indulging · travel

Costa Rica Travel: Eco-Tourism

Eco Travel in Costa Rica from Go Gingham
Looks real to me but it’s plastic!

For being such a small country, Costa Rica is amazingly ecologically focused. From unlittered roads, to restaurants and hotels – both large and small – each with a full complement of recycling bins. These outward signs, along with more than a quarter of the land area in the country designated as protected, both reserved as national parks or other, Costa Rica seems intent on protecting its natural resources. It is truly part of the ethos of their country.

Eco Travel in Costa Rica from Go Gingham
Even on the beach, there were recycling containers. I like how these blend in.

Having seen the northwest part of the country, we were pleasantly surprised at the cleanliness of the towns, roads, and abundance of recycling resources. We were able to stay at four and five “leaf” hotels (their gauge for sustainability), and they seemed to be over the top with their efforts. When we ventured through the small towns and villages, we found each area equal to, or better than, equivalent areas in the United States.

Eco Travel in Costa Rica from Go Gingham
This was at the entrance of every hotel/resort when we arrived. Yes, you could unload but not everything went into the garbage can.

At two of the hotels the “palm” leafed roofing material, which we initially thought was regular thatched roofing (not a bad eco-choice on its own – but probably not as durable), was actually made from recycled plastic bottles.

Eco Travel in Costa Rica from Go Gingham
Zero waste hotel/resort stays! There weren’t any small size containers. These got refilled. Very smart.

Even at the small surfing town of Tamarindo, the main road had, municipality supplied, street side recycling facilities. (We don’t even have that here in eco-centric Portland, OR!) We were particularly struck that even small, family owned sodas (local restaurants), which have less to gain and leverage than a big hotel, also had recycling facilities.

Eco Travel in Costa Rica from Go Gingham
Another place to discard your “waste” but it was easy to recycle.

If part of your interest in traveling is seeing and enjoying places that truly take care of their environment, Costa Rica fits the bill. Even though Costa Rica isn’t an island, it feels like one. It has the same laid back attitude as island living but has focused its attention on sustainability. Having traveled to islands where the focus is not as eco-focused, this was refreshing. It was better than we had thought and enhanced our traveling experience in a way none of us expected.

 Have you ever been to Costa Rica? Do you have plans to go there?

Go Gingham related links:

6 Essential Items for Air Travel” including how to limit drooling on your neighbor!
We’re going to Costa Rica, baby! How we found out and jumping for joy
Travel packing tips with a PDF chart are here
Travel tips for a trip or stay-cation around the Northwest
Cost Rica travel: places – find out where to stay
Do you know your blood type? Good question when traveling!

Disclosure: The Costa Rica Tourist Board provided our family with an amazing trip to Costa Rica. We loved it!

4 thoughts on “Costa Rica Travel: Eco-Tourism

  1. We love Costa Rica, although we were only there one day. I’d love to go back.

    Do you mind me asking a couple of questions regarding your home exchange vacations? Do you let them use your car? And I was wondering where you find the best deals on flights. When you plan a vacation do you first look to see where and when the best air fare is and then try to work out a home exchange, or the other way around? Air fare is so costly – just wondered. I’m trying to convince my husband to try it. Thank you!


    1. Ruthie,
      You should go back – there’s so much to see in Costa Rica!
      I will answer all of your home swapping questions in a post – for next month. Right now, I’ve got it scheduled for 4/23. Thanks for asking! I had to convince my husband to home swap, too, and now he’s a believer!! 🙂


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