Playa Nicuesa is a top sustainable hotel in Costa Rica

What does eco-tourism and being sustainable really mean? Is that just recycling the trash or turning off a few lights?

At Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge in Costa Rica, sustainability means much more. The Costa Rica rainforest lodge is one of only three dozen hotels in Costa Rica that have received the highest rating of Five Leaves in the Certification for Sustainable Tourism Program (CST).

Created by the Costa Rican Tourism Board (ICT), the CST program rates and certifies tourism businesses based on their compliance with natural, cultural and social resource management. CST consists of five levels, called “Leaves”; Level five, or Five Leaves, signifies that the company is considered “outstanding in terms of sustainability.”

“Our goal is to provide guests with an experience that they will always remember fondly: Excellence, friendly service, high-end accommodations, educational opportunities and unique, well-run adventure activities, and to provide this experience while operating the lodge in the most environmentally-friendly manner possible,” explained Playa Nicuesa owners, Michael and Donna Butler.

The extraordinary Costa Rica eco-lodge was designed in harmony with the environment constructed from naturally fallen trees and recycled materials. Immersed in the dense tropical rainforest bordering the Piedras Blancas National Park and the pristine Golfo Dulce (Sweet Gulf) in southern Costa Rica, Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge is located on a 165-acre private preserve. Adding to its uniqueness, the only way to get there is by boat across the pristine waters of the Golfo Dulce from either Golfito or Puerto Jimenez.

“We traveled all over Costa Rica and other parts of Central America to find and create a special place where one can intimately experience the natural world of both the tropical rainforest and the Pacific Ocean,” expounded the Costa Rica rainforest lodge owners. “Our plan was to create a place that offers the comfort of a lodge and the activities and diversity of an adventure tour.”

The area is part of a giant conservation area including the world-famous Corcovado National Park on the Osa Peninsula. The unique tropical fjord of Golfo Dulce is a critical habitat for migrating Pacific Humpback Whales, and resident and migratory communities of dolphins and sea turtles.

Playa Nicuesa sustainability highlights:

  • Lodge buildings are located on less than 2% of property – 98% is a private protected area.
  • Used recycled construction materials, such as: roof tiles on the lodge and cabins made from recycled plastics, including banana bags.
  • Wood came from naturally fallen trees, permitted by the government to be pulled out of the forest by oxen, or from farmed trees.
  • Electricity is provided by solar energy. Panels are located on main lodge structure. Back-up generator runs on recycled vegetable oil.
  • Solar drying room used to dry all of the lodge wash.
  • Hot water is provided by on-demand propane which means that the propane is used only when the hot water faucet is turned on.
  • Received the Ecological Blue Flag Award for clean beaches.

Check out Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge Green Season Specials for adventure, nature, yoga, relaxation and comfort at great prices through Sept. 30, 2014.

Article by Shannon Farley

 

Activists seek to protect Costa Rica’s rich marine life by the Osa Peninsula

Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula is renowned by scientists, explorers and nature lovers as an astounding paradise of biological diversity. The southern Pacific Ocean off the Osa Peninsula is natural wonder of marine life, home to more than 25 species of dolphins and whales, four of the world’s eight different sea turtles, along with manta rays, sailfish, marlin, tuna and sharks. The southern Pacific, and especially Golfo Dulce (Sweet Gulf), are vital breeding and reproducing areas for endangered hammerhead sharks and migrating endangered Humpback Whales.

All of this rich marine biodiversity, however, is almost entirely unprotected, except for small areas around a few national parks – the Ballena Marine National Park off the coast of Uvita, the Caño Island Biological Reserve, and off the coast of the Corcovado National Park. Activists say the waters stretching along the entire coast of the Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica, need to be protected, and have begun a campaign to create aMultiple Use Marine Protected Area.” Led by Sierra Goodman, the founder of Vida Marina who guides marine tours and does research off the Osa Peninsula, the MPA for OSA group (Marine Protected Area for Osa Peninsula) states that Costa Rica’s marine life is in grave danger from commercial shrimp trawlers, long line fishing, over fishing, tuna nets, and ocean pollution.

“Commercial fishing techniques such as long lining, shrimping, gill netting and tuna fishing are wreaking havoc on this delicate and biologically diverse area and its marine inhabitants, and if urgent and drastic actions are not taken immediately, the world will lose this treasure forever. Costa Rica’s dolphins, whales, sea turtles and other marine flora and fauna are being decimated at alarming rates,” declares the MPA for OSA website.

The MPA for OSA group hopes that by declaring the southern Pacific Coastal waters, from the Ballena Marine National Park out to Caño Island and down the Osa Peninsula, a “Multiple Use Marine Protected Area” that private, commercial and sport fishing, as well as scientific research, tourism and marine transportation can all work together sustainably. The protected area would have a management plan, supervision and enforcement. The group also wants to create a Marine Education and Research Center.

According to the MPA for OSA, Costa Rica’s South Pacific is one of the “most biologically diverse ocean ecosystems in the world.” The reason is an immense habitat called the Costa Rican Thermal Convection Dome, where shallow warm waters lie on top of low-oxygen cold water, creating a perfect ecosystem for a great variety of marine life. The dome off the coast of Costa Rica is the only one in the world that is constant year-round, producing extraordinary ecologically-rich waters.

“Twenty years ago there were dolphins as far as the eye could see, and tuna everywhere. Today these monster factory ships have made Costa Rica’s ocean into an almost barren sea,” laments Osa Peninsula fisherman Fred Maschmeier on the MPA for OSA website.

The MPA for OSA has created a petition on Avaaz to ask the Costa Rican government to fast track the establishment of the marine protected area. The group is calling for an immediate moratorium on commercial fishing in the area while details are worked out. The group also has a crowd funding campaign to source funds to continue their research and get local communities and the government to work together.

When you stay at Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge on the Golfo Dulce, you can see and experience Costa Rica’s amazing marine life. We offer boat tours of the Gulf to see marine life such as dolphins, sea turtles and whales.

Located on a 165-acre private preserve backing up to the Piedras Blancas National Park, Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge is a unique adventure travel destination for our remote, pristine wilderness location. We offer family vacations, honeymoon trips, nature and adventure vacations, and yoga classes and retreats.

Article by Shannon Farley

Planet, People & Peace Conference in Costa Rica in November.

Sustainable businesses in Costa Rica and internationally will take center stage at the upcoming Planet, People & Peace Ecotourism Conference in San Jose, Costa Rica.

Organized by the Costa Rica National Chamber of Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism (CANAECO), the conference will convene national and international leaders to share strategies, practices and experiences to help make tourism and businesses sustainable.

The 4th Planet, People & Peace (PPP or “P3”) Ecotourism Conference will be held November 3-6 in San Jose at the National Auditorium at the Children’s Museum, part of the Costa Rican Center of Science and Culture.

Speakers and guests from 14 countries will meet to exchange ideas on the future of sustainable tourism and how to operate businesses in an environmentally responsible way. Sustainable business, or “green business,” is defined by Wikipedia as an enterprise that has minimal negative impact on the global or local environment, community, society, or economy – a business that strives to meet the triple bottom line of People, Planet and Profits.

CANAECO is a nonprofit private organization that brings together individuals and companies operating in ecotourism and sustainable tourism in Costa Rica. Established in 2003, it is the first national chamber in Central America that caters specifically to these sectors. Costa Rica has played an important role globally over the past decade in ecotourism and sustainable business. Many businesses in Costa Rica are already successfully incorporating sustainable practices, and will be on display during the PPP Conference.

Sustainable Tourism in Costa Rica

One of Costa Rica’s outstanding examples of sustainable tourism is Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge, an environmentally sensitive eco-lodge set on a 165-acre private preserve in the undeveloped Osa Peninsula/Golfo Dulce region of the country’s South Pacific. The Playa Nicuesa Reserve borders the lush rainforest of the Piedras Blancas National Park, and fronts the pristine Pacific coastline of the Golfo Dulce.

Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge has received the highest rating for sustainability (Five Leaves) by the Costa Rican Tourism Board (ICT). The lodge embraces conservation and harmony with the natural environment and caters to travelers interested in ecotourism, nature, adventure and sports. A member of the prestigious Enchanting Hotels of Costa Rica, Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge is affiliated with the Rainforest Alliance, the International Ecotourism Society, the Costa Rican National Chamber of Ecotourism, and Sustainable Travel International, among others.


Article by Shannon Farley