The Most Incredible Eco-Friendly Island Destinations
Whilst we all want to get away to a tropical paradise, sometimes the guilt of what we are doing to our planet, especially when travelling and releasing all of those emissions, can put us off making the leap across the world. Fortunately, some locations are now tackling the issue and encouraging ecotourism and making little and large changes to the tourist world. To help you in your green travel journey, we’ve listed below some of our top picks when it comes to sustainable international travel.
Before we dive into these locations, it is helpful to know what ecotourism is and it importance when travelling. Ecotourism is the ”responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people, and involves interpretation and education”. The importance of understanding this and being conscious of this concept is vital especially today considering the current environmental state of the world. By consciously understanding and partaking in ecotourism, you can try to help offset and/or minimise the impact of general tourism.
Costa Rica 🇨🇷
One of the top locations for ecotourism is Costa Rica. This stunning paradise filled with volcanoes, white sandy beaches, tropical primary rain forests, as well as a breathtaking jungle landscape, is ensuring excellent ecotourism, Costa Rica has devoted an estimated 26% of its land to national parks, wildlife reserves and protected lands.
Costa Rica takes the environmental well being of its landscape and ecosystems very seriously. 25% of the territory is either a national park or a protected area and the current government aims at expanding the protected area even further. Although the land area of this country isn’t that large, its offerings is! Whether you are a nature lover, a thrill seeker or just in need of a well deserved beach holiday, there is something for everyone here.
With over 1.7 million tourists each year, this stunning location has managed to devise a sound environmental strategy with the wellbeing of its landscape at the forefront of its development. The government here has managed to protect the vast natural treasures of the country while bringing economic opportunities to the rural areas. They have showcased a model worthy example of executing ecotourism here, highlighting how conservation and economic growth can work hand in hand. The Manuel Antonio National Park and Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve are viewed as models for ecotourism and sustainable development. These parks offer critical habitat to various plant and animal species.
Overall, Costa Rica is a destination you should consider if you are trying to travel slightly more consciously! Some eco-lodges and hotels that have been awarded/certified for their environmental commitment are:
The Galapagos archipelago is located about 1,000 km from continental Ecuador and is composed of 127 islands, islets and rocks. The enchanted islands’ endemic and unique native flora and fauna make the Galapagos Islands one of the world’s most exceptional places and a fantastic living laboratory for the world’s scientists. When visiting the Galapagos islands, tourists are in for a real treat when witnessing some of the islands native creatures such as; the Gigantic Galapagos Tortoises, the Marine Iguanas, the Blue-footed bobby, the Sea Lions or the Waved Albatross.
The continuous hard work and effort dedicated to keeping the archipelago hasn’t gone unnoticed.The Galapagos Islands were awarded best sustainable destination in America at the 2019 Green Destinations Gala, an initiative that rewards innovation and good practices in tourism management of destinations such as recycling and environmental education.
The vast majority of the Galapagos islands is under conservation status highlighting the successful efforts of the government here, to protect their land. This is vital especially due to the fact that over 150,000 tourists visit each year. Despite this not being a massive number compared to Costa Rica, the Galapagos Islands are less developed and extremely remote meaning preservation is key. These islands have become a very attractive holiday destination and we can see why. If you choose to make this your eco destination of choice, then you will have the amazing opportunity to visit El Chato Tortoise Reserve, go snorkelling in Tortuga Bay or explore Rancho Primicias for a chance to spot giant tortoises.
Where to stay in the Galapagos that encourages ecotourism:
•Finch Bay Eco Lodge: A member of National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World, the environmentally responsible hotel takes all the effort necessary to implement sustainable practices to preserve the Galapagos fragile ecosystems. •Pikaia Lodge Galapagos: Set on the top of an extinct volcano crater, this boutique luxury eco-resort implements sustainable practice from the architecture of the building to the design of an eco-efficient energy system. The Eco-Lodge is committed to reduce energy waste and consumption and contribute to the local economy by hiring 60 locals .
Palau, Micronesia 🇵🇼
The Palau archipelago lies in the southwest corner of Micronesia and is comprised of over 576 volcanic islands covered in lush vegetation and surrounded by pristine turquoise waters. Here eco loving tourists can explore the green landscapes, take a dip in the crystal clear waters that surround this stunning island and, make the most of the magical wildlife around them. With over 1300 fish species, there is no wonder that this is a hotspot for divers from all over the world.
The Palau islands adopted a legislation in 2015 making the country one of the 5th biggest marine reserves in the world. To this date, 80% of Palau’s marine area is protected. Working hand in hand with their conservation act is the ‘Palau pledge’ devised in 2017 where every tourist setting foot on the island must promise to explore the island in the respect of local communities and the environment.
These acts of sustainability have led to this island not only being one of the most successful in ecotourism but also leading to the small republic being one of the 10 winners of the IBT Berlin fair in 2019 - this award represents their efforts and commitment towards protecting the environment and sustainable practices.
The best ways to explore and enjoy this island respectfully and sustainably is to partake in activities such as; Kayaking through the Rock Islands, Swimming in the Ngardmau waterfalls natural pool or visiting the Etpison Museum. By doing these things, you are abiding by the Palau Pledge whilst having fun!
Where to stay in Palau:
•The Palau Pacific Resort: Promoting eco-activities and implementing some sustainable actions such as producing some of its energy from solar panels or using composting and recycling waste treatment systems, this is a greta place to stay, to encourage ecotourism.
Boasting marvelous biodiversity, peace and quiet, fresh air, colours, great food, and the embrace of nature in addition to being a host to ecotourism and preservation practices, Dominica is a fabulous location to visit! The magical island of Dominica is a remote and beautiful destination for anyone looking for adventure and discovering untouched volcanic landscapes, jungles, and tropical beaches. All of which is protected by ecotourism!
With a focus on renewable energy as well as self-sustaining energy, Dominica's eco-friendly resorts and lodgings continue to expand as the island moves more and more towards 100% energy efficiency. This is a great way to ensure tourists are travelling guilt free as well as encouraging the implementation of these schemes by giving back to the economy.
The focus on eco tourism here is an example to not only the rest of the Caribbean but to the rest of the world also. Their sense of pride and identity in the Dominica shines brighter than others with communities ensuring that there is a strong ethos of responsible tourism throughout the island. No international hotel chains are present here, encouraging local economies as well as supporting their eco-ethos. There are three national parks on one tiny island for guests to visit and enjoy as well as a thriving indigenous population, which is also active in tourism. There are plenty of food and water supplies locally once again supporting their economy and encouraging sustainable practices.
Where to stay in the Dominica:
•Secret Bay Tibay: To begin, Secret Bay is composed entirely of sustainably-sourced Guyanese hardwood. The construction of this stunning hotel involved no heavy machinery meaning that the footprint of this resort is better than may others on the planet. Secret Bay exists in a beautiful equilibrium between a responsibility to the environment and a commitment to the guests’ comfort. •Jungle Bay Resort & Spa, Saint Patrick Parish: The resort’s design is very creative in utilizing local materials and preserving the local landscape. Jungle Bay reduces its carbon footprint by approximately 30-40% compared with traditional resorts.
Isle Of Eigg, Scotland 🏴
Famous for its wild coastlines, woodland, moors and beautiful scenery, there's a variety of sustainability-focused accommodation as well as activity options here in the Isle Of Eigg. The Isle of Eigg has been owned and managed by a trust created with the aim of ‘conserving our natural and cultural heritage to ensure that development takes place in a sustainable way’ since 1997. This differs massively to the other parts of the UK who struggle to improve sustainability or implement successful schemes.
If you are UK based and want to keep your footprint super low then head to Scotland to enjoy the visually pleasing Isle Of Eigg. One of the most beautiful Hebridean Islands. About five miles long by three miles wide, Eigg lies 10 miles off the Scottish West coast. The island has a fascinating history, superb wildlife and a vibrant community.
It’s pledge to sustainability is partnering with the Scottish Wildlife Trust. Here, wildlife conservation and island-sustainability is a priority with the island, its buildings and natural heritage, and any future development being at the forefront of its plan. With a tiny population and very little infrastructure compared to major UK cities, Eigg is a top spot for you come to climb Britain’s largest pitchstone ridge, watch eagles over stunning white beaches or, learn about the worlds first fully renewably powered electricity grid.
Starting from Skratch? Here are a few tips to get you started: