From the dolphins spotted in Venice to the thousands of sea turtles seen flocking back to the Great Barrier Reef, lockdown has given the natural world a much-needed reprieve, and in the space of just a few short months, it’s already showing signs of healing.
However, as we begin to ease back into normal life, there is a risk of undoing all the good we’ve done by returning to our old damaging habits, one of which being how we travel.
The act of going on holiday doesn’t have to be a bad thing for the environment, though. Costa Rica, for example, has altered its entire way of life to reduce its impact on the planet over the past few decades, and this an ethos it has incorporated into its tourism over the years, too.
So, if you’re keen to continue making the world a better place while making the most of your exotic holidays again, Costa Rica could just be the perfect destination to book your post-lockdown getaway. Here’s why:
A happy way of life
Normal life has been on pause for the last few months, which has meant carbon emissions and pollution have been down across the planet, allowing for nature’s microclimates to recover from years of damage and flourish once again.
In Costa Rica, however, measures to minimise these harmful factors have been stringent for many years, making it a paradise on earth that is home to 6.5% of the world’s biodiversity, and where forest cover is on the rise to over 50% as they tackle deforestation.
This forward-thinking ethos, which continues to transform the natural world for the better, stems from the ‘pura vida’ lifestyle, otherwise known as pure life. Costa Ricans take great pleasure in the joys of life, and show their gratitude for the beautiful country they live in by respecting and caring for the world around them.
It all began 72 years ago, when it divested itself of its military and redirected the money into health, pensions and education instead. This has helped inspire generations of people to see the value in looking after the world around them and living in harmony with it, leading to a country that’s rich in biodiversity, a pioneer in ecotourism and – most notably – simply stunning to visit.
Now, this simple yet considerate attitude to life is inspiring something new: The Pura Vida Pledge. Costa Ricans are asking all visitors to join them in giving something back when they visit the country. From carbon offsetting and choosing sustainable accommodation, to volunteering and respecting the environment, they are transforming tourism not only to protect Costa Rica’s wildlife, but to help change all of our behaviour to make the world a happier, healthier place.
These four small favours seem easy enough to do while you’re getting your fix of sunshine and beaches. But when you visit Costa Rica, you can see the huge impact these little things have already had from the environment to people’s wellbeing, and it transforms the holiday experience for the better.
Wellness inside and out
What strikes you first when you visit Costa Rica is just how happy everyone is. It’s a factor that has earned Costa Rica first place in the world Happy Planet Index time and time again.
It’s not just its healthy natural environment that is working wonders for people’s frame of mind, though. Wellness is very important to Costa Ricans – or Ticos, as they are also known – and the heavenly setting of this rich coastal country, which borders both the Caribbean Sea and Pacific Ocean, serves as a relaxing backdrop for the wealth of feel-good activities on offer.
Whether it’s a spot of pampering or a mental escape from the stresses and worries of everyday life you’re after, one of the country’s many yoga retreats will set you straight and have you feeling completely rejuvenated.
These oases of calm are filled with coconut trees, crashing aquamarine waves and the music of tropical bird calls. Bring your mind from left to centre in these peaceful spots and breathe out your troubles as you soak in the natural wonders around you.
Yoga isn’t the only way to bring positive vibes into your life here. Many of Costa Rica’s national parks are near to five-star luxury eco lodges, which offer exquisite getaways in line with the Pura Vida Pledge and access to invigorating walking routes right on your doorstep.
Take part in some Earthing, or barefoot walking, through the rainforests and across the fine sandy beaches, or take a cooling dip in a calcium-rich forest bath far away from civilisation to truly immerse yourself in the beautiful surroundings while detoxing your body.
Alongside plenty of sunshine and relaxation, another panacea is great food – something that there is no shortage of in Costa Rica.
A year-round warm climate and well-cared for wildernesses make for a flavoursome and nutritious cuisine. Expect rich, incredible fruits like papaya and mangos, and wholesome dishes such as fresh fish, gallo pinto (a rice and beans mix which is eaten throughout the day), or olla de carne, a moreish beef stew packed with healthy veggies.
From the food to the hobbies, it won’t take long for the happy pura vida vibes to fill you with happiness.
A place of beauty
However, perhaps the most obvious way in which the Pura Vida Pledge has proved itself is the almost unrivalled diversity of natural landscapes on offer, and the awesome animals and plants that dwell there. Once you set eyes on this beautiful place, you’ll realise how important and beneficial the pledge is. And if it can work in this country, why not everywhere else, too?
From magnificent rainforests as far as the eye can see, to winding rivers and coral reefs, Costa Rica is a treat for all the senses, and offers a rare insight into the natural world as it should be.
The volcanic landscape here creates a rich soil which helps cultivate a variety of exotic plants, and makes for a dramatically changing environment where animals can thrive, while Ticos and visitors alike can find natural hot spring pools and peaceful forest hideaways unspoilt by man – ideal for getting away from it all.
Beneath the waves, meanwhile, you’ll find over 6,000 different marine species, including five of the world’s seven types of sea turtle. Keen scuba divers will want to head to Marino Las Baulaus National Park on the Pacific coast to get really up close and personal with these creatures – an experience that’ll stay with you for a lifetime.
Back on land, you’re pretty much guaranteed to catch a glimpse of one of Costa Rica’s beautiful animals in their protected habitats, including iconic scarlet macaws, two and three-toed sloths, jaguars, and a vast spectrum of butterflies – all of which live in harmony alongside Costa Rica’s residents, thanks to the Pura Vida Pledge.
So, as we wave in a new era in a post-pandemic world, taking a leaf out of Costa Rica’s book seems like a good place to begin – and, let’s face it, travelling to this little slice of paradise to help push things in the right direction shouldn’t be too much of a hardship, should it?
Courtesy: (Daily Mail)