise your impact further there are a few additional things to consider.
- As a significant portion of the landscape is protected as reserves or national parks, contributing through donations during visits helps preserve these fragile ecosystems.
- When seeking guided experiences, opt for locally based companies that prioritise sustainable practices.
- Support local communities through eco-tourism initiatives and choose to stay in locally operated accommodations or those aligned with sustainable principles.
- Be sure to opt for more sustainable travel with a well-structured public bus system and an expanding network of electric vehicle charging stations.
- Biking and walking are also encouraged, allowing you to engage with the environment while leaving only footprints behind.