ecoDestinations - Costa Rica

ecoDestinations - Costa Rica

ecoDestinations Costa Rica

Pura Vida!

Literally translating to "pure life", if there were an official national motto of Costa Rica, this would likely be it. Trust us, by the end of your journey, it will be your favorite new expression. "Pura Vida is a word that identifies a Costa Rican wherever he or she may be. When you say Pura Vida the facial expression of the person changes and the person smiles. It is a word very meaningful to Costa Ricans. It reminds us of home and its' beauty."



Featured Destination

Featured Destination - Costa Rica

"In Costa Rica we have a long tradition of receiving tourists with open arms. It doesn't matter what you are looking for: adventure or rest; beaches, mountains, rivers or volcanoes… I invite you to share all the richness that nature spread in this tropical land full of contrasts." - Carlos Ricardo Benavides, Ministro Turismo (


Naturally Peaceful

Costa Rica, demonstrating its fierce dedication to peace and democracy, became the first country in the modern world to constitutionally abolish its standing army in 1948, and is today proudly the oldest and most stable democracy in Central America. Thirty-nine years after Costa Rica's declaration of peace with the world, the beloved leader of this peace-loving country, President Oscar Arias Sanchez was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. President Arias' efforts in promoting his "Peace with Nature" policy has inspired many Costa Ricans, who enjoy living with more trees per capita and per square kilometer than any other country in the world. Costa Ricans are also among the world's most enthusiastic tree planters, enriching their landscapes with a few million trees each year.

Pioneering Green Challenge

Costa Rica is also en route to becoming the first carbon neutral country by 2021. The famous vow by the Costa Rican government, delivered in 2007, to become the first carbon neutral destination, raised the standard yet again for the global ecotourism community.



Visiting CR

Visiting Costa Rica - The Essentials

"No climate can, I imagine, be more favorable to fertility and to man's comfort at the same time than that of the interior of Costa Rica." - Anthony Trollope


Climate: With a climate that is diverse and varied, Costa Rica can be divided into several climatic zones, each of which are distinct and individual. Costa Rica has no real winter period, and the sun shines here throughout the year. With over 12 hours of sunshine a day, the sun rises at about 5 am and sets at about 6 pm consistently throughout the year. The main reason for the diversity in Costa Rica’s weather is the various elevations at which different parts of the country are located. more...


Geography: The highest point in the country is Cerro Chirripó, at 3,820 metres (12,532 ft), and is the fifth highest peak in Central America. The highest volcano in the country is the Irazú Volcano (3,431 m / 11,257 ft). Costa Rica also comprises several islands. Cocos Island stands out because of its distance from continental landmass (480 km from Puntarenas coast), but Calero Island is the largest island of the country (151.6 km² / 58.5 sq mi). more...


Biodiversity: 23% of Costa Rica's national territory is protected land. Costa Rica is considered to be one of the 20 countries with greatest biodiversity in the world. Its geographic position, its two coasts and its mountainous system, which provides numerous and varied microclimates, are some of the reasons that explain this natural wealth, both in terms of species and ecosystems. more...



Ticos - The Warm Hearted and Proud People

Costa Ricans call themselves, and are called by fellow Latin Americans "ticos." There are several theories on the origin of this affectionate nickname.


Population: Unlike many of their Central American neighbors, present-day Costa Ricans, population approx. 4.3 million, are largely of European descent. An estimated 10% to 15% of the population is Nicaraguan, of fairly recent arrival. Few of the Indigenous peoples survived European contact; the Indigenous population today numbers about 29,000 or less than 1% of the population. View a map of Costa Rica's Indigenous reserves.


Indigenous Peoples: Most of the Indigenous groups in Costa Rica are located in the southeast near the border with Panama. Although there is no consensus among historians regarding the various groups of indigenous peoples who inhabited Costa Rica in the pre-colonial era, it is generally agreed that the majority of the population spoke variants of the Chibchan language family. Indigenous NGOs estimate the current population of Indigenous people in Costa Rica to be approx. 70,000. Minority and Indigenous NGOs remain active in trying to bring about positive changes. Costa Rica's Indigenous movement is a fairly recent development of the 1980s but it has become very vocal in protecting rights, denouncing violations and abuses and demanding the recovery of lands. more...



Sustainable Travel in CR

Sustainable Travel Experiences in Costa Rica

Here are a few tools, organizations and programs that can help your search for sustainable travel experiences that make a difference!


Costa Rica Association of Rural Community Tourism

ACTUAR is an association of rural community tourism initiatives established in 2001. "Rural community tourism consists of planned touristic experiences which are integrated sustainably with the rural environment and developed by local citizen organizations for the benefit of the community." - Costa Rican Tourism Board, UNDP and the Alliance for Rural Community Tourism, 2005.

National Certification Program

Certification in Sustainable Tourism (CST), provided by the Costa Rican Tourism Institute (ICT), aims to differentiate tourism businesses based on the degree to which they comply with a sustainable model of natural, cultural and social resource management. CST is regulated by the Costa Rican National Accreditation Commission and consists of a scale of 5 levels, indicated by green leaves, of sustainable tourism achievement. Find certified properties

Finding Sustainable Vacations

Eco-Index Sustainable Tourism by Rainforest Alliance features businesses in Latin America and the Caribbean that have been deemed environmentally and socially friendly by reputable environmental organizations and/or ecotourism certification programs. View Costa Rican companies recognized in the Eco-Index



Photo Credits: Cover - Anamaya Costa Rica Yoga Retreat; Featured Destination - Samasati Nature Retreat; Visiting Costa Rica - Rios Tropicales; Ticos - ACTUAR CONSERVacations; Sustainable Travel Experiences - Arenas del Mar Beach and Nature Resort




Latest News and Articles on Costa Rica

  Sumak Travel & Cafédirect Producers' Foundation team up to offer Fair Trade Adventures   Fair Trade Adventures are the result of an exciting and innovative partnership between Latin America ecotourism specialists and TIES members, Sumak Travel, and Cafédirct Producers’ Foundation, a UK based charity that is owned and led by smallholder farmers.   These small group tours, to unique destinations in Peru, Colombia and Costa Rica, will give travellers a rare opportunity to meet the farmers and artisans behind popular fair trade products such as...
Photo by WIDECAST By Brad Nahill   On Friday, May 31st, while returning from a long night walking a turtle nesting beach near the city of Limón, young Costa Rican conservationist Jairo Mora Sandoval was abducted by unknown assailants, beaten and murdered. The beach where Mora Sandoval worked is a hot spot for nesting by the critically endangered leatherback, but also well-known for poaching and as a transfer point for drugs entering Costa Rica. This beach has now become a flash point for the direction that Costa Rica will go as a country.   The brave young man...
Rainforest Adventures wins accolades for treading lightly in Costa Rica While numerous theme park operators worldwide move toward more sustainable practices – from solar power to electric vehicles and LED lighting – could the most sustainable theme parks in the world currently be the Rainforest Adventures parks in Costa Rica? According to the Rainforest Alliance, Earth University and Costa Rican Tourism Institute, these two parks are the model for best practices in sustainable development and operations.    Bird watching in Costa Rica (Photo: Rainforest...
Guides with a gift for interpretation and communication have the ability to elevate an average travel experience into the realm of the sublime, unexpected and unforgettable.   Top travel and eco-tourism companies like Wildland Adventures, Rainforest Adventures and the award winning Lapa Rios Ecolodge therefore place great importance on the quality, skill, character and knowledge of their guides.   "There is increasing evidence that education and understanding is a key aspect to a visitor’s overall satisfaction with a destination or visitor experience," says...
Photo: Elemento Natural   By Roberto Lizano   Let's face it. Costa Rica is well known as a destination for its biodiversity, beaches and volcanoes, with all the adventures and activities surrounding them. But you can't compare Costa Rica's pre-Columbian patrimony with other countries like Guatemala, Mexico or some of the South American destinations whose main attractions are based on indigenous culture, history and legacy. But that does not mean Costa Rica doesn't have a rich heritage to share!   So, how do we bring the tourist's attention...
  By Glenn Jampol, Owner, Finca Rosa Blanca Coffee Plantation and Inn   *This article is an excerpt from "One Costa Rican coffee farmer provides a case for organic coffee"published by Global Coffee Review (March 2012 issue).   Environmental Benefits An organic coffee field can be distinguished quite easily from a conventional coffee field both visually and topographically.   To begin with, an organic coffee field is almost certainly covered by lush undergrowth in the lanes between the coffee plants, which is a direct result of two practices....
  By Annalisa Roger   As ICANN 43 begins, a world of excitement awaits. Traveling from around the globe, 1700 people are uniting to collaborate and discuss the future of the Internet in San Jose.   Before the ICANN conference began, fifty delegates jumped on a bus and headed East for the opportunity to connect on a personal level to the stunning rainforest which is vital to our world's ecosystem. Along the journey, we learned about Costa Rica and its beautiful people, ecosystem, democratic government and environmental goal of becoming carbon neutral. A...
Contest Celebrates Expansion of Our Unique Volunteer Matching Program   Beaverton OR (USA) 3/2012 - SEE Turtles is growing its unique Volunteer Matching Program by adding new conservation partners and turtle nesting sites. Our organization helps to connect volunteers with community-based sea turtle volunteer projects in Latin America at no cost and now we are adding new options for anyone who wants to use their time and energy to help protect endangered sea turtles. Our program now matches volunteers with 15 local conservation organizations in 7 countries including Mexico, Costa...
El Remanso Lodge Receives "Five Leaves" El Remanso Lodge (Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica) has been awarded with the "Level 5" of the Certification for Sustainable Tourism (CST), a rigorous certification program by the Costa Rican Tourism Board (ICT) that evaluates tourism companies' sustainability practices in natural, cultural and social resource management. CST is regulated by the Costa Rican National Accreditation Commission and consists of a scale of 5 levels of sustainable tourism achievements.   This is the highest possible rating and El Remanso has...
By Vinzenz Schmack Vinzenz Schmack, Owner, Laguna del Lagarto Lodge In 1974, I moved to Costa Rica as a bank manager in San José. At the time, the tourism industry hardly existed and nobody imagined that it would play, as today, such a dominant role in the local economy as a major generator of foreign exchange and employment. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I would become the owner of a jungle lodge in one of the most remote and most underdeveloped parts of the country and would contribute to the development of this poor region. In 1981, I had the opportunity to buy...


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As the world's oldest and largest international ecotourism association, TIES seeks to be the global source of knowledge and advocacy uniting communities, conservation, sustainable travel..




> The International Ecotourism Society 



The Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism Conference will highlight global challenges and local opportunities, supporting sustainable development of tourism and promoting solutions that balance conservation, communities and sustainable travel.

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