The idea of “going green” and living life in an eco-friendly way is considered to be a relatively new trend; but studies show that the Baby Boomer generation was much more environmentally conscious than young people are today. One way to help the environment, while also enjoying what nature has to offer, is by traveling to eco-friendly destinations, also known as “ecotourism”. The International Ecotourism Society defines this term as “Responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people”. Whether it’s a rustic Wisconsin inn or an exotic location in Belize, there are plenty of options for anyone who wishes to travel going green while also reducing their carbon footprint.
Hawaii is arguably one of the most naturally beautiful places that the United States has to offer, and the government takes special care to balance their large tourism industry with environmental conservation. Stay at the Mango Sunset Bed & Breakfast on Hawaii’s Big Island, which is located on a sustainable organic Kona coffee farm. Tours of the coffee farm are offered and you can enjoy authentic Kona coffee during your entire stay. The Big Island also has guided walking tours of Hawaii’s only active volcano, Kilauea, as well as whale watching tours where you can see humpbacks, sperm whales, pygmy killer whales, and pilot whales – all, which frequent the island year-round. Click HERE for more information.
For traveling abroad, the New York Times selected the following destinations as part of their ecotourism travel guide:
The Galapagos Islands:
Due to its booming tourism industry, the Galapagos was added to the World Heritage Sites in Danger list in 2007 and now has several conservation projects to experience. One of the most popular attractions is the island of Santa Cruz, where you can visit a tortoise farm and see their eggs hatch. The Galapagos has a naturally occurring phenomenon called “upwelling”, when nutrient-rich waters swell to the shallow parts, attracting a large variety of sea life including whales, dolphins, sea lions, and penguins, which you can observe in their natural habitat via boat tours and walking excursions. Click HERE for more information.
Bird watchers will love what Belize has to offer. Over 500 different species migrate through here and you can watch them all in the Chiquibul Forest Reserve. Choose a guided tour, where your guide will tell you which species to look for and help you spot some of the world’s most colorful birds. Several lodges also offer breakfast on open-air decks so you can bird-watch from there as well. Click HERE for more information.
Costa Rica has gorgeous natural sites whether you prefer the ocean, mountains, or forests. Monteverde is the most popular region for ecotourists who like to take guided walking tours and explore the region’s wildlife and plant-life. Costa Rica has 27% of its land dedicated to national parks and reserves, allowing for a high level of conservation so that the environment can thrive and tourists can enjoy the area in its most natural state. Click HERE for more information.
With the Caribbean being one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, the environment has had some setbacks due to overfishing, pollution, and increased carbon emissions. However, Star Island has started a project with a goal to turn the whole island into one large carbon-neutral resort. Some of their methods include harnessing wind power, waste-water treatment, and using electric boats for boat tours. Even though the island is going green, they are not compromising on the level of luxury that their resorts offer – so tourists can enjoy the Bahamas just as they always would, but with minimal damage to the environment. Click HERE for more information.
For ecotourism in North America, Natural Home & Garden recommends the following locations:
At the Papoose Creek Lodge, up to 16 guests can enjoy 50 acres of land that offers horseback riding, fly fishing, and walking tours. The lodge provides organic cotton bathrobes, eco-cleaning, recycling, and uses naturally-sourced products rather than imported goods. The fencing around the property is also safe and wildlife-friendly, with the majority of the land open for elk to roam free during the winter. Click HERE for more information.
Yosemite National Park, California:
This historic park, which is approximately the size of Rhode Island, has millions of visitors every year, which has led to increased air pollution in the area. However, the park’s various eco-friendly programs and conservation efforts still qualify it as a top destination for ecotourists. Some of their policies include waste recycling, using only organic fertilizers and pesticides, banning toxic cleaners, and a shuttle system made up of 18 hybrid buses in order to reduce traffic and carbon emissions. Click HERE for more information.
Clayoquot Sound, British Columbia:
Moose Factory Island, Ontario:
Baja California Sur, Mexico:
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