There are several reason why The Republic of Costa Rica is an example of a country that has been able to make tourism work well for it.

There are many places in the world where tourism has proved to be, at best, a mixed blessing. Places where the economic benefits tourist dollars brought with them have not been able to offset the damage done to culture and environment by unsustainable development. That, for the most part is not the case with Costa Rica.

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Financial pressures often lead to the destruction of the natural world. Economic necessities can lead to decisions being made that are detrimental to the natural environment such as prioritising extractive industries such as mining or logging over the conservation of habitats and biodiversity. Tourism in general offers one alternative, but over development driven by the quest for tourist cash can itself prove harmful in many respects.

The idea of ecotourism was an idea that was pioneered in Costa Rica. At its simplest, the aim of ecotourism is to see the wonders of the natural world, without destroying them in the process. The real meaning of ecotourism can however go deeper than this, including active efforts to conserve.


Voluntary work on environmental projects is an important element to how some people choose to engage with ecotourism. As with much of ecotourism the numbers that can take part are limited – especially in a country such as Costa Rica. Nevertheless there are some incredible experiences on offer for volunteers.
One ecotourism project that has been successful in Costa Rica is the efforts to conserve the leatherback turtle. This is the largest sea turtle in the world, and sadly is seriously endangered. The nesting sites for these animals include two of the Culebra regions most isolated beaches at Resaca and Brava and these provide a focus for those seeking to conserve the species.

The nesting season is a critical time for the survival of the Leatherback Turtle. It runs from April until early June, and every year volunteers are taken by the Department of Natural Resources to assist them in their work which includes counting eggs and measuring turtles.
Rainforest management is another area popular for volunteering. The ‘Earthwatch Institute’ [] is an organisation that arranges research trips to the Bosque Estatal de Carite. Lasting from a week to a fortnight, volunteers who go along on these missions camp out, learn about forest management and replenishment, plant trees and assist in the monitoring of frog populations.

Of course volunteering is not, and could never be, for everyone. For most ecotourism is simply about getting to see some of the natural wonders of the world ethically. This is a growing market segment as an increasing number of holidaymakers are looking to have a more adventurous and authentic experience than is offered by the typical package experience.

There are all sorts of Costa Rica tours available for those that are interested in the natural world. Whether they be scuba diving a coral reef, bird watching in a vast nature preserve or exploring the incredible and diverse landscapes of this amazing country.

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