Archive for the ‘costa rica travel’ Category

Best Destinations for Ecotourism

Montserrat Volcano

Montserrat Volcano

Ecotourism is no longer trend that started in the 90’s to describe responsible travel to largely untouched areas. Now, it has largely realized its aim by creating an industry of conservation that offers clear benefits to the local community.  Recently, it’s become even more popular as traveler demand has driven a desire for destinations that are eco-friendly and modeled after sustainable practices. Plus, there’s nature and for those who can afford it, they want to escape. These destinations also often offer a bit more in terms of cultural activities and a means to learn more about the soul enriching ways of a local community.

With this in mind, we’re featuring three destinations that inspire: Montserrat, Trinidad & Tobago and Costa Rica –  with unspoiled beaches, uninhabited areas, and archeological sites that can only be accessed by hiking, biking or kayaking.

Lime Tree Cottage 1

Lime Tree Cottage – Montserrat

MONTSERRAT

With its mountainous terrain, hiking the trails on Montserrat is the best way to see the untouched areas of the island. Additionally, diving excursions allow visitors the unique opportunity to see beautiful volcanic rock formations and vibrant marine life that now thrives after the 1995 eruption of the previously dormant Soufriere Hills volcano.

Montserrat’s villas offer prime accommodations for couples, families, friends and even colleagues who long for an affordable upmarket Caribbean getaway with all the amenities of home. The secluded destination provide visitors with the ideal opportunity to experience a traditional Caribbean vacation in tranquil surroundings and away from large chain resorts, crowded beaches and traffic-jammed streets.

Most of the villas offer airport and ferry transfers, car rentals, stocked kitchens, housekeepers, baby-sitting services, cooks, and  villa-specific organized activities during your stay.

http://www.visitmontserrat.com/villas/

Rates start @USD $1,000/per week

From mid-April through mid-November for a three-bedroom, three-bathroom villa with a housekeeper, swimming pool, wet bar, wireless internet, washer and dryer. These villas are perfect for visitors looking to immerse in Montserrat’s volcano-viewing experience (considered a modern-day Pompeii), rich Irish heritage, bird-watching, hiking trails, aquatic adventures and more.

Argyle Waterfall_Main Ridge Rainforest

Argyle Waterfall – Trinidad & Tobago

TRINIDAD & TOBAGO

Unlike its Caribbean counterparts, Trinidad & Tobago’s biodiversity is most similar to that of Venezuela. The best way to see its local flora and fauna is by hiking through its many trails, especially the Northern Mountain Range of Trinidad that was once attached to South America and the Main Ridge Rainforest in Tobago, the oldest protected reserve in the western hemisphere. The underwater scenery in Tobago is just as spectacular as it boasts more than 300 different species of coral, especially the largest brain coral in the world.

brain coral - credit Oswin Browne.jpg

Brain Coral (c) Oswin Browne

Acajou Hotel, Trinidad

This small, eco-friendly, family run hotel is situated in a little fishing village called Grande Riviere located on the beautiful and dramatic northern Coast of Trinidad. Flanked by the wide expanse of vegetation on the steep hills of the Northern range, Acajou (the French for ‘tropical wood’) offers travelers the opportunity to be one with nature, view it’s beauty in its simple majesty, rest to the soothing rhythms of the ocean, meditate on its treasures or simply have a unique candlelight dinner. The hotel is built as a group of traditional cottages nestled between the beach, a crystal clear river and mountains covered by lush rainforest. Influenced by Indonesian, Polynesian and Japanese architecture, the cabins are made of local and imported woods, including bamboo and are designed to create a feeling of complete privacy.

www.acajoutrinidad.com or call 868.670.3771

Asa Wright Nature Center Lodge, Trinidad

The original estate house of the former coffee-cocoa-citrus plantation has been beautifully remodeled over the years as a comfortable headquarters where guests gather to watch the incredible bird-life from the fabled verandah. Your observation time there is punctuated by a high tea in the afternoon and ends with a traditional complimentary rum punch cocktail as the sun sets over the Arima Valley. This main house and its several cottages nestled nearby in the lush flower-filled grounds are your home for one of the world’s best birding adventures. Not your classic Caribbean resort, the Centre’s “swimming pool” is a natural grotto on a free-running rain forest stream where guests can relax and escape from the tropical heat. All of the cottages feature rooms with private verandahs and guests can also retreat to their private oasis to observe the brilliantly colored birds found on the Centre grounds.

www.asawright.org

Cuffie River Nature Retreat and Ecolodge, Tobago

Located on the island of Tobago, this small yet intimate lodge is equipped with ten rooms, two of which are executive suites. Each has been tastefully furnished with private balcony. The design of the building has been carefully chosen to facilitate natural lights and air currents. Low wattage bulbs and solar lighting are also used throughout the grounds.  Conservation of water is of great importance given that the property uses rain and spring fed systems and successful practices have included short flushing toilets, rationalized washing and towel changes only when indicated by guests. To further maintain its natural ambiance smooth faced clay blocks and tile are used while furniture and other fixtures are all made from locally manufactured products. The lodge is situated on the edge of Tobago’s forest-the oldest in the western hemisphere. It is surrounded by bamboo groves, fresh water springs, exotic flowers and wildlife.

www.cuffieriver.com or call 868.660.0505

Footprints Eco Resort and Spa, Tobago

This 62-acre property is a designated nature preserve with hiking and bird watching trails galore. With the use of materials such as teak, wallaba slabs, and native recycled hardwood the resort has maximized the consumption of local, yet natural building materials. All rooms are equipped with solar water heaters, gas stoves and photovoltaic lighting. The hotel grows fresh organic herbs and vegetables throughout the property and prepares breads, ice creams, cakes, sauces, and even condiments, fresh daily. Surrounded by the virtually untouched Culloden Reef that begins a few feet from the shoreline of the property and is available for guests to snorkel and scuba dive, the resort offers the comfort of a modern hotel in a purely natural setting.

http://footprintsecoresort.com 

Footprints also makes properties as environmentally sensitive, and in connection with our environment, as possible by:

• Using traditional architecture, and reclaimed, recycled and local materials to a maximum

• Waste management  for grey water, runoff water, sewerage waste, and solid waste

• Fresh water conservation measures including sea water pools

• Kitchen waste and yard waste composting to reduce solid waste and provide organic fertilizer for gardens

• In-house organic garden produces fruits, vegetables, herbs, eggs, chicken, and honey for restaurant use to reduce food miles

• Bird and butterfly gardens with local wildflowers, fruit, food, and forest trees to attract wildlife and support the recovery of beneficial insects, such as butterflies and honeybees

• Support for local fishermen and farmers by showcasing local ingredients and traditional cuisine.

As they say, “Food shares the story of our culture through a medium that everyone can enjoy.”

Kariwak Holistic Haven Hotel, Tobago

A holistic haven and hotel, Kariwak Village has carved a distinctive niche with its award winning 2 acre garden bursting with tropical shrubs, foliage and flowering trees filled with bird song, dominated by the thatched roof ajoupa and its teak floor … the venue for Tai Chi, yoga, gentle stretching exercises, Buddhist meditation sessions and similar holistic activities. The Kariwak kitchen is supplied with abundant fresh herbs from the garden, those same herbs are lovingly transformed into delicious Caribbean meals which are served with a friendly smile in the open air restaurant.

www.kariwak.com or call 868.639.8442

Diving in Costa Rica

Diving in Costa Rica

COSTA RICA

Costa Rica’s ecotourism is one that enthusiasts cannot miss, featuring lush forests, thriving ecosystems and breathtaking waterfalls only accessible by foot. Just like Montserrat, Costa Rica has underwater volcanic rock formations which are home to various species of fish, rays, turtles and white-tip reef sharks alongside vibrant coral reefs.

Environmental sustainability is at the heart of Costa Rica’s tourism industry. For that reason, the Costa Rica Tourism Board introduced the Certification for Sustainable Tourism program in 1997. This program differentiates businesses of the tourism sector based on the degree to which they comply with a sustainable model of natural, cultural, social and economic resource management. Visitors who choose to visit CST designated tourism companies such as hotels, tour operators and car rental companies support businesses that take proactive measures to avoid the negative impacts on the environment, culture and society. There are currently 346 hotel, tour operators, car rental agencies and theme parks certified under the program here, so check it out!

http://www.visitcostarica.com/ict/paginas/sostenibilidad.asp?tab=0

Eco-Luxury in Costa Rica

Kura Design Villas

Kura Design Villas

We were blown away by the amazing design for these two hot eco-friendly lodges in Costa Rica and think they’re two of the best we’ve seen as of late. Now, travelers to Costa Rica can build in two very different  eco-luxury experiences that showcase the evolution of the country’s ecotourism experiences – the multiple award winning, authentic and visionary  Lapa Rios Rainforest Ecolodge in the Osa Peninsula and the less than one year old, critically acclaimed, drop dead gorgeous and sexy Kura Design Villas, just a short 2.5 hour or 150 kilometre journey away in Uvita, and the centre of Ballena Marine National Park.  Recognized as one of the top eco- lodges in Central America, Lapa Rios Rainforest Ecolodge has spent the past 20 years leading by example and incorporating best practices in sustainable tourism. Set within a 1,000 acre rainforest reserve, 900 acres of which are protected into perpetuity thanks to its visionary owners, guests experience firsthand how nature and tourism can coexist in a way that proves that a forest left standing is of far more value than if it was cut down. In 2003, Lapa Rios became the first resort in Costa Rica to receive five-leaf status from the Costa Rica Tourism Board’s (ICT) Certification for Sustainable Tourism.

Lapa Rios Amazing Private Deck

Lapa Rios Amazing Private Deck

The sixteen bungalows were designed to reflect the traditional architecture of the area, and set into the Lapa Rios reserve so that guests sleep among the rainforest, with spectacular ocean and wildlife views. Guides who were once hunters are now conservationists, and provide interpretation for dozens of tours and activities provided both on and off property.  The Lapa Rios reserve also offers three beaches and numerous waterfalls.  Meals are served in the open air Brisa Azul restaurant with views of the Golfo Dulce, and the focus is on fresh, local ingredients and traditional Costa Rican flavours and recipes.  This intense interaction with nature can now be combined with a stay at Costa Rica’s newest, painstakingly designed ecolodge experience, Kura Design Villas in Uvita.  While Lapa Rios embraces the traditional architecture and design of the area, Kura celebrates crisp, clean lines, vibrant colours, local modern art, and modern sustainable materials.  Built high on a mountain ridge in order to capture cool ocean breezes while offering spectacular views, Kura has quickly built a reputation for exceptional cuisine and warm hospitality.   An infinity pool and lounge along with its six beautifully appointed villas may make guests suspect of its carbon footprint, but Kura is being mentored by the best sustainable tourism experts in the country and is currently creating its own art, energy and eco-aesthetics tour for guests wanting to peek behind all the seemingly hi-tech exteriors to find the hi-touch commitment to eco-luxe tourism.

A Room at Kura

A Room at Kura

New this fall is Kura’s full service spa, a separately designed building with floor to ceiling windows to take full advantage of the views high above the rainforest and ocean. Private yoga classes are also available upon request. Kura is surrounded by adventure and activities like whale watching, diving and snorkeling, which can all be arranged.  The small village of Uvita de Osa is located between Dominical, a world-class surfing spot, and Ojochal, a town known for its local culinary traditions. For day trips, Kura is close to Manuel Antonio National Park and Corcovado National Park, which National Geographic calls the fourth most diverse national park in the world.

Rates & Reservations:

Rates for Lapa Rios Rainforest Ecolodge range from $260 to $590 USD per person, based on double occupancy and depending on the season. Rates also include meals, lodging, round trip transfer to Puerto Jimenez (the town nearest Lapa Rios) and several on-property tours. A minimum four day stay is recommended.

www.laparios.com

Guests can round off their Costa Rican eco-luxury tour by spending two to three nights at Kura, where rates range from $440 to $890 USD per villa, and include arrival and departure transportation by private car between the town of Uvita and the hotel. (Note: KURA is closed this October 2013 for upgrading and maintenance).

www.kuracostarica.com

Eco-Costa Rica: The Sanctuary at Two Rivers

Morning Yoga at The Sanctuary at Two Rivers

Morning Yoga at The Sanctuary at Two River

Sanctuary at Two Rivers is calling you…. OMmmmm. In addition to spending our youth in the jungles and rivers of Costa Rica, a friend of ours recently moved to that glorious land and it brought to mind all of the amazing natural health & wellness retreats currently available.  There’s little better than a yoga retreat and eco-vacation located on a private luxury-modern eco-estate hidden in the wildness of Costa Rica. Imagine journeying with a group or friend to 40 pure and luxurious acres of breathtaking jungle, contemplative gardens, and invigorating water preserved for each person to commune with nature, practice yoga, meditate, and find balance.

Did you picture yourself there?

The Sanctuary

The Sanctuary

Good.

This tropical paradise hosts private retreats or family gatherings of up to 14 people and incorporates a true eco-conscious lifestyle that includes 100% off-the-grid living; modern tree-house accommodations; a contemplative Yoga Center; organic gourmet vegetarian cuisine; pure drinking water (right from the source); no urban or suburban noise pollution; a infusion of yoga, meditation, wellness & spiritual healing; adventurous nature-based and local community excursions; and is located only 1,000 yards from the Pacific Ocean.

Did we mention the delicious organic fare?

Did we mention the delicious organic fare?

Price ranges are $1400-$1800 depending on hi or low season and whether it is an in-house retreat or a teacher bringing students.

So get your Pura Vida Om on.

http://thesanctuarycostarica.com/

Eco-Adventure in Costa Rica

Rio Celeste, Costa Rica

Rio Celeste, Costa Rica

Anyone looking for adventure in Costa Rica? One of our contacts recently told us about Endgame Adventures, founded in 2008. Featuring four programs and a full-season summer expedition based on health and wellness, academics, surf and performance fitness. Camp programs offer natural excusions and personal growth to restore mind, body and soul. Think: mountain hiking, waterfall tours, stand up paddle boarding, surfing, boogieboarding, canopy tours, boxing, yoga and even Capoeira. All adventures include healthy meal plans, full access to beachfront surfspots, 24-hour chaperones and hosts, local guides, wellness training, Spanish immersion, two 60-minute daily sessions of essay writing, revisions and editing, photographic opportunities, and exploring indigenous communities. Each adventure camp is held in one, two, three and four-week intervals and feature a plethora of activities coupled with new experiences of raw nature.

A group of young adventurers chillin' after dinner

A group of young adventurers chillin’ after dinner

Surf and service adventure camps allow individuals to partake in Costa Rica’s natural surf and assisting primary school students.  From providing 21 hours per week of service in a Costa Rican Sea Turtle hatchery to servicing students to become more responsible, define future goals and build self-confidence, individuals are exposed to the synergy of service and the connection to the environment. Held in singular or group formats, guests can select from four programs: health and wellness, academic, service and surf or performance fitness.

We worked for a similar program after college graduation and have to say…  it was life changing. So why not monkey around too?

Programs range from $2,500 for one week to $10,000 for the entire summer.

http://www.endgameadventures.com 

Lost Hotels Brings Eco-Adventure to Last Minute Deal Hungry Travellers

Hukumeizi - Colombia

“Be a traveler, not a tourist.”

Embodying this mantra, we just uncovered Lost Hotels, a website that intends to unite a sense of adventure with cultural destinations, nature and authentic experiences. Here, travelers will taste the local beer and food, experience local customs, test out the native tongue, make new friends and garner stories.

Tango Mar Pool - Costa Rica

Each week, time-sensitive deals to unique destinations curated by Lost Hotel’s staff of world travelers are extended to subscribers via e-mail or by visiting www.losthotels.com. Think independent and green properties, small-to-medium size, cool urban boutique hotels, Amazon jungle lodges and expedition cruises. This isn’t Paris in spring at Ritz. This is Tango Mar in Costa Rica, Sacha Lodge in the Amazon rainforest, Ariau Amazon Towers in Brazil, Titilaka in Bolivia, Hukumeizi and Casa Navegante in Colombia and Casa del Suizo in Ecuador.

Brazil's Ariau Amazon Hotel

In addition to its weekly deals, Lost Hotels will offer a travel guru service, where experts help plan getaways to any of its properties. This service includes being matched with a trip authority, mapping out the stay, finding accommodations and booking these suggestions at the best available rates. Lost Hotels was founded in 2000 by Ernesto Ruben under the name Ecorepublic. Ruben, who grew up in Colombia, longed to offer travelers a chance to explore unspoiled nature and cultural enrichment through quality accommodations.

Casa del Suizo - Ecuador

Former Groupon Colombia executive Jonathan Dreszer, Lost Hotels’ chief marketing officer, joined the team and in 2004, Ecorepublic transformed into Lost Hotels, the online resource for travels looking for the road less traveled. Currently, Lost Hotels is debuting its products in the Americas and the Caribbean. Other worldwide destinations are soon to follow.

So grab your camera and your sense of adventure. It’s time to get lost!

www.losthotels.com

Rainforest Adventures

Costa Rica Zip Lining

I was made for the jungle and the jungle, baby, the jungle… she was made for me. Her symphonic sounds, her riotous curves, her mountainous valleys. Plus, I’m about the only person I know who actually likes it when it’s hot and humid. My skin is clearer, my hair is bouncier, and my body begins to blossom like the frisky little bud that it is.

So, any chance I can get to frolic in the jungle (or the sea near the rain forest), you can pretty much count me in… which is why I like Rain Forest Adventures, a collection of five eco-adventure parks located in Costa Rica, Jamaica, Dominica and St. Lucia. So why not discover the persona of each park?

Costa Rica Atlantic is a misty jungle nucleus with rugged trails for an off-the-map adventure. Costa Rica Pacific sits on a sunny mountain with views of the Pacific Ocean from the Aerial Tram. Dominica, located on the Nature Island, features a daunting suspension bridge over the 300-foor drop Breakfast River Gorge.

Jamaica found inspiration from the original Jamaican Bobsled team and features a Rainforest Bobsled ride. St. Lucia is the ultimate family escape and thrills with the Adrenaline zip line course. All work well with my philosophy, my physique (and my pelo). Each destination combines adventure with enlightenment, simultaneously showcasing and protecting the rainforest and its precious eco-system. Experience the rainforest canopy from a bird’s eye view on the parks’ signature Aerial Tram (which are handicap accessible). Gondolas ride high into the jungle, led by a naturalist guide who illustrates flora, fauna and bird life. Zip line courses are thrilling for the adventure set (like moi). Hiking trails and bird watching, butterfly, frog and snake gardens… all available for that curious jungle seeker in you. The parks were built on a principle of sustainability, integrated into every aspect from construction, including daily water recycling so we give them a big thumb’s up and a little shake of our tail.  Price point for Aerial Tram: $46-$64 Adult ($27.50 – $64)

www.rainforest-adventures.com


Are you a Smart Voyager?

Costa Rica: Lapa Rios Tropical Adventure

We think if you’re on our site reading this, chances are, you’re not only one sexy babe, but you’re also a smart traveler. To that end, we wanted to share this fall travel deal.  Check it:

Wildland Adventures opens two of its global classrooms with, in these tough times, value added packages. We likey (and, apparently, so do those cute kiddies).

Explore the Galapagos living laboratory until the end of November aboard the popular Smart Voyager certified yachts the Eric, Flamingo or Letty, and save up to $500.00 per person. The voluntary Smart Voyager program minimizes impact on the fragile Galapagos eco-system and contributes to habitat conservation. Travelers learn from naturalist guides how exotic and bizarre wildlife evolved over time, then explore by sea kayak, hike cinder cones, experience lava flows, and snorkel the crystal-clear Ecuadorian waters.  Take us with you! The Galapagos 11-day package starts at US$3,795.00 for adults and $3,195.00 for kids before the added $500 savings. Families can also book a private Galapagos charter, December 24 to January 3, starting at $3,750.00 per person.

Costa Rica’s rainforests have also long been a favorite classroom for flora, fauna and wildlife lovers.  So, from now until December 14, 2010, travellers can save up to $225.00 per person on a premiere Costa Rican  Lapa Rios Tropical Adventure; offering a nine-day immersion into the rainforest, with accommodation at one of the most beautiful eco-lodges in the world. Travelers also get the opportunity to witness several species of wildcats, and learn how to keep them protected. Between November 28 to December 14, you can participate in the Wildcat Research and Conservation to work with local researchers fighting to protect theses amazing animals.  We sure love dem kittehs. Package rates start at $2,975.00 per person, before the added savings.

Rarhhh.

www.wildland.com

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