Mother Nature Will Thank You!
Many travelers are moved by the striking beauty found on Earth, from white sand beaches to lush jungles to snow-capped peaks. We are so lucky that we get to explore the natural wonders this planet has to offer, and we can all do our part to ensure the next generation of adventurers is able to do the same! By traveling to destinations with a focus on sustainability and maintaining the beauty and ecological health of their respective regions, we can be as good to the planet as it’s been to us. Take note of these seven ecotourism hotspots for your first 2019 getaway.
This misty and mysterious archipelago of 18 islands is not only home to breathtaking views across the vast Atlantic, but some of the most sustainable infrastructure in the world. While there’s hardly any car traffic on the islands, your best bet is to bring some serious hiking boots and walk to your destinations. Visitors can see how important environmental preservation is in Faroese culture when visiting the island’s sustainable fisheries, the wind energy park outside Tórshavn and tasting local foods like ræst meats and fish, which are naturally fermented by air-drying the foods in the Faroe Islands’ salty, brisk air.
Reykjanes Unesco Global Geopark, Iceland
Full of natural wonders to behold, the Mid-Atlantic Ridge peeks out above sea level in Reykjanes Geopark to expose the volcanic activity that’s shaped the land. Nowhere in the park is it more clear how this region has harnessed the use of green geothermal energy than at the Blue Lagoon, a natural geothermal spa whose steamy turquoise waters are world famous. Conservation is perfectly melded with luxurious travel accommodation in this unmissable park located near the capital city of Reykjavík.
Feel free to wander care-free in Trancoso’s car-free town square, Quadrado, which is UNESCO protected and lined with rainbow colored houses. Guests at UXUA Casa Hotel and Spa will get the authentic Bahian experience by staying in these traditional (and perfectly boho-chic) casas, each one unique and restored to maintain the rich cultural history of the area. Not only is this hotel sustainable and low-impact, it is also steps away from the coast and plenty of opportunities to surf, sea kayak, explore the jungle and more.
The Greek island of Alonnisos is regularly recognized as a top destination for sustainable travel due to its protection of the island’s natural habitat and historic architecture, its energy efficiency initiatives and its decision to stop using wasteful plastic bags. The island makes it a priority to take the wellbeing of the local community into consideration as tourism grows, meaning that you can snorkel in the Alonnisos National Marine Park (the first marine-protected area in Greece) and enjoy a sunset stroll through the old town of Chora with a peaceful conscience.
Fashion lovers, rejoice! At the Museo Textil de Oaxaca, visitors can learn about the city’s tradition of handmade textiles and styles, which are much less harsh on the environment than fast fashion (aka the quick production of clothes to sell trending styles). For a more personal take on the industry, make a short trip outside the city to the Zapotec community of weavers for a self-guided tour of their many workshops, which use only natural dyes. If you’re the type who loves fresh-pressed juices, check out La Cosecha organic market, where many of the vendors keep things low-waste by serving up delicious organic fare without plastic containers.
Chumbe Island, Tanzania
Just off the coast of Zanzibar, Chumbe Island is a world-renowned nature reserve established to preserve the rare coral island, one of the last left in the area. The reserve’s infrastructure treads as lightly as possible on the island’s ecosystems by re-using rainwater, using solar energy and water heating, composting toilets and many more green initiatives. If nature walks and pristine coral reefs call your name, don’t miss the boat on this incredible experience.
Palawan Province, Philippines
The city of Puerto Princesa is often lauded for its sustainable development, particularly in regards to its ever-growing ecotourism industry. Boat tours lead visitors around the hidden caverns and falls of Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park. If you’re feeling more adventurous, the secluded Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park is a 10-hour boat ride from Puerto Princesa which offers some of the world’s best diving and is home to more than 600 species of fish.