hummingbird costa rica

Costa Rica: Five Leaves and Responsible Travel

Positive impact the pura vida way
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Written by
Lily Bunker, Jennifer Richt & Berni de Luca

Published on: January 20th, 2021

Last updated: September 21st, 2023

One of the first things you’ll notice in Costa Rica is how friendly and open ‘Tico’ people are. Travelling in Costa Rica is all about experiencing pura vida, the pure enjoyment of life that’s everywhere you turn.
Add in the stunning landscapes, fresh food and colourful wildlife and there are more than enough reasons to visit this vibrant country.

But at Jacada there’s another thing we love about Costa Rica: their commitment to positive impact travel.

Arenal Volcano, Costa Rica

In Costa Rica sustainable travel means more than just the responsible use of resources. The government supports many schemes that encourage the travel sector to contribute to the environmental, economic and cultural future of the country. The result is a truly sustainable tourism model that the Costa Rican people take great pride in. 


The country looked very different in the 1990s. After decades of clearing forests to make way for farm land and other ‘productive’ purposes, Costa Rica realised that they needed to make a change.


They banned unregulated deforestation, introduced incentives for protecting the environment and invested heavily in green initiatives. Costa Rica is now one of the most biodiverse and environmentally friendly places on the planet.

This positive change shines through in the amazing experiences available to visitors. Go rafting and zip lining in the lush rainforest; hiking and bird spotting in the spectacular Cloud Forest; or take it easy on some of the world’s best, spotless beaches. 


Visitors also have the opportunity to get involved in the sustainability work lodges are doing and learn about how Costa Rica is protecting these wonders for generations to come.


What is Costa Rica’s five leaves system?

Costa Rica’s five-leaf system rates businesses by how well they care for the world around them. The ratings are based on factors including the business’s approach to environmental conservation, how it contributes to local communities and how it promotes culture. 


Any hotel, lodge or restaurant that has a high leaf rating will have programs in place to support the natural world and uplift local heritage. As a visitor these efforts mean you’re in for a unique experience no matter where you stay. 


There’s no need to compromise on comfort though, because many places with high leaf ratings cater to luxury travel. In Costa Rica you can get the best of both worlds.

Scarlet macaws, Costa Rica.
Costa Rica is also well-known for its exciting birdlife.

Costa Rica’s commitment to biodiversity

Costa Rica may be a small country, but it holds approximately 6% of the world’s biodiversity, making it a top destination for wildlife and plant lovers. With stunning beaches, sprawling rainforests and five active volcanoes there’s something for everyone to be amazed by, before we even mention the wildlife.  


More than 25% of the country is made up of natural parks and reserves and businesses in Costa Rica are encouraged to respect and support this biodiversity. Ecolodges are often completely surrounded by wildlife, providing an incredible experience right on your doorstep. 

costa rica honeymoon
Stay in luxurious accommodation in the rainforest

Costa Rica is home to a huge array of reptiles, colourful birds, sloths, monkeys and even jaguars. Check out our wildlife itinerary to find out more about where to see these beautiful creatures. 


Across the country you’ll also find an emphasis on natural, biodegradable or reusable products as well as clean energy and low emissions options. 


Accessing your Costa Rican ecolodge by raft isn’t just a fun way to travel, it’s also part of this commitment.


Empowering local communities

Costa Rican businesses are expected to work hand-in-hand with the communities they are part of. Education and infrastructure are emphasised, with properties priding themselves on their involvement in community projects and cultural preservation.


You’ll be captivated by delicious local food and impressive crafts wherever you go. 

Typical Costa Rican food

One of our favourite things about travelling in Costa Rica is the passion and knowledge of the people you meet. Lodges and other properties are encouraged to hire within the local community, meaning that guides and other staff are often looking after you on their home turf. 


The joy and pride Costa Rican people have in their country is infectious: there’s no place on earth that does pura vida quite like Costa Rica. 


Ready to plan an unforgettable trip to Costa Rica? Enquire today and don’t forget to ask your travel designer about how our local partners are creating a positive impact through their work.