Travel is an activity that many of us love. Exploring new places, cultures, activities, and foods is always exciting. But as incredible as travel can be, it can have a harmful impact on the environment - especially when it comes to air travel. While there are a few ways to help offset your carbon footprint while travelling, another great strategy is to visit a destination that is known for promoting green travel. These places follow and enforce sustainable tourism to help visitors reduce their carbon footprint.
Ready to be inspired? Here are 5 green travel destinations to add to your travel list.
When it comes to eco-friendly travel, Costa Rica tops many lists. They were one of the first places in the world to promote conservation and responsible travel in connection to nature and wildlife. Today, they are a leader in green travel and more than 25% of the country is protected from future development.
So, what is there to see and do in Costa Rica? Well, nature lovers especially will have a hard time choosing from the extensive selection of national parks, reserves, and wildlife refuges. However, a few eco-friendly options that shouldn’t be missed include:
· Visiting the waterfalls and hot springs in Arenal Volcano National park
· Spotting whales in Bellena Marine National Park
· Scuba diving with sharks at Caño Island
· Visiting Corcovado National Park, the “most biologically intense place on Earth” as per National Geographic
· Animal spotting in Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve
Iceland is another country with a high focus on sustainability. With such a fragile ecosystem, this popular tourist destination emphasizes the importance of responsible travel to maintain the country’s natural beauty. The Icelandic Tourist Board even awards local tour operators with a certification, called Vakinn, which highlights businesses that operate ethically and sustainably.
One of the big draws for Iceland is the fact that it is a road trip destination, so how can you help reduce your carbon footprint while exploring the country? Here are some recommendations:
· Travel during off/shoulder season
· Support local businesses and purchase made-in-Iceland products
· Travel slowly
· Stay on the trail and within proper campsites, and don’t drive off-road
· Drink the tap water
With a goal to get rid of fossil fuels by 2025, New Zealand is another big player when it comes to green travel destinations. Most of us are familiar with the stunning landscape imagery that the country offers – from mountains to waterfalls to beaches, New Zealand has so much to see and explore. Here are a few eco-friendly options you can join to make the most of your New Zealand adventure:
· Join an E-KO tour of Marlborough sound (they focus on animal welfare)
· See the rare hectors dolphin in Akaroa Harbour, Christchurch with Black Cat Tours, which has been recognized multiple times for their environmental practices
· Relax in one of the country’s many luxury eco-lodges such as Hapuku Lodge and Tree House or Split Apple Retreat Kaiteriteri
Located in the north Atlantic Ocean, the Azores is a series of nine islands that belong to Portugal, but are frequently nicknamed ‘the Hawaii of Europe’. Tourism is a huge part of the economy for the Azores, and its nature and wildlife take centre stage. For this reason, the islands place a lot of emphasis on conservation and responsible travel, both on land and in the water. In fact, the Azores is the first archipelago in the world to be certified as a sustainable tourism destination.
Looking for amazing adventures to have in the Azores? Consider the following:
· Whale and dolphin watching
· Hiking and trekking
· Scuba diving (the Azores are well-known for shark diving!)
British Columbia, Canada
When it comes to green travel in Canada, British Columbia takes the top spot. Given that this Canadian province is all about nature and life outdoors, this doesn’t really come as a surprise. From destinations to activities and even the local food, British Colombia does a great job of highlighting the importance of conservation, preservation, and responsible travel. Here are a few things to keep in mind while travelling through British Columbia.
· Check for the Ocean Wise logo at restaurants when eating seafood. This symbol means the food that has been sourced is sustainable and ocean-friendly.
· Be mindful of the Indigenous community. Some remote areas, such as Haida Gwaii, may request visitors to stay away at certain times in cases of a state of emergency. Respect these requests to prevent further strain on these small communities.
· Leave no trace. Respect the nature and wildlife and always ensure to clean up after yourself when hiking, camping, or exploring.
· Shop mindfully and support businesses and programs that give back to the community.
Some destinations are more eco-conscious than others, but no matter where you are, as a traveller you have a responsibility to ensure that you are partaking in responsible travel practices. So before you book tours and even accommodation, do your research and try to choose sustainable activities as much as possible.
Hannah Logan is a Canadian travel writer who dreams of being just like Indiana Jones. You can follow her travels on her personal travel blog Eat Sleep Breathe Travel where she shares her travel tales and (mis)adventures around the world.
Hannah Logan is a paid spokesperson of Sonnet Insurance.