Living My Best Green Life in Costa Rica

Welcome to a land full of spectacular mountainous views, sky blue beaches, trove of animals, and hospitable people. Costa Rica is on the bucket list of many travelers because of its ability to provide an eco-friendly place to relax and enjoy life also known as “pura vida”. The country is, one of the few to be, running almost completely on renewable sources without utilizing fossil fuels. Costa Rica manages to fulfill its energy needs with a combination of wind, geothermic, and solar energy. One of the key factors in this is hydropower. Sure, waterfalls are a great way to attract tourists, but it’s also an equally efficient way to make electricity.

Arenas Del Mar in Manuel Antonio

Apart from this, the country works hard to preserve its natural environment. With one of densest biodiversity wildlife on the planet, the country takes extra care to maintain it. Even as tourism grows in the country, its people make sure that the natural habitat stays the same. The beaches and forest remain undisturbed to be safe for turtles and wildlife. More than 25% of the country is environmentally protected. This is possible through converting the areas into parks, natural reserves, and animal refuges. Costa Rica is a perfect example of what eco-friendly tourism is and could be. Hence, we decided to explore two vastly different areas to get a taste of the country.

Up in the Clouds of Monteverde

I wanted to most cost effective and seemingly safest option of transport. We had the option of either taking a shuttle, renting a car, or the bus. Consequently, we opted for the bus for it’s cost effectiveness. If you decide to drive, be aware that roads to Monteverde are not all paved when going up the mountain. A small community located in Puntarenas, Costa Rica, Monteverde is the heart of the country’s ecotourism destinations.

Monteverde Sunset

What attracts tourists from around the world is the Cloud Forest Reserve. The nearly 26,000 acre reserve is popular because of its virgin and semi-virgin environment, biodiversity, and vibrant, colorful plant life. It’s home to the largest number of orchids on the entire planet and has ninety-one species of migratory birds. It’s no surprise that National Geographic has called the cloud forest “the jewel in the crown” with 250,000 tourists visit annually. This influx of tourism has helped the economy to boom and improve the standard of living of its residents.

A Nature Lovers Resort

A beautiful cross between sustainability and nature loving is what one would define the resort, Senda Monteverde as. The resort is encapsulated in the enchanting cloud forest eco system. Before it was open to the public, we were privileged get a preview and enjoy all Senda had to offer. One aspect of staying in Senda Monteverde,which is quite often overlooked, is the amazing staff. Whilst I was checking in, I was served with delicious beverages with bamboo straws. From being plastic bottle free to using eco-friendly cleaning supplies, the blatant integration and highlighting of nature is the green star.

More than Meets the Eye

My Suite Bungalow
Junior Suite – Outside

We were escorted to our junior suite which was a stand-alone bungalow nestled at the top of the resort. The one bedroom suite has a living area with a day bed, a minibar, and 1 king bed. Immediately upon walking in, I realized there was no tv and that our entertainment would be the landscape around is. The large windows from the bedroom to the living space, all aspects of nature could be enjoyed. Privacy could easily be found by lowering the blinds. 

Senda Courtyard

Be sure to pack for all the seasons as the weather, due to being in the mountains, can change at any given time; from a light mist in the morning, hot and sunny in the afternoon, to rain in the evening. One aspect I came to appreciate at Senda is the mindful meditation aspect in just walking around the resort. This is impart due to all the quiet corners and sitting areas integrated in the resort. It is quiet enough that sometimes all you hear are the trees moving in the wind and animals rustling at the perimeter.

Be sure to pack for all the seasons as the weather, due to being in the mountains, can change at any given time; from a light mist in the morning, hot and sunny in the afternoon, to rain in the evening. One aspect I came to appreciate at Senda is the mindful meditation aspect in just walking around the resort. This is impart due to all the quiet corners and sitting areas integrated in the resort. It is quiet enough that sometimes all you hear are the trees moving in the wind and animals rustling at the perimeter.

For my fellow foodies, the resort restaurant is packed with variety of options and flavor. The complimentary breakfast covered all the bases with a wide range of fruits, local dishes, and fresh juices. 

Exploring in the Clouds

If on one of the days you don’t feel like going out, don’t worry. As a result, I relaxed for an entire day, read a book, wrote, and just watched the changing landscape. There are a range of activities from happy hours to cooking classes. The resort makes sure that your comfort and enjoyment is on top of their list.

Senda offers a variety of excursions from zip lining, nocturnal nature walks, to horseback riding to waterfalls. One of the biggest perks of staying at the Senda Monteverde is the exclusive access to the Aguti Wildlife reserve. The reserve exists to ensure their conservation and is not open for mass tourism. I was exposed to some of the most authentic forest experiences as we travelled across the cloud bridges whilst listening to the sounds of the streams. Furthermore, if you prefer to have a more wholesome experience and learn more about the surroundings, be sure to hire a guide. 

Off the Beaten Path

Old Church that was converted into a bar right before entering Senda Monteverde

Whilst exploring the city of Monteverde, we decided to take a break and have a lovely dinner at Restaurante Sabor Tico. Not too far from the restaurant was Marlenes’s Trail Foods, a small family run health food store. Almost everything within the store was either local or handmade, from chocolates and trail mixes.

Along the Valle Escondido Preserve

During our walk into town, we met an American couple. They were on their way to a the Hidden Valley Farm take a permaculture class and hike the Valle Escondido preserve. We ditched our initial plans and joined them. What I enjoyed most about the hike as that the Valle Escondido wasn’t as dense as the rest of the cloud forests, so it made it easier to enjoy the wildlife. I was able to soak in all the beautiful views whilst sitting on the wooden platforms. For those of you interested in birdwatching, this will surely be an experience. 

Aguti outside the Valle Escondido Preserve

Forest and Beach Become One in Manuel Antonio

Beach Front Suites at Arenas Del Mar

We took the bus from San Jose to Manuel Antonio as it was the most cost effective means of getting there. We took a taxi to the resort from the bus stop. Arenas Del Mar is the only eco-luxury resort located right on the beachfront in Manuel Antonio. With the beautiful beach at your front and the lush rainforest supporting your back, Mother Nature gets to share her best sides as the two ecosystems intertwine.

Eating young coconut on the ocean view balcony

I was awaken to the sounds of the ocean gently crashing against the shore. I’d walk onto the balcony to take a morning dip in my private jacuzzi. The Premium Ocean View Suite boosts: two full bathrooms, a large balcony that is the length of the entire suite, and a sofa bed in the living space for additional guests. Our inclusive mini bar was refreshed daily with local, healthy snacks and drinks like plantain chips and kombucha. Before breakfast, I indulged in outdoor yoga class near the reception area. It was refreshing to transition through yoga poses surrounded by the forest and all it’s nuances. The yoga classes alternate daily from the outdoor deck to the beach.

Food, Glorious Food

Breakfast Burrito

I looked forward to breakfast every morning. As a complementary part of the stay, pastries, pancakes, French toasts, eggs, and fruit are some of the options. Fresh juices were always available and switched daily. Menu items clearly indicated any potential allergens and I was able to adjust dishes to my dietary preferences. The restaurant overlooks the ocean and also non-chlorinated infinity pool. Enjoy the views and stay alert as one of the many monkeys may come to nab a snack, which adds to the excitement of being here.

Infinity Pool near restaurant and reception seating area

Beyond Your Room

Playitas Beach

Arenas Del Mar has two tranquil beaches with comfortable beach chairs available. Playitas Beach is more private and has calmed waves with low tide making it easy to swim in. I was lucky enough to see an iguana mama digging a new home to lay her eggs.

Playa Espadilla is the other beach and is accessible by a short walk through a jungle path. This is a larger beach area that extends all the way to Manuel Antonio National Park. So ideally, if I had awoken very early in the morning, I would have walked to the park to explore. If you want to explore the park, get there early to avoid long wait times and long lines.

Between lounging on their two beaches, I was able to partake in two free activities they offer. Tortilla-making classes and the green tour are available which teaches guest about the eco-friendly practices of the resort. From the gift shop and the mini bar to the food in the restaurant, many products you’ll find at Arenas del Mar are natural, organic, and sourced from local companies. 

We did venture off the property once for a dinner with some other resorts guests. The resort does provide a free shuttle into the greater Manuel Antonio area for exploration.

Luxury Doesn’t Mean Wasteful

Infinity Pool near reception area

Rest assured that this upscale indulgence is just the surface of your experience. Behind the scenes, sustainability and supporting the local community is at the forefront of this posh Costa Rica resort’s mission. Solar panels are utilized to heat the hot water. The pools are chlorine-free, instead using ionization to clean the water. Twenty percent of the resort’s land is devoted to the rooms, facilities, and beach while the remaining 80% is protected as part of the Cayuga Nature Conservancy.  

The raccoon who was casing our room to see if he could steal snacks lol

Keep your eyes open at all times, as you’re sure to see an array of the incredible wildlife that can be found on the property. From Sloths to Iguanas, White-face Capuchin Monkeys, and more. This is their home first and foremost, and we are lucky to be their guests.

This was by far one of my top five eco resorts I’ve ever stayed at. My dream home since I was a child was a home with a forest as my backyard and beach at my front-yard. Above all, my experience confirmed the I, along along with millions of others, are nature deficient. To wake up each morning in such a place was restorative and rejuvenating. I was in gratitude to experience Arenas del Mar and committed to make it a place to visit several times in my lifetime.

Pura Vida: Visit and Enjoy

To top it all off, I would say that if you get the opportunity to visit, don’t hesitate. Costa Rica is one of the most serene locations on Planet Earth. By visiting, you will actually be helping to make the world a greener place since the country aims to be carbon-neutral by 2020.

Special thanks to the Cayuga for facilitating this trip.
All opinions are my own. – Yoli Ouiya | Founder of

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Yoli Ouiya

Yoli Ouiya is a spokesperson, consultant and speaker on sustainability initiatives. Yoli is an omnipresent part of the Green movement. She has been dubbed the “Queen of Green”, noting her function as the go-to social media presence for everything “green”.