After 1990, Costa Rica began entering in ecotourism going with the new world travel trend. Tourism have been evolving, until now that we have a special motto as a country: "Pura Vida"...Pure Life! a new way to enjoy life and of course, of enjoying vacation time as well.
Costa Rica and its natural jewels became famous internationally as a true ecotourism destination. Truthfully, Costa Rica was pioneer in National Park and protected areas tourism (25 natural parks, 8 biological reserves). In the latest list of the New Natural Wonders of Nature, Costa Rica is up with Cocos Island, which is in place 77.
The country offers a higher quality of life, social and political stability, a government that takes the environment more seriously, a beautiful nature and a place for numerous nature investigations. Environmentalist are still arguing is this is a good option for tourism, or if it does more harm than good. However, the balances inclines more to responsible traveling and how to help the rural communities while protecting the environment and the carbon footprint.
The Costa Rican Tourism Institute (ICT) has develped the Certification in Sustainable Tourism (CST), to certify hotels, restaurants and tour operators that follow responsible travel practices in Costa Rica. When looking for hotels, make sure you check for the CST badge and how many leaves it has (1-5, 5 being the maximun).
There are many options for the traveler who would like to enjoy and learn at the same time. Places such as Rancho Margot Hotel, Las Vueltas Lodge, and Los Campesinos Lodge are very good examples of places that tend to have organic foods, sustainable practices and protection of the environment.
Agro-ecotourism and ethnobotanics
As a part of ecotourism, there is also agro-ecotourism, which includes visit to farms to learn about the life of the farmers. Visit to coffee and banana plantations, pineapple farms and organic chocolate farms is getting more a more popular. Visitors learn about different crops and all the activities involved in harvesting them and also its commercialization.
There is also a new tour in Sarapiqui that goes beyond ecotourism to step on scientific and educational tours. It is an ethnobotanical tour, that explains a little bit about the medical advantages of plants but also about how else plants are used by the human being in other areas.
Some options for true ecotouristic options visit Bri Bri Indigenous reserve, Heliconias Eco Lodge at Rio Celeste and Brunca town.