Had enough of the damp weather? Feeling the need to start planning that tropical getaway yet? Nothing alleviates the pain of getting through those chilly winter months like the promise of an upcoming holiday, full of warm sunshine and sand between your toes.
A beach vacation can rejuvenate you inside and out, leaving you feeling refreshed and relaxed for weeks even after you return to the real world–but is your relaxation at the expense of the coastal ecosystems you’re enjoying? Despite some travellers’ best intentions, tourism activities have been known to have a negative effect on the environment. So, a beach vacation is good for the body and soul–but is it good for the beach as well?
If you are a sustainable traveller, the answer is–YES! The hotels, tour operators, and other tourism businesses on SustainableTrip.org have all made a demonstrated commitment to actively protect the ecosystems in which they are located. So if you support one of these sustainable businesses, your trip will actually help conserve the world’s beaches and oceans as well as the birds, turtles, and other wildlife species that depend on it. Here are some of our favourite sustainable beach destinations:
|Hotel and Club Punta Leona, Costa Rica
Hotel and Club Punta Leona is located where the tropical rainforest meets three famous beaches: Playa Limoncito, Playa Mantas, and Playa Blanca. Playa Blanca is considered a marine marshland, one of the most important and richest ecosystems on the planet. Punta Leona’s private rainforest reserve is home to a vast array of beautiful wildlife, including white-faced monkeys, kinkajous, anteaters, and more than 330 species of birds. Activities include golfing at the nearby championship golf course, sport fishing, visiting the onsite butterfly garden, or picturesque horseback rides on the beach.
Sea-U Guest House, Barbados
This charming bed & breakfast on the east coast of Barbados is truly an escape from the world, far from the large, posh resorts on the southern part of the island. Stay in rustic and comfortable accommodations in one of the two wooden chattel houses. The hotel is just a short walk from the Soup Bowl, the world-famous surfing beach that hosts international surfing championships each November. Guest can also visit the Andromeda Botanical Gardens, which has a large collection of tropical plants from the Caribbean and every continent of the world. The onsite restaurant offers authentic Bajan dining, including tasty vegetarian options.
Punta Teonoste Nature Lodges & Beach Spa, Nicaragua
Punta Teonoste is located on the Pacific coast of Nicaragua, nestled between the quaint fishing village of El Astillero and Popoyo, Nicaragua’s premier surf break. Stay in one of 16 private bungalows designed in an eco-conscious fashion using renewable local materials and incorporating the techniques of local artisans. Visit the nearby Chacocente Wildlife Refuge, the largest tropical dry forest reserve in the country, and see sea turtle nesting sites and hatchling events. There is a large swimming pool, gym, and spa onsite.
Hotel Casa Velas, Mexico
Hotel Casa Velas is an adults-only, all-inclusive luxury resort in Puerto Vallarta with award-winning services and amenities that will satisfy even the most seasoned and sophisticated traveler. This world-class resort was recognized as one of the best hotels in the world by the 2011 Trip Advisor Travelers’ Choice Awards in three categories: Luxury, Relaxation/Spa, and Romantic Hotels. Eighty suites decorated in the traditional Mexican style boast impressive views as well as private immersion pools and Jacuzzis. Guests can participate in tons of outdoor activities including swimming with dolphins, whale-watching, scuba diving, and eco-tours. Onsite activities include golfing, yoga and pilates classes, spa treatments, wine tastings, tequila tastings, and cooking classes.
Cabinas Las Olas, Costa Rica
Cabinas Las Olas is a surfer’s paradise on the northern Pacific coast of Costa Rica, offering easy access to half a dozen or more surf spots, including point breaks, beach breaks, and reef breaks. In addition to services for surfers of all levels (from first-timers to seasoned vets), other activities include snorkeling, fishing, diving, kayaking, horseback riding, hiking, and yoga. The hotel is located between an estuary and a mangrove reserve, so guests are uniquely positioned to see all kinds of wildlife, including monkeys, raccoons, anteater bears, iguanas, and an enormous variety of birds. Stay in one of 10 spacious cabins with private bathrooms and terraces with hammocks.
Mantaraya Lodge, Ecuador
Mantaraya Lodge, designed in a colorful Mediterranean architectural style, is located in Machalilla National Park in Ecuador’s Manabí province. The nearby Isla de Plata has a unique ecosystem that resembles the Galapagos Islands, and is a perfect place for snorkeling and diving. From June to September, Machalilla’s waters are a breeding ground for humpback whales, and the hotel offers daily whale watching tours for guests to have the once-in-a-lifetime experience of seeing these breathtaking creatures.
This program is great for those who want to go one step further and actively participate in wildlife conservation during their travels. Did you know that all seven species of sea turtles are currently listed as threatened or endangered? SEE Turtles has programs in Baja California Sur, Mexico and several locations in Costa Rica where travelers and volunteers can get up close and personal with these majestic creatures while contributing to important conservation efforts in key habitat areas. This one’s a win-win, because these areas also happen to be some of the most beautiful beaches in the world! Their packages include lodging, activities, transportation, and more.