The northern, drier section of Costa Rica's west coast serves as the hub of the country's booming hospitality industry. Sustainability advocates used to regard this region as an epicenter of responsible tourism. In recent years, "huge resorts," and "identikit high-rise condo communities" have taken over. In the less developed south the picture is better. "Long stretches of still-unspoiled sandy beaches abut forested hills and valleys."
Here is a representative sampling of additional anonymous comments from the panelists. They are not necessarily the views of the National Geographic Society:
"The Pacific coast in Costa Rica is in danger of losing everything that made it popular in the first place, in the north at least. There are too many large hotels, and the national parks, particularly Manuel Antonio, seem poorly managed."
"The Osa Peninsula is one of the best places in the world to see sustainable tourism working effectively. Unfortunately, the Guanacaste section of that same coast, as well as some sub-destinations between Osa and Guanacaste, violates most of what Costa Rica's pioneering sustainable tourism entrepreneurs worked to create. Developers now rule the roost."
"Too much development for my taste. Lots of condos and commercialism. The turtle nesting grounds are in trouble."
"Large-scale resorts and associated residential development are ruining what was once the world's showcase for ecotourism."
2014 Traveler Photo Contest
See all the winning images from the 2014 Traveler Photo Contest.