Skip to content

Regenerative Tourism

Sustainable tourism has been the key model for more than 30 years with the intent to enjoy, educate and have the least possible impact on the ecosystem. Since then these efforts have stagnated but the planet needs our help.

Since the exception in 1975, Punta Leona has stood out in the tourism industry for being pioneers in sustainability programs. We continue to be at the forefront offering our guests a “regenerative trip”, whose model emphasizes the relationship of the human being with self, others and nature.

Through our programs, we wish to intensify the degree of awareness that people have about the importance of  protecting nature, to recognize  that it entails more than planting trees and recycling waste.  –It is to move from the thought of “Egosystems” to “Ecosystems” where the human being is seen as part of the whole and not above all-. Dr. Eduard Müller

In this way, we would like our guests to be part of this experience through our projects:

Scarlet Macaw Regeneration Program
Our Scarlet Macaw Conservation Program emerged in 1994 due to the alarming decrease in the Macaws causing it to be added to the list of endangered species. Thanks to the initiative of Dr. Christopher Vaughan, Punta Leona pioneered in the conservation of scarlet macaws in the wild and not in captivity like other programs in the country. Hence, under the direction of Dr. Christopher Vaughan, Punta Leona integrated a multisectoral work team together with the community, educators, scientists and universities. This effort has led to achieving measurable results that are obvious to those who visit the Central Pacific and the Garabito area.
The artificial nests, which we highlight are made by exlaperos (nest robbers) of the area. They are built with fiberglass and are located near natural nests, and provide another nesting option for the Macaws. Once the baby bird is ready, it leaves the nest. The offspring moves to the mangroves where the parents teach what to eat. “Hence, our Conservation Program is with birds in the wild, otherwise the teaching process is lost," Vaughan said.
Also, through the monitoring cameras in artificial nests, researchers, schoolchildren and the community in general can observe a process that they could never otherwise study.  Competition for nests, the incubation process that occurs between December and February, the birth of the chick and how it feeds, until it finally leaves the nest.

At that time the count of Macaws yielded  just 250 individuals, while today’s counts reach about 600. What actions were taken to achieve these results?

  1. Placement of artificial nests
  2. Environmental education in schools with the creation of a Macaw protection book
  3. Planting trees to serve as food and nesting areas
  4. Placement of 24-hour monitoring cameras

Recently, thanks to the alliance with The Macaw Society in 2021, work has begun on:
  1. Placement of temperature, movement and humidity sensors in nests
  2. Weighing and measuring goslings to determine growth rate
  3. Study of causes of mortality and statistics of births and chicks that fly from the nest.
Regenerative Reef Project
After more than 3 decades of working on the conservation of our forests, Punta Leona is focusing its efforts on the ocean. Replicating the benefits that the planting of more than 75,000 trees has brought us, we are now beginning to "reforest" our oceans through the regenerative reef project.

Experts have stated that in recent years the productivity of rocky areas have suffered alterations due to climate change, sediment movement or overexploitation by fishery resources. In an effort to create habitat for marine life, structures made of marine cement, in shape of "dome" or "bell" were made with cavities, allowing marine species to find shelter, food and a breeding areas.

Within the measures of restoration and rehabilitation of coastal ecosystems, regenerative reefs represent a tool for ecological management and protection. Replenishment of habitat complexity, the creation of new substrates and the replacement of a socio-economic resource helps not only the sea creatures but also the community

This project began in 2019 in Playa Blanca, very close to the Marine Wetland. Punta Leona plans to place about 200  such ocean structures, whose weight range from 300 to 800 kilograms. The bell reefs that we have put in Playa Blanca become a step towards recovery, because it creates shelters, increases the availability of the substrate for the fixation of algae, small mollusks and crustaceans, which serve as food for many marine species and allows to keep the ecosystem healthy.

This is the first project of its kind to be placed in the country, whose monitoring, studies and research served as the basis for creating the National Protocol of Artificial Reefs.

Therefore, the study of the impact of the use of regenerative reefs in a protected system such as Punta Leona, becomes a good laboratory to carry out a study that allows to know in detail the benefits of the use of this type of artificial reef.

The results have been very encouraging, as marine life has thrived rapidly around the reefs, becoming a site that provides food, shelter and possibilities for reproduction.
Coral Cultivation Project
In 2020 Punta Leona, partnered with the Núcleo Náutico Pesquero of the INA in Puntarenas, to began the coral gardening project.  The objective of this project is to restore the populations of coral reefs, one of the most diverse marine ecosystems in the world. These provide habitat for different species of sea creatures, some of them of commercial importance, provide food and protection to many organisms and also protect the coast against erosion. To safeguard their ecological value, coral gardening aims to restore these areas where they have been damaged so that they continue to thrive.

We are currently doing coral gardening in Playa Blanca. Once they reach the right size, the corals will be "transplanted" to the natural rocky reef lines present in the area to begin repopulating the seabed.
It is expected that during the breeding season, the tailpipes will also be able to adhere naturally to our regenerative reefs.

Our coral gardening project in Punta Leona is in its early stages. The goal is to recover areas of living coral within Playa Blanca and if possible replicate the project at other sites in the Gulf of Nicoya.

At present we have some species identified as Porites lobata, Pavona clavus, Pavona gigantea and Pocillopora elegans.

In the first year, we have tested different planting techniques and monitored which species grow faster and which are better adapted to different environmental factors typical of the area, as we brought corals from the North Pacific as well as some local fragments.

For gardening, we use three types of structures made with PVC material, as well as nylon ropes, which are placed about 4 meters deep, without touching the bottom, as a correct entry of light, temperature and currents is sought, with the aim of having the best possible environment for their growth.

At present we place an antenna-type structure, another a clothesline and finally a platform. The first stage began in Limoncito beach, while the second is located in Playa Blanca.
Underwater Museum
The underwater museum is a unique project in the country and Central America and was developed as a parallel project to the regenerative reefs. The sculptures of marine fauna including a large Cacique (chief) Garabito of 3 meters long, are also able to attract marine life and provide refuge to some species.

The underwater sculptures are very visual, regenerative and a living experience, because art interacts with nature and together they will evolve over time. We want the underwater museum  to be an accessible project to the beach goers and snorkelers. We are sure that it will bring the public closer to the marine environment, to the conservation and protection of this habitat.

The sculptures are located just 50 meters from the coast, in front of the terraces of Playa Blanca, at a depth of 2 meters at low tide and about 5 at high tide. They were designed by the Costa Rican sculptor Fabio Brenes, who lives in Orotina. He was also aided in his work with the help of students from the James Madison University of the United States.

The underwater museum is expected to reach a maximum of 15 sculptures, all of them between 2 and 3 meters long.
Olive Ridley Turtle Conservation Program
Punta Leona, having a privileged geographical point in the Central Pacific, is visited by sea turtles as a spawning site. Year after year a group of olive ridley turtles arrive at Playa Blanca and Playa Mantas to lay their eggs. The natural predation, especially by raccoons along  the small sandy areas of the beach, makes the nests easily discoverable with hundreds lost every year, with some years being practically 100%.

The percentage of survival is approximately 2%, that is, 2 turtles per nest, which is why sea turtles are considered an endangered species.  

That is why, in partnership with the MAREBLU Environmental Organization, daily patrols are carried out. In this effort, nests are identified and moved to places with better conditions and a protective mesh is placed to avoid predation or any intervention that puts them at risk.

In this way, we have managed to increase the number of effective nest births, seeing hundreds of sea turtles reach the sea that we are sure will return to the beach where they were born.