What Is Sustainable Tourism?
There's no eco-tourism destination in the world like Costa Rica.
Admittedly, this small, Central American country might not be famous for much. But still, it's become a true world leader in environmental awareness and sustainable tourism practices in recent years.
If you're planning a vacation to Costa Rica, chances are you're coming (at least in part) because of its eco-tourism credentials.
It's a rare traveler to Costa Rica who isn't interested, even in a small way, in experiencing the magic of nature while knowing that they're contributing to sustainability in some small way.
If Costa Rica appeals to you as a destination, it wouldn't surprise us if you were looking for a Costa Rica eco-adventure to enjoy with your favorite people. This is why so many people come to Costa Rica and why Costa Rica stays relevant in world tourism as an eco-leader.
With that all said, you can help protect the destinations you love with eco-sustainable travel in Costa Rica! It's easy to do and an easy way to travel with us here at Costa Rican Vacations.
Tourism is one of the largest and fastest-growing industries in the world. Unfortunately though, the very things that attract the crowds – like biologically diverse habitats and indigenous cultures – are often the things most affected by the influx of travelers.
This "boom" in growth, especially in still-developing areas, can place great strains on local economies, the environment, and a community's way of life, which is why sustainable tourism is so important.
It helps protect the destinations we love, the cultures that attract us, and tourism in general.
Sustainable tourism is the concept of visiting a place as a tourist and trying to make only a positive impact on the local environment, society, and economy.
Tourism can involve primary transportation to the general location, local transportation, accommodations, entertainment, recreation, nourishment, and shopping.
Eco-Friendly Costa Rica
Sustainable tourism has become a buzzword, especially in Costa Rica, and it doesn't always mean what people think it does.
Nowadays, with green- and eco-friendly everything making headlines, everyone is scrambling to prove they're doing it too. Everyone wants to show their green credentials, even if they don't have many to offer. But, with so many companies and industries jumping on the eco-bandwagon, it's hard to know who to trust.
Costa Rica has been a forerunner in sustainable tourism from the start. That means it's perfectly natural this country would have a heads up on eco-friendly and sustainable travel.
With only .03% of the world's surface area, Costa Rica is home to over 5% of the world's biodiversity. There's a lot at stake.
Since the earliest pioneers of sustainable and eco-tourism arrived in the 1970s and 80s (far earlier than most other tourist destinations around the world) Costa Rica has set an example for other countries.
For example, in Costa Rica today, almost 30% of its territory is protected in some way or another.
Costa Rica also, in 2018, committed itself to become carbon neutral by 2021. Unfortunately, that didn't happen, and more realistic predictions expect carbon neutrality by 2050. Even so, Costa Rica remains way ahead of most other countries in its quest to achieve this critical goal.
Most of the electricity used in Costa Rica comes from renewable sources, which is of great pride to many Ticos.
Costa Rica's electrical grid has been running on over 98% renewable sources since 2014 on a more or less continuous basis, with 2021 logging in 100% of its power coming from hydroelectric, geothermal, and wind. The government even offers incentives for eco-friendly practices, for example, buying back solar energy from users with a surplus.
Thanks to all these efforts, Costa Rica is ranked 38th in the world (out of 130) on the WEC's 2019 Energy Sustainability Index with ABB. Costa Rica also ranked 7th in the world for general environmental sustainability for that year, something remarkable for a developing country… most other top ten countries are developed European nations.
But there's no need to leave all these efforts to the Costa Rican government and businesses here on the ground. Eco-conscious travelers also have plenty of opportunities to partake in the efforts.
You can make green choices between choosing eco-friendly hotels and carbon-neutral travel options. However, if you're more focused on how your trip will affect locals, you can select cultural tours and activities that will positively impact you and them!
Visiting national parks is a great way to enjoy the outstanding beauty of Costa Rica beauty while being sure that your money will support something like the national park system.
If hands-on is more your style, then include some time for volunteering.
From rainforest reforestation and beach cleanups to turtle protection and soup kitchens, there are plenty of ways to give back while you have the trip of a lifetime.
Many hotels in Costa Rica act as excellent stewards of the communities where they're located, and often they will have some program you can take part in while staying with them.
How to Travel Eco-Sustainably in Costa Rica
Sustainable tourists can reduce the impact of tourism in many ways:
- Informing themselves of the culture, politics, and economy of the communities they visit while traveling.
- Anticipating and respecting local cultures, expectations, and assumptions in Costa Rica.
- Supporting local cultures' integrity by favoring businesses that conserve cultural heritage and traditional values.
- Supporting local economies by purchasing local goods and participating with small, local businesses.
- Conserving resources by seeking out environmentally conscious businesses and using the least possible amount of non-renewable resources.
FAQs About Eco-Sustainable Travel to Costa Rica
What is the best time to go to Costa Rica?
There's no wrong time to go to Costa Rica, so the best time is anytime, year-round. The best weather is from December to April, while the best time to see animals and wildlife is the rest of the year, during the rainy season.
Is there a lot of wildlife in Costa Rica?
Yes. Costa Rica is one of the most biodiverse countries globally, with some 30% of its territory protected somehow. From tiny insects to reptiles, amphibians, big cats, and humpback whales, Costa Rica is one of the best wildlife-spotting destinations.
How long should I spend in Costa Rica?
The longer, the better! Who wants to think about going home again while enjoying a luxury Costa Rican vacation? But in all seriousness, we recommend at least a week (seven nights) in Costa Rica to get the best of the country. Is it possible to come for less than that and have a wonderful time? Yes, of course. But you'll be doing yourself a massive favor if you can come for at least seven nights.