Costa Rica is synonymous with eco-friendliness. The Central American country became the poster child for ecotourism as the term arose in the 1990s; today, with approximately 26% of its land devoted to national parks, wildlife reserves, and protected lands, Costa Rica’s status as a forward-thinking, environmentally-devoted country is second to none. Which is why its extra-satisfying to stay in a villa that boasts eco-conscious design features that align with the country’s whole philosophy. These villas decisively prove that sustainability can be stylish, too.
Villa Agua Clara in Santa Teresa
Designed specifically to feel like an natural extension of its surroundings, Villa Agua Clara gets major environmental points for its use of eco-friendly LED lights and natural materials like bamboo. Laid out around a courtyard that features a relaxing pool and outdoor shower—and surrounded by a riot of trees and the constant melody of birdsong—relaxation is easy here. Both the living and dining areas are open-sided to the pool, as is the breakfast bar in the fully-equipped kitchen. Plus all three bedrooms have en-suite bathrooms and air conditioning; the two larger bedrooms also feature lounge areas.
When you’re ready to explore, follow the winding path that leads directly from the villa to the clear blue waters of Playa Hermosa (it’s barely a two-minute walk away). If you’re a surfer, definitely check out the world-class surf break at nearby Playa Santa Teresa, too. And whether you hang ten or not, wandering the up-and-coming beach town of Santa Teresa is a must—everything from Costa Rican fare to surprisingly excellent sushi at Koji’s from local Japanese sushi master, Koji Hyodo, if on offer.
El Chante in Tamarindo
You won’t directly see the sustainable practices at play in paradiasical El Chante, but that’s the beauty of this tropical haven’s clever architecture. Most notably, the villa’s open-air design completely eliminates the need for air conditioning in the common spaces (note that there is AC in the bedrooms and media room). You’ll never even miss it though: Thanks to the villa’s elevated treetop location, a plethora of windows draw in cool breezes from the ocean below (and if necessary, ceiling fans provide an eco-friendly assist!) And the other notable sustainable design feature? The villa’s recycled water (i.e., gray water) is re-routed to irrigate its lush landscape. Rich natural wood construction also allows the villa to blend in harmoniously with the surrounding lush greenery and fruit trees.
Otherwise, El Chante pulls out all the stops for eco-luxury style. The infinity pool seems to float along the treeline, the sun loungers and wet bar invite lengthy hang-out sessions, and the massage studio and yoga deck area is simply divine. There’s an open great room, a state-of-the-art kitchen, an entertainment cabana kitted out with satellite TV in the media room, and four distinct bungalows that accommodate up to ten guests. Plus, reservations include full-time security, daily housekeeping, fresh Costa Rican breakfasts, and surf boards at the ready. Guests also receive complimentary access to the nearby Pangas Beach Club, known for its romantic beachside dining.
Further reduce your carbon footprint by not driving, but walking to the beach or downtown Tamarindo (each just about a two-minute jaunt away). The golf courses at Reserva Conchal and Hacienda Pinilla are also walkable—or you can rent a low-emission golf cart to get around, too.
Villa Tropical in Playa Flamingo
Villa Tropical boasts plenty of eco-friendly credibility. Interiors are strategically positioned to allow cooling cross breezes to waft through the living spaces, the home is fully lit by energy-saving LED bulbs, and hot water is solar-heated and then recycled for use in the gardens. It’s sustainable design done so seamlessly that you may barely notice—a hallmark of great design—because so many other amazing features will claim your attention. The heart of the house is its expansive terrace and saltwater infinity pool, surrounded by cozy chaise loungers, an outdoor kitchen, and shady dining area. Right next to it, nearly invisible sliding glass doors further expand the villa’s indoor-outdoor living spaces by connecting the terrace to a long open-plan great room with a living area, dining area, and fully equipped kitchen. There’s three bedrooms in the villa’s main house, and one additional in a guest house (perfect for a honeymoon or in-law suite).
The villa is set on three tree-filled private acres, with views of both the mountains and the ocean. But there’s still plenty of lawn space available to play games, or, head straight to the half basketball court to shoot some hoops. And once you step away from this magical private retreat, the community club house is barely a one-minute walk away, and you’re situated a quick three-mile drive or less from three different beaches. Vibrant downtown Tamarindo is also nearby for shopping, dining and entertainment.
Villa Mayana in Dominical
From its thoughtful use of natural materials like sandstone, Almendro timber, bamboo, and native Cristobal wood to the solar panels that help power the house and the recycled gray water that nurtures the gardens, lovely Villa Mayana is an eco-conscious wonderland. Set on a hilltop with view of the Pacific and the mountains near Dominical, this sustainable getaway is an ideal home base to explore the famous “Whale’s Tail” reef in Ballena National Park or relax on Hermosa Beach. That is, if you can bear to leave the estate itself. Inviting spots like the perfectly reflective infinity pool, the hot tub, the covered central lounge area, and the fire pit make it tough to tear yourself away.
Step inside to discover a villa divided into two wings of bedrooms joined by a central, breezy pavilion—with an awe-inspiring 30-foot-high thatched cathedral ceiling—that covers airy sitting and dining areas and kitchen. Both the east and west wings boast bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms, outdoor showers and private terraces; each wing also has a dedicated reading room (which can be used as an additional bedroom).
Villa Mayana is located in the 75-acre Achiote Private Reserve (so the surroundings are serene) yet it’s just minutes from the ocean. Keep your carbon footprint smaller still by embarking on the 10-minute walk to picturesque Hermosa Beach (rather than a two-minute drive!). Do jump in the care to head to the town of Dominical, just 10 minutes away, where you’ll find restaurants, grocery stores, a medical center, and more.
Rancho Cielo in Santa Teresa
Rancho Cielo is the ultimate tree house of your childhood dreams, all grown up and luxuriously decked out. What’s more, this tree-skimming, five-bedroom home is environmentally-friendly too. Impressively, it’s all powered by solar-generated electricity (so you don’t even have to worry about flipping on the artisanal shell chandelier over the dining table!). But don’t worry—there’s still WIFI throughout and air conditioning in the bedrooms. Reservations include breakfasts prepared by your personal cook, who uses locally-sourced ingredients to whip up something delectable each morning.
And how will you spend your days at Rancho Cielo? Deckside, looking out over the treetops or floating in the infinity pool, we’re betting. No matter where you choose to hang out within the villa, open walls and fold-away glass panels also seamlessly connect living spaces to the surroundings, so the feeling of perching in the sky never quite leaves you. Even each of the bedrooms (there are three in the main house and two in the guest house) has an ensuite al fresco rain shower, so yes, you’ll remain connected to nature even while sudsing up. The master suite also has its own lounge area, wet bar with wine fridge, and private terrace to further take in the views. And when you’re ready to leave the nest, walk the private trail to Hermosa Beach or alternatively, take a chauffeured buggy (transportation included with your stay) down to the ocean. The surfer’s hangout of Santa Teresa Beach is also just a five-minute drive away.