Tag Archives: Costa Rica souvenirs

The Most Sustainable Souvenirs to Bring Home from Costa Rica

Shop sustainably and responsibly when visiting Costa Rica and make your adventure vacation even more rewarding!

As the international tourism industry moves towards a more socially and environmentally-friendly model, it may seem difficult to ascertain what constitutes a sustainable souvenir. In Costa Rica, the world’s pioneer of eco-tourism, the choice is made much easier, with a host of sustainable souvenirs taking over the market, helping visitors steer clear of anything that may contribute to deforestation or illegal wildlife capture.

An overwhelming majority of craftsmen and women in Costa Rica are exceptionally passionate about sustainability and you’ll certainly know who they are as soon as you meet them. They’ll proudly tell you the source of the product they create which is something your guide can help you confirm.

Here are just some of the most sustainable souvenirs to bring home from Costa Rica:

Coopedota coffee

Costa Rica edible souvenirThe first carbon-neutral coffee cooperative in the Americas, Dota comprises 800 farms in Costa Rica, all committed to offsetting their carbon emissions by generating energy from organic waste.

Their coffee blends have won international accolades and are certainly the best you can taste in Costa Rica, a country that exports 99% of its premium grade beans. Skip the commercial variety you find in supermarkets and head to Santa Maria de Dota to tour the facilities and stock up on some exceptionally delicious coffee your family and friends will love. You’ll find Coopedota RL about 40 miles south of San Jose, just south of El Jardin.

The Banana Paper Company products

The bane of Costa Rica’s waterways for decades, the by-product of the banana industry has been a literal environmental disaster, up until a consortium of entrepreneurs decided to create The Banana Paper Company. The BPC produces eco-friendly paper whilst, at the same time, cleaning up the country of its agricultural waste. The company produces gorgeous notepads and binder diaries in all sorts of bright colors, as well as greeting cards and coffee filters, which you’ll find in artisanal markets all over the country.

Melina wood crafts

Melina is an exceptionally great tree, growing fast and straight and, when cultivated right, taking the focus and stress off Costa Rica’s native trees. The country is a great grower of Melina trees and the wood is touted as being the saviour of the country’s forests. This ‘super wood’ is used extensively in sustainable timber farming and, in Costa Rica, makes up to almost 60% of all lumber produced from dedicated plantations. The tree was originally introduced from its natural habitat in Asia, back in 1966 and, by 1997, that initial 2000-hectare plot had grown exponentially, covering up to 50,000 hectares. With 15% of the world’s Melina timber forests now present in Costa Rica, the country exports its sustainable timber, worldwide. In Costa Rica, you’ll find all sorts of souvenirs made from Melina wood, from serving platters, cutting boards and bowls to distinctive placemats, vases and colourful masks.

Boruca carved devil masks & weaved textiles

Just a short distance south of Playa Dominical is where you’ll find the Boruca Gallery & Gift Shop, a wonderful outlet which collects and sells indigenous carved masks (and other items) from the local Boruca tribe members. Surviving almost entirely on these exceptional crafts, the Boruca people are part of a collection of several indigenous groups who inhabit Costa Rica’s southern region, high up in the Talamanca Mountain range, where they have been living for centuries. Their traditional mask-carving skills are legendary and their carving and painting skills simply stunning. Whilst Boruca men are involved with mask-carving, Boruca women produce and sell their wonderful weaved cloths and bags, which also make for perfect and sustainable souvenirs. To make your purchase responsible, head to the shop where they are collected, thus avoiding copycats who want to cut in on the market. Include a visit on your Costa Rica vacation itinerary and you’ll enjoy a superb cultural experience as well as a great shopping trip to boot.

Handmade Costa Rica Jewellery & Crafts

One of the best ways to minimize the environmental impact of your purchases in Costa Rica is to steer well-clear of mass-produced, factory souvenirs and, instead, hone in on hand-made treasures, especially those made by the country’s crafty indigenous groups. No matter where you travel in Costa Rica, you’ll undoubtedly come across local markets where artisans sell their hand-made creations directly to visitors. Not only will you bag a one-of-a-kind piece to take home but you’ll know you are not contributing to major polluting factories in the process.

Costa Rica is an incredibly unique and wonderful country to visit and showcases a long history and an interesting cultural identity. Alongside the most sustainable souvenirs you can bring home from Costa Rica, there are also plenty of cultural souvenirs that are sure to brighten up any home and bring you years of joyful vacation flashbacks. Along with your extensive collections of photos and unforgettable memories, they are all bound to enhance your experience here.

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The Best Cultural Souvenirs that Just Scream COSTA RICA

Unforgettable memories are by far the most precious souvenir you could bring back from your Costa Rica vacation. But let’s face it…what’s a vacay without a little shopping spree? Add to that an enticing infusion of history and culture and what you’ll get is the perfect souvenir to bring home. Or several of them. Souvenirs that just screams ‘COSTA RICA!’ whenever you see them.

Whether useful or not, cultural or simply ‘pretty’, unique or edible, Costa Rica offers an array of fantastic souvenirs for the shopper, collector, or gift-giver. But if you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind work of art, that reflects the country’s indigenous cultures and history, then look no further than Costa Rica’s best cultural souvenirs to bring home.

But be warned: you may just want to pack an extra travel bag.

Miniature Painted Oxcarts

Painted Costa Rica ox cartUnsurprisingly, most of Costa Rica’s best souvenirs are hand-made, carved and stitched using natural and sustainable materials. Renowned for being an ecologically conscious nation, the country’s best souvenirs are made with love, both for the artwork and the land the materials derive from, and represent a taste of the culture and multi-colored landscapes.

So fine, bringing home a hand-painted oxcart may be a bit of a challenge, but the Ticos have you covered. Miniature wooden oxcarts are the ideal souvenir for visitors who want a unique and unmistakable keepsake of their trip to Costa Rica. For the best in the country, head to the city of Sarchi, just an hour’s drive north from the capital, San Jose. This immensely charming town is renowned for its intricately carved and painted artifacts, including not only oxcarts but also masks, furniture, and stunning jewellery.

Boruca Masks

Costa Rica boruca maskBoruca masks, which were used by indigenous Boruca warriors in their fights against the conquistadores, are arguably the second-most favoured Costa Rican souvenir and have become so ubiquitous they are literally found in just about every stall and souvenir shop in the country.

Many of the cheaper masks you’ll find are ‘imitations’, so if you’re in the market for an authentic piece, made by a Boruca tribesperson, then you ought to visit an upmarket art gallery or souvenir boutique instead. Traditionally, Boruca masks are multi-dimensional works of art, brightly painted with drawings depicting scenes and wildlife of Costa Rica. The more complex pieces can set you back $200, but if you’re after a truly special souvenir to hang on your wall, then this would certainly be it.

Chorotega Pottery

Costa rica chorotega potteryThe Chorotega people of north-western Costa Rica (they used to inhabit Honduras and Nicaragua as well) have lost much of their traditional language and way of life over the years, yet still retain their incredible pottery skills. In the small towns of San Vincente and Guaitil, beehive-shaped kiln ovens are a telltale sign that amazing workshops are around.

Chorotega pottery is about the last remnant of a tribe that was one of the strongest in the country by the time Europeans arrived. And it’s a stunning one at that. This incredible legacy is being kept alive through local workshops and organizations that promote the art, keep the indigenous history alive and promote the craftsmanship throughout the country. You’ll find everything from stunning plates, bowls, vases and animal sculptures for that utterly unique and historical souvenir-lover.