Costa Rica has a lot of something for everyone. Love to run the rapids or go hiking through the rainforest? Maybe you’re a beach bum and love the sand and the sun. Is world class surfing or repelling down a waterfall 100 ft. tall more your style? Did I mention ziplining high above the rainforest canopy or scuba diving, deep-sea fishing, turtle watching, cave exploring, bungee jumping, biking, bird watching, waterfall jumping, golfing or relaxing in thermal hot springs after an active day? Did I mention the exotic wildlife and lush vegetation; oh and let us not forget the active volcanoes. There’s definitely an adventure waiting around every corner for everyone in beautiful Costa Rica.
Costa Rica’s tourist industry began to take hold in the late 1980’s, when the government realized the economic value of protecting it ecologically sensitive natural areas and vast natural resources. Before the late ‘80’s, Costa Rica practiced its share of deforestation, but since then they’ve been actively involved in preserving the rainforest through extensive reforestation programs, attempting to become a friendly destination for ecologically-sophisticated visitors. Their efforts have paid off tenfold in terms of both the ecological gains and the predictable outcome of those gains; mainly, the economic benefits in terms of increased ecotourism. Nearly four percent of the world’s species of wildlife call Costa Rica home which undoubtedly is the reason it has become a ‘must see’ for wildlife observers the world over.
Predictably, Costa Rica ecotourism is a booming industry. Although a booming industry can also bring with it some problems, Costa Rica is committed to protecting sensitive habitats that act as a refuge for the amazing biodiversity found in the region. The monies that ecotourism bring in make this all possible, not least because they provide the indigenous population with a stable livelihood, removing the motivation to poach and cut down the rainforest.
Ecotourism is a great way to observe the diversity of the region with its beautiful birds, butterflies, vegetation, and wildlife in general, while broadening your understanding of the Western Hemisphere’s web of life at the same time. Whatever intrigues you from the Pacific coast to the Caribbean, the country is your paradise waiting to be explored.
All of the better tour operators offer excursions and adventures in the country’s national parks and refuge areas providing valuable information about the region every step of the way. Many of the biological research expeditions recruit volunteers for extended periods, if you want more than just a vacation. A perfect example of this would be Tortuguero where they employ volunteers to secure the beaches from over zealous tourists wanting to get a little too close to the baby turtles as they make their way to the ocean. Costa Rica is proactively attempting to protect its natural resources from the impact of the ecotourism industry itself and this volunteer program is just one important step in the process.