Tag Archives: ecotravel

Hidden Gems of Costa Rica

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Costa Rica

Do you ever wish you could travel with your own local guide, and have them take you to their favorite places? Perhaps it would also be helpful to talk to a local before you go, and gather advice and recommendations from people who really know the country – not just from other tourists who have been there for a short vacation.

Well, that’s exactly what booking with GreenSpot allows you to do, and in celebration of our 10 year anniversary this month, we are sharing a few of these Costa Rica hidden gems with our GreenSpot friends.

We are extremely proud to be listed as a Conde Nast Top Travel Specialist for Costa Rica, and to be on Wendy Perrin’s WOW list of trusted travel experts. This means that over the past 10 years our expertise and GreenSpot style has won the hearts of our clients time and again.

Without further adieux…here are few places and experiences that you probably won’t find on the average Costa Rica travSlothel guide.

Luckily, you know some locals…

Playa Biesanz – Manuel Antonio National Park is one of Costa Rica’s most popular tourist destinations. During high season, the beaches can become very crowded. Biesanz beach is a nearby, mostly secluded beach that is a favorite with locals and offers excellent snorkeling or kayaking (bring your own gear). Your best bet for getting there is to ask a local where to find the trail along the side of the road, which winds through wildlife inhabited jungle. It’s highly likely you’ll spot a squirrel monkey, and two and three-toed sloth are also often visible along the trail.

 

Lunch at Villa Caletas – Ideally located halfway between San Jose and Manuel Antonio, this is the perfect place to pause for a good meal and sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean. We hear time and again from our clients that the food and exceptional view were a bright highlight of the day.

Villa Caletas Costa Rica

Photo: Villa Caletas

Cerro de la Muerte – This is one of Costa Rica’s highest peaks, and on a clear day you can see both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. This beautiful place gets its disturbing name (translated to mean Hill of Death) from pre-highway days, when travel by horseback or on foot was extremely treacherous. These days, it is still a rather adventurous route, but you can drive to the summit and hike down through several different ecosystems, finishing in the charming village of San Gerardo de Dota. Your chances of spotting the resplendent quetzal are high in this area and compared to touristy Monteverde, this cloud forest remains raw and authentically beautiful.

resplendent quetzal

Resplendent Quetzal

Park Café and Antique Shop – Housed inside an old-world hacienda, this remarkable place combines antiques, interior design and a fabulous restaurant. Becoming increasingly popular with locals, this place is receiving rave reviews for its exquisite food, prepared by an acclaimed master chef. Combining great food with an abundance of charming antiques, this is a unique place you won’t soon forget.

Park Cafe

Photo: Park Café

Marina Ballena National Park – Named after the humpback whales that migrate to this region, this off-the-beaten-path spot along the Central Pacific coast, includes 9 miles of protected coastline and ocean. Not only an excellent spot for whale watching, there is peaceful rainforest, quiet beaches, wildlife viewing opportunities and prehistoric sites in the area. Ask us about some fabulous hotels from where to base yourself within this incredible biologically diverse setting.

Ballena Infocenter (2)

Photo: Ronald Monge Arias

Doña Mara– We believe that the local people are the true hidden gems of any country. So in true GreenSpot style, Doña Mara easily concludes this list. This is where having local friends comes in handy. If you want a truly genuine experience and perhaps the opportunity to practice your Spanish (or a guide will translate), you are welcomed into Doña Mara’s home with a smile and a hug. Here you can enjoy a delicious authentic lunch and also try your hand at making tortillas, tamales or even a full cooking or dancing lesson. It won’t take long to feel at home.

Doña Mara cooking lesson

Photo: Warren Holder

Panama – in the (Green)Spotlight

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Panama_boat_gas_station

We’re putting Panama in the spotlight this week. Sometimes found in the shadow of other Central American countries, this unique and intriguing destination has a glow all its own and deserves to be celebrated.

panama_sunset

Speaking of celebrations…the Carnival of Panama (also known as King Momo’s party) recently took place. Each year, in the four days leading up to Ash Wednesday, the cultural festivities come alive – complete with night parades, elaborate costumes, dance festivals and musical groups, along avenues and in city squares. If you are an advanced planner, you might want to consider this for your next February travels.

carnaval_panama

Albeit a spectacular display of cultural pageantry, if glitzy festivity is not your thing, the remarkable natural beauty and assortment of adventurous opportunities in Panama might catch your attention more. Slightly smaller than the U.S. state of South Carolina and hugged by the Caribbean and Pacific coasts, there is an astounding amount of diversity to be found in Panama. Not only does Panama City have the largest urban population in Central America, much of the country’s flora and fauna cannot be found anywhere else in the world.

panama_parrot panama_sloth

Whether you are hiking through the rainforest with one eye peeled for the Resplendent Quetzpanama_snorkleals, or on a snorkeling expedition, spotting vibrant tropical fish, there is no shortage of wildlife viewing in Panama.

As always, the activity level of your adventure is entirely up to you. With some of the best eco-lodges around, you can wake up surrounded by the sounds of life in a tropical rainforest or with waves lapping the shores. Get out there and do something active, or enjoy unsurpassed hammock views and unwind, knowing that tomorrow is another day in paradise.

 

 

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