The Best Solar-Powered Stays in Costa Rica for Sustainable Travelers

No visit to Costa Rica is complete without a stay in an eco-lodge – just look at this terrace view at Laguna Lodge Tortuguero
No visit to Costa Rica is complete without a stay in an eco-lodge – just look at this terrace view at Laguna Lodge Tortuguero | Courtesy of Laguna Lodge

Looking to lighten your carbon footprint while travelling to Costa Rica? Here are some of the country’s most eco-friendly stays.

There are more eco lodges and sustainable hotels in the Central American country than you can shake a stick at, which is great news for the environment but can make it difficult to choose just one.

As a go-to reference point, the government’s Costa Rica Tourism Board has created a “green leaf” certification that is awarded to accommodations that goes above and beyond to offset emissions and preserve biodiversity. Using natural building materials, avoiding deforestation, banning plastics, efficiently recycling and using solar panels are just some of the ways hotels can win the award. A full list of all the hotels can be found here.

To make your selection easier, I’ve rounded up my favourites from my time in Costa Rica.

Hotel Arenal Springs Resort & Spa

Hot spring with a view, anyone? Backdrops don’t get more spectacular than Arenal volcano

You’re unlikely to find a hotel with better views in the whole of Central America than at Arenal Springs. A lone triangle emerging from a flat horizon of rainforest canopies, with the steam belching out of the active Arenal volcano, is visible from your room, as well as many a sumptuous hot spring. You can relax at the award-winning spa in the knowledge that the resort puts the environment and social improvements first: cultivating its own agriculture on its farm, using alternative energies such as bio digester to treat water, and it uses waste from the kitchen to produce its own organic fertiliser and bio-inputs.

Selva Verde Lodge

You know that rare goosebump moment you have walking into a hotel? That is what I had at Selva Verde Lodge. Become fully immersed in the rainforest with the sound of the Sarapiqui river flowing in the background. Wooden platforms, surrounded by the rainforest, connect all the lodges. Created by an eco-tourist for nature enthusiasts in 1982, the lodge has expanded into what it is today, preserving nearly 500 acres (202ha) of endangered tropical forest and a range of different species. My stay was made particularly pleasant from the welcome of a blue hummingbird fluttering outside my door. Top tip: try and request the rooms at the end of the boardwalk, they have incredible river views.

Laguna Lodge, Tortuguero

Aerial view of Laguna Lodge, with an incredible backdrop courtesy of the Caribbean Sea

The National Park of Tortuguero on the west coast is not only a tropical paradise of river highways and dense rainforest, as well as a wildlife haven where howler monkeys and sloths abound, but it’s also part of the country’s Ecologic Blue Flag Program – an award given to areas where local communities strive to maintain the best conditions for sustainable tourism. Laguna Lodge is part of that perseveration project, working to protect the sea turtle nests, using solar-powered energy, and its own bio composting system that recycles waste from the kitchens. The star of this eco-hotel, other than the novelty of arriving by boat and being greeted with a fresh fruit drink, is the breathtaking rainforest beach that extends along the shoreline until the distant mist of ocean spray prevents you from seeing any further.

The Gilded Iguana Surf Hotel

Quite possibly the coolest green-leaf-certified place to stay on the list is the Gilded Iguana Surf Hotel. Not everyone who travels to Costa Rica wants to go on wildlife tours, some just want to surf. And some want to do both, so there’s that option, too! The laid back yet luxurious beachside lodge promotes a healthy active lifestyle while using sustainable energy and leading initiatives that are sustaining the Blue Flag beach of Nosara. Surf’s up, dude.

Rancho Pacifico

My last pick is for those looking to make their visit to Costa Rica a special, once-in-a-lifetime trip, and want to do so with the peace of mind that their luxurious holiday is doing good for environment. Mark, the co-founder, is a mechanical engineer who has spent his life working to make the planet greener by developing wind and solar energy facilities. At Rancho Pacifico, their outstanding level of eco-practice, which earned them a green leaf certificate, combines 2,000ft mountain views over the ocean with an award-winning spa and world-class dining, to make one of the most memorable holiday destinations imaginable.

Head over to Visit Costa Rica to find out more about this wonderful country.

You’ll spend two nights in an eco-lodge, as well as two nights in a mountain retreat and three in a premium hotel on our Real Costa Rica trip.

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