Last updated: 11:00 PM ET, Thu January 28 2016

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  • A Cruising Couple | January 28, 2016 11:00 PM ET

    4 Amazing Costa Rican Eco-Tourism Destinations

    4 Amazing Costa Rican Eco-Tourism Destinations

    Photos by A Cruising Couple unless otherwise indicated.

    Eco-tourism is becoming an increasingly important aspect of the travel industry, as humanity grows more concerned about our negative impact on Mother Earth. But what you may not know is that a tiny country in Central America leads the way in environmental sustainability and preservation, making it a key eco-tourist destination.

    Sunset over Dominical Costa Rica

    Roughly the same size as West Virginia with a population of around five million (about half of New York City), Costa Rica managed to run the entire country in 2015 with 99 percent of its electricity being sourced from renewable energy.

    Not only is Costa Rica doing its part to use renewable energy sources, over 25 percent of its land is designated as protected — a collection of national parks, scientific reserves and wildlife sanctuaries. The United Nations Conference on Climate Change even went so far as to honor Costa Rica by posting its signature slogan "Pura Vida" (translating into Pure Life) in lights across the Eiffel Tower.

    READ MORE: How to Give Back on Your Costa Rica Vacation

    If you are looking for a responsible way to travel without being detrimental to the environment, here are a few of our favorite protected areas to experience the natural beauty of Costa Rica:

    Manuel Antonio National Park

    Humpback Whale Watching Costa Rica

    Located on the Pacific Coast, Manuel Antonio National Park is the most visited of all the parks of Costa Rica—and for good reason. The white sand beaches, troops of monkeys and oceanfront rainforest promise an environmental experience you'll be hard pressed to find anywhere else. The hiking trails here are well maintained, relatively flat and user-friendly. Try to time your visit with one of the two humpback whale migrations that pass by every year, one of the only two countries where both Southern and Northern Humpbacks go to nurse their newborns.

    Corcovado National Park

    The crown jewel of the Costa Rica National Park system is only for truly dedicated nature lovers. Costa Rica itself holds five percent of all the biodiversity on Earth and Corcovado National Park contains two-and-a-half percent of that, making it "the most biologically intense place on Earth in terms of biodiversity" according to National Geographic. All sorts of animals like scarlet macaws, toucans, sloths and all four types of Costa Rican monkeys can be found within this region. Located in the remote reaches of the Osa Peninsula, it's not an easy place to get to by any means. If you are keen to see it for yourself, here is a handy guide to hiking Corcovado National Park.

    Tortuguero National Park

    Releasing Baby Sea Turtles at Yoga Teacher Training in Costa Rica

    Located on the northeastern coast, Tortuguero is famous for its sea turtle nesting grounds, particularly the endangered green sea turtle. Nesting usually happens during the night and the beach is closed off to individuals who are not on guided tours after 6 p.m. to prevent egg poaching. You can hire a guide at the kiosk in Tortuguero village or through your hotel.

    READ MORE: Costa Rica Tourism is Cooking Up Something Special

    But turtles aren't the only reason to visit Tortuguero. One of the best ways to see the park is by boat through the lush islands divided by canals, lagoons and wetlands. Here you'll have the chance to see spectacled caiman, southern river otters and dozens of bird species.

    Chirripo National Park


    Photo via Flickr/Richard May

    Far from the beaten tourist track, Chirripo National Park is named after the mountain that resides inside it — the tallest in Costa Rica. The biggest attraction is climbing to the top of Chirripo where, on a clear day, hikers can see both the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea simultaneously. In order to go on the excursion — a nine-mile long, 10,000-foot high journey — you'll need an official guide and a reservation through the park system.

    Have you ever visited Costa Rica? Where are your favorite places for eco-tourism?

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A Cruising Couple A Cruising Couple's Column

A Cruising Couple Dan and Casey are the two lovebirds, world travelers and adventurers extraordinaire behind the popular travel blog A Cruising Couple - adventure travel with a dash of class. Their stories and photographs feature that special place where experiential and stylish travel meet. Find out how you can spend less money, live more adventurously and travel more luxuriously on their blog,
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