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Find unlimited opportunities for adventure, relaxation, romance when traveling to the eco-friendly destination of Costa Rica.
With an abundance of unique wildlife, landscapes and climates the country proudly shelters approximately five percent of the existing biodiversity and 3.5 percent of its marine life in the world. Costa Rica produces nearly 93 percent of its electricity from renewable resources and 30 percent of its territory is protected natural land. It is home to 20 natural parks, eight biological reserves and a series of protected areas that captivate ecotourism lovers around the world. Visitors can horseback ride, hike mountains paths in cloud forests, and go on guided birdwatching tours. From the mountains and rainforests to 1,500 kilometers (900 miles) of pristine coastline, Costa Rica offers a truly unique eco-friendly vacation.
For Costa Ricans sustainability is a way of life. With a goal to be the first carbon neutral country in the world by 2021, sustainable practices are observed in every region of the country, across all industries, adopted by all citizens and embraced by visitors. Costa Rica established the Certification for Sustainable Tourism (CST) program which not only evaluates but also assists business owners in making strategic decisions that will result in the long-term preservation of Costa Rica’s environment. From local Costa Rican cuisine to artisan crafts to traditional customs and celebrations, sustainability is embedded deeply in the culture and traditions.
Though small in size (685 square miles), Martinique boasts a whole world of natural wonders, making it one of the Caribbean’s top eco destinations. So bountiful are the island’s ecotourism offerings, in fact, that Caribbean World Magazine has named Martinique “Best Eco Island of the Year 2006.” Two-thirds of Martinique is designated as protected park land, affording visitors to the island with a wide range of nature-themed vacation adventures from north to south.
Mountainous and lush, with eye-popping vistas in all directions, Martinique’s northern region is home to some of the Caribbean’s most vibrant rainforests. The island’s volcanic origin is most apparent here with Majestic Mount Pelée, Martinique’s dormant volcano and tallest peak (4,600 feet), dominating the skyline. The slightly smaller, though equally spectacular Pitons du Carbet (4,000 feet) lay just to the south. This is prime hiking ground with refreshing springs and waterfalls dotting well-marked trails all sheltered by a tangle of ferns, bamboo and other exotic flora and fauna.
Canyoning adventures also abound in Martinique’s lush northern area. The Gorges de la Falaise offer one of the more popular canyoning attractions. This special area, tucked away in the heart of the northern rainforest near Mount Pelée features a remarkable little canyon with a hiking trail to a stunning waterfall. The hot springs of Prêcheur on the north coast, where water temperatures reach up to 120-degrees, as well as the Alma Spring, Rivière Mitan and Absalon Falls – all located in the Pitons du Carbet – also offer tremendous canyoning. It’s no wonder that Martinque was named the Best Canyoning Destination by National Geographic Traveler in 2009.
This region is home to the alluvial plain of Lamentin, an extension of Fort-de-France Bay, and the largest of Martinique’s coastal swamps of mangrove trees. Martinique’s mangrove swamps are an ecotourist’s dream. Living among the mangroves’ arched roots and the salty, muddy surrounding waters is a vast eco-system comprised of an extensive variety of fish and crustaceans. Bird watching is tremendous here as many different species of birds are prevalent in this area as well. To fully immerse oneself in the beauty and splendor of the mangroves, kayaking or canoeing is the best option.
From the mountains in the north to the plains in the central region, Martinique’s topography changes again in the south as rocky hills known as mornes frame pristine beach coves called anses. Here, leisure visitors delight in a collection of the finest beaches in the Caribbean while more active types enjoy hiking adventures within the area’s intricate pattern of valleys and fjord-like coves. Hiking over the mornes from one beach to the next provides a fun and exhilarating way to fully enjoy this sun-kissed paradise. Martinique’s southern beaches are renowned for their wonderful golden sand, a major departure from the silver-blue sands that comprise the beaches in the northern volcanic region.
A central attraction in southern Martinique is Rocher du Diamant (Diamond Rock). The Caribbean’s answer to the Rock of Gibraltar, Rocher du Diamant rises 600 feet from sea and is located just three miles offshore. This massive block of limestone was seized and fortified in 1804 by the British who turned it into a stationary warship, of sorts, which they dubbed the HMS Diamond Rock. The French recaptured Diamond Rock in 1805, whereupon the British sailors fled to Barbados and were court-martialed for abandoning their “ship.”