Updated: Aug 25
Costa Rica _ The 7 Best Eco-Friendly Stays Celebrating And Promoting Ecotourism
Costa Rica was one of the first nations in the world to promote responsible ecotourism passionately – and rightly so with so much biodiversity to show off. The Central American country sandwiched between Nicaragua and Panama is setting unrivaled benchmarks when it comes to cut-above eco-friendly places to stay.
‘Pura Vida’ is the famous salutation meaning ‘pure life’ – and that’s what these hotels celebrate. As well as awe-inspiring geography, there’s an unmistakably reviving energy. A quarter of the country is protected as national parks, wildlife reserves, marine sanctuaries, and conservation areas. And it’s all the more uplifting when you know you can stay in a top-notch stay where they’re also thinking about their environmental and social impact.
1. Aguas Claras, Puerto Viejo
Best for: art, design, and soul on the Caribbean’s southern shores
This boutique eco-hotel is pretty as can be – and it’s the most appealing hotel along the Caribbean coastline when it comes to its back-of-house conduct. In this colorful enclave of Victorian-style bungalows and at the tiny beach club you feel cosseted without feeling gratuitously indulgent thanks to its determinedly lo-fi cool. Created by an artist and her daughter, the hand-picked vintage furniture, watercolors, ceramics, retro curios, and delightfully-styled clashing prints ensure every tableau feels fit for a magazine shoot. Suckers for a strong photo should start the day with a picture-perfect Gallo pinto – rice and beans with eggs and tortillas have never appeared so photogenic. The Caribbean flavor comes through on the menu, with just-caught fish a highlight.
Project: Aguas Claras
Location: Puerto Viejo
2. Finca Rosa Blanca, near San Jose
Sip home-grown coffee in the highlands above the capital
You may only be a short drive from the international airport and the capital city, yet here in the hills, wildlife flourishes. Finca Rosa Blanca sits next to a coffee plantation that’s been practicing sustainable agriculture for three decades since this guesthouse was born as a private home. Promoting conservation and planting trees across its 30 organic acres has always been the mission here in the Central Valley, and the fruits of this responsible agriculture taste especially satisfying at the farm-to-table restaurant. Be sure to take a guided tour which includes a coffee-tasting session on the terrace.
Project: Finca Rosa Blanca
Location: San Jose
3. Kura, Uvita
Modern romance high in drama and low in impact
Step out of one of the dramatic eight suites at sunrise to hear a theatrical dawn chorus of howler monkeys. That panorama is proper pinch-me stuff as eyes are drawn over uninterrupted tropical rainforest down to the Pacific Coast. Kura – meaning jaguar in the language of the Boruca people – comes from the imagination of a Costa Rican architect and biologist power couple. What makes green-travel lovers purr is how eco-sensitive the practices are behind the scenes when it comes to the 5R tenets of sustainability – reducing waste, reusing, repurposing, and recycling where possible –not to forget our friend, rot. Dreamy melt-into-the-horizon pool scenes are the kind that will have you snapping sunset shots to the point of being anti-social.
4. Lapa Rios Lodge, Osa Peninsula
The original luxury eco-lodge in a thousand-acre reserve
Lapa takes its name from the scarlet macaws regularly spotted in the skies above these 17 thatched, stilted bungalows. Overlooking the Golfo Dulce, Lapa Rios is especially beloved for having been the first eco-lodge of such status in a nation that’s always been the greenest of holiday destinations. In this lowland tropical rainforest along the Pacific coast, this reserve has recently been given a little upgrade by its new Pacuare Lodge owners. Attesting to its commitment to nature, it’s still a dedicated member of the conservation-focussed charity organization, the Long Run.
Project: Lapa Rios Lodge
Location: Osa Peninsula
5. Nayara Tented Camp, Arenal
Five-star safari experience amid hot springs and a resurrected rainforest
Nayara Springs is sister to the two original properties set on this sprawling site, and the next-level neighboring encampment steals the show with its stand-alone cabins draped in canvas created by sustainability-minded Luxury Frontiers. As they nurture terrain and reintroduce flora and fauna in the richest of ways, Nayara is lovingly creating more of these strategically- and sensitively-perched lodges. The grandstand views of Arenal’s gently active volcano are best enjoyed from your plunge pool. Time in these safari-style nests connects guests with the elements – though die-hard eco aficionados may consider the five-star trappings — spas, fine wines, gourmet dining — a tad extravagant for true down-to-earth eco-warrior inclinations.
Project: Nayara Tented Camp
6. Origina Luxury Lodge by Mantis, Bijagua
Biophilia-flaunting adobe and bamboo lodges
Six luxury lodges and a treetop three-bedroom Villa Vertigo lure visitors to Pueblo Nuevo to experience wellness. It’s not just the look and feel of this stay that is seductive to those considering the footprint of their trips – the nature-positive design helps us instantly consider the more prosaic aspects of how eco their operations are. Bioclimatology – when a building is cunningly tuned into nature to keep it cooler in the tropics — is a sure-fire indication Origins has bypassed the need for fuel-guzzling. All hail the breezy biophilia-riffing bamboo used in these buildings, adobe walls for breathability, and the savvy use of old bottles under the floors to help natural airflow.
Project: Origina Luxury Lodge
7. Senda Monteverde Mountain Lodge, Monteverde Cloud Forest
Hikers’ heaven in the Cordillera de Tilarán mountains
This 28-suite stay quietly opened as this new eco-sensitive incarnation in 2018. A sustainable remodeling of stand-alone cabins set in staggeringly biodiverse gardens, it still feels like a little mist-enhanced secret. Step outside and you’ll pass furry, feathered, scaled so-and-sos on the path down to nature hikes, meals, or yoga classes. Be sure to take a 30-minute Sustainability Tour and plant a tree. As with all hotels in the Cayuga Collection, you’ll learn how energy and waste are carefully monitored. And the strongest indication that you’re staying somewhere helmed by extra-considerate hosts is the sense that everyone loves working here.
Project: Senda Monteverde Hotel
Location: Monteverde Cloud Forest
Costa Rica promises the best of all worlds in one leafy, smiley eco-loving republic. Apart from these alluring stays, Costa Rica is powered almost entirely by renewables. Last year, 99.98 percent of their electricity came from hydropower, geothermal, wind, biomass, and solar sources.
Photographs: Matias Sauter M., Mike Dell, Ryan Forbes, Brice Ferre, Aguas Claras, Finca Rosa Blanca, Kura, Lapa Rios Ecolodge, Nayara Tented Camp, Origina Luxury Lodge, Senda Monteverde Hotel
Source: Condé Nast Traveller