Eco-friendly destinations to explore

April 21, 2024
Photo by Zdeněk Macháček on Unsplash

Earth Day is an annual awareness day taking place in April each year, which leaves us with a strong message about the need to protect the earth's resources for future generations.  Whilst air travel certainly puts a black mark against an individual’s carbon footprint, there are ways to travel more sustainably and offset the impacts and also some super eco-conscious destinations at which to leave a lighter footprint.  Packing and popping your Europesure travel insurance in your suitcase to head to some of these places as your travel destination, can certainly help improve your own eco credentials. 

What makes a good eco-friendly holiday?

Eco-holidays or responsible travel experiences minimise the impacts that humans have within a destination.  Such a trip respects the people, wildlife, culture and individual places in the country in question.  Sometimes these holidays involve visiting fragile environments and undisturbed habitats.  It may be a case of helping to benefit local people, either economically, politically or ecologically, or giving something back.  It is all about taking considerate actions that help preserve the natural environment and the fabric of life around it.

With this in mind here are some of the best destinations for those who are environmentally aware and still want to travel.

Costa Rica

Photo by Alex Ip on Unsplash

The tiny corner of Central America that is Costa Rica is one of the most eco-friendly places on Earth with more than 98% of its electricity coming from renewable sources.    This beautiful country boasts a diverse landscape, combining fiery volcanoes with lush dry forests and jungle and glorious coastline with rich rainforests.  For those with a love of nature and greenery – and who maybe want to soak up the benefits of biophilia - Costa Rica is the place to be. 25% of the country is made up of no fewer than 29 protected country parks, from Corcovado, the largest, to Manuel Antonio, which is the smallest.  This is the largest percentage of protected areas to be found anywhere in the world. 

With Pacific and Caribbean coastlines, sandy beaches, and miles and miles of rainforests to explore, Costa Rica is the perfect destination for the eco-traveller.  For anyone who loves to explore whilst hiking or cycling, it is also sublime.  

Costa Rica should be high on the travel list for the intrepid traveller seeking a sustainable getaway, whether you want to go turtle-watching, waterfall discovering or volcano bagging.

The Azores Islands

Photo by Martin Munk on Unsplash

Off the west coast of Portugal and 1,360km out in the Atlantic Ocean are the wonderful Azores Islands, where the tourism emphasis is placed on preserving natural resources and the area’s natural legacy.  Although lesser-known, this archipelago of five islands has become the first place in Portugal to be named as an eco-friendly tourist destination and the first archipelago in the world to win the Sustainable Tourism Destination seal.  It is easy to see why.  This group of volcanic islands is home to vibrant greenery, crater lakes including the must-see green and blue Sete Cidades, and natural thermal hot pools.

The islands rely mainly on renewable energy sources and many of the activities that visitors to the islands like to partake in, such as whale watching, are regulated to ensure marine animals and other wildlife are protected.

To experience the thermal pools, try Caldeira Velha or visit Parque Terra Nostra botanical gardens where guests can see a range of vegetation from around the world and swim in a communal thermal swimming pool.

Norway

Photo by ZU photography on Unsplash – 

Head to Norway and you set foot in a land whose official slogan is ‘powered by nature’ – an indication of its dedication to sustainability.  Conservation is almost embedded within Norwegian culture and so it is no surprise to find eight Norwegian tourist destinations officially certified by the International Sustainable Tourism Initiative, including the historic mining town of Røros with its quaint lumber houses and the amazing Geirangerfjord, also both UNESCO world heritage sites.  Then there is the colourful city of Tromsø, nestled by the Arctic pole and truly in the Land of the Midnight Sun. Initiatives such as emissions-free vessels and eco-labelling of hotels and experiences all help guide the traveller around a country in which green travel is a cornerstone of the travel experience.

Whilst visiting Norway, intrepid explorers can embark on many activities including climbing, snowmobiling, skiing, taking an adventurous tour to the Arctic and experiencing the fascinating polar wildlife.

 
Photo by Griffin Quinn on Unsplash

New Zealand

Every single business in New Zealand is to be committed to sustainability by 2025, under the New Zealand Tourism Sustainability Commitment, which comprises 12 goals for all tourism businesses to work towards.  All is geared towards restoring and enhancing New Zealand’s natural environment and biodiversity.

As one of the most beautiful places in the world, New Zealand works tirelessly to protect its natural beauty but also safeguard its unique indigenous Maori culture at the same time. Maori culture is promoted to visitors, through tourism experiences such as traditional song and dance performances and workshops that convey the art of traditional Maori weaving.

Also known for its conservation efforts, the country prides itself on the protection of its native species such as the well-known kiwi, the kākāpō, and the takahē, all of which visitors might be fortunate enough to see during their trip.  For lovers of water and marine life, it has established a strong marine ecotourism offering, so visitors can observe whales and dolphins in their natural habitat off the coast.  Those wishing to don their flippers can partake in snorkelling and diving to explore coral reefs and search for underwater shipwrecks.

Sustainable tourism here has also seen innovative schemes developed. At a lodge in Auckland – Mota Kaikōura – visitors can drink in the view of Fitzroy Harbour but need to get involved with volunteering projects, if they wish to have that spectacular experience.  This sees them be part of the preservation of the local area.  

Meanwhile in the Fjordland National Park, tourists can take an immersive tour by jet boat, travelling on the Wairaurahiri Jet, learning more about native species.  They are then invited to sponsor a trap that removes unwanted and invasive predators from the area.

Whether you venture to the North or South Island, New Zealand has something to entice, whether that is a glacier or snow-capped mountains, or wine sipped  in the vineyards of Hawkes Bay.

Before setting off

If this blog has inspired you to pack your bags and start exploring some of these marvellous places that tick the eco-tourism box, don’t forget your travel insurance.  Whether bathing in a thermal pool in the Azores or gazing up at the Northern Lights, it is essential that you have the correct cover for your trip, its activities and your pre-existing health conditions.

To tailor your insurance policy to your needs and desired level of cover, whether you want a single-trip policy or an annual policy, visit https://www.europesuretravelinsurance.com  Your policy will include and cover many activities and health conditions as standard and you will also have the peace of mind of having protection backed by Lloyds of London.

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