On a global scale, calling Costa Rica a green country references my homeland’s commitment to conservation, preservation, and being eco­friendly. But if you look around, you can see that Costa Rica is also literally green – from the mountains to the forests to the animals – like me!

There are so many green trees and plants in Costa Rica that it is easy for me to blend in. Costa Rica is a beautiful country with so much to offer its locals and those just passing through, but at its core, it is a place that represents life, hope and promise. How could anyone look around at such a colorful landscape and not feel like anything is possible? I’ve been hopping all over the country for years now, soaking in as much of the country as I can. Here are a few of my favorite green places:

Tortuguero Canals
Tortuguero Canals

1. Tortuguero

Tortuguero actually means “Region of Turtles” (in Spanish), and this is a fitting name for the area! It is a protected national park area that is home to the Green Sea Turtles. To get to this area, you have to take a “green” canoe trip through a canal that offers a stunning view of the surrounding rainforest. Nature is truly the master of this area, and it is mostly untouched by humans. Green rules here, as there is heavy rainfall and lots of surrounding water to keep the plant life hydrated and healthy. When visiting the area, you can hike or canoe around to see all the greenery that the area offers. In addition to taking in the green landscape, you’ll also be sharing the area with many local animals, including monkeys, macaws, and jaguars.

Beautiful view of hills in Monteverde
Beautiful view of hills in Monteverde

2. Monteverde

Monteverde is one of my favorite places, and it even means “Green Mountain” in Spanish! Most famous for its cloud forest, the clouds can’t cover all the green that this area offers. This forest is one of the most popular ecotourism spots in the entire country, and the 26,000 acre, nature­rich, lively area is home to giant trees and a variety of plants. The surrounding village is small and rural, and is mostly sustained by dairy farming. The cheese itself isn’t green, but it is still worth a taste. Monteverde is also home to an orchid garden, which is of course a very colorful place! Can one place get any greener than having a forest, garden and being a farming community? Everywhere you look in Monteverde, from the up to the treetops to down at your feet, you’ll be seeing a country that is alive and thriving with greenery.

Gentel waves at Puerto Viejo
Gentel waves at Puerto Viejo

3. Puerto Viejo

Known mostly for its beaches, Puerto Viejo is a popular destination in Limon Province. Don’t be fooled by the brown sand and blues waters, though; this place is also very, very green. Lying seaside may draw attention to surfing, but out on the shore there is a whole world of green to be seen. Most of that comes in the form of national parks, reserves and refuges; Puerto Viejo is home to all of these! I am a frequent visitor of the Cahuita National Park, where there is plenty of tropical vegetation. There is also a wildlife refuge called Gandoca Manzanillo, and the Talamanca Indian Reserve.

View from above Playa San Josecito, South Drake Bay
View from above Playa San Josecito, South Drake Bay

4. Osa Peninsula

I am proud to say that I have visited the place the National Geographic Magazine described as one of the most biologically intense places on Earth. They were referring to the Osa Peninsula, a rugged, but pristine area of rainforests in Costa Rica. Most of this area is part of the Corcovado National Park, and it is a green wonderland. The park is remote, but still visited often by tourists that want a look at the only rainforest in the world that is primarily lowland. Its protected, secluded status also makes it home to more animals than I can count; many of them endangered. While I steer clear of the bigger cats, like jaguars and pumas, I am happy to explore some of the animals that are closer to my size. Big and small, there are all kinds of animals in the Osa Peninsula. This habitat is well maintained, many shades of green, and the country’s top ecotourism destination. The park was created in 1975, and it protected the land from being scavenged by loggers and miners. Since then, the lush area has remained 41,000 hectares of pure beauty. The trees, plants and even animals all add many shades of greens to the landscape, stamping the area with the feeling that life is bursting all around you. If you are visiting the area, you can explore the green landscape by grabbing a guide and taking what might be the best hike of your life.

Wherever you decide to travel in Costa Rica, be prepared to see green everywhere. From the bright green grass on the ground to the dark green leaves towering above you on the trees, Costa Rica is a place of nurtured nature.