You want to travel, but you want to center the environment and local community on your trip. You know traveling is about visiting a place in a way that does as little harm to the environment and supports the locals as much as you can.
We all know how over-tourism is changing the environment and putting a strain on local communities. With ecotourism, you can travel to unique places and help the local community, while also leaving less of a footprint when you visit. Here are some amazing places to visit with your Noize swimsuit in tow.
Apo Island, Philippines
Barely distinguishable on a map, Apo Island extends 1.5 km from north to south and 1 km from east to west. As the world’s most famous community-organized marine sanctuary, this little volcanic island is currently home to 400 different coral reefs and over 600 species of marine life. Because of this, it’s popular for diving and snorkeling with crystal clear waters and a summer water temperature of 30° C. The municipal government collects fees from tourists which helps fund its conservation programs.
Best time to go: Either October or May (From June to September is monsoon season)
What to do there: The tour guides on the island will let you swim with the turtles in an animal-safety first way. Visitors cannot get near the turtles or touch them (authorities will actually fine you), but it’s an amazing experience to see these hundred-year-old creatures swimming.
Where to stay: It’s a very remote island with limited internet, no ATMs, and an electricity schedule (6 AM - 6 PM). That being said, there are a couple of places you can stay on the island: Liberty Lodge, Mario Homestay, and Apo Island Beach Resort.
The Azores Islands are an archipelago composed of nine volcanic islands 1,400 km off the coast of Lisbon, Portugal, and is the first island archipelago to be certified as a sustainable tourist destination under the EarthCheck Sustainable Destination program. The Azores aim to keep development low to protect natural heritage sites, marine life, and wildlife.
Best time to go: From June to August
What to do there: Visit the Ferraria thermal pool on São Miguel Island. It’s the only place on Earth where there’s a volcano underneath heating that spot of the sea.
Nestled between Nepal, Bangladesh, and China, Bhutan is a Buddhist kingdom known for its dramatic landscapes spanning from subtropical plains to steep mountains, monasteries, and fortresses (aka dzongs). It’s also become a model for controlled tourism through sustainability and quality after the government implemented a “high-value, low-volume” policy. To protect their culture and environment, Bhutan imposes a $200-$250 USD per person per day tariff (including a $65 USD royalty charged by the government plus food, accommodation, local transport, and guides).
Best time to go: Between October to December
What to do there: 12 Days Women & Hiking Tour —designed by women for women, you’ll learn about the lives of Bhutan women, stay with them in their homes, and hike through gorgeous landscapes.
Where to stay: You’ll stay in hotels as well as homes of locals to give the full experience.
La Fortuna, Costa Rica
Costa Rica ranks as one of the top ecotourism destinations with 26 National Parks, 58 wildlife refuges, 32 protected zones, 15 wetland areas, 11 forest reserves, and 8 biological reserves. Plus, 25% of the country’s land is protected from further development, making it quite the poster child as an environmentally friendly destination.
Best time to go: May, June, September, October, and November if you want to avoid crowds
What to do there: La Fortuna is an adventure lover’s paradise. You can hike all day long, go canyoning in the morning and soak in the hot springs at night, and climb around the Arenal Volcano.
Where to stay: Nayara Tented Camp —It’s like your childhood dreams of having a treehouse come true as an adult.
Manú National Park, Peru
Still a roadless property, Manú National Park is a complex world of varying habitats and climates due to its broad range of ecological conditions like Andean grasslands, montane cloud forests, and lowland rainforests. Over 200 species of mammals, 800 kinds of birds, 68 types of reptiles, 77 varieties of amphibians, and a large number of different freshwater fish give Manú National Park unparalleled biodiversity. Luckily, it’s all protected, naturally because of its remote location as well as by Peru's national protected areas agency, National System of Natural Areas Protected by the State (SERNANP).
Best time to go: Between April and November during the dry season
What to do there: Access to the park is nearly impossible without a tour guide. Book a Manu Biosphere Reserve tour with One Earth that practices sustainable and responsible tourism. Through their tours, you’ll experience the Amazon basin, sailing, local lifestyle, hiking, and much more.
Where to stay: If you reserve a tour, you’ll stay in lodges run by the local community.
If you’ve been wanting to immerse yourself more into nature and local communities, ecotourism is the way to do it. Not only will you experience a different side of tourism, but you’ll help support local communities by paying for their personal services and staying in their housing. Plus, when you choose to visit places that make sustainability a priority, you’ll contribute to a cleaner Earth.