Healthy Living

Eco Travel: Costa Rica for Families

woman in construction hard had and straps smiles as she straps on a zip lineWhen it comes to the holidays, we say go big or go home: Six major parties between now and New Year’s. But each year before it all begins, I start fantasizing about tossing in the towel and taking off for an eco travel vacation in some distant land.

This summer, my husband and I were lucky enough to pursue eco travel in the Guillones Beach region of Nosara, Costa Rica for a week, and I’m dying to go back with my kids.

The country’s affordability and safety, endless array of activities, friendly community, English-speaking locals and “pura vida” spirit—the phrase means “pure life” and is used to mean everything from “thank you” to “everything is great”—makes for a perfect eco travel destination. Here’s my recipe for the perfect family eco travel vacation. We’ll visit again, one day! 

Costa Rica’s affordability and safety, endless activities, English-speaking locals and “pura vida” spirit make for a perfect eco travel family destination. GETTING THERE: Many major airlines have direct flights to the main airports of Costa Rica: San Jose and Liberia. From Liberia you can catch a “puddle jumper” through Nature Air or Sansa directly to Nosara and then taxi or rent a car to Guillones; you can also rent a car for the five-hour drive (which can take longer, depending on the state of the roads). A little more expensive is to fly to the Liberia Airport; through your hotel concierge or booking agent, you can arrange for shuttle pick up at the airport, which will cost about $160 for the two-hour drive. The Visit Nosara Travel Resource can be  helpful in getting the lay of the land.

WHEN TO GO: The best time to visit is December through March, as July to September is the rainy season.

WHERE TO STAY: Harmony Hotel Nosara is the most luxurious and beautiful resort in the area, with a family-friendly vibe, multi-daily yoga classes, direct beach access, incredible organic food and a gently eco-friendly focus. The smaller, less expensive Living Hotel is a low-frills but still charming and spotless option, and is a short block from the beach. Surfing Nosara Surf School & Vacation Rentals has a wide selection of private homes for rent in the area, many of which are American owned.

WHAT TO DO: With 21 runs, the zip line tour operated by Miss Sky Canopy Tours is the longest tour in the world—think majestic mountains and waterfalls galore— and is absolutely breathtaking (that’s me getting ready to ride, above). Blue Zone Standup Paddle & Surf Camp is a must-do for experienced and novice water lovers. Take a beachside ride with Playa Ponies and detour through the jungle to catch a glimpse of wild horses and howler monkeys, or go for a formal tour of the Nosara Wildlife Rescue and adopt a howler monkey for just five dollars a month. With plentiful marlin, mahi-mahi and yellowfish tuna just off the coast, deep sea fishermen are sure to catch the big one with Fishing Nosara. Yoga enthusiasts will find every type of class—from aerial to restorative—at the Nosara Yoga Institute. Finally, relax and unwind with a spa visit to the Harmony Hotel, or book an expert session with Tica Massage. Hungry? Book a reservation at La Luna, a restaurant in the Guillones Beach neighborhood. Because Costa Rican law limits beachfront expansion, La Luna is one of the few event spaces in the area that is actually on the beach.

But even though there is so much to do in Nosara, don’t forget to stop and watch the sunset—the whole town does. Surfers get off their boards, people stop what they’re doing, everyone heads down to the beach. “People watch the sunset like it’s the first time they’ve ever seen it,” local event planner Heather Barbieri, of Nosara Weddings and Events summed up. “It’s so amazing that something so simple can be so important to an entire community. You’d think they would take it for granted, having grown up with that. But it’s a really sacred time—for everyone.”

Sacred. Beautiful. Epic. That’s Nosara, Costa Rica.

Crazy. Stressful. Overwhelming. That’s the next two months.

Wish me luck.


  • Mary-Ellen

    Pura Vida for sure. We sure do have lots in common Mommy Greenest. My husband Googled Eco vacations and sure enough, Costa Rica came up. Further to this we were also attracted to the yoga scene. Long story short we enjoeyed a pure week of zen and bliss amongst the Howler Monkeys at Blue Spirit; one of the most beautiful yoga centers around. Located in Nosara deep in the rain forest it felt like we were plunked down in the middle of paradise. Guess what? We were. The accommodations, the people, the service, the yoga was out of this world. We highly recommend this yoga center. The Omega Institute is another of one the founder’s creations. Blessed to be in one of the world’s few blue zones Costa Rica was simply amazing. The highlight of the trip for us was getting the opportunity to visit and tour Sibu Sanctuary- a refuge and rehabilitation center for Howler Monkeys and other wildlife that need a second chance at life. If you Google both locations you will find results. We will be back.


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