Ah, Costa Rica… the small Central American country nestled between the southern most tip of Mexico and the northern part of South America, that is rich in biodiversity, full of volcanoes and rainforests, a scuba diver’s and surfer’s playground, and boasting a beautiful history and legacy is a place that must be visited once in your lifetime. It’s with no surprise that this unique country is one of the most highly valued tourist destinations in the world. Comprised of seven provinces, it’s an adventurer and nature lover’s paradise, filled with activities to keep you mesmerized from sun up to sun down, yet also appeals to those who prefer a slower pace while traveling, with perfect beaches, peaceful rivers, and majestic mountain views.
One of the features so exclusive and beloved to Costa Rica is the country’s sustainability practices. They truly take pride in their country, not only in preserving the ecosystem and the wildlife who inhabit its jungles and waters, but also in enriching, inspiring, and providing for the hearts, minds, and wallets of the local people who make this country the magnificent piece of land that it is. Whether you’re in Costa Rica for a day, a week, or a month, the best way to truly take in and experience the country is by immersing yourself in its rich, unique culture through eco-adventures and excursions.
Here are our top five ways to sustainably explore Costa Rica.
1. Corso Lecheria Tour
About 50 minutes from the city of San Jose lies a sprawling European-esque countryside, home to a dairy farm and boasting views of the active Barva and Poas volcanoes. The two hour Corso Lecheria farm tour starts with enjoying the most delicious and freshest of cheeses and strawberries, all locally made right on the premises. The strawberries are so organic, they encourage you to pop the entire thing in your mouth, stem, leaves, and all!
Board the wagon and enjoy a breathtaking view of the volcanoes, fields that are reminiscence of fairytale stories dotted with cows, and go on a hike through the cloud forest, learning about and spotting local birds, insects, and foliage, all native to Costa Rica.
Take a short trek through the strawberry greenhouse and learn how they produce the most beautiful of fruits, in as natural of a way as God intended.
Visit the dairy cows and try your hand at milking one, as well as enjoying the fruits of your labor by sipping the sweet, warm milk right from the source. If you’ve never had chocolate milk cow side, then you’re in for an experience your taste buds won’t soon forget!
End your tour by visiting the chickens and bunnies, and finally feeding your stomach at the local restaurant on the grounds. Enjoy local, authentic Costa Rican cuisine amidst the countryside, and relish in the beauty and splendor that surrounds you as you sip on your freshly pressed strawberry juice and savor the creamy taste of pumpkin soup.
For young and old, this eco-tour must be at the top of your to-do list while in the country of Costa Rica. It’s a once in a lifetime experience that brings you back to simpler times with simple pleasures.
2. Canopy Zip Lining
Costa Rica is known for its lush jungles, and what better way to explore the jungle than flying through it! With so many zip lining opportunities available throughout the country, from the jungle to the ocean, it’s easy to get connected with one.
If you happen to be staying at the Pacuare Lodge, a luxury eco-lodge straight in the heart of the jungle and one of National Geographic’s favorite places, then you must book their zip lining excursion for at least one day during your stay.
You’ll suit up with your equipment and listen to an orientation before taking a 20 minute hike through the dense jungle to the first platform where the adventure begins.
As you soar on cables from platform to platform through the trees, you’ll have a bird’s eye view of the Pacuare River and the resort, hundreds of feet below you. Look for exotic birds and wildlife, breathe in the freshest of air in the world, and savor the sustainability surrounding you, knowing that there is still preservation and love for the purest of nature.
When your two hour flying adventure is over, you’ll end the experience with a rappel down the last platform, which deposits you right at the main entrance of the Pacuare Lodge.
There truly is no better way to experience an immersion with nature than by playing bird for the day and feeling the wind in your face and the adrenaline in your soul.
3. Coffee Plantation Trek
Costa Rica is known for producing some of the world’s most exquisite coffee. That makes sense as they strive to keep their soil and eco-friendly footprint as organic as possible, thus lending appeal to the sustainability of the country. While visiting Costa Rica, especially if you are a coffee aficionado, taking a coffee plantation tour must be on your excursion list.
The Finca Rosa Blanca is the perfect place to get your coffee on, as this coffee plantation resort not only provides their guests with the most beautiful, authentic Costa Rican accommodations, but also resides nestled among 30 acres of coffee plants, and offers a 2.5 hour tour that is riveting in information and hands-on experiences.
You will follow your guide through the beautiful landscape of the coffee plantation, and learn about the working farm, as well as watching for birds, discovering exotic plants and trees, and marveling at the largest ants you’ve ever laid eyes on – seriously, we could watch them transport pieces of leaves back and forth all day!
After you touch coffee beans and fruit and explore the Roasting and Packing House, you’ll settle back in at the resort for an authentic Costa Rican “cupping”, where you’ll sip on coffee and learn all the intricacies of this age-old libation.
4. River Rafting
Interspersed around Costa Rica are rivers galore, some beyond perfect for the adventurers at heart who love tackling rapids and feeling the adrenaline that only comes from bouncing through the rocks and natural playground of rushing waters. There are a handful of rivers throughout Costa Rica that are most convenient for white water rafting, and we suggest you choose one during your stay in the country, to experience an eco-excursion like no other.
We especially love the Pacuare River for rafting adventures, as it’s the country’s longest and most amazing river trip, boasting Class III-IV rapids (beginner to intermediate). If you want to make your eco-excursion even more interesting, then book a room at the Pacuare Lodge and take your raft right up to check-in, as tackling the river is the only way to get to the lodge!
5. City Experiences
If you’re a history buff or just love immersing yourself among the local culture while traveling, then pick a bustling, urban city in Costa Rica and go explore!
San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica, is the best place to start. With a multitude of churches, museums, theaters, and plazas, all rich in history and boasting beautiful architecture, there’s always something to be in awe of at every corner.
The Central Market is a bustling marketplace where locals and tourists alike come to partake in and purchase practically anything and everything. From coffee shops and gelato joints, souvenir shops and fruit stands, to meat counters and leather goods, this melting pot of Costa Rican culture perfectly marries traditional history and modern conveniences in a one-stop-shop for young and old.
Visit a “mascara” shop where you can marvel at handmade Costa Rican masks that have been a vital part of this country’s culture for ages. Made from paper, fiberglass, and other materials, these masks can be larger than life or miniature in size, portray modern characters or historical figures, be sweet and cute or gruesome and scary, yet they all give Costa Rica its flair for uniqueness and its love of artistic expression.
Photo Credits: Dani Nicole Photography