CIRENAS is based on the Pacific coast of the Nicoya Peninsula within Hacienda Ario; a 4,700 acre family owned mixed use coastal ranch. The property resides next to the Caletas-Ario Nature Reserve, one of the last large stretches of undeveloped coastline in the region. The 750-acre nature reserve was established in 2006 by the Costa Rican government and the Grew family. The area contains two of the largest rivers on the peninsula, wetland and mangrove complexes, tropical dry forests, agricultural areas, small rural communities and a 12 nautical mile marine protected area, home to nesting sea turtles.
Hacienda Ario is committed to sustainable development in the Nicoya Peninsula and is engaging in reforestation programs as well as implementing organic agricultural practices with the goal of receiving a certification from the Rainforest Alliance for sustainable agriculture and ranching. Hacienda Ario is also the first large-scale ranch to be certified by the Sustainable Blue Flag Program (Bandera Azul), a government program for climate change mitigation (NOTE: Costa Rica has the goal of becoming the first carbon neutral country by 2021). From this desire to promote sustainability on all fronts, CIRENAS was established in 2007.
Since its founding, CIRENAS has hosted more than 1,000 students of all ages, faculty, scientists, and others in a variety of programs emphasizing sustainable living and transformational cross-cultural experiences. Courses include opportunities for Spanish immersion, experiential education, outdoor leadership, tropical biology, sustainability, environmental conservation, social responsibility, and service learning.
Cirenas is committed to providing students and guests inspiring and transformative experiences that create positive change for a better world and a better tomorrow.