03/22/2011 11:17 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Entering Sloth Country: The Best of Ecotourism in Costa Rica (PHOTOS)

If you're in search of an environmentally responsible getaway, Costa Rica is a safe bet. With more than 26% of its land protected, 99% of its electrical energy from clean sources, and no state military, this small nation may well be the happiest place on earth.

The pace of life in Costa Rica reflects the country's unofficial national motto -- pura vida -- which translates loosely to "pure life" or "rich life." It can be used in response to "how are you?"; instead of "you're welcome"; and as a general phrase to express satisfaction or indifference.

Costa Rica also has the distinction of being incredibly rich in biodiversity. The national parks boast a variety of landscapes, including lush rainforests, dramatic beaches, and active volcanoes. During my visit to Manuel Antonio National Park, I encountered some very friendly monkeys, and an eye-opening example of how our development can affect the wildlife.

Amazing Animals in Manuel Antonio National Park