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Published on July 9th, 2013 | by Erin Raub


How to Travel Sustainably in Costa Rica

eco hotel in Costa Rica

Choose a sustainable hotel that respects and protects the environment

Green, or sustainable travel is the responsible way to support local communities and the environment while on vacation. Traveling sustainably is a broad concept, and there are many ways to implement this travel philosophy, from packing a reusable water bottle to choosing locally owned hotels and businesses.

Costa Rica’s reputation for eco-friendly vacations makes sustainable travel easy. Here are a few of our top tips on how to travel green in Costa Rica:

1. Choose Sustainable Hotels

The Costa Rican Tourism Board offers the Certification for Sustainable Tourism (CST) to rate local hotels, resorts, lodges and boutique accommodations on a scale of one to five leaves (most sustainable). To earn their leaves, hotels must demonstrate not only a commitment to the environment but also support of local communities: water efficiency programs, partnerships with local companies, and the use of eco-friendly cleaning products are just the beginning. Ask your travel agent about the most sustainable lodging (there are more than 75 four- and five-leaf certified hotels!) – or search for yourself on the CST website.

2. Fly Nature Air

Nature Air flies to Manuel Antonio

Costa Rica’s Nature Air is 100% carbon neutral

I know, we’re biased, but Nature Air’s commitment to the environment is pretty monumental. You might know Nature Air as the world’s first carbon-neutral airline, but did you know that:

  • We help protect 500 acres of tropical forest on the Osa Peninsula.
  • We are constantly working to improve fuel efficiency, and have achieved a 7% improvement in the last three years.
  • We run the NatureKids foundation, which helps educate children in rural and impoverished communities.
  • We run a recycling program at our San José office, to encourage all employees (and passengers!) to recycle glass, paper and plastic.

3. Patronize Local Companies & Communities

Tourism is booming in Costa Rica, and that means travelers have the luxury of choice. Always choose locally owned and run companies, from your travel agent to tours to restaurants. And if you want your dollars to have a serious impact, be sure to book a rural tour or two – not only will you have an awesome experience tasting indigenous chocolate or learning how the first Costa Ricans sculpted clay, but you’ll know that your tour cost and souvenir purchases directly benefit the communities you visit.

4. Visit National Park

sustainable travel in Arenal

This is what sustainable travel looks like in Costa Rica

Costa Rica’s national park system is vast – protected areas account for more than 25% of the nation’s territory – and introduce you to incredibly beautiful, startlingly awesome sights and sounds. Your $10 entrance fee helps support fragile ecosystems, endangered animals, and some of the world’s most spectacular natural riches. Bonus: Your contribution also helps subsidize the park fee for locals, meaning that even the poorest Costa Rican schoolchildren can enjoy the beauty of their native land. Now that’s giving back!

5. Drive Carbon-Neutral

If you choose to rent a car in Costa Rica, we’ll help you rent from a 100% carbon-neutral company. Likewise, if you choose to ride on shared or private shuttles, we’ll hook you up with carbon-neutral companies.

Your Turn: What are your top tips for responsible travel?

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