Have you ever heard of one of the prime destinations for ecotourism? Nestled in Central America, between Nicaragua and Panama, lies a rare gem of beauty: Costa Rica. Besides being among the countries with the highest average happiness in the world, Costa Rica is a perfect example of the defense and, above all, the valorization of its rich biodiversity, with over a quarter of its territory being occupied by national parks. The beauty of its landscapes and the friendliness of its inhabitants make Costa Rica an ideal destination that could suit your taste. Here are 10 sustainable experiences for your next trip to Costa Rica.

1) Climb a Volcano

There are over 100 volcanoes in Costa Rica (of which 7 are active!), and visiting one is a truly unique
experience. The vegetaƟon changes radically, temperatures drop and the atmosphere becomes surreal in
the presence of the colored waters of the craters. The highest volcano of all is Irazú, standing at 3432
meters, representing a challenge for most Athletic ones (don’t worry, you can approach the summit by
car), as well as an incredible viewpoint. On sunny days with clear skies, you can see both the Pacific and
Atlantic Ocean from its summit. A unique opportunity!

Arenal Volcano. Climbing a volcano is one of the best sustainable tourism experiences in Costa Rica.
Arenal Volcano. Climbing a volcano is one of the best sustainable tourism experiences in Costa Rica. Photo via Canva PRO

2) Go Surfing

The beaches of Costa Rica are marvelous, and one of the most popular ways to enjoy them is surfing. There are many surf schools in coastal areas, so why not give it a try?

3) Sip on a Fresh Coconut

Thirsty at the beach? No problem, it’s the perfect opportunity to try a fresh coconut. The coconut water is
tasty, and coastal areas are full of coconut vendors, so you won’t have difficulty finding one. You can also get one on your own, but when you open it with a machete, be careful with your fingers!

4) Search for the Quetzal in Monteverde

Monteverde is one of Costa Rica’s most famous national parks, thanks to the uniqueness of its biome. The Monteverde cloud forest is home to many bizarre and interesting animals but one in particular is the dream of many birdwatching enthusiasts. We’re talking about the legendary Quetzal, revered by pre-Columbian civilizations. This rare bird is known for its extraordinary beauty with emerald plumage and an elegant tail, but it is also known for being elusive. Do you want to try spotting one?

Quetzal. Birdwatching is one of the best sustainable tourism experiences in Costa Rica. Photo via Canva PRO

5) Canopy Tour in Monteverde

For adventure and adrenaline lovers, Monteverde offers an unmissable opportunity. In addition to trekking
paths and suspended bridges, this national park features the canopy experience—a zip line course that
traverses the forest, letting you fly amidst the majesty of its trees. The longest stretch is over 1500 meters… Would you do it?

6) Environmental Volunteering

The epitome of sustainable tourism is volunteering—an experience that allows you to immerse yourself in
the country you are exploring more deeply by helping the local reality. If your interest is focused on
environmental projects, know that you have plenty of choices. For example, you could participate in a
project for the conservation of sea turtles. Such projects are crucial because Costa Rica is a stronghold of environmental sustainability not due to the absence of problems, but because of the great effort it puts into addressing them. Smuggling turtle eggs is one of these problems and poses a serious risk to the species that pass through the country (5 out of 7 existing in the world): your help could be fundamental.

7) Social Volunteering

If you want to fully experience the culture and personality of “ticos” (the inhabitants of Costa Rica), social
volunteering is perfect for you. In urban areas (and even in rural ones, just much less), there are many
interesting projects. You could help take care of children in a school or even teach them your language. The possibilities are numerous.

8) Natural Hot Springs

How to combine the comfort of a wellness center with the pristine nature of Costa Rica? The answer is
simple: natural hot springs. It’s thanks to the high volcanic activity underground that the country has so
many thermal sites. We mention the most popular ones: the Tabacón River near the Arenal volcano, the
Negro River in the Rincón de la Vieja National Park, and the Celeste River in the Tenorio Volcano National

Waterfall, Celeste River, Costa Rica
Celeste River, natural hot springs are one of the best sustainable experiences in Costa Rica. Photo via Canva PRO

9) Experience Traditional Cuisine

Whether it’s a fresh ceviche or a common gallo pinto, eating poorly in Costa Rica is truly difficult. Simple but good dishes, that’s the watchword in “sodas” (local eateries). Here are the main ones to try:

  • gallo pinto (rice and beans, the ubiquitous side dish),
  • ceviche (marinated fish with onion, celery, lime, chili, and coriander, also to be enjoyed as street food),
  • yuca frita (cassava boiled and then fried with a choice of accompaniment),
  • patacones (smashed and fried green plantain, often accompanied by guacamole).

We leave it to you to discover but, above all, taste the others—you won’t be disappointed. Of course, remember to try the local coffee: that’s a specialty too!

10) Use Public TransportaƟon When You Can

Public transportation in Costa Rica exists and works, and offers you one of the best sustainable experiences. Bus routes don’t cover the entire country comprehensively, but they should help you for most of your travels. Besides being a conscious choice to make your journeys less polluting, public transportation is the perfect opportunity to experience “tica” friendliness. Chat with your neighbor, and ask for advice on what to see, what to do, and where to eat—local advice is precious, so always pay attention.

As a “tico” would say: ¡pura vida!

Author: Nicola Landi