Costa Rica Sustainable Travel Guide
In Costa Rica, you’ll often hear people say “Pura Vida” when greeting one another. Pura Vida literally translates into “Pure Life”. And that’s exactly the type of philosophy and culture Costa Ricans practice as a people and as a country.
Costa Rica boasts that more than 25% of their territory is protected national parks and ecological reserves. It’s also said that the country alone contains about 6% of the world’s biodiversity. Many of the national parks are also easily accessible, giving tourists and locals ample opportunities to encounter local and exotic species of plants and animals. In addition to national parks, Costa Rica has a plethora of active volcanoes and hot sprints to visit for you adventure-faring travelers out there.
The Costa Rican government takes its environmental policies so seriously that in the past few years alone, they’ve implemented several policies protecting their lands and wildlife. In 2012, Costa Rica became the first Latin country to ban sport hunting. The same year, they banned the cruel act of shark finning off of their coastal waters. And these measures not only protect wildlife, but it stimulates their economy as well. Diego Marin, an environmental activist had the following to say: “We’re not just hoping to save the animals but we’re hoping to save the country’s economy, because if we destroy the wildlife there, tourists are not going to come anymore”.
Given their geographical location, being surrounded by both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean, Costa Rica also boasts a diverse set of cultures. Off the west coast, the surfer culture is prominent, whereas the east coast offers more of the Afro-Caribbean vibe. Whether on the west or east coast, you’re sure to be met with overwhelming friendliness from the locals, often referred to as ‘ticos’.
Costa Rica, however, is not immune to the impacts caused by the tourism industry. Criticism includes the displacement of indigenous communities in the name of eco-tourism when making way for the creation of national parks. Others have suggested that formerly pristine areas full of wildlife, such as monkeys and sea turtles as well as native plants, are now tarnished due to increased tourism.
In the end however, with its rich biodiversity, it’s relatively easy to travel sustainably in Costa Rica. You can also stay at one of many locally owned hotels and eco-lodges as opposed to large multinational hotel chains. Dining out at locally owned restaurants will also boost the economy and benefit those who really need your travel dollars. But simply going out and enjoying nature can do its part, given the country has protected its wildlife and lands in the name of tourism. Indeed, “Pura Vida” isn’t just a phrase used in the morning to say hello, it’s a way of life in Costa Rica.