Sustainable Tourism in Costa Rica

Compared to many other destinations we have been to, Costa Rica seems to be doing really well regarding the sustainable tourism. Approximately 25 % of the country’s land is preserved and based on our own observations the tourism industry heavily promotes itself with eco slogans. Costa Rica has also announced that it wants to get rid of all the singe-use plastics such as straws etc. by 2021 which is absolutely wonderful news and I hope to see many other countries follow this ban. What I would also like to see Costa Rica do in the future is to improve their public transportation so that fewer tourists would feel the need to rent a car to reach its beautiful locations. Or maybe people, including me, should simply travel less. But more about that worry in another post.

Finca Luna Nueva Lodge

If you are looking for a place that truly embraces sustainability this is the choice for you (I’m not paid for saying this)! Finca Luna Nueva Lodge is an eco resort about 20 kilometers away from La Fortuna, the main spot for all the hype activities such as zip lining, white water rafting etc. Yes, it’s quite far away from the main activities but once you are there you may not want to leave at all.

Every single aspect of the place considers sustainability and ecology. Their accommodation units are built of wood that fit well into the surrounding nature. There is no air condition (that’s kind of a given at eco resorts) but the room stayed cool during nights and at some point I even had the need to put on another blanket. The bathroom is equipped with eco-friendly products and the shower regulates the amount of hot water (so you don’t over use it!). The best part about our room or cottage to be exact was the killer view from the balcony.

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View from the cottage

One thing that I often take into consideration when booking accommodation for our vacations is the issue of swimming pools. When you’re travelling in a country with hot temperatures it’s only natural to want to take a dip in a refreshing pool. However, swimming pools are also one of those things that people should avoid more during their trips due to the insane amounts of water and chlorine they absorb. At Finca we could let go of that worry for a while – the water was still in the pool but it was ozonated and chlorine-free and there was also a solar-heated jacuzzi of which I took advantage quite a many times. Another place where we stayed during our trip, Hotel Horizontes de Montezuma (owned by the lovelies person Juan), had a pool with saltwater, also a very nice thing for the environment.

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Pool area

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A lot of the food that’s prepared at the restaurant comes from the farm surrounding the resort.  During the farm tour (included in the accommodation prize and guided by Steven Farrell, the founder of the place) we got to explore the vast estate and land of the farm. Regenerative agriculture, organic farming and biodynamic farming play the key parts at Finca Luna Nueva and the amount of stuff grown at the farm is almost incomprehensible (there is so much stuff that I could list a very little here). The best part, in addition to Steven’s charismatic wisdom, was to taste herbs, fruits and vegetables straight from the bushes and trees!

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Food from the farm
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Steven, my new idol

Not a perfect paradise

As much as I would like to say that Costa Rica is a paradise without any flaws I would be lying to you. Every place on this Earth has some things that could be better. In my opinion, the heavy use of cars by tourists which I already mentioned in the beginning is absolutely one area of improvement for this eco paradise. That also leads to another aspect that worries me: Will Costa Rica run into the problem of overdeveloping its tourism industry since more and more people want to have their share of the paradise? I truly wish that the country will not take the sad path of many other popular tourist destinations where the local people are pushed aside to make room for boring, massive resort complexes and where the streets are paved with soulless bars and restaurants.

Wonderful Costa Rica

I had finally reached it, the place I had been waiting for such a long time. The coast  of Pacific Ocean. As we set out on a muddy little road with the ridiculously diverse wildlife hanging above our heads we began to hear a rumbling sound ahead of us. The sound of the most powerful ocean showing us its strength and beauty at the same time. 

For weeks we had been struggling where to spend our summer holidays of July 2017. Most of the destinations in Mexico, which we had considered a long time, seemed too touristic for our taste and the selection of the small islands in the Caribbean was simply impossible. We had earlier abandoned Costa Rica due to the rainy season twirling over almost the entire country during our holidays but somehow no other destination intrigued us nearly as much. Turned out, our fears of getting soaked with heavy rain were uncalled-for. On the contrary, the occasional showers of rain only made the tropical rainforest seem lusher.

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Santa Teresa beach

Climate, Nature and Wildlife

It is definitely hot in Costa Rica but during our holiday the temperatures were quite tolerable. The daily Celsius numbers hovered somewhere around 30 to 35 degrees whereas the night degrees dropped to 20 to 25. We experienced one really heavy thunderstorm and there were a couple of longer showers of rain but we felt it only improved our trip since there were fewer tourists on the beaches and villages. I basically always advice people not to fear the rainy season exactly because of that – you’re likely to find yourself at half empty beaches with really beautiful sunny days.

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Nature and wildlife were the two major attractions for us. Last year we spent three weeks in Indonesia in Bali area and in Sumatra and fell in love with the rainforest of the Leuser Ecosystem so we kind of wanted to experience something similar.

Costa rican nature truly was beautiful! We took little hikes in the jungle and saw amazing things: howler and other types of monkeys, one sloth, a great variety of birds and insects. My big wish was to see tucans and I had almost given up my hope but then just two days before our departure we saw a huge group of them just beside the pool area of our accommodation. I also saw a small opossum like animal hurry into the jungle but I still don’t know what it was.

One group of living creatures I wasn’t really looking forward to come across the green paths was the big monster spiders. Luckily enough, we didn’t see any of those guys but some smaller ones did pay us a visit. So if you have a crazy arachnophobia (like I do), don’t worry, they are probably more scared of you than you are of them and they will stay in their holes.

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Waterfall in Montezuma

Getting Around in Costa Rica

Due to our relatively short stay of two weeks in Costa Rica we dediced to let ourselves get easy with the transportation. It seemed that everyone was driving around the country with their rental vehicles and for the most of the time we got weird looks after explaining that we needed a bus or taxi between the longer transitions.

Our transportation of choice for reaching our destinations was a tour operator called Interbus Costa Rica. A trip from San Jose to Santa Teresa, for example, cost around 50 dollars per head including the three hour bus rides and an hour long ferry trip. The service was from door to door and our drivers were always on schedule. Interbus was really the right choice for us and it made our transitions extremely easy. Highly recommened!

How do vegans survive in Costa Rica?

I try to keep my diet vegan and I have to admit that I was concerned what I would find in Costa Rica in the culinary world. I ended up eating quite a lot of rice with beans and vegetables but there were also some really good vegan dishes that I got to experiment. One of the most interesting dishes was a vegan burger that I ate at Finca Luna Nueva Lodge (more about it later) that was served with fries made of yucca. Yucca is comparable to potato and the taste and texture is surprisingly similar. Another vegan food that was somehow different from the ordinary beans and rice was vegan sushi.

One thing that I missed during our trip, food wise, was an alternative source of protein (in addition to beans). I couldn’t find tofu, soy, seitan or such products that would have kept my protein levels up. Or maybe I didn’t go to the right places.

Breakfast was always quite easy to manage thanks to wide selection of fresh fruit including pineapple, watermelon, papaya and toast with jam.

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Vegan sushi at Finca Nueva Luna Lodge
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Vegan lentil burger with yucca fries

Welcome to my blog!

For the past months, even years,  I have found myself in the middle of unpleasant thoughts that keep haunting me and I can’t seem to shake them off, no matter how I try. These thoughts raise their curious heads in the most surprising moments and now I have decided that I simply must start doing something to answer to the thoughts in my mind.

What I’m talking about are the constant guilty feelings that I have about the everyday actions that cause stress to our beautiful round globe we call Earth. Environmental issues have for a long time been very close to my heart. I have been trying to do my part in saving the planet by eating mainly vegetarian food and occasional fish for the past ten years (though these days my diet is mainly composed of vegan ingredients). I have tried to do my part in recycling things in my own household as well as possible. I have tried to reduce consuming stuff I don’t really need such as buying a pretty dress just because it’s so pretty.

What are the things then that make me so anxious that I decided to start this blog? Even though I’m doing my best to be a better person when it comes to being environmentally friendly, I’m still far far away from perfect. I do things that I’m most certainly not proud of: I love to travel to places that are relatively far away from my home country (which usually means a lot of kerosene going into the atmosphere), I buy cosmetics that are probably toxic as hell and I buy stuff to make my home look a more tolerable place to live in.

The aim of this blog is not to accuse anyone (excluding myself) of their consuming habits but to awake thoughts and question the everyday choices people make. Making people feel guilty doesn’t lead us anywhere. I don’t feel very warmly towards people who for some strange reason believe they are superior to their fellow citizens just because they think their life choices are the absolute truths. Instead, challenging our ways of thinking and living and considering alternative habits is, from my point of view, a step closer to changing things.