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7 Sustainable destinations you can’t miss this summer!

by Michelle Konov

Sustainability has been top of mind for many in recent years. A lot of countries have been making an effort to reduce their carbon footprint and become sustainable destinations for residents and tourists alike.

Tourism drives the economy of a lot of different countries around the world, so it’s not something that can stop at the drop of a hat. And despite how overwhelmingly negative we think it is (pollution, strain of natural resources, emissions, impact to forests), tourism can also have positive benefits to the environment.

With the availability of communication via the internet, many customs throughout the world are being lost. Tourism tends to encourage cultivation of customs, and helps encourage locals to share their food, traditions, and festivals.

Similarly, when you travel, and you see all of these new things, you tend to gain a new perspective on life. You learn more about the animals that you might have only seen on TV, and you can see them in their natural habitats. Seeing these things can really help us grow into eco-conscious people.

And on top of that, tourism is a great means of employment, and takes people away from the basics like harvesting wood or fish. This lessens problems like excessive deforestation and over-fishing.

So, tourism does have some positives and can be advantageous to local communities.

Still, we can make our travel a little more… eco-friendly. Choosing sustainable destinations is key, and here are 7 that you just can’t miss this summer!

palau, sustainable destination, tourism
Republic of Palau

I think the picture says it all!

Palau is a Micronesian archipelago that was rated the most sustainable country to visit in 2019 by Lonely Planet. What gives it that prestigious rank? When you arrive in Palau, you’re asked to sign a pledge that’s stamped into your passport saying you will help preserve and protect the island during your stay.

(Also, just a couple years ago, Palau banned sunscreen that contains ingredients that are harmful to the environment and toxic to coral reefs. Love it!)

Things to do in Palau:

  • Jellyfish Lake – swim among millions of golden jellyfish that are stingless and harmless
  • Peleliu Island – take a step into history and learn about one of the most terrible battles in WWII. Also a famous diving site, with some of the deepest diving sights!
  • Etpison Museum – explore Palau’s rich traditions and history
  • Milky Way Lagoon – do some great diving and us the creamy white mud to make yourself look younger!
travel, sustainable travel, bhutan

Known as the last remaining Buddhist kingdom, Bhutan is a great place to go to introspect and come to understand nature–and yourself–a little better! This country was closed off from the world until 1974, when they started to allow tourists.

Bhutan has a more cautious tourism policy, and makes sure that the number of tourists admitted at any one time are well within the capacity of the environment and society. It’s a great policy for maintaining the world around you!

[While there is a daily fee to be paid, we’d say it’s worth it!]

Things to do in Bhutan:

  • Tiger’s Nest (pictured above) – hike up to this monastery on the side of a steep cliff wall in the Paro valley and see the breathtaking views!
  • Motithang Takin Preserve – the national animal of Bhutan is the takin, an animal that most people have never heard of before!
  • Traditional Festival – attend a religious festival (Tsechu) and you might even be asked to participate in a scene!
  • Archery – Bhutan’s national sport: you can watch opposing teams make fun of each other and even try it yourself!
travel, sustainable travel, slovenia

If you’re looking to travel on a bit of a budget, and you still want some breathtaking views, Slovenia is the place to go! I mean, look at those views!

Much of the countryside in Slovenia is protected. They promote green tourism and The Green Scheme of Slovenian Tourism can help you find sustainable accommodation, destinations, and attractions all over the country.

Things to do in Slovenia:

  • International Wild Flower Festival – if flowers are your thing, this festival in Bohinj is the way to go! It’s one of the most sustainable options out there, and cheap to boot!
  • Mount Triglav – climb Slovenia’s pride and joy! The highest and most prized mountain in Slovenia, Mount Triglav has a lot of great hiking paths!
  • Soča – known as the emerald queen of Slovenian rivers, the Soča river gets its amazing colors from its limestone bedrock. Perfect for hiking, swimming, kayaking, rafting, and kayaking!
  • Wine tour – Slovene winemakers produce some really high quality wines. There are three main winemaking regions. Wine tours are one of the most fun things to do!
travel, sustainable travel, madagascar

Looking for something a little more on the wild side?  Madagascar provides a great opportunity to enjoy beautiful, unexplored forests and see many different animals!

It’s also a great place to volunteer and help out. Earth Changers has been organizing volunteer trips to help the country recover from the world’s first climate-induced famine. Voluntourism is a great way to have an enjoyable trip and also do a little good!

Things to do in Madagascar:

  • Nosy Be – swim with whale sharks, manta rays, and stingrays in the Madagascan Reefs!
  • Ile Sainte Marie – a former pirate island, this is a great place to explore some history and do some whale watching!
  • Paragliding – with stunning views and a very real feeling of freedom, paragliding can be found in a lot of places in Madagscar!
  • Lake Alaotra – the largest freshwater lake in Madagascar, this is a great place to check out how rice-growing works and have a fantastic picnic!
travel, sustainable travel, costa rica
Costa Rica

Costa Rica is home to around 6% of the world’s species, and is one of the first countries in the world to promote responsible eco-tourism. It banned hunting in 2012 and has since had unparalleled biodiversity.

There’s a lot to do in this country, and eco-tourism spans across a lot of different areas. From cloud forests and rainforests to wetlands and coastal marine areas, you can see it all!

[The best time to go to Costa Rica is from December to April, but summer is also great!]

Things to do in Costa Rica:

  • Caribbean coast – national parks, wildlife, and beautiful beaches… enough said!
  • Monteverde Rainforest – the most famous cloud forest in Costa Rica. If you like amazing views of the rainforest, this is the place to go! With ziplining, hiking, and crossing long suspension bridges, you can see it all!
  • Pacuare River – go white water rafting near the Caribbean coast in one of the best river rafting destinations!
  • Plantation tour – like coffee? You’ve got your pick of it in Costa Rica, but you can also go on a plantation tour and learn all about how it’s made!
travel, sustainable travel, barbados

A small island in the Caribbean, Barbados has been making the switch to greener energy supplies and renewable resources. With its main source of income being tourism, Barbados has taken a new direction towards more nature-positive and community-focused experiences.

They encourage eating locally sourced foods, using public transport and keeping the beaches clean. and if you want to use your time a little more meaningfully, you can also participate in coral reef rehabilitation and other marine conservation activities.

Things to do in Barbados:

  • Shark Hole – a little beach hidden on the east coast of Barbados. Lounge on the beach or go for a swim!
  • Atlantis Submarine – go on an underwater tour to a shipwreck and depths of 150 feet. Great for the whole family!
  • Bajan Pottery – meet experienced Bajan potters making traditional hand-decorated dinnerware, serving pieces, and more!
  • Wildlife Reserve – “Some of the best holiday experiences start by getting lost, finding yourself, and then getting lost again.” Definitely a good place to go and enjoy nature!
travel, sustainable travel, germany

In the mood for a spa trip? Germany is one of only a few places where you can spa sustainably!

In the mood for something else? Germany has over 1,300 sustainable places to stay, all overseen by the Green Globe certified tourist board.

Things to do in Germany:

  • Sustainable spas – stay at the carbon-neutral Nature Resort Schindelbruch in Südharz or enjoy the moonlight sauna at Eifel-Therme Zikkurat.
  • Berlin – with some great museums, galleries, nightlife and eco-friendly markets, Berlin is a great destination!
  • Glamping – Germany has some truly stunning natural landscapes. And because their tourist board is all about being green, glamping can be done sustainably!
  • Neuschwanstein Castle – the most photographed building in Germany! Why is it so popular? This castle served as the inspiration behind Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty Castle.
So, what are you waiting for?

A good sustainable and eco-friendly sunscreen is what it’s all about! Save the coral!

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