As the weather warms up and the summer months near, an insatiable case of wanderlust has many travelers eagerly planning their next vacation. Whether it’s a fabulous getaway at a popular beach resort or a week-long excursion on a cruise to the Bahamas, the options are endless—but will visiting your chosen destination be detrimental to the local environment?
Although tourism can be incredibly beneficial for local economies, the negative impacts of tourism are quite substantial and can cause devastating effects on the natural habitats. Surges in tourism to popular destinations, such as Bali and the Great Barrier Reef, have drastically changed these beautiful landscapes. As new roads and businesses are built to keep up with the high demands of travelers, overcrowding at these favored sites is putting them more at risk of land degradation and natural resource depletion.
In order to enjoy the breathtaking views these natural landscapes have to offer, it is important that travelers choose ecotourism destinations that actively work to conserve local environments by minimizing human impacts on natural habitats. Here are 4 sustainable and eco-friendly destination spots that are perfect for your next vacation!
1. Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve – Hawaii
If you’re looking for a relaxing swim in the clear blue ocean waters, the Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve is for you! A popular place for snorkeling, Hanauma Bay is a protected marine life area that emphasizes the preservation of the bay’s fragile ecosystems. Conservation is a major priority at Hanauma Bay, and those visiting for the first time must watch an educational video before entering the park so that they better understand the importance of preserving natural areas. Without a doubt, Hanauma Bay values its marine life—closing every Tuesday so that the bay’s fish are able to adequately feed without interruptions from snorkelers.
- Park Entry Fee: $7.50
- Local Residents: Free
- Children Under 12: Free
2. Joshua Tree National Park – California
For those desiring a fun-filled day of hiking and sightseeing, try a trip to the desert! Joshua Tree National Park is located in the Colorado and Mojave deserts and encompasses nearly 800,000 acres of land! The park has many expansive nature trails for both novice and experienced hikers and even has rock climbing spots scattered throughout the park for the more adventurous visitors. Joshua Tree National Park is open year round but understands the impact visitors have on local habitats and closes portions of the park throughout the year in order to cater to the needs of nesting animals. The park is also home to many diverse species and distinct ecosystems, which the park actively works to protect through the seven Leave No Trace principles.
- 7 Day Pass: $25.00
- Annual Pass: $40.00
(80 percent of all entrance fees stay within the park and help support park operations.)
3. Denali National Park & Preserve – Alaska
Although the summer months are known for vacations spent soaking up the sun, many wish to avoid the sweltering summer heat—and what better way than spending some time on the highest mountain in North America! The summer months are actually popular visiting times at Denali National Park because the ice finally melts away, allowing visitors to thoroughly enjoy the many wonders the park has to offer. Denali National Park and Preserve spans over six million acres of land and has six different campgrounds that are perfect for a weekend getaway. The park also follows the seven leave no trace principles and is committed to sustainability—advocating water consumption, the reduction of pollution, and eco-friendly buildings. The Denali National Park’s commitment to sustainability is clearly evident as they are taking part in the Zero Landfill Initiative and actively working to divert waste from landfills.
- Park Entry Fee: $10.00
- Annual Pass: $40.00
- Children Under 15: Free
(Annual Pass good for purchaser and 3 others.)
4. Stanford Inn by the Sea – California
If you’re looking to unwind and get away from your hectic everyday life—a relaxing spa vacation is in order! Nestled in the heart of Mendocino, Stanford Inn sets itself apart from other resorts in that it encompasses vegan and sustainable living. The eco-resort hosts a wide range of activities including gardening, wellness, yoga, and cooking classes as well as nature and canoe tours. Stanford Inn also has many spa and massage treatments to relieve stress and soothe your aches and pains. This eco-friendly destination is deeply involved in sustainable practices—protecting surrounding lands from degradation, composting all food and organic waste, cultivating gardens for farm-to-table produce, and by using energy conservation initiatives to power the resort.
Have you been to any of these inspiring ecotourism destinations?
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Photo: Unsplash, Mountain Leon, Pixabay, @stanfordinnecoresort via Instagram