The natural beauty of our planet is always a great motivation for ecotourism. Visiting forests, jungles, natural parks, and volcanoes, and doing activities that connect us with nature is always a great attraction when traveling. In order to take care of the natural spaces, governments and local authorities of these places do their best to preserve them in a way that keeps their natural balance, while inviting more people to visit.
For many years, Costa Rica has had a model of sustainable tourism, which was necessary due to the great extension of natural reserves it holds. It has always been a very attractive place for ecotourism, so they take very good care of their ecosystems strategically. Every action that is taken is around the purpose of a model that becomes a reference of sustainable and responsible tourism. There are many ways to do this, always focusing on the care of nature.
1. Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve
Natural beauty is always unique, but the Cloud Forest Reserve in Monteverde looks like something out of a vintage movie. This reserve has more than 10,000 hectares, 90% of which is virgin. The forest is mainly known for its high concentration of fog at ground level. This occurs when there’s a large amount of humidity in the branches of the tallest trees. It’s one of few in the world and only one of its many attractions. Although Costa Rica does not have a large extension, in Monteverde there is 2.5% of the world’s biodiversity. A perfect place for those who want to learn about or study new species of flora and fauna.
It’s very easy to explore the Cloud Forest with a variety of activities. There are day trips where you can hike around 13 kilometers (8 miles) and reach the viewpoint “La Ventana” (The Window), rappel, zip line, or walk among the hanging bridges at canopy height.
2. Visiting volcanoes
Costa Rica has more than 200 volcanoes, being part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, where about two-thirds of the world’s volcanoes are located. The biodiversity of the volcanic zones also attracts scientists and tourists to these areas. Admiring the beauty of these mountains and the lakes they form is an excellent form of sustainable and responsible tourism.
Poas volcano is one of the most easily accessible volcanoes, entering from the national park of the same name. It has three craters, two dormant and one active. The acidic lake of the active crater is seen in different shades of green and blue throughout the year. Arenal volcano is very close to the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, so it’s also a great option to visit. The Orosi and Cacao volcanoes in the Guanacaste National Park, near the Papagayo Resort Costa Rica, are also of great natural beauty to admire.
3. Cocos Island
Costa Rica’s natural beauty spreads up to 532 kilometers (330 miles) off the coast at Cocos Island. This island in the Pacific Ocean about 24 square kilometers (9.2 square miles) is a national park and was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. To get there requires a 36-hour boat trip from the port of Puntarenas, but it’s worth it to visit for its cliffs and beaches, but especially marine species.
Snorkeling while on this island you can see fish, sharks, dolphins, rays, mollusks, and many unique marine species. Diving in this island is a very complete experience thanks to the marine caves and corals found under the cliffs. In addition to the marine diversity found on its shores, the forest is equally unique, full of natural viewpoints and waterfalls. Legends of pirates and treasure hunters are part of the history of these shores.
4. Cacao Trails
Hiking while learning about cocoa is an experience not to be overlooked in Costa Rica. Cacao was always a very important plant for pre-Hispanic cultures, being the meaning of its name food of the gods. Today it’s consumed in many ways, like bars or beverages, and in the cacao trails in Costa Rica you will learn about the different species of cacao trees that exist and what they are used for, and the birds and animals that have contact with them and their importance. The highlight of these tours is to learn about the process of making cocoa, the beliefs surrounding it, and fair trading.
5. Natural spa
For natural relaxation, the area of Guanacaste, near the Papagayo Resort Costa Rica, is full of natural hot springs. This phenomenon in which mineral waters come out in high temperatures occurs mainly in volcanic areas, making Costa Rica an ideal place to take advantage of it. Many places offer tours to natural hot springs, as well as mud baths and other relaxation options. There are many alternatives for this activity, and they always focus on the care of the springs so as not to harm the surrounding nature.