As people who live and breathe travel, we often worry about the impact our wanderings have on our planet. In honor of Earth Day, our Moon Travel Guide editors have compiled a short-list of some of our favorite eco-friendly travel destinations.
Read on and find out why we think each destination is so special:
Costa Rica more or less invented eco-tourism. One of the best ways to experience the country’s commitment to ecology is by visiting the vast network of national parks, wildlife refuges, and biological reserves on a Biodiversity Tour. Costa Rica is also home to nesting grounds for various species of sea turtles; there are several opportunities to volunteer and get involved with turtle conservation efforts.
Going green in Honduras can reward travelers with more meaningful experiences and deeper connections with the people and land they visit. Whether you seek out environmentally friendly lodges or community-based cooperatives as part of your green strategy, you’re sure to enjoy your stay.
Home to the Western Hemisphere’s largest barrier reef, Belize excels at underwater conservation. The only way to see the amazing shapes, colors, and creatures under the waves is to go diving. If you have time for an extended stay, consider alternative travel options including volunteer, field research, and educational opportunities.
There is no better way to experience the people, land, and culture of Peru than participating in the homestay programs offered at Islas Uros, Llachón, and Islas Amantaní and Taquile, on Lake Titicaca. Participate in daily household activities such as tending the sheep or the quinoa crop, or helping with the weaving. Peru also has hundreds of volunteer opportunities for travelers.
An astonishing 25 percent of the Dominican Republic has been designated as protected area, including scientific reserves, sanctuaries, and national parks. From excellent bird-watching opportunities at Parque Nacional Valle Nuevo to one of the country’s most pristine and isolated beaches at Bahía de las Águilas, it’s difficult to imagine any nature lover not finding complete contentment on a Dominican trek.
If you’re not ready to dust off your passport, you can also go green closer to home. Here are some possibilities for thinking globally and acting locally:
Florida has made great strides toward protecting the iconic and endangered manatee. These gentle “sea cows” are common throughout Florida’s waterways, their preferred place for wintering. See them (from a respectful distance) in the Everglades, Crystal River, and Homosassa Springs.
Maine’s Monhegan Island is one and a half acres of idyllic natural beauty. It’s also free of cars, bikes… any kind of vehicle. Visitors to Monhegan travel on foot, and agree to some simple, common sense rules so as not to disturb the local flora and fauna.
Sampling and sourcing organic and locally grown food is not just an increasing part of traveling; it’s becoming part of many people’s daily lives. When traveling in New England, visit some of New Hampshire’s farmers markets.
No place in Michigan conjures up as much history, attention, and affection as Mackinac Island. No cars are allowed on the island, and a full 80 percent of the land is protected as a state park complete with a historic fort, native flora, and trails through the undeveloped woodlands.
Portland, Eugene, and Salem consistently rank among America’s greenest cities year after year. And all 360-plus miles of its diverse coastline from Astoria to Brookings-Harbor are designated as public land, making Oregon a shoo-in as one the greenest destinations in the U.S.