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.
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Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
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
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
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.
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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