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Arguably the world's most exuberant and diverse plant family, orchids reflect Costa Rica's extraordinary landscapes and biodiversity. This spring will see the Eden Project’s exotic Orchid Display celebrating the diversity of Costa Rica's flora, as part of our partnership with the Costa Rica Tourism Board.

The exhibit was inspired by the fascinating stories of Orchid Mania – when fantastical new species were hunted down and brought back from the tropics by traders and scientists in the 19th century.

Costa Rica boasts an incredible 1,400 species of orchid, 20% of which are endemic to the country. Of these, the most prolific are the Epidendrum and Maxillaria. Costa Rica’s national flower is an exquisite orchid – the guaria morada (Guarianthe skinneri), known for its purple hues and diamond-like shimmer, which has long been an important feature in Costa Rican homes. The guaria morada is sometimes associated with the beauty of the Costa Rican people, and the purple bloom represents the abundance, fragility and elegance of nature. 

Our partnership with Costa Rica

The Orchid Display partnership is a celebration Costa Rica’s beautiful landscapes, extensive wildlife and incredible flora and fauna, and will help to share the inspirational stories behind Eden and Costa Rica’s shared ambitions and goals for sustainable tourism and conservation.

Examples of Costa Rican orchids

Arpophyllum giganteum

The minute purple flowers of Arpophyllum are tightly arranged in a robust cylindrical staff that is highly attractive to local hummingbirds that swiftly peck each flower in search of nectar.        

Photo: Adam Karremans, Lankester Botanical Garden, University of Costa Rica

Cattleya dowiana

With its large yellow flowers with a reddish-purple lip, Cattleya dowiana is Costa Rica's most beautiful orchid species. The species is known locally as guaria Turrialba, after a region where it is found.

Photo: Adam Karremans, Lankester Botanical Garden, University of Costa Rica       


Coryanthes horichiana

Species of the genus Coryanthes are amongst the most bizarre in the orchid family, they have a bucket-shaped lip that hold a liquid that drips continuously from a pair of horns. Male Euglossini bees, the pollinators, fall into the bucket whilst attempting to collect the perfumes produced by the orchid.

Photo: Diego Bogarín, Lankester Botanical Garden, University of Costa Rica

Sobralia turrialbina

Species of the genus Sobralia bear delicate flowers that last only a few hours, earning them the popular name one-day-flowers. They vary greatly in colors, most being white or purple, but shades of yellow, red and pink may also be found in some species.

Photo: Adam Karremans, Lankester Botanical Garden, University of Costa Rica     


Vanilla inodora

Everyone's favourite flavouring, vanilla, is obtained naturally only from the seed pods of the vanilla orchid. There are about a dozen naturally occurring vanilla species in Costa Rica, and about half are fragrant.

Photo: Adam Karremans, Lankester Botanical Garden, University of Costa Rica           

About Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a year-round destination, boasting an abundance of unique wildlife, landscapes and twin tropical climates – both Caribbean and Pacific. It has been recognised as one of the most positive and happy countries on the planet, known by its reputation for Pura Vida ‘Pure Life’ – an expression and a way of life, reflecting the people of Costa Rica and the wonders of its unspoiled natural beauty.

Despite its small size, Costa Rica proudly shelters 6.5% of the world’s biodiversity, with 95,000 registered species. 26% of the country is allocated to conservation as protected areas, and it boasts an abundance of unique wildlife, landscapes and climates. Over the past six years, a new species has been discovered on average every 2.5 days. 

Visitors to Costa Rica can enjoy a wealth of activities, including: stunning beaches – it boasts over 1500km of pristine coastline; adventure and watersports – including diving, snorkelling, paddle-boarding and parasailing; whale watching - one of the best spots to watch humpback whales coming from North and South America; Volcano exploring – with over 100 volcanoes, 5 of which are active;  and adventure and ecotourism activities – from canopy tours to zip lining through the trees to horse riding.

Sustainable tourism

The protection of Costa Rica’s wildlife and diverse natural environment is at the heart of the country’s pioneering model for sustainable tourism. By 2021 the country plans to be carbon neutral.

The Costa Rica Tourism Board (ICT) developed the Sustainability Certification Program (CST) for tourist enterprises in order to categorize and distinguish those Costa Rican hotels that demonstrate sustainability within their operations, with respect to the management of natural, cultural, and social resources.

Sustainability seeks a balanced interaction between three essential aspects within the tourism industry: appropriate administration of natural and cultural resources, improvement of the quality of life of neighbouring communities, and economic success that contributes to other national development programs.

'Our partnership with Eden Project comes as a natural synergy due to our shared vision on sustainability. '

María Amalia Revelo, Minister of Tourism, Costa Rica

Eco tourism

Costa Rica is a lush country where nature is on display in all its splendour, and offers incredible opportunities to study and observe the salient features of nature, and ecological, geological and other processes, such as bird watching, observation of flora and fauna, volcanoes, hiking, trails and national parks.

The nation has 29 national parks, 19 wildlife refuges, 8 biological reserves, and a series of protected areas that captivate lovers of ecotourism activities. Excursion offerings and tours are varied, including: horseback riding, hiking mountain trails, guided tours for bird watching, forests, landscapes and natural heritage sites, as well as aerial trams, lakes and rivers full of flora and fauna.

This tourism product not only aims to provide beautiful natural experiences for tourists, but also to educate visitors about the importance of protecting natural resources.

Rural tourism

Rural Tourism (R.T.) and Community-Based Rural Tourism (C.R.T.) provide an authentic experience with personalised attention that allows you to enjoy our form of rural living, and to get know the essence and identity of Costa Ricans. It is characterised by quality provided by every company that offers these products.

In a perfect combination of nature and culture, you will discover Costa Rica’s “Pura Vida” lifestyle while enjoying and sharing diverse environments of peace, comfort and communal living with our customs and traditions, immersed in a magnificent natural diversity.

Eden Project in Costa Rica

To further our mission, Eden Project International was set up to work with communities and partners around the world to develop and implement transformational projects. 

Costa Rica - a biodiversity hotspot and global leader in conservation - is a natural place for Eden Project to partner with. 

'Our mission is to provoke actions of transformation that inspire others to constantly improve the thinking, systems and actions that will lead humanity to live beautifully within the Planetary Boundaries as best we can define them.'

Sir Tim Smit

One of our partnerships is with the Matambú Nature Reserve on the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica. Here, 3,480 hectares (8,601 acres) of farm land was assembled and allowed to naturally regenerate into secondary growth tropical dry forest. It is now a place where plants and wildlife can thrive and has benefitted the local community by safeguarding their water supply. By exploring four key themes - ecological restoration, learning and research, sustainable livelihoods and using the story as a global example - this project aims to explore the question - ‘What does a healthy landscape that includes humans look like?’ - and to inspire future generations that the future remains ours to make.

Win a family holiday to Costa Rica

As part of our partnership with the Costa Rica Tourism Board, we’re offering one lucky winner and their family the chance to win a nine-day holiday to Costa Rica, courtesy of specialist tour operator Journey Latin America, including direct flights on British Airways.

Enter the competition

Top image: Matthew Ferris