Costa Rica leads the way for ocean protection

The “Immersed in Change” forum is one of the most relevant diplomatic events in the world when it comes to environmental policy. The 2024 edition was hosted by a country celebrated by its trailblazing commitment to ecological consciousness: Costa Rica. 

The event serves as a precursor to the crucial United Nations meeting in France in 2025, and brought together delegations from 50 countries to tackle the pressing issue of ocean wellbeing. As such, the main slogan for the event was a “peace declaration” for the environment.

Over two intensive days, participants engaged in debates, calls to action, and presentations of successful initiatives, sharing knowledge to drive collective action. The final declaration from this forum calls for transformative ocean actions that support nature-positive economies, leveraging the best available science, traditional knowledge, and innovation available.

Costa Rica’s initiative serves as a foundational framework for the discussions at the III United Nations Ocean Conference (UNOC) in June 2025 in Nice, which is co-organized by France and the small Central American nation.

The urgency of Costa Rica’s mission is palpable in its declaration, where emphasis on how the ocean can no longer endure humanity’s mistreatment and indifference, and the championing of sustainable uses of marine resources was at the core.

Other key topics at the forum included governance, global warming, fishing, and marine biodiversity, all aimed at informing decisions to be made in France. A significant focus was on the ratification of the High Seas Protection Treaty, signed in 2023 by over 70 countries. This binding agreement seeks to protect ocean areas beyond national jurisdictions, with the creation of marine protected areas as a pivotal tool.

Currently, only about 1% of the high seas are under conservation measures, so much work needs to be done to safeguard biodiversity and align with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the Paris Agreement, set to be achieved by 2030. The declaration of peace for the ocean commits to protecting or conserving at least 30% of marine and coastal areas by the year in question.

The “Immersed in Change” forum has set a vital precedent for ocean protection, with Costa Rica leading the charge towards a healthier, more sustainable relationship with our oceans.

Costa Rica Closes State Zoos to Champion Wildlife Conservation and Natural Habitats

Despite its continued growth in terms of international investment and tourist development, one of Costa Rica’s main building blocks in terms of its global branding comes from its commitment to ecology and preservation. From renewable energy projects to conservation efforts, the country is constantly at the forefront when it comes to environmental consciousness.

One of the latest examples comes from a landmark moment in the country’s wildlife conservation project, as in May 2024 Costa Rica finally closed its two state-run zoos. The move involves relocating approximately 250 animals from the Simón Bolívar Zoo in San José and the Santa Ana Conservation Center to a rescue center in Alajuela. 

Spearheaded by the Ministry of Environment and Energy (MINAE), this initiative underscores Costa Rica’s goal of preserving wildlife in their natural habitats, moving away from confinement and exhibition to a more organic involvement with the animal’s endemic environments. The fauna, including jaguars, ocelots, caimans, crocodiles, spider monkeys, and sloths, underwent preliminary health checks before being transported. The relocation was a carefully coordinated effort, with animals placed in portable cages and escorted by police to the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, known as Zoo Ave. This center will now serve as their new home, offering a more natural and suitable setting for their rehabilitation. 

This decision aligns with both national regulations and international conservation agreements. The government made the resolution to close the state zoos two years ago, aiming to ensure a better quality of life for the animals. The closure of these zoos, some of which had been in operation for over a century, has been met with widespread celebration among animal rights activists. They believe that Costa Rica’s decision sets a precedent as it becomes the first country to eliminate its state-run zoos, a move seen as a significant victory for wildlife preservation worldwide. 

The country’s new focus on sanctuaries and rescue centers marks a shift in how Costa Rica approaches wildlife protection and conservation and also emphasizes cultural consciousness about how animals should be safeguarded in a country bursting with exotic fauna throughout. 

Originally, the zoos were supposed to close in 2014 following a law passed in 2013. However, legal challenges delayed the process. This event marks the end of an era and the beginning of a new, hopeful chapter for animal lovers and conservation in Costa Rica. One of the country’s many foundations when it comes to its “green” aura. 

Navigating Quepos’ surfing ecosystem

Known as one of the most vibrant communities in Costa Rica’s Central Pacific, has developed an important surfing hub thanks to its strategic location just 2 hours south of the bustling city of San Jose, and its coastal gems for those who dance on the waves.

In this coastal haven, the waves ebb and flow between the gentle hum of a 1-foot lullaby and the crescendo of a wild 10-foot symphony. A left break off the jetty, pure and pristine, invites surfers to a dreamlike waltz, a graceful ride extending for precious yards. Size may not rival Dominical, yet the intimacy of the experience resonates with every surfer there.

Contrary to apprehensions, Quepos’ harbor didn’t transform the waves to shells of their former selves. To the contrary, the consensus seems to be that waves there unveil a cleaner, faster, and altogether superior ride.

Timing, as in all surfing destinations, is paramount, however. April, May, and June unveil a symphony of swells, a celestial dance initiated by the Southern Hemisphere’s winter. As Quepos remains cloaked in its eternal summer, offshore winds whisper serenades throughout the day.

Quepos Rivermouth unveils a long left breaker, best performed during lower tides. For the audacious spirits, Playitas at the north end of Manuel Antonio composes a high tide opus, weaving rights and lefts into a tale of adventure. Further South, Dominical beckons high tide seekers to another diverse experience in a bohemian town. Isla Damas, a whispered secret accessible by boat or jetski, gifts surfers an entrancing barreling left. Venture north, and Esterillos Oeste, unveils big, slopey waves that break a half mile from the shore. Here, SUPs, longboarders, and shortboarders are all invited to partake in the flow that unfolds at both high and low tide.

Quepos invites surfers to join its eternal Pacific dance. So, with board in hand, ride the wave, you can embrace the permanent charm of this alluring town, a place where the surf’s poetry awaits and prevails.

Costa Rica’s commits to Plastic Transformation in the Tourism Industry

A new initiative for accessible tourism was recently showcased as an extension of the Central American nation’s ongoing sustainability project

It seems Costa Rica doubles down on its world-renowned position as a trendsetter in sustainable development in every instance it gets to do it. The Costa Rican Network of Accessible Tourism recently showcased a remarkable initiative on a global platform at the Pacific Leaders Summit “Rapa Nui 2024” in Chile.

The DONATAPA project is the initiative in question, which was immediately met with acclaim and shown as a beacon of success, highlighting the intersection of plastic transformation and accessible tourism. DONATAPA’s achievements include over 185 tons of plastic collected, 477 meters of wooden plastic walkways constructed, 14 donated amphibious chairs, and the establishment of 13 accessible beaches. These palpable outcomes solidify the project’s mission statement on sustainability and inclusivity.

At the heart of the summit’s discussions was the urgent need to address the pervasive issue of plastic pollution in the planet’s oceans. According to the United Nations, millions of tons of plastic enter the globe’s waterways annually, posing grave threats to marine ecosystems and human well-being. Costa Rican initiatives like DONATAPA present themselves as models for effective plastic waste management and circular economy practices.

DONATAPA’s approach is more than what can be seen in Costa Rica’s coasts, as it’s, in essence, a holistic project that encompasses awareness campaigns, waste collection drives, and the development of innovative products crafted from recycled plastic. By promoting proper waste disposal and encouraging the transformation of plastic into valuable resources, the project demonstrates a multifaceted solution to the current plastic crisis. 

Moreover, the Costa Rican Network of Accessible Tourism leveraged the summit as an opportunity to forge strategic partnerships with like-minded organizations region-wide. By collaborating with diverse sectors internationally, Costa Rica aims to bolster its efforts in sustainability and continue its standing as a leader in environmental stewardship.

The United Nations Environment Program warns of the dire consequences if current plastic consumption trends persist. However, Costa Rica remains steadfast in its commitment to environmental preservation through the aforementioned initiatives, and participating in strategies like the National Marine Debris Plan 2021-2030, where the country is actively working to mitigate plastic pollution and promote sustainable practices.

By harnessing innovation, collaboration, and advocacy, Costa Rica is paving the way for a cleaner, more inclusive future for generations to come, and to continue sharing its blissful coastal wonders with visitors worldwide. 

Celebrating Cultural Heritage: Costa Rica Repatriates Archaeological Treasures

Beyond the many natural wonders that bless Costa Rica, the country is also an important historical site for many indigenous groups and their rich cultures. Many of the artifacts from these pre-Columbian communities have been discovered over time in archaeological research but given the colonial nature of 20th Century expeditions, plenty of these treasures were exported to museums and collections in the United States and Europe. 

Just recently, Costa Rica has welcomed back a trove of 395 archaeological artifacts, safeguarded in diplomatic premises across Los Angeles, Miami, and Washington DC. These items journeyed back home, marking a significant moment in the country’s cultural restoration efforts in recent years. 

Among the returned artifacts are pre-Columbian relics crafted from stone and ceramic. One of the most notable is a remarkable stone sphere measuring approximately 65 centimeters in diameter, alongside metates, jade stones, polychromatic vessels, human and animal figurines, and stone tools. Some of these pieces had been held in diplomatic offices for up to a decade. While most were willingly surrendered, others were confiscated by US authorities and subsequently handed over to Costa Rica through diplomatic channels.

The repatriation endeavor was made possible through collaborative efforts between the Parque Metropolitano La Libertad Foundation and the National Museum of Costa Rica, as well as economic backing from the Cultural Agreements Fund of the United States Embassy. All came together under the banner of the project titled “Management and Dissemination of Pre-Columbian Assets Safeguarded in Costa Rican Diplomatic Premises in the United States.”

Costa Rica’s commitment to reclaiming its cultural heritage extends beyond this recent example. Since 1986, the country has repatriated a total of 3,560 archaeological artifacts from various countries across the Americas and Europe.The significance of this repatriation comes from giving back a part of the nation’s heritage and identity to its people, so they can freely access it and learn more about it. It’s the legacy of Costa Rica’s ancestors, an inheritance that can now be admired and studied by Costa Ricans.

This repatriation enriches Costa Rica’s cultural landscape and underscores the importance of international cooperation in preserving and honoring the world’s cultural heritage. It serves as a reminder of the enduring value of these artifacts, not only as relics of the past but also as bridges connecting us to our shared human history. As these treasures find their way back to where they belong, they inspire awe and admiration while igniting a renewed appreciation for the diverse tapestry of human civilization, and exalt the country’s placing as a cultural destination. 

Guanacaste strengthens its Canadian connectivity

The cold winter months at the end and beginning of the year are Costa Rica’s high season given the natural disposition to seek warmer climates. Animal migration is guided by that, and historically, retirees tend to do the same. In the case of Costa Rica, this is also the stretch of the year when there’s virtually no rain, making it perfect to visit all the wonderful natural landscapes and enjoy the incredible outdoor activities that established the country as a world-class destination. 

It’s no surprise then that Canadian tourism is one of Costa Rica’s main visitation markets, particularly considering their famously harsh winters. In a strategic move to cater to the burgeoning demand and broaden travel horizons for that demographic, Guanacaste International Airport has extended operations on the route from Montreal, Canada.

Commencing on May 2, the year-round availability of this route, operated by Air Transat, beckons travelers to explore the wonders of Costa Rica. The route, marked by two flights per week on Thursdays and Sundays, boasts Air Transat’s A321 aircraft with 198 seats. Departing from Montreal’s Trudeau International Airport at 07:30 am and landing in Guanacaste at 11:30 am, the schedule is tailored to optimize the passenger experience, offering ample time to savor the beauty of the region.

Previously limited to the winter season from November to April, this extension reflects a thoughtful response to the evolving travel landscape and the desire for increased flexibility among Canadian wanderers. Guanacaste International Airport’s commitment to fortifying connectivity and propelling tourism growth in the region stands manifest in this strategic decision, as it has done throughout 2023 and 2024 with each one of its scheduling and expansion decisions. 

In 2023, Costa Rica saw 242,970 Canadian tourists visit the country. On average they graced the country with a stay of 14.8 nights. Their enthusiasm contributed to an estimated average expenditure of $106 per day, exalting the economic significance of their visitation, and the strategic reasoning behind the expanded routes. 

Tourists favoring the Guanacaste region can revel in a plethora of activities, from basking in the sun on pristine beaches to indulging in outdoor escapades, exploring volcanoes and hot springs, and savoring the rich tapestry of local cuisine in the iconic Blue Zone. As the news echoes across the traveler’s sphere, and Costa Rica continues its placement as one of the definitive tropical destinations, Guanacaste International Airport adapts to fulfill the growing demands that come with it. Now it’s as easy as ever to start your seamless journey to the heart of Costa Rica’s natural wonders.

Costa Rica is the best place to retire in 2024

The idyllic Central American destination is put in the spotlight as the ideal setting for your twilight years.

In the grand composition of life, retirement marks the enchanting coda, the moment when to lay back, rest, and reflect on all the memories you’ve amassed throughout your time on Earth. There isn’t a “true way” of enjoying retirement. Some people develop new hobbies. Others travel the world. Some simply want to spend more time with their loved ones. Whichever the case, the one unifying factor in retirement experiences is making sure you’re situated in the best setting for your life plans.

Given this fact, it’s no surprise that Costa Rica has been an enticing retirement destination since the 1980s. Much has been written about the country’s unparalleled natural beauty, slow pace of life, and sociopolitical stability, but as time marches on and the nation continues its constant reconfiguration, the question about the country’s current standing might arise. If it ever was in doubt, though, the industry-leading Travel + Leisure Magazine has just awarded the small Central American nation the designation of the best place to retire in 2024.

Costa Rica resonates with the pura vida way of life, the kind of wellness that’s hard to replicate elsewhere. Imagine a harmonious tapestry woven from pristine tropical beaches, the eternal spring-like embrace of the Central Valley, and Nicoya, a Blue Zone where time dances in an eternal waltz. With volcanic energy at its core, rich biodiversity, and turquoise waterfalls as the backdrop, Costa Rica truly is as direct a vision as paradise as it gets.

Yet, this destination’s prominence extends beyond its aesthetic allure. Costa Rica’s top-ranking position is a testament to the solid foundations of its social healthcare system and the accessibility inherent to its public institutions, providing a high living standard and a good basis for family growth. 

With a booming tourism and service industry, the infrastructure is all in place for as much comfort as one would like, while simultaneously having the expansive natural canvas of this tropical haven for you to explore and reconnect with Mother Earth. There’s hardly a better place to write your own epilogue in life.

Costa Rica’s is 2024’s Destination of the Year

The prestigious Travel and Leisure magazine has recognized the country’s unquestionable growth and international allure with this coveted acknowledgement.

Costa Rica, renowned for its commitment to sustainable tourism and breathtaking natural beauty, has been named Travel and Leisure’s 2024 Destination of the Year. This prestigious accolade, previously bestowed upon iconic destinations like Italy, Japan, and Australia, reflects the nation’s dedication to a sustainable future and its profound connection with nature.

Travel and Leisure, the most prestigious tourism magazine in the world, painted a vivid picture of Costa Rica’s allure, from its white-sand beaches against the backdrop of a lush rainforest to the astonishing elemental force of the volcano national parks. Natural beauty, incredible biodiversity, and laid-back lifestyle were all some of the main highlighted features of the country.

All this recognition doesn’t come in a vacuum, however, as Costa Rica’s dedication to ecotourism has been a pioneering force for the concept of eco-lodges and has set global benchmarks for sustainable travel practices. More than 50% of Costa Rica’s landmass is now covered in lush rainforests, a testament to its successful efforts in reversing deforestation trends, which started in the 1970s.

As of 2023, Costa Rica is on track to welcome between 2.3 and 2.5 million tourists by air, breaking previous records and surpassing pre-pandemic levels. The country experienced a remarkable 16.4% increase in tourist arrivals during the first nine months of the year, with North America remaining as the primary source of tourists. This tourism boom is bolstering a national economy essentially based around this industry, with approximately 154,930 individuals working in tourism-related jobs as for the first half of 2023.

What this shows is that beyond Travel and Leisure’s new designation, Costa Rica has already established itself as one of the top destinations in the world when it comes to tropical travel. Its well-recorded set of unique social, cultural and political conditions remain a differentiating factor that perfectly complement the country’s unparalleled natural allure. It’s a matter of looking at the global satisfaction score provided by the magazine, a noticeable 87 out of 100.

As the Land of ‘Pura Vida’ continues to captivate with its natural wonders, adventure activities, and rich culture, Costa Rica solidifies its status as a global travel gem and projects a robust outlook for tourism in the near future.

A new initiative empowers rural women in Costa Rica

Historically thought of as a masculine environment, agriculture has diversified itself and seeks to include women in its constant process of reinvention and progress. 

In a significant step towards narrowing the digital gender gap, the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) has recently announced that a hundred women from rural areas in Costa Rica have undergone training in digital and geospatial technologies applied to agriculture and water resource management.

The initiative, known as the Women’s Rally for Geospatial Technologies, aims to empower women associated with the agri-food sector by enhancing their technological, digital, geospatial, and innovative capabilities. Additionally, the program focuses on strengthening skills related to growth, resilience, and professional empowerment in a wider sense.

As the agricultural sector in Costa Rica continues its constant transformation process, topics such as the inclusion of women have become integral to the new avenues of progress and development. Participants of this initiative gained access to services such as the GEOGloWS streamflow prediction, a global hydrological model providing daily updated forecasts and access to over 40 years of historical streamflow data. They also utilized Climate Trends, which allows access and comparison of data from global models for different variables such as precipitation and soil moisture.

The call for participation, issued by IICA, brought together women starting from the age of 14, including professionals from associations such as Edunámica, the College of Agronomist Engineers of Costa Rica, the College of Professionals in Geography of Costa Rica, and the National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC-MINAE). In the closing session, participants shared the projects generated through the knowledge gained during the event.

Historically, agriculture in Costa Rica has been one of the country’s main economic thrusts and still maintains itself as the main income source for many rural communities nationwide. Initiatives like this aim to narrow the educational gap that tends to permeate settlements beyond the Great Metropolitan Area and provide them with the tools to better integrate the ever-flowing needs of this industry, and be up to date with the newest ideas in terms of sustainable development.

Costa Rica commits to making tourism even more accessible to everyone.

This new inclusivity campaign looks to expand the range of options for visitors with disabilities

As one of the world’s definitive tourist destinations, Costa Rica has not only made active efforts to improve its infrastructure in terms of amenities but also with regard to accessibility and inclusivity. The latest example comes with a new initiative from the Costa Rican Tourism Institute (ICT).

The initiative is a collaborative effort with Wheel The World, a renowned operator specializing in providing accessible travel experiences for individuals with disabilities. The main goal is to encourage tourists with disabilities, particularly those using wheelchairs, to explore the country and all its natural wonders.

ICT has emphasized the significance of promoting this kind of tourism on a national level, acknowledging the importance of making Costa Rica’s stunning destinations accessible to all, and highlighting the country’s commitment to inclusivity and diversity.

This campaign recently kicked off with an exploratory journey, aiming to showcase the remarkable progress in accessibility that Costa Rica has made. A group of tourists and influencers using wheelchairs had the privilege of experiencing firsthand the improved accessibility in various destinations. These travelers set out to explore enchanting places like San José, the breathtaking Volcán Poás, the artisan town of Sarchí, and the natural wonder of La Fortuna, among others.

The partnership with Wheel The World signifies a major step forward in Costa Rica’s commitment to welcoming tourists of all abilities. The experiences shared by these visitors promise to be a source of inspiration for others with disabilities who dream of exploring the diverse landscapes, rich culture, and vibrant biodiversity that Costa Rica has to offer.

The campaign benefits the tourism industry and the nation as a whole, as it showcases the country as an open and welcoming destination for travelers. This effort is a testament to the country’s mission to be one of the stewards and leading examples of progressive tourism, merging sustainability, accessibility, and conservation.  Increasing the appeal for everyone to visit this magnificent tropical paradise.