Costa Rica is top 10 Green Country in the World

Costa Rica is named the third best Green Country in the World, according to the recently released 2014 Global Green Economy Index™ (GGEI).

The Global Green Economy Index™ (GGEI) measures the green economic performance of 60 countries and 70 cities in the world with regard to leadership and climate change, efficiency sectors, markets and investment, and environment and natural capital. The GGEI also assesses the public’s perception of a nation’s green performance. The fourth edition of the GGEI, published by Dual Citizen LLC, a private U.S.-based consultancy, was released at the end of October 2014.

In the Performance Rank, Sweden and Norway top the list, followed by Costa Rica in third place, and then Germany, Denmark, Switzerland, Austria, Finland, Iceland and Spain for the top 10. Germany leads the Perception Rank, followed by Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Netherlands, United States, Japan, UK, Finland and Switzerland; Costa Rica comes in at 14th place in this ranking. The Perception index is interesting given that Costa Rica ranks third in performance but 14th in perception; while China ranks 13th in perception and 55th in performance.

This is the first time that Costa Rica has been included in the ranking.

“Covered for the first time, Costa Rica records an impressive result, ranking third behind Sweden and Norway on performance and in the top 15 for perceptions overall, a notable accomplishment for such a small country,” states the GGEI. “Costa Rica’s overall top result on the performance measure is driven by impressive results on both the Efficiency Sectors and Environment and Natural Capital dimensions, making it one of only a few countries to achieve such strong results in both areas.”

Costa Rica performs well most notably in tourism where it is the top ranked country in terms of performance on the five areas assessed by the GGEI, the report notes.

Green tourism, also called eco-tourism and sustainable travel, is what Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge in Costa Rica is all about. The Costa Rica eco-lodge by the Osa Peninsula is one of only three dozen hotels in Costa Rica that have received the highest rating 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.

Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge is located on a 165-acre private preserve in southern Costa Rica, bordered by the Piedras Blancas National Park and the pristine Golfo Dulce (Sweet Gulf), across from the Osa Peninsula. The region is a critical habitat for migrating Pacific Humpback Whales, hammerhead sharks, dolphins, sea turtles, Scarlet Macaws and jaguars.

The lodge is offering Green season specials through Dec. 15, 2014.

Article by Shannon Farley

 

Harnessing the sun’s energy in the Costa Rica rainforest

A lot of people ask us about our solar drying room at Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge in Costa Rica. Given that we are a Costa Rica rainforest lodge – and that it does rain in the rainforest – a frequent comment in our guest reviews is how happy people are to have a place available for drying out wet clothes.

Guests who stay at our Costa Rica eco-lodge receive a cloth cotton laundry bag upon check-in, with their cabin or room name printed on it. Guests are invited to bring the laundry bag with any wet clothes to be dried to the main lodge building in the morning at breakfast time. Give it to a staff member and the clothes are hung up in the solar drying room. Lodge staff does not wash clothes – guests may do this in their sink or shower.

On a hot sunny day, clothes usually dry in one to two hours. Even on an overcast day, guests should receive dry clothes back in the afternoon of the same day.

Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge is dedicated to sustainable travel and has received the highest rating in the Costa Rica Certification for Sustainable Tourism Program (CST). The lodge dries all of its towels, sheets, bedding, etc. using solar energy. On a sunny day, 24 loads of laundry can be dried in three to five hours!

How does it work?

The solar drying room is located in a natural clearing in the rainforest behind the main lodge buildings, near the tree nursery and compost area. The floor of the drying area is made of gravel stones which heat up quickly, radiating that heat upward toward drying items. The stones also hold the heat if the sun goes away behind clouds.

A clear polycarbonate roof absorbs and reflects the sun’s heat, creating an “oven effect” with the stone floor. The roof is slanted at an extreme angle to create a circular air flow. Sides of the drying room are open for air ventilation and circulation. Lastly, aluminum rods are used for hanging wet items, because the aluminum also heats up quickly and helps with the drying process.

The entire system is very efficient. You can learn about our solar drying room on our Sustainability Tour when staying at the lodge.

Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge is located on a 165-acre private preserve in southern Costa Rica, bordered by the Piedras Blancas National Park and the pristine Golfo Dulce (Sweet Gulf). The only way to get there is by boat across the Golfo Dulce from either the towns of Golfito or Puerto Jimenez. The lodge is offering Green season specials through Dec. 15, 2014.

Article by Shannon Farley

 

A special place on the planet: Playa Nicuesa

Sometimes the places most worth visiting require a little more effort to get there. Like Playa Nicuesa.

I’ve taken a small 19-passenger plane 50 minutes south from San Jose, the capital city of Costa Rica, to the pancake flat coastal town of Puerto Jimenez. We disembark into the sweltering tropical heat of the near-equator and quickly jump into the air-conditioned taxi waiting to drive us five minutes to a rickety, dubious-looking boat dock. All smiles, we are greeted by our very friendly boat captain and guide, who assist our little group to clamber down the dock steps into the little panga boat – thankfully outfitted with a canopy roof.

As we zip across the calm blue-gray waters of the Golfo Dulce (“Sweet Gulf”) for our 25-minute boat ride to Playa Nicuesa – the only way to get there – I am mesmerized by the scenery. The horizon is filled with dense green forest and mountains; the Gulf stretches on and on like a giant mirror to the sky. There are no buildings to be seen, not even another boat. And I wonder if this is what Costa Rica must have looked like hundreds or even thousands of years ago.

Soon, we are pulling up to the long, very solidly built boat dock at Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge. Here, the clear water looks like liquid jade, reflecting the endless shades of green of palm trees and jungle that crowd the edge of the pebble and sand beach. We are helped off the boat by smiling, friendly staff, and as we walk down the dock toward shore, I nearly expect to see Ricardo Montalban of Fantasy Island come out to greet us.

The extraordinary Costa Rica eco-lodge was designed for sustainable travel. Lodge buildings and bungalows are tucked into the forest, preserving the beautiful coastline. Everything is constructed from naturally fallen or farmed trees and recycled materials, like the roof tiles made from recycled plastic banana bags and other plastics. Lights and electricity come from solar panels and a biodiesel generator that burns recycled fast food oil and other vegetable oils. All water on the property is potable, being piped in from a mountain spring and filtered. The Costa Rica rainforest lodge is one of only three dozen hotels in Costa Rica that have received the highest rating in the Certification for Sustainable Tourism Program (CST).

Guests are spread out around the lodge area – located on a 165-acre private preserve that borders the Piedras Blancas National Park – in six private cabins and the four-room two-story Mango Guesthouse. Beautifully built accommodations are very comfortable, and feature bathrooms with a high-walled open-air garden shower.

Over the next three days at Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge, I enjoyed dolphin and whale-watching to see migrating Pacific Humpback Whales that come into the pristine Golfo Dulce to give birth and breed – we saw a mother whale and her calf. I hiked in the rainforest on lodge trails; kayaked in the mangroves of Esquinas River; enjoyed a yoga class; sat at the beach and relaxed; swam in the warm Golfo Dulce; and had fun socializing with other guests at happy hour every night in the bar, and while savoring delicious, fresh, creative dishes from Nicuesa’s commendable kitchen.

Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge is located by the Osa Peninsula on Golfo Dulce in southern Costa Rica. To get there, drive or fly (NatureAir or Sansa Airlines) to either Puerto Jimenez or Golfito. Nicuesa Lodge will pick you up by boat and transfer you to the lodge (about 30 minutes one-way). Included in lodge rates are all meals, boat transfers, all taxes, all meals and snacks, unlimited self-guided hikes on preserve, use of kayaks, snorkeling and fishing equipment.

Article by Shannon Farley

 

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

 

Costa Rica’s Rich Biodiversity Reveals 5,000 New Species

It is amazing, that in this day and age, scientists are still discovering completely new species of plants and animals in the world. You would think that everything had already been discovered.
In Costa Rica, for instance, recent reports reveal that 5,000 new species of animals and plants have been discovered and classified between 2011 and 2013. The finding is part of the country’s National Biodiversity Strategy (ENB in Spanish) for 2014-2020, which follows the United Nations Environment Program’s (UNEP) Strategic Plan for Biodiversity. Most of the new 5,000 species found are insects. The others include a few orchids, mushrooms, mollusks, fish, reptiles and birds.

In the world so far, scientists say they have identified between 1.5 and 1.8 million animal and plant species, about half of which are insects. Beetles are the largest group with 300,000 species. In comparison, there are only 4,500 species of mammals recognized on the planet. Costa Rica, although a tiny country occupying only 0.03% of the planet’s landmass, hosts more than 500,000 plant and animal species. Keeping with the world trend, Costa Rica has about 300,000 kinds of insects. (Anyone who has ever walked into a Costa Rican rainforest without bug repellent knows this!)
Scientists estimate there are probably roughly 8.7 million species existing on Earth, according to a 2011 study in the journal PLoS Biology, published by the Public Library of Science. The crucial point is that approximately 83% of those plant and animal species have yet to be discovered. Scientists calculate that there are probably 6.5 million species living on land, and 2.2 million in the ocean, but that 86% of land-inhabitants and 91% of ocean-dwellers are still roaming at large undiscovered, described or cataloged, reports the study.

At Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge, you can see an abundance of plant and animal life. Located
on the Golfo Dulce next to the Piedras Blancas National Park, the award-winning eco-lodge features several unique ecosystems – primary and secondary rainforest, ocean and mangrove forest. Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge offers nature and adventure tours, yoga classes and retreats, family vacations, and honeymoon trips.

Beach Cleanup in Puntarenitas Coinciding with the International Coastal Cleanup

On September 19th all of Nicuesa’s employees joined the Red Cross, Fire Fighters and many other local businesses to remove the growing amount of plastic bottles, Styrofoam and garbage on the island of Puntarenitas. Puntarenitas is located offshore from Golfito, (the closest town to Playa Nicuesa) and we hope to soon make it as pristine as the clean shores that we enjoy at Playa Nicuesa. Nicuesa’s Sustainability Coordinator, who organized the cleanup, also enlisted the help of Terra Nostra – an NGO focused on cleaning up Costa Rica’s rivers and beaches.
The group of around 50 volunteers collected over 7,000 plastic bottles, 5,000 pieces of Styrofoam, 900 bottle caps and much more within the span of only 4 hours. The beach resembled a dump in some places and reminded all those participating of the reasons why the three r’s are encouraged – more than 100,000 marine animals die every year as a result of getting caught in or trying to eat plastic floating in the ocean!
Due to time restraints the group had to call it a day before being able to finish. Thus, Nicuesa along with the community hopes to continue the effort in the near future. Additionally, Nicuesa is also part of the Tourism Chamber of Commerce in Golfito, which aims to clean up the city and educate people how to properly dispose of solid wastes.
September is the international month of beach clean-ups. If you go on the website of the Ocean Conservancy you can find out where there is a clean up close to you or even organize one yourself for the upcoming year!