Introduction – Costa Rica Eco Lodges

Eco resort has become a much sought after concept with the more environmentally responsible travelers who want to discover the charm of the Costa Rica with harming its natural gifts. Inserted often as a misnomer for simple nature resorts, this term is sometimes used in an incorrect context. Having said that, most eco lodges are what they promise to be –plain thoroughbred eco lodges that pull out all stops to ensure that their natural surroundings are not damaged in the process of catering to enthusiastic tourists. Costa Rica is a blessed natural destination that flaunts one of the planet’s most spectacular bio-diversity. It has everything from lush primary rainforests to picturesque beaches to tranquil rivers and waterfalls. The varied topography also encompasses mountainous valleys, idyllic lakes, adventure packed forest trails and rocky hilltops. Costa Rica has a virtually limitless supply of eco lodges. They cater to a variety of budgets, activities and clientele, while offering personalized service and comfortable accommodation options. The eco lodges brilliantly combine the hypnotic charm of Costa Rica’s gifted landscape with sustainable policies. Since their origination these lodges have been keenly involved in inculcating everyday sustainable practices like reforestation policies, recycling activities, land/energy/water conservation, toxic reduction and regional community based development initiatives. Some of the most well-known and highly rated eco resorts have won numerous eco awards and green certifications from Costa Rica’s tourism department and have prominently featured on UNESCO lists and reputed channels such as the National Geographic.

A majority of the country’s premier eco lodges use the most environmentally friendly materials while creating their accommodations. Many resorts build their eco lodges in the style of raised wooden structures, which are made of naturally fallen trees in order to minimize detrimental effects caused to the environment.

The country’s eco lodges are specially created for awarding guests the opportunity of relishing the real untamed spirit of the Costa Rica coupled with its pristine natural energy and positivity. The country’s eco lodges offer a plethora of natural experiences ranging from waking up to the sounds of chirping birds to enjoying a sunset cruise along a idyllic river. Costa Rica’s invigorating ambiance and soul stirring landscape offers a much sought after recreational milieu for all the eco resorts. Many resorts are nestled inside a nature reserve, rainforest or private beach.

These eco lodges differ considerably in their prices, target audience, amenities and accommodation styles. Visitors can seek a wide range of eco loges from simple and rustic dormitory type accommodations (that allows tourists to pitch in for everyday lodge maintenance duties) to old-fashioned countryside farm houses to more personal family owned accommodations (boasting of an impressive legacy), in addition to mid-level eco hotels and up market five start eco lodge properties (with state of the art amenities). These are all created in keeping with the requirements of special groups such as eco tourists, students of environmental studies, nature researchers, birding aficionados, nature backpackers, families

celebrating a get together, wedding guests and honeymooners. Backpackers feel more at home in the no-frills environment of a clean and affordable dormitory style lodge or budget eco resort, which gives them the freedom to explore their adventure laden surroundings. Likewise avid bird watchers will give preference to a more unpretentious property such as the Rancho Naturalista that is primarily a home for a huge array of birds. Honeymooning couples will like a more private, exclusive and luxurious ambiance like the Finca Exotica or the Casacadas Farallas (that boasts of one of a kind accommodations which are  raised to face the top of adjacent waterfalls and the breathtakingly beautiful Baru Rainforest).

The country’s eco lodges can also be segregated on the basis of the predominant activities offered by them. Yoga practitioners or beginners can participate in yoga retreats and learning sessions at a specialized yoga eco resort such as the Anamaya Yoga Retreat (complete with a holistic vacation package comprising fresh organic meals and spa treatments). Spa lovers who have a penchant for all things refined can feel home at a more up market spa resort such as Almonds and Corals (that boasts of a range of pampering wellness treatments and massage therapies). Certain eco resorts located in the Caribbean like the Tortuga Lodge and the Turtle Beach Resort are popular for their splendid seasonal turtle hatching tours that attract swarms of tourists to witness this rare and spectacular natural phenomenon. Similarly there are a host of other nature resorts, housed inside primary and secondary rainforests which are more sought after for their nocturnal safaris, day nature hikes and excursions, and guided nature trails. These eco lodges offer tourists the opportunity of viewing Costa Rica’s fames natural resources up, close and personal. They let visitors savor the chance of ‘hobnobbing’ with the region’s wildlife (howler monkeys, poison dart frogs and other creatures) and witnessing unusual indigenous botanical wonders. The forest resorts also boast of some other interesting recreational pursuits such as zip lining tours, which allow visitors to get a thrilling aerial glimpse of the jungle from tree tops.

A majority of eco resorts have accommodations which are well-lit, nicely ventilated, roomy, spacious and airy. Most of them are built out of eco friendly elements. The keen observers of sustainable tourism practices have solar driven electricity or a complete absence of electric supply (think romantic evenings filled with oil lit lamps against the setting sun). Several eco lodges in Costa Rica, in keeping with a serious nature getaway experience profile strive for a no television or radio policy to maintain the decibel level and to provide a more serene, uncorrupted and natural sounds filled setting.

Some Costa Rica eco lodges offer health conscious patrons a variety of meal options such as vegan, raw vegetarian, vegetarian and organic food, apart from other holistic food choices. A few selected ones like Racho Margot boast of an in-house vegetable garden that is used to pick the freshest local ingredients for the guest’s meals. The swankier eco resorts that are more high on trimmings and added frills feature a more sophisticated and intimate backdrop such a beach setting or a forest canopy ambiance or something similarly exclusive and unusual. Several Costa Rica eco lodges come with an in-house bar (which are great hang out places for travelers to compare notes about various natural expeditions and adventures).

Recreational Activities and Amenities

Most eco resorts in Costa Rica are a veritable goldmine for adventure and nature activity buffs. The country is a play field for those who enjoy pulsating adventure packed activities and adrenaline soaring recreational pursuits, in addition to quiet nature based pursuits. Costa’s Rica’s incredible bio diversity and gifted ecology makes it one of the most ecologically prosperous destinations on earth. Tourists can indulge in an almost limitless supply of recreational amenities including scuba diving, kayaking, deep sea fishing, motor boat riding, canoeing, surfing, rafting and cruising along sea during sunset. Boat safaris and exploratory tours of the region’s mangroves are also other popular activities organized by some eco lodges. Costa Rica eco lodges that are located in a more mountainous and forest based topography can enjoy hiking tours, mountain biking trips, volcano exploratory tours, guided nature walks, bird watching tours at the break of dawn or late afternoon, horseback rides along forest ranges and hilltops, tours of  quaint local villages, guided night wildlife spotting tours, rappelling tours, ATV tours,  specialty  whale and dolphin watching tours and some of the most unique experiences ever-such as witnessing the usual turtle watching tours at the Caribbean eco lodges.

The more plush and lavish Costa Rica eco resorts have an impressive lineup of amenities, which are specifically created for an up market clientele. They boast of everything from a world class spa to a thoroughly equipped fitness center to a specially created yoga center and postcard perfect pools. Most family holiday resorts also feature a tennis court, indoor games room, botanical gardens, a kid’s pool and Wi-Fi services. Some of the more classy resorts such as the high end Finca Exotica also have a fascinating line up of unique, quirky and compelling recreational pursuits such as playing drums, body paintings, wood toy making, pottery, bamboo furniture making and sketching. Many Costa Rica eco lodges offer library services (predominantly comprising books that focus on nature and environmental sciences). Almost all the eco lodges here have their own gift shop, where local souvenirs and regional artifacts can be sourced at genuine prices.

Several eco lodges in the country have packages where apart from the stay, three meals along with evening snacks and beverages are also available). These restaurants vary considerably in their serving style and ambiance. While the smaller and more intimate resorts serve in a more personalized family style serving ambiance, the more expensive ones prefer to keep their services more exclusive with a la carte (complete with crisp white table linens and candle-lit tables). Most eco resorts in the country are completely equipped for conducting everything from corporate trainings to wedding celebrations to business conferences and other group activities.

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