Last updated: 09:00 PM ET, Thu September 17 2015

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  • A Cruising Couple | September 17, 2015 9:00 PM ET

    4 Amazing Eco-Friendly Travel Experiences in Costa Rica

    4 Amazing Eco-Friendly Travel Experiences in Costa Rica

    Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

    It's no secret that Costa Rica is world-renowned for its environmentally friendly approach to tourism. In fact, more than 25 percent of the country’s landmass is dedicated to National Parks, with ecosystems ranging from cloud forests to tropical dry forests to wetlands and marine areas. But what you might not realize is that not all “eco-friendly” attractions are created equal.  Here are four of our favorite eco-friendly experiences in Costa Rica that hold true to their claim:

    1. Casa Corcovado

    Casa Corcovado

    The crown jewel of the National Parks in Costa Rica is Corcovado National Park. And at Casa Corcovado, you're as close to the action as you can possibly get. Located just outside the boundaries of the park and only accessible by boat, Casa Corcovado is a true eco-experience.

    One of the incredible advantages of staying at Casa Corcovado is that you are within walking distance of the National Park. Nearby Cano Island, world-renowned for its marine life, offers the perfect opportunity for snorkeling or scuba diving.

    Casa Corcovado has been awarded the prestigious 5 Leaves Award for sustainable tourism, and the owners are also the co-founders of the non-profit Corcovado Foundation. The foundation works to preserve the natural heritage of Corcovado National Park for future generations. There’s simply no better way to experience one of Costa Rica’s most thrilling natural attractions.

    2. Blue Osa Yoga Retreat + Spa

    Blue Osa Yoga Studio

    On the other side of the Osa Peninsula is Blue Osa Yoga Retreat + Spa. If the tranquil, beachfront setting and chemical-free pool doesn't have you feeling miles away, then the yoga and spa certainly will.

    Don't be surprised if the sounds of howler monkeys and scarlet macaws suddenly disturb your yoga practice. They are frequent guests on the Blue Osa grounds. Don't forget to ask about the local sloth who sometimes takes up residence in the neighboring trees.

    Blue Osa runs completely off-grid providing much of its electrical needs from solar panels placed on the roofs of its cabinas. Blue Osa also proudly serves farm-to-table meals, with much of the produce straight from its on-site garden.

    3. Nature Air

    Flying with Nature Air

    Travel, and flying in particular, has the reputation of being bad for the environment. The world's first carbon neutral airline, Nature Air, says it doesn't have to be. As the largest private charter operator in Central America, Nature Airlines flies to virtually every corner of Costa Rica and even to parts of Nicaragua and Panama.

    One of our favorite things about Nature Air is that they are not only carbon neutral, but the windows are four times the size of typical commercial planes. It's not just about getting to your destination; the flight is a tour in itself. It's common to fly over waterfalls and volcanoes while making your way to your final destination.

    Nature Air offsets its carbon emissions by conserving and protecting tropical forests in Costa Rica. Specifically, NatureAir has helped to conserve 500 acres of tropical forests in the Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica. Unfortunately, flying does still emit C02 gasses; however, Nature Air is committed to improving the fuel efficiency of its aircraft to minimize greenhouse gas emissions. Nature Air has improved the fuel efficiency of its fleet by 7 percent in the last three years and plans to continue to find ways to cut back on its environmental impact.

    4. Jaguar Rescue Center

    Tucan_2 Jaguar Rescue Center

    On the Caribbean side of the country, outside the town of Puerto Viejo, is one of Costa Rica's best animal rehabilitation sites: the Jaguar Rescue Center. Encar and Sandro, a biologist and herpetologist (respectively) started working with reptiles, rescuing and rehabilitating them out of their home. Once word got around that the family was helping injured animals more and more started showing up and the Jaguar Rescue Center was born.

    Tours begin at either 9:30 a.m. or 11:30 a.m. and require a guide. Don't be fooled though—the Jaguar Rescue Center is not a zoo. All of the animals are taken in with the intention of rehabilitating them for release into the wild unless they are deemed too unhealthy to re-release. Many of the animals roam freely about the grounds and can come and go as they please.

    These are a few of our favorite eco experiences in Costa Rica. Have you been to Costa Rica? What was your favorite eco experience?

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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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