As a traveler, you probably sift through a lot of varied criteria in order to decide on a single destination for your next trip. One aspect that’s becoming more important to lots of global travelers is the eco-friendliness of their destination, since many of the world’s most beautiful stopping points are on the brink of being loved to death. If you’re concerned about your carbon footprint and the “green” quotient of your travels, know that many locations the world over are making great strides toward preserving the environment. Here are four fun and offbeat destinations that you should consider for your next vacation.
1. The Republic of Palau
Palau is a small country that's made up of more than 500 islands, and is located in the Pacific Ocean, between the Philippines and Guam. As one of the world’s most prominent diving destinations, Palau risked incurring great harm in the country’s pristine waters from too much interference by man. Although the island’s remote location in Micronesia has kept it off the beaten path of mass tourism, the government is still being proactive and making an effort to ensure that the country's gorgeous natural environment remains minimally impacted by human touch. Nearly 500 miles of reefs are designated no-fishing zones, and as a result, many endangered fish species have repopulated the area. The Palau Conservation Society oversees about two dozen conservation zones and is in charge of encouraging sustainable development. It's an excellent, guilt-free choice for a beach getaway. Diving is best in Palau between December and March, because the water is warm and calm, and you're likely to experience less rain.
2. Costa Rica
Costa Rica is a beloved tropical getaway and is well known to many responsible tourists. With lush rainforests, national parks, and nature reserves, it’s a pillar of sustainable development within the international community. The country is on the forefront of eco-friendliness with its national rating system that grades lodgings on their environmental conscientiousness. The country is full of eco-lodges that are both swanky and humble, featuring such amenities as organic, farm-to-table dining, naturally-heated rock pools for bathing, and tours that are guided by experts in sustainable tourism, just to name a few. It’s a beautiful spot with a well-developed tourism industry and ecotourism infrastructure to ensure that your next trip there has a tiny impact on the country’s stunning biodiversity and natural beauty. The most popular time to visit Costa Rica (which is also the busiest and most expensive time) is during the country's dry season, between December and April.
Lithuania is a sleeper favorite with responsible tourists as the country embraces the U.N.’s sustainable development goals and works toward having a greener tourism industry. The country has set a goal of 23 percent use of renewable energy by 2020—and as of 2015, it was already nearly there. Lithuania was the first Baltic nation to become part of the World Tourism Organization and has, ever since, demonstrated a commitment to sustainability. The country’s national parks are a source of great pride and, accordingly, the government has made strides to preserve the natural beauty of these spaces. The winters there can be very chilly, so go in the summertime, when temperatures are usually around 68 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit (20 to 25 degrees Celsius).
Tourists flock to Kenya’s breathtaking savannahs for safari encounters with some of Earth’s most majestic wild animals. The country has no fewer than fifty national parks and preserves. Its government has created Ecotourism Kenya to keep a watchful eye on this African nation’s natural resources. With community outreach projects and widespread education, this organization safeguards the native flora and fauna. On Kenya’s coastline, visitors can stroll along beaches of virgin white sand or dive among glorious coral reefs. Like in Costa Rica, lodges in Kenya are rated according to their environmental policies, ensuring that you understand exactly how your vacation affects the local environment. To see the most wildlife that you can, visit between the end of June and October.
What to Consider When Picking a Destination
When planning an eco-friendly vacation, it’s important to look first at the mode(s) of transportation that you will be using—both to get there and back home, and to travel around while you're visiting. Are those forms of transportation committed to sustainability? Carpooling with others or biking, packing lightly, conserving materials where and when you can (like by carrying around a reusable water bottle), and shopping locally can help minimize your carbon footprint.
Your turn! What eco-friendly destinations have you visited in the past? Share your thoughts in the comments, below.
Related Links (from Eagle Creek blog):
How to Help the Earth While Traveling
Work: How Eagle Creek Puts Sustainability First
Become a More Eco-Conscious Traveler