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Discover the Natural Heart of Florida

Top rated eco-tours , our most popular tour on tripadvisor, 90-minute swamp buggy tour, the food speaks for itself, visit our gator shack restaurant, wild about wildlife , check out our gallery, about babcock ranch eco-tours, you will discover the natural heart of authentic florida like you’ve never seen before on a narrated 90-minute eco-tour through babcock ranch..

Experience the thrill of seeing wildlife in nature – alligators, birds, perhaps deer, wild hogs, wild turkeys, Sandhill cranes and more, often coming within a few yards. Travel through four different ecosystems of Florida including Telegraph Cypress Swamp.

Our expert guides are knowledgeable and passionate about the history, wildlife, and various ecosystems you will see and will enhance your experience with their commentaries. Get back to nature and enjoy the excitement of a true wilderness adventure.

Available Tours

We offer a variety of tour types, and each offers its own unique connection to nature. browse your ideal adventure and book below..

Swamp Buggy

Swamp Buggy Eco-Tour

Our most popular tour takes you on a 90-minute eco-tour through the natural wildlife of historic Babcock Ranch.

Walking Tour

Walking Tour

Get up close & personal with the palmetto prairie that attracted ranchers to South Florida, head off the beaten path to explore Babcock Ranch on foot.

a road with trees on each side during the sunrise

Specialty Tours

Specialty tours are offered on a sporadic basis. There are many types of tours and they include nighttime tours, photography tours, and more.

Cow

Group/Educational Tours

We offer special educational tours for students of local schools or youth clubs like Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts.

See the Wildlife

Cow

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A Bottlenose dolphin bow-riding waves out of the water next to guests on a zodiac tour of the Gulf of California, Baja California, Mexico

14 sustainable travel companies you can feel good about booking with

Do some good while seeing the world when you book with these ethical and sustainable travel companies

Karen Edwards

Whether you call it eco-travel, green travel, sustainable, ethical or regenerative travel , if you’re an impact-minded traveler concerned about your imprint upon the Earth’s ecosystems and local cultures, you probably want to choose your travel experiences and providers carefully. But being a responsible traveler doesn’t have to be a buzz-kill. Diving unspoiled reefs, hiking remote mountaintops  in the world’s best national parks , observing Africa ’s big game, building wells in a remote village – the sky is the limit when it comes to where and how travelers engage with destinations in meaningful, exciting ways.

The critical link often comes down to the travel company who plans, organises, stages and conducts your trip. So, when it comes time to plan your next purposeful adventure, you won’t go wrong by enlisting the expertise of the following travel companies. From flight-free holidays to ecotourism activities, these are some of the more ethical and environmentally driven players in the global travel business. 

RECOMMENDED: 12 ways to be a better tourist right now

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Sustainable travel companies

Byway Travel

1.  Byway Travel

In an ambitious mission statement, UK travel platform Byway declares that its goal is to make flight-free holidays a mainstream holiday choice. Their way of doing so? By helping people discover the beauty of slow, overland travel across the British Isles and Europe . Founder and CEO Cat Jones launched the now B Corporation-certified company during the first Covid lockdown, determined to find a way to reduce flight emissions. Her explanation was simple: If we continue on the current trajectory, emissions from flying is due to triple by 2050.  Byway’s life-affirming journeys include a 14-day trip to Sicily via Paris , Turin and Rome , a sleeper train across the Tyrrhenian Sea to Catania and a railway journey into the depths of Andalusia, enjoying Paris, Barcelona , Valencia , Madrid and Girona along the way.

2.  Gondwana Ecotours

Named after the ancient supercontinent that gradually split to become the land masses we recognize today, Gondwana Ecotours says its mission is to bring people from different continents closer together, one trip at a time. The New Orleans -based company specializes in small group and private tours that take on exhilarating experiences around the globe, such as gorilla trekking in Rwanda and eco adventures in Patagonia and Mendoza.

A key component for Gondwana is its network of guides who live in the communities visited, adding a level of personal knowledge, depth and authenticity to the experience while providing tourism-generated income. The company is also committed to limiting its carbon footprint through sustainable travel practices and is recognized for offsetting a total of more than 580 tons of carbon emissions. Since 2021, its tours are 100-percent carbon-neutral, as certified by the Cooler emissions tracking organization.

Intrepid Travel

3.  Intrepid Travel

Australian-owned Intrepid has always been forthright in declaring its commitment to ethical and responsible practices. In 2018, it became one of the first global travel operators to be B Corporation-certified – and has been operating as the world’s largest carbon-neutral company since 2010, carefully measuring and taking care to offset all unavoidable carbon emissions for 13 years. 

Their trips are just as impressive. From 15-day expeditions traversing the extraordinary gorges and remote villages of northern Pakistan’s Hunza Valley to nine-day itineraries centred around baby gorilla naming ceremonies in Rwanda’s spectacular Volcanoes National Park, Intrepid offer true bucket list travel adventures suited to guests of all interests and abilities. In 2020, as a part of the Tourism Declares A Climate Emergency initiative, the company published a seven-point climate commitment plan – revealing their intention to transition to 100% renewable energy use in offices by 2025 and on all trips by 2030.

Experience Travel Group

4.  Experience Travel Group

Operating on the belief that ‘travel should be about reciprocation’, Asia travel specialist Experience Travel Group holds responsible travel at its core, enabling guests to interact with the community and experience real cultural immersion on every trip. Another B Corporation-certified company, the team are dedicated to creating experiences that divert away from trendy hubs and big hotels, instead building personalised itineraries with initiatives to give back to the community included as part of the package. 

On adventures in Indonesia , Laos, Cambodia , Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam , for example, guests can enjoy delicious local dishes at ‘social enterprise’ restaurants that support vulnerable young people through job training and employment. In Cambodia, a trip to the Phare Circus in Siem Reap sends funds directly to a performing arts school for underprivileged children in nearby Battambang. A new three-day hike along sections of Sri Lanka ’s Pekoe Trail follows the old horse and cart routes that carried tea to the ports, bringing vital income to little-visited communities. 

Seacology

5.  Seacology

In 1990, American ethno botanist Dr. Paul Cox was conducting forest research in Samoa when village leaders told him 30,000 acres of pristine rainforest were about to be logged due to a government decree to fund a school. Cox was horrified and quickly came up with a proposal to raise the needed money to conserve the forest in perpetuity. His plan worked and has come to define the Seacology model: Provide material benefits to villages that pledge to protect their natural resources.

Today, Seacology offers unique ecotourism adventures throughout the world’s islands, where travelers visit active projects, interact with local people and are part of the formula that helps conserve both habitats and communities. Seacology guests also explore intriguing island environments, from the coral reefs of  Fiji to the rainforests of Borneo, while staying at well-appointed resorts and visiting important cultural sites. With all this tropical splendor, expect plenty of opportunities to scuba dive, snorkel, hike and kayak.

6.  Discover Corps

Discover Corps is the leader in the rapidly growing field of 'volunteer vacations' which focus on children, schools, animals and wildlife conservation. Yes, 'voluntourism' has often become a buzzword to cash in on thinly veiled claims, earning criticism and scrutiny over the years. But Discover Corps operates with full transparency and has become something of a gold standard for the model.

Trip itineraries are designed to connect travellers to local communities and provide a deeper understanding of the culture, issues and ways of life in locations around the world. Many projects are in Africa , Asia and Latin America, and can range from caring for elephants in Thailand to helping to protect the animals in South Africa's Greater Kruger National Park region.

ROW Adventures

7.  ROW Adventures

From its beginnings as a whitewater rafting company in the US's Pacific Northwest, ROW Adventures has evolved into an adventure travel company that advocates the transformative nature of human-powered experiences. According to ROW, connecting people with nature results in positive impacts, and the company adheres to conducting business in an inclusive and sustainable way while promoting social equity, environmental stewardship and accountability. Human-powered activities allow participants to fully observe the surroundings, whether that be white water rafting in Idaho's Salmon River, sea kayaking the orcas in Canada, or trekking across Machu Picchu.

ROW also recognizes that travel is a large contributor to the world’s carbon footprint, and subsequently mitigates the impact by offsetting carbon-producing activities whenever possible. At the same time, trips also educate guests to be advocates for locations visited, with special recognition given to the awareness of Indigenous communities and honouring their legacies, lives and connections to the land.

Natural Habitat Adventures

8.  Natural Habitat Adventures

Conservation through exploration is the credo of Natural Habitat Adventures, the official travel partner of the World Wildlife Fund. Nat Hab, as it’s called, is committed to environmentally friendly nature travel, stressing that its travelers become a force for change in addressing the planet's most pressing conservation challenges. Polar bear tours in the Canadian Arctic , African safaris and South American nature tours are examples of the company’s itineraries where tourism dollars become an influential incentive for communities to protect their natural resources.

Nat Hab also acknowledges that its 8,000 annual travelers on all seven continents expend plenty of CO2. To mitigate travel’s carbon output, the company leans into offsetting measures. From 2007 to 2019, Nat Hab offset 49,418 tons of carbon dioxide and has become the world's first 100-percent carbon-neutral travel company. They’ve also provided more than $4.5 million to support WWF’s global conservation efforts and continue to give one-percent of gross sales plus $150,000 annually in support of WWF’s global mission. 

9.  Cheeseman's Ecological Safaris

Ecology safaris catering to wildlife enthusiasts looking for an in-depth nature experience is what husband-and-wife founders Doug and Gail Cheeseman envisioned when they started their namesake company in 1980. Doug, a college zoology and ecology professor, and Gail, a naturalist, turned their passion for nature into a travel company focusing on comprehensive wildlife tours all over the globe. Working with local guides and wildlife researchers, tours are designed for hardcore animal lovers with an obsession for travel and who enjoy learning about the animals they encounter.

For example, the company’s Palau National Marine Reserve diving trip in the western Pacific Ocean offers 12 days of snorkelling, paddling, sailing and diving among the awe-inspiring tropical islands in the region.

Quark Expeditions

10.  Quark Expeditions

Quark Expeditions co-founders Lars Wikander and Mike McDowell took the first group of commercial travelers to the North Pole in 1991, completing the first-ever tourism transit of the Northeast Passage. That inaugural expedition proved to be a game-changer and positioned the company at the forefront of polar explorations. In the three decades since, its polar travelers have visited remote parts of the Arctic and Antarctic. 

With the Earth’s polar regions threatened by climate change, Quark is committed to raising awareness of these delicate ecosystems through environmentally responsible tourism. A facet of that commitment is the company’s Polar Promise to reduce its footprint and work with other leaders in the industry, as well as guests, to address the complex and challenging issues facing the regions. Coordinating with a global network of scientists, community leaders and sustainability innovators, the company plans to contribute a minimum of $500,000 each year in support of key environmental initiatives and sustainable development projects.

Lindbald Expeditions

11.  Lindbald Expeditions

With a fleet of rugged, purpose-built ships, the Lindbald Expedition experience is all about eco-friendly itineraries to some of the world’s most wild and remote coastal destinations. For 50 years, the travel company has sailed its ships to intriguing places visited by few if any other tour providers. Example? The 17-day trip across South Georgia and the Falklands introduces travellers to tens of thousands of stately king penguins, offers them a chance to paddle kayak by curious fur seals, and more. 

The company’s eco-philosophy ups the ante, stating that while sustainable tourism is largely the concept of doing no harm, regenerative tourism is a better model that aims to leave a place ‘better’ than it was before. To that end,  Lindbald has raised more than $19 million since 1997 for environmental projects and maintains a portfolio of six investments in renewable energy, reforestation and community-based efforts that align with the  United Nations Sustainable Development Goals .  Similarly, Lindbald is a 100-per cent carbon-neutral company.

12.  National Geographic Expeditions

Since the venerable National Geographic Society launched its travel division in 1999, National Geographic Expeditions has grown to operate hundreds of trips annually to all seven continents. As you’d expect from a non-profit whose mission is to explore and protect the planet, Nat Geo’s travel arm creates high-end eco-expeditions designed for adventure, nature and exploration – from expedition cruises to the poles, the South Pacific and Asia to land expeditions in the world’s highest mountains and most remote jungles.

In the spirit of sustainable, ethical travel and helping preserve ecosystems, proceeds from Nat Geo travel are directed to the Society’s research programs, such as its Pristine Seas Project , its Big Cats Initiative , and rare language documenting effort, the Enduring Voices Project . 

During travel, clients see that their tourism dollars count and are encouraged to become involved. For instance, in Rwanda, travellers see and learn about the critical habitat of the endangered mountain gorilla. 

Earthwatch Institute

13.  Earthwatch Institute

The value of citizen science is the underpinning for Earthwatch Institute, an international non-profit organization that connects travelers with scientists worldwide to participate in environmental research. Through travel, Earthwatch backs vital research while inspiring its clients to understand our shared global responsibilities as citizens of the world. As an early adopter of the citizen science model, dating to its founding in 1971, the Institute’s itineraries have included Amazon explorations documenting pink river dolphins, conservation work in South Africa to save threatened rhinos from poaching, and looking for answers and solutions to the declining numbers of threatened Pacific leatherback turtles in Costa Rica. In all cases, Earthwatch’s citizen science volunteers make direct contributions to research while increasing their scientific understanding and immersing themselves in learning about environmental issues.

To date, Earthwatch has been involved in 1,430 projects in 131 countries with 10,000 species studied resulting in 1,200 informed policy decisions, and 100,000 hours of scientific research per year.

14.  Joro Experiences

Luxury adventure travel expert Joro aims to reduce its carbon footprint as efficiently as possible by measuring and accounting for all emissions across its business. The goal? To find innovative ways of reducing impact, while only offsetting unavoidable emissions through reputable providers. The carbon neutral company designs bespoke trips to almost every corner of the world, from safaris in South Africa and sailing the Icelandic fjords to following in the footsteps of Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton and going in search of Macaws in the Brazilian Amazon. 

In 2020, Joro became a signatory of the Tourism Declares A Climate Emergency initiative and publicly published a Carbon Emergency Plan detailing pro-active measures, from becoming a paper-free business to educating clients on being conscious travellers.

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Eco Tours & Trips

TourRadar has collected the best Eco trips. There are 42 adventures to choose from, visiting 14 different countries. Tours range in length between one day in length, and 28 days.

42 Eco trips with 63 reviews

Patagonia Tour  Buenos Aires - Ushuaia - El Calafate in 10 Days. Tour

  • Christmas & New Year

Patagonia Tour Buenos Aires - Ushuaia - El Calafate in 10 Days.

Vietnam Motorcycle Tour to Pu Luong, Mai Chau, Tam Coc, Hoa Lu Tour

  • Active Adventure

Vietnam Motorcycle Tour to Pu Luong, Mai Chau, Tam Coc, Hoa Lu

Home stay accommodation was excellent and we saw a wide range of the cuisine that the region has to offer. The roads and the riding experience was something else altogether, from the chaos of weaving through Hanoi traffic to narrow and quiet village tracks. Every day was different and exciting.

Algonquin Log Cabin 3-Day Canoe and Hike Adventure Tour

  • Hiking & Trekking

Algonquin Log Cabin 3-Day Canoe and Hike Adventure

Highlights of Costa Rica Tour

Highlights of Costa Rica

I won this holiday at the Destinations Travel show and am immensely grateful for the opportunity to visit Costa Rica on this discovery holiday. It is a type of trip I might not have considered previously - it was a great experience and I will definitely look at Explore for future trips. Thank you!
  • 10% deposit on some dates Some departure dates offer you the chance to book this tour with a lower deposit.

Algonquin Park 3-Day Canoe Trip Tour

Algonquin Park 3-Day Canoe Trip

Sri Lankan Serenity ( 8 Days and 7 Nights tour in Sri Lanka ) Tour

  • Sightseeing

Sri Lankan Serenity ( 8 Days and 7 Nights tour in Sri Lanka )

Grand Canyon and Sedona Tour Tour

Grand Canyon and Sedona Tour

Private Overnight Tour to the Nature Paradise of Belihuloya Tour

  • In-depth Cultural

Private Overnight Tour to the Nature Paradise of Belihuloya

Vietnam Eco Tour

Vietnam Eco

Cherry Blossom & Garden Tour

Cherry Blossom & Garden

Messinia Coastal Tour Self Guided Tour

Messinia Coastal Tour Self Guided

Tour and cycling was fun. Some of us couldn‘t always keep up with the group, but no one of the guides went back to look for them (only after telling them). They had good recommendations for restaurants in town and were very helpful, until the last day of the official tour. It was semi-professional, mixing up private life with the tour. And they have to think about their last stop on their route, kalo nero. Out of season and there was nothing to do/go. Felt stranded for two days in a bad hotel (all the others were great!)

Lake Chala Day Tour Tour

Lake Chala Day Tour

South African Eco Journey Tour

South African Eco Journey

Highlights of Thailand & Elephant Eco Tour Tour

  • Volunteering

Highlights of Thailand & Elephant Eco Tour

  • €85 deposit on some dates Some departure dates offer you the chance to book this tour with a lower deposit.

Nature\'s Secret Sri Lanka - 21 Days Tour

Nature's Secret Sri Lanka - 21 Days

Reviews of eco tours.

I had many firsts in this trip, first time canoeing, staying in cabin with strangers, first time in Algonquin, seeing the night sky. We had the A-team for sure, Nicolene, Baris and Reese (I hope I did not mess the spellings, my apology)it would not have been a great experience without you. Forever grateful.
Seeing the sloths in manuel antonio in the wild

Destinations

  • North America (5)
  • Far East (15)
  • South East Asia (14)
  • Indochina (14)
  • South America (5)

Top Countries

  • Vietnam (9)
  • Sri Lanka (6)
  • Thailand (3)
  • Malaysia (2)
  • Australia (2)
  • Colombia (1)
  • Costa Rica (1)
  • Ecuador (1)
  • Argentina (1)
  • South Africa (1)
  • 7 Day Tours (8)
  • 10 Day Tours (5)

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International Versions

  • Deutsch: Nachhaltige Reisen
  • Français: Circuits Éco
  • Español: Circuitos y viajes de Eco
  • Nederlands: Eco Rondreizen & Tours

Travel Tips and Trivia

Last Updated: January 23, 2024

Eco Travellers 101: A Complete Guide to Eco travel

What are eco travellers? What’s eco travel? How do you “travel eco”? Check out this ultimate guide to eco travelling to learn everything you need about this hot travel topic.

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Danny Newman

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Trying to find out about eco travellers? I hope this guide helps!

Do you remember seeing pictures of blue skies in Beijing and dolphins in the canals of Venice during the COVID lockdowns?

That was no coincidence.

Researchers have found that the pandemic had a profound positive effect on the environment, from reducing air and water pollution to reversing the damage done to popular tourist destinations.

These findings have only accelerated a trend that was slowly becoming more popular anyway: eco travel.

You may have heard of eco travelling already. But what is it, exactly? What do eco travellers do? What do eco trips involve? Where are the best places to take eco tours?

And, most importantly, why should you (or any of us) care?

Read on for a deep dive into ecological travelling, why it’s so important, and some expert tips to help you get started!

ecotravel-1373237

Here we go, then: a comprehensive look at eco travel and what it involves!

Interested in eco travels? You might also like these posts…

  • 10 Primary Disadvantages of Tourism
  • A Complete Guide to Responsible Tourism
  • 60 Awesome Adventure Dates Ideas
  • 15 Awesome Ideas for Souvenirs
  • 20 Places with Crystal Clear Water
  • 20 Coldest Countries in the World
  • 20 Hottest Countries on Earth
  • How to Plan a Trip on Google Maps
  • The Advantages and Disadvantages of Travelling

Eco Travel: What Is It?

Simply put, eco travel is any type of tourism that focuses on travelling responsibly and sustainably.

It might even go a step further, as many eco travellers try to have a positive impact on the environment and the local community too.

Eco travel is closely associated with other terms such as:

  • Sustainable travel
  • Sustainable tourism
  • Green travel
  • Ecological travel

According to the UN , this type of tourism:

“Takes into account its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities.”

Another organization, TIES, defines ecotourism as “ responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people, and involves interpretation and education. ”

In other words, eco travellers are highly aware of the impact their visit has on the local flora and fauna, community, economy, and environment.

Furthermore, they seek to minimise any negative impact and, if possible, create a positive local impact instead.

ecotravelling-2420020

In the coming section, I’ll run through a few examples of what eco travelling looks like in practice.

Examples of Ecological Travelling

This sounds great in theory, but what does eco travel look like in real life? Let’s consider some examples of what eco travellers might do:

  • Staying with an indigenous community in Ecuador
  • Hiking and camping along the Appalachian Trail
  • Volunteering with a wildlife conservation agency in South Africa
  • Ziplining above the rainforest on an eco tour of Costa Rica
  • Horse trekking across the island of Iceland
  • Glamping or sleeping in eco-friendly lodging
  • Helping local farmers through an agritourism program
  • Signing up for an eco tour cruise to Antarctica or the Galapagos Islands
  • Walking or riding a bicycle instead of renting a car or taking an Uber
  • Buying food from a local market instead of a chain grocery store
  • Souvenir shopping from local artists rather than buying “Made in China” knickknacks
  • Bringing reusable drink containers instead of buying plastic water bottles
  • Taking a train or a bus across a country instead of flying

Of course, just because you hike, camp, or bring your own water bottle doesn’t mean you’re eco travelling.

You must also visit in such a way that you minimise (or even eliminate) your carbon footprint , along with any negative impact on your destination.

ecologicaltravelling-2539649

Ecological travelling involves looking after our planet and the local community instead of acting in ways that harm it.

Why Is Eco Travelling Important?

If you’re like me, you feel frustrated when you see news stories like this one , where a popular Thai island had to remove 3 tonnes of plastic trash from its beautiful beaches.

Then there are popular cities like Venice and Barcelona that are overrun with tourists , putting strain on the local infrastructure, environment, and economies.

Eco travellers aim to do the opposite.

They have a keen awareness of the world around them and the fact that everyone and everything on the planet is interconnected. They might adopt a popular catchphrase like, “Take only memories, leave only footprints.”

In other words, leave no trace.

Here are some reasons why all of us should consider becoming eco travellers in the future:

  • It protects fragile natural environments and historical sites
  • It benefits local economies and creates local job opportunities
  • It helps to conserve and spread awareness of indigenous cultures
  • It preserves biological diversity among plant and animal species
  • It empowers local communities with knowledge and resources
  • It reduces carbon emissions and unnecessary waste products
  • It creates authentic relationships with local residents and businesses
  • It shows respect for the planet, the climate, and each other
  • It’s more fulfilling than traditional tourism activities and destinations

Around the world, there’s a greater awareness of what’s happening to our global environment.

More and more people — as individuals and as organisations — are interested in contributing to this cause.

Eco travel is one of the best ways to get involved without sacrificing the chance to see the world.

Instead, eco travellers get the chance to make the world a better place!

ecotrips-6840242

Now let’s dive into some of the best places to go for eco trips and some awesome companies with a strong eco-reputation.

The Best Destinations for Eco Trips

Where should you go for an eco-friendly holiday?

As you might expect, most eco trips venture off the beaten path. Forget those big cities overrun with tourists or tropical beaches lined with all-inclusive resorts.

Instead, eco travellers might consider exciting destinations such as:

  • New Zealand
  • Bhutan (the world’s only carbon-negative country )
  • South Africa

Again, keep in mind that just because you visit an “eco-friendly” destination or even sign up for an “eco-friendly” tour doesn’t mean it’s truly eco travel.

You need to do your due diligence to ensure that your accommodations, activities, and habits will have a positive impact on the destination.

The Best Travel Companies for Eco Tours

To make your research easier, I’ve compiled a list of companies that have a stellar reputation for eco trips. These include:

1. Seacology Expeditions

Join an expedition to exotic island destinations such as Borneo, Fiji, or the Philippines.

Go scuba diving, kayaking, and hiking while taking part in active projects that support the local ecology and benefit local communities.

2. Responsible Travel

One of the global leaders in eco-tourism, Responsible Travel offers more than 5,000 adventures in beautiful destinations all over the world.

Rest easy knowing their eco tours focus on giving back to local businesses and supporting wildlife conservation efforts.

3. Intrepid Travel

Hailed as one of the first carbon-neutral tour operators, Intrepid Travel loves to give back to great causes — for example, the 2015 Nepal earthquake.

They offer exciting tour options across the globe and are a leader in both child protection and the use of local guides.

Specialising in adventure travel for 18 to 35-year-olds, Contiki is paying to offset carbon emissions on all current and future trips.

Travel with them and you’ll help to support forest conservation efforts in Australia as well as renewable energy efforts in the US.

5. Discover Corps

With a tagline like “unforgettable vacations with a purpose,” Discover Corps is the leader in volunteer holidays.

Join a project in Asia, Africa, or Latin America that focuses on helping local schools, families, or wildlife.

eco-travel-1809500

Has eco-travel piqued your interest? Read on for a bunch of tips to help you travel in this way.

25 Top Tips for Aspiring Eco Travellers

What do you think? Are you ready to join the ranks of eco travellers and revamp the way you holiday?

Even if you’re not ready to sign up for a major eco tour or volunteer project, you can adopt an eco travel mindset right now.

Here are 25 simple tips to keep in mind as you travel across the globe (or even around your hometown).

1. Stay at locally-owned accommodations instead of corporate chain hotels.

2. Pay the entrance fees to national parks and historical sites, as these contribute towards conservation efforts and support the local economy.

3. Book activities with local tour guides (or companies that employ local guides).

4. Use public transportation such as trains or buses to get around. Only rent a vehicle or hire a taxi if there’s no other way to reach your destination.

5. If you must fly, book a direct point-to-point flight. Takeoffs and landings create the biggest impact on the environment, so try to avoid layovers if/where possible.

6. While swimming, snorkelling, or scuba diving, never touch the coral, rocks, or animal life. Use only reef-friendly sunscreen to protect your skin while you’re in the water.

7. Buy locally-made goods and souvenirs from local vendors. Not only will you support the local economy, but you’ll minimise your carbon footprint because those goods didn’t have to be shipped across the globe.

8. The same goes for food consumption. Buy your food from farmer’s markets or locally-owned stores instead of large chain grocery suppliers.

9. Consider travelling to locations closer to home that don’t require a long flight (or a rental car once you arrive).

10. Avoid crowded destinations struggling with over-tourism, such as Macchu Picchu or Thailand’s Phi Phi islands. Instead, choose places that are “off the beaten path” or, better yet, book an eco tour with a reputable company.

11. Skip the beachfront resorts and massive cruise liners. Look for accommodation that’s locally owned (such as bed-and-breakfasts or hostels) or choose a hotel that’s accredited by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council .

12. Bring reusable items like water bottles, travel mugs, and cloth shopping bags. Carry them with you so you won’t have to use any plastic, paper, or styrofoam products.

13. Look for accommodations that tout “green” travel, such as solar power, composting, and recyclable water systems (just make sure they aren’t greenwashing ).

14. Always respect local customs. This might mean adapting the way you dress (for example, covering your head or your shoulders) or avoiding actions that could be offensive (for example, pointing your feet at a person or at a statue of Buddha).

15. Consider volunteering for all or part of your holiday. Many organisations offer volunteer experiences that only last a day (or even a few hours), allowing you to experience the joy of giving back.

ecotours-7036748

Eco tours are all about preserving the natural beauty of our planet and supporting local communities – while still having the time of your life!

16. Never leave trash or litter on the street or on a trail. Stop to pick up anything that other (less responsible) travellers have left behind.

17. Never approach wildlife or attempt to feed them. Be respectful of the distance between you as you observe or take pictures.

18. Don’t stray off the path if you’re hiking or trekking, especially in a remote area. You could easily damage the local flora and fauna — not to mention the possibility of getting lost!

19. Whenever possible, walk or ride a bicycle. Take advantage of local public transportation options too — they’re more eco-friendly than cars and they’re cheaper too.

20. Before you leave for one of your eco trips, make your home environment more eco-friendly. Turn off all lights and unplug any electronics that could zap “phantom electricity” from your home . Do the same at your destination with your chargers, light switches, and heating/cooling.

21. Be mindful of travelling during times that could disturb local wildlife, such as breeding or hatching seasons. Avoid fragile environments that are at risk of erosion, collapse, or over-tourism.

22. Unless you’re staying for an extended period of time, opt-out of fresh towels and sheets in your room every day. You’ll help to conserve local water and power resources by reusing towels and sleeping on the same sheets during your stay.

23. Bring your own water filter or water purifier so you can safely drink the local tap water (if you’re somewhere where it’s safe to do so , of course). This eliminates the need to buy bottled water during your travels.

24. Look for eco-friendly travel bags made from sustainable and recycled materials. You can even find backpacks equipped with solar chargers to power your devices all day long.

25. Consider making a carbon offset donation when you book a flight. Look for airlines that offer the option to donate a portion of the ticket price to a reputable environmental agency.

Eco Travels: The Wave of the Future

As we’ve discussed, there’s no need to give up our favourite hobby (travelling) because of changing conditions on the planet.

Instead, we can each do our part to contribute to a healthier environment by focusing on ecological travelling.

Whether you volunteer for a conversation effort abroad, take an exciting eco-adventure tour, or simply use some of these tips for eco travellers, you’ll be doing your part to make our world a better place!

Would you like to learn more on a similar travel topic?

Click here to learn more about the different types of vacation.

Catalina Island Conservancy Ball April 20, 2024

TICKETS & SPONSORSHIPS ON-SALE NOW!

Conservation

We preserve and restore the environment on Catalina, promoting and modeling ecologically sustainable communities to create a healthier future for this Island and our Earth.

  • Collaborations
  • Habitat Restoration
  • Restoration Project
  • Research Permits
  • Wildlife Programs
  • Plants & Animals of Catalina
  • Internships

The Conservancy provides formal, classroom lessons and non-formal outdoor experiences designed to deliver nature-based engagement and experiential learning.

  • Youth & Family Learning
  • Adult Learning

As the oldest and largest private land trust in the state of California, the Catalina Island Conservancy opens its wildlands for the public to enjoy in many ways.

  • Airport in the Sky
  • Wildlands Express
  • Nature Center
  • Trans-Catalina Trail
  • Wrigley Memorial and Botanic Garden

Founded in 1972 as a nonprofit organization, the Catalina Island Conservancy is one of the oldest private land trusts in Southern California.

  • Strategic Plan
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Learn more about obtaining required permits, browse through various trail and island maps, and read through our helpful policies and information.

  • News & Stories
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Get Involved

Support a worthy organization dedicated to restoring and protecting Catalina Island’s wildlands – help save animal species on the verge of extinction and maintain unique habitats for all to enjoy.

  • Ways to Give
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RESTORATION PROJECT

The Catalina Island Restoration Project, undertaken by the Catalina Island Conservancy, is a comprehensive initiative aimed at regenerating and safeguarding the natural ecosystem. The project seeks to protect the Island’s biodiversity, mitigate erosion, prevent wildfires, and create a sustainable, thriving environment for both wildlife and humans.

  • About the Restoration Project
  • Restoration Project FAQS
  • Science, Data, and Methodologies
  • What Supporters are Saying

Catalina Eco Tour

Wheel into the wildlands with our catalina eco tour.

With access to over 165 miles of paved and unpaved roads, our naturalist-led Catalina Eco Tour allows you to explore parts of Catalina Island no other outfitter can reach. Whether you are hoping to learn more about the Island’s rich history, see some of our unique plants, wildlife and bison, or simply explore parts of Catalina that most people never see, your adventure starts here !

Catalina Eco Tour truck

Start your adventure! Book your Catalina Eco Tour online today.

Private and custom tours available, please call (310) 510-2595 x0 to book.

Catalina Eco Tour Seating

The number of seats in a vehicle vary and all seating is assigned by driver at time of tour. Due to vehicle layouts you may be seated away from your party in the same vehicle. Guests may be required to sit 3 across in the back row in the same vehicle to accommodate all parties and any Covid Regulations. Vehicle types include Custom Tundras and Custom Jeeps and vehicle type can change up until tour time. Masks are not currently required in open air vehicles. We appreciate your understanding and cooperation. Have a wonderful adventure!

Catalina Eco Tour Ride

Catalina Island Conservancy’s Eco Tours travel on unpaved roads and trails where you will experience bumps and jars. Guests with infants and young children, or those with orthopedic, neurological, cardiac or respiratory issues, and pregnant women should consider any risks associated with those conditions should they choose to participate in this tour.

Babies & Young Children

Catalina Eco Tour Babies & Young Children Policy

If bringing babies or young children, please note that we abide by all current California laws with regard to car seat requirements and a separate tour seat must be purchased to accommodate the car seat; babies are not allowed to be seated on laps.

Service Animals

Catalina Eco Tour Service Animals Policy

We also welcome medically necessary service animals; if the animal cannot fit comfortably at your feet you will be required to purchase an additional seat. Please notify Guest Services at 310-510-2595 x0 in advance if bringing a service animal, so we can properly accommodate you and your service animal on the tour.

Cancellation Policy

Catalina Eco Tour Cancellation Policy

Tickets cancelled within 72 hours prior to departure are non-refundable, non-exchangeable. Web convenience fees are never refundable.

Catalina Eco Tour Locker Availability

Please note that we cannot store any personal items or luggage during your Catalina Eco Tour.  There are lockers available at the Catalina Express Boat Terminal and many hotels will hold luggage for their guests.

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  • North America Tours
  • Eco Tours in USA

USA Eco Tours 2024/2025

The best eco tours in USA. Below you will see 348 eco tours through USA that are all carbon offset. Bookmundi offsets the CO2 footprint on behalf of all the multiday tour companies that we work in USA by amongst others investing in wind, solar and tree planting projects around the world. In the future, we will continue to make our tours in USA more sustainable and climate-friendly.

348 Eco trips in USA

Real Big Apple To Big Easy Tour

  • Starts New York, USA
  • Ends New Orleans, USA

Real Big Apple to Big Easy

  • Best price guaranteed
  • No booking fees
  • Tour Type Small Group Tour
  • Activities Active and outdoor & City sightseeing Active and outdoor , City sightseeing , Camping & Museum and gallery visits 'data-more-tripid='3522'>+2 more
  • Accommodation Hostel
  • Transport Private Vehicle, Boat & Train
  • Age Range 18-29 yrs
  • Operated in English
  • Brochure Price: US$ 2,895
  • Special Deal (10%): - US$ 289
  • Total Price from: US$ 2,606
  • Jun 16 10+ seats left
  • Jul 07 10+ seats left
  • View More Jan 1, 2019 Jan 2, 2019 Jan 3, 2019

LA To Vegas Adventure Tour

  • Starts Los Angeles, USA
  • Ends Las Vegas, USA

LA to Vegas Adventure

  • Activities City sightseeing
  • Accommodation Hotel, Camping & Hostel
  • Transport Private Vehicle
  • Age Range 15-99 yrs
  • Brochure Price: US$ 1,470
  • Special Deal (10%): - US$ 147
  • Total Price from: US$ 1,323
  • May 14 Only 5 seats left
  • Jun 11 Only 6 seats left

Spotlight On New York City Tour

  • Ends New York, USA

Spotlight on New York City

  • Tour Type Group Tour
  • Accommodation Hotel
  • Transport Ferry
  • Age Range 1-95 yrs
  • May 09 10+ seats left
  • May 16 10+ seats left

Splendours Of The West Tour

  • Starts California, USA
  • Ends California, USA

Splendours of the West

  • Trip customizable
  • Activities Explorer
  • Accommodation Hotel, Lodge & Resort
  • Transport Coach
  • Age Range 13-99 yrs
  • Mar 29 Only 10 seats left
  • Apr 12 Only 10 seats left

Wonders Of The American West Tour

  • Starts Las Vegas, USA

Wonders of the American West

  • Activities Explorer & Adventure
  • Transport Coach, 4WD Jeep & Private Vehicle
  • Age Range 5-99 yrs
  • Brochure Price: US$ 4,588
  • Special Deal (15%): - US$ 688
  • Total Price from: US$ 3,900
  • Apr 14 Only 7 seats left
  • May 05 10+ seats left

New York Explorer Tour

New York Explorer

  • Activities Festivals and events
  • Transport Ferry & Coach
  • Age Range 18-35 yrs
  • Feb 22 Only 10 seats left
  • Feb 28 10+ seats left

Rhythms Of The South Tour

  • Starts Nashville, USA

Rhythms of the South

  • Activities Adventure & Explorer
  • Transport Coach, Boat & Bus
  • Brochure Price: US$ 2,425
  • Special Deal (22%): - US$ 531
  • Total Price from: US$ 1,894
  • Mar 25 Only 6 seats left
  • Apr 08 Only 10 seats left

Honolulu Hawaii Experience 7D/6N Tour

  • Starts Honolulu, USA
  • Ends Honolulu, USA

Honolulu Hawaii Experience 7D/6N

  • Activities Adventure
  • Age Range 18-99 yrs
  • Feb 29 10+ seats left

Eastern USA & Canada Escape Tour

Eastern USA & Canada Escape

  • Activities Natural landmarks sightseeing & City sightseeing
  • Transport Coach, Boat, Bus & Private Vehicle
  • Age Range 10-99 yrs
  • Brochure Price: US$ 3,625
  • Special Deal (20%): - US$ 710
  • Total Price from: US$ 2,915
  • Jun 17 Only 1 seat left
  • Jul 15 Only 3 seats left

Wild Western USA Tour

  • Ends San Francisco, USA

Wild Western USA

  • Activities Natural landmarks sightseeing & National parks
  • Brochure Price: US$ 2,740
  • Special Deal (10%): - US$ 274
  • Total Price from: US$ 2,466
  • Jul 09 Only 4 seats left

New York To Miami Tour

  • Ends Miami, USA

New York to Miami

  • Activities City sightseeing & Chill out
  • Transport Coach & Boat
  • Apr 26 Only 10 seats left
  • May 24 Only 10 seats left

Western Trails

  • Ends Los Angeles, USA

Western Trails

  • Accommodation Hotel & Lodge

Best Of The West Tour

Best of the West

  • Accommodation Hotel & Resort
  • Transport Coach, Helicopter & Private Vehicle
  • Brochure Price: US$ 2,695
  • Special Deal (23%): - US$ 624
  • Total Price from: US$ 2,071
  • Apr 11 10+ seats left
  • May 02 Only 6 seats left

Utah Parks Circuit Tour

Utah Parks Circuit

  • Activities National parks
  • Accommodation Hotel, Camping & Hut
  • Transport Private Vehicle & Jeep
  • Brochure Price: US$ 2,420
  • Special Deal (15%): - US$ 363
  • Total Price from: US$ 2,057
  • May 18 Only 1 seat left
  • Jun 15 Only 6 seats left

USA Eco Tour Reviews

  • Olga Ocheretyanaya

Eco tours and trips

  • Eco tours in North America
  • Eco tours in Central America
  • Eco tours in Mexico
  • Eco tours in Canada
  • Eco tours in Cuba
  • Eco tours in Guatemala
  • Eco tours in Belize
  • Eco tours in Nicaragua
  • USA budget tours
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  • USA last minute deals
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USA upcoming departures

  • Winter 2024/2025
  • Spring 2024/2025
  • Summer 2024
  • February 2024
  • August 2024
  • September 2024

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The International Ecotourism Society

What Is Ecotourism?

Conservation, offering market-linked long-term solutions, ecotourism provides effective economic incentives for conserving and enhancing bio-cultural diversity and helps protect the natural and cultural heritage of our beautiful planet., communities, by increasing local capacity building and employment opportunities, ecotourism is an effective vehicle for empowering local communities around the world to fight against poverty and to achieve sustainable development., interpretation, with an emphasis on enriching personal experiences and environmental awareness through interpretation, ecotourism promotes greater understanding and appreciation for nature, local society, and culture., the definition., ecotourism is now defined as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people, and involves interpretation and education” (ties, 2015). education is meant to be inclusive of both staff and guests., principles of ecotourism, ecotourism is about uniting conservation, communities, and sustainable travel. this means that those who implement, participate in and market ecotourism activities should adopt the following ecotourism principles:.

  • Minimize physical, social, behavioral, and psychological impacts.
  • Build environmental and cultural awareness and respect.
  • Provide positive experiences for both visitors and hosts.
  • Provide direct financial benefits for conservation.
  • Generate financial benefits for both local people and private industry.
  • Deliver memorable interpretative experiences to visitors that help raise sensitivity to host countries’ political, environmental, and social climates.
  • Design, construct and operate low-impact facilities.
  • Recognize the rights and spiritual beliefs of the Indigenous People in your community and work in partnership with them to create empowerment.

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Curiosity Saves Travel Logo

Ecotourism 101: What is Ecotourism? The Good, The Bad, and Sustainable Ecotourism

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I may earn income from affiliate links or partnerships in this post. I spend time to curate tours or products that align with my values. Thanks for supporting my work, at no additional cost to you.

Last updated on November 21st, 2023 at 02:37 pm

A re you curious about what ecotourism is, if it’s really as beneficial as it sounds, and how to ensure you’re engaging in sustainable ecotourism? Ecotourism is when we travel to vulnerable natural places to increase our understanding of the surrounding natural and cultural landscape while delivering equitable socio-economic benefits throughout the surrounding region. When conducted properly and aligned with these values, ecotourism can work toward preserving a region’s environmental conservation and cultural preservation while simultaneously improving the quality of life for those impacted by tourism. However, when models of ecotourism are put in place that don’t carefully consider the impacts of tourism and work to counter them, ecotourism can have adverse effects, such as contributing to the loss of biodiversity in a region and ultimately adding to the stresses that put these vulnerable regions at risk. 

Whether ecotourism can be a force for good or damaging in some of the world’s most sensitive environments is up to us, the travelers! It is up to us to be informed about how our behaviors and choices can impact natural places. That all starts with education surrounding the topic. Let’s dive into the nuances of ecotourism, the benefits and the negatives, what “good” ecotourism looks like in practice, and, most importantly, why sustainable ecotourism matters. By understanding how to identify sustainable ecotourism, you’ll become a more informed traveler doing your part to save travel and the protected natural areas we choose to visit.

Ecotourism 101. Understanding what is ecotourism. Is ecotourism good or bad. Why we need sustainable ecotourism.

This post was carefully curated based on personal experience, an MSc in biodiversity with a thesis covering biodiversity and tourism, and research based on government documents, case studies, and international conservation entities. Get to know me better to learn more about my expertise on this subject matter. 

Looking for more 101 guides to becoming a more responsible traveler? Start here!

  • Agritourism 101
  • Responsible Travel at UNESCO sites
  • Economic Tourism Leakage 101
  • Sustainable Travel Tips

What We’re Covering

What is Ecotourism

5 Requirements of Sustainable Ecotourism

Benefits and Negative Impacts

Real-life Examples

Tips to Plan an Ecotour

Discuss, Share, Engage

  • Ecotourism happens in vulnerable communities and protected natural areas.
  • Sustainable ecotourism engages the 3 pillars of sustainability: environmental , economic, and social benefits.
  • Unsustainable ecotourism neglects 1-2 of the pillars resulting in negative implications for nature or locals.
  • Nature-based tourism is often confused with ecotourism – learn how to spot the difference.
  • Before engaging in ecotourism, ask yourself or the company you book how they benefit ALL three pillars.
  • Often the best solution is to work directly with local tour groups or organizations.
  • Ecotourism does not always mean ethical tourism.
  • There is no perfect model of ecotourism. It is up to you to ensure you have a positive impact on vulnerable natural destinations.

Dingle Peninsula Wild Atlantic Way Ireland

What is Ecotourism?

One of the most common buzzwords in the sustainable travel industry is ‘ecotourism.’ Many travelers rely on this word being synonymous with environmentally friendly, ethical tourism. Others might be asking if ecotourism is as good as it says it is.  When ecotourism is executed sustainably – based on research and understanding of the impacts on the natural environment and with guidance from the local communities, then yes, it can be synonymous with ethical tourism. This type of “good” ecotourism is if you create a powerful positive force for environmental conservation and local community well-being.

On the other hand, unsustainable ecotourism, a model of tourism that happens with the best intentions but fails to involve the community or maintain checks and balances regarding the environmental impact of tourism, can be detrimental to both the natural and local communities.

Ecotourism is often conducted in protected natural areas surrounded by vulnerable communities such as nature reserves, national parks, wilderness areas, heritage sites, or natural monuments. In these incredibly culturally and ecologically sensitive communities, true ecotourism can do a lot of good, while failed models of ecotourism or tourism operating under the guise of ecotourism can have catastrophic impacts.  In these protected areas, ecotourism must contribute to environmental conservation and the alleviation of poverty or risk destroying the places we love as travelers. 

Sustainable Ecotourism

Sustainable ecotourism, or really just ecotourism as it was intended to be, is responsible travel to protected or vulnerable natural areas focusing on environmental conservation/education while sustaining local communities’ economic and social well-being. For ecotourism to be sustainable for generations to come, it must include all three pillars, or the triple bottom line, of sustainability, as seen in the infographic. It isn’t quite enough to have all three of these pillars included; they need to be somewhat balanced, ensuring that tourism develops in a way that doesn’t take too much of an environmental toll while infusing a lot of economic benefits into the economy.

Ideally, the economic development from ecotourism is equitable and able to sustain long-term job development and growth in the region while equally contributing to wildlife conversation and preserving cultural identity. It is normal to have one piece of the Venn Diagram to be slightly larger as true equilibrium is difficult and impossible, but each should grow at a rate that doesn’t create too much imbalance. When things get out of balance, or one circle takes priority over another, no matter the intentions, we begin to have unsustainable ecotourism.

on eco tour

Unsustainable Ecotourism

Unsustainable ecotourism may embody or prioritize only one or two pillars of sustainable ecotourism. This can happen for a variety of reasons.

  • Tour operators and travel companies may conduct ecotours as a marketing ploy to get the attention of travelers looking for more environmentally friendly travel options. These operators may conduct businesses without fully understanding their impact on the natural environment or equitably distribute tourism’s benefits within their community. 
  • Adventure companies or individual travelers may enjoy nature-based adventures while disregarding local communities.
  • Others may seek to capitalize on the economic gain of nature-based tourism while exploiting nature.
  • Culturally sensitive communities may alter their customs or traditional crafts to appeal to tourists, thus increasing their economic gain while degrading their culture.
  • Perhaps a national park becomes so popular that the number of people visiting begins to have irreversible impacts on natural vegetation or wildlife.
  • Other companies may lack adequate support and resources from their governments, communities, or foreign tour companies to meet well-intended goals.

These are all examples of unsustainable ecotourism, ultimately resulting in the problematic exploitation of natural resources or local communities. 

Alaskan Otter Seward Major Marine Tours

Nature-based tourism vs. ecotourism?

Many people use nature-based and ecotourism interchangeably, but they are not the same. Nature-based tourism is traveling to a natural landscape to enjoy nature. Ecotourism is visiting a place with the goal of contributing to conservation while benefitting the community for a positive impact. I consider the multi-day hikes in the European Alps nature-based, as I am just out for a hike to enjoy nature. If I were to hire a local guide in Peru to take me on a culturally infused hike to learn about nature and culture – then we start to cross into ecotourism.

Little-Penguin-Ecotour-Akaroa-New-Zealand

The penguin tour I did in New Zealand is a great example of a sustainable eco-tour . We learned about the local conservation efforts of a penguin colony on the brink of extinction (environmental), supported a local farm and conservation group (economic), and had a high-quality social engagement learning about New Zealand’s connection to the environment (Social).

Mass Tourism vs Ecotourism? What is better?

When I first started on my journey toward embracing sustainable tourism, I automatically assumed that mass tourism = bad. Ecotourism = good. This is something I see across the board among travelers. However, many tourism academics disagree on this binary and highlight the nuances and importance of well-managed tourism development, whether eco or mass.

Their arguments hinge on the fact that mass tourism ultimately contains people in places that generally already have the infrastructure to support large groups of people. Imagine if we took the thousands of people staying at an all-inclusive Disney resort – a place with adequate infrastructure to handle these numbers and dropped them all at a small Peruvian rainforest eco-lodge. The small ecolodges set up for sustainable ecotourism and minimal crowds would be overwhelmed, and the environmental and cultural damage would be dramatic. There are also examples of how ecotourism can bring tourists into places previously undisturbed by tourists historically, and it is important to first understand and plan for potential impacts.

This isn’t to put mass or ecotourism into their boxes, but it highlights that there are examples of well-managed mass tourism in areas with infrastructure that are worth supporting. Just as there are examples of poorly managed ecotourism disturbing nature for the first time, it all comes down to how tourism is managed.

What do you think about this argument? Share in the comments!

Five Requirements of Sustainable Ecotourism

What else separates sustainable and unsustainable ecotourism? It’s not enough for ecotourism to vaguely target the three pillars of sustainability at free will. Carefully thought-out itineraries should be constructed before engaging in ecotourism. While there is situational and regional flexibility in how sustainable ecotourism plays out in real life, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has listed five minimum requirements, hitting all three pillars, that tourists and tour operators should address before engaging in ecotourism. We can use these guidelines to create a custom itinerary when visiting vulnerable natural communities or booking a tour operator.

1. Tourism should benefit environmental conservation

Tourism activities, development, and tour operators should safeguard the environment, conserve natural resources, protect ecosystems, and benefit biodiversity. Several key players need to work together to ensure this. Governments and land managers should ensure that proper scientific impact assessments are done prior to tourism development. Rules and regulations should be established so tour companies, guides, and tourists follow. Involving the community in conservation-based tourism is key.

For us travelers, environmental education is a key component of this. As you visit vulnerable areas, you should try to learn about local biodiversity and environmental concerns. Doing some research ahead of time allows you to align your behaviors in a way that doesn’t degrade the environment, and you can also hold tourism companies accountable for their actions if you are more informed.

Red Flags 

  • Mass crowds, overdevelopment, and overtourism. Overdevelopment of the region surrounding a protected area to accommodate mass tourism may negatively impact nature. Many species are not confined to the protected natural zone, and over-development can damage migration and breeding patterns, increase water and air pollution, and increase erosion. Protected areas often have a limited capacity before ecosystem degradation may occur.
  • Large tour buses or cruise ships drop large groups of people off in a protected region for a short amount of time.
  • If a protected region is capitalizing on economic profit and bringing in as many guests as possible without sticking to a sustainable plan.
  • Clear-cutting and ecosystem fragmentation to build large resorts
  • Tour companies that allow you to touch, feed, or interact with wildlife

Actionable Steps

  • Look for places with non-invasive infrastructure that keep you a safe distance from animals. Look for well-planned trails, viewing platforms/sky bridges, nature centers for education, etc.
  • Find alternatives to nature’s hot spots, seeking out small-scale educational nature-based tourism.
  • Visit places that minimize capacity with permits and quotas.
  • Be willing to pay fees and fines that support sustainable infrastructure.
  • Learn and follow all regional, local, and tribal etiquette before entering a protected area. 
  • Support eco-lodges, regenerative hotels, and other low-impact options.
  • Book small group tours or go alone and hire personal local guides to take you into nature on a designated trail.

Ruined building on a flood plain in India's National Parks

Read a guest post by an ecologist from India about the do’s and don’ts for visiting national parks in India . This post highlights proper behavior to ensure that you, your local guide, the ecosystem, and the animals you see are safeguarded and protected. – A great example of sustainable ecotourism.

2. Safeguard the cultural and natural heritage of the region

Oftentimes, without even knowing it, we, as travelers, support the decline of a region’s cultural heritage. With the presence of tourism, locals may feel the pressure to please us with certain trinkets or displays that don’t align with their culture to put on a show. There are a few cruise shows in Alaska that are not traditional and are upsetting to certain elders as they have permanently altered traditions to appeal to Western tourists.

There are mindful ways we can learn about and support traditions by appreciating authentic experiences; for example, The Alaska Native Heritage Center is operated by Native stakeholders, and the art, song, dance, and cultural shows are true to the tribe’s heritage.

Unsustainable tourism booms at UNESCO sites such as Hoi An are notorious for contributing to tourism tourism-fiction. This means that culture becomes a commodity rather than part of the heritage. Some have described tourism’s impacts on Hoi An as leaving the city a husk of its former self and operating more like Disneyland than a place of important culture.

  • Locals selling mass-produced or cheap trinkets, such as sunglasses, outside protected zones. Many of these people may have given up traditional crafts or lifestyles to get short-term benefits from tourism in the area because they have been exploited and excluded for economic benefits.
  • International tour companies that host cultural shows in which traditional songs, dances, or clothing have been changed to appeal to foreigners.  
  • Commodification of culture
  • Invest in quality certified crafts work from master artisans – look for certifications.
  • Seek out authentic cultural experiences from homestays or by learning from local guides.
  • Visit Indigenous or locally-owned culture centers for an authentic educational song, dance, and cultural experience.  

alaska-flight-seeing-tour

3. Respect Indigenous Peoples and local communities rights

If there is one thing that can grind my gears, it’s when tourists have more rights than locals. When Glacier Bay National Park first opened to tourism many Indigenous groups were no longer allowed to use the land for subsistence hunting and gathering . Meanwhile, massive cruise ships pulled in and dumped their greywater. Efforts are being made to restore subsistence rights, and Indigenous tribes can now harvest certain things, but as it still stands, most cruise companies have more rights in that Bay than many Alaskans. While the Indigenous peoples of Alaska are left suffering the consequences of cruise impacts on their ancestral land, they are also excluded from tourism’s benefits, with multinational cruise companies making the most money.

But, it is not enough to consider Indigenous peoples and the surrounding communities impacted by tourism; they must be a key partner in tourism. Their consent and well-being regarding tourism in protected areas should come first. They should have a direct say in developing tourism while receiving equitable benefits.

  • Areas that give tourists more rights than local or Indigenous Peoples. i.e., when people climbed Uluru on eco-excursions despite the wishes of Australia’s Aboriginal People.
  • Tours that bring you into protected natural areas without providing ways to learn about local or Indigenous culture directly from the marginalized people. 

Actionable Steps 

  • If Indigenous groups have been displaced from an area, take it upon yourself to enter the protected area as a guest respecting the traditional owners.
  • Hire local guides or meet locals to engage in cultural exchange.
  • Learn about tribal history, present, culture, and wishes.
  • Perform a land acknowledgment.
  • If an area is sacred to an Indigenous group and they ask you not to enter, reconsider your plans and find a viable alternative. 

female brown bear in a grassy field

4. Create viable, long-term economic operations in the region

The presence of a booming tourism industry looks great on paper in any region. But, if you dig deep, you’ll start to notice that maybe a lot of that money leaves the local destination and ends up in the pockets of large multinational companies. Or maybe locals don’t have access to year-round jobs that provide them with enough healthcare and healthy food because of boom-bust seasonal cycles. Ensuring local access to stable employment is important to reduce global poverty. Tourism jobs can’t only be seasonal jobs that exploit foreign workers. Locals should be interested in tourism jobs to reach management positions and receive benefits.

Many cite the economic benefits of tourism as the sole reason to develop tourism, but research shows that many locals aren’t interested in tourism jobs because of the lack of sustainable and beneficial long-term employment. When I was a tour guide in Alaska, I worked long hours during the summer months without long-term security, health care, or retirement benefits.

  • Tourism leakage . Leakage happens when large international tour corporations or foreign-owned all-inclusive resorts profit off ecotourism while locals are forced deeper into poverty. Locals should be primarily profiting off tourism as they suffer any negative impacts. 
  • Lack of local guides. Lack of locals in management or hospitality positions.
  • Mass-over-tourism booms happening during a short seasonal window, resulting in an employment depression during the off-season.
  • Foreign workers are imported for cheap labor exploitation or to make tourists comfortable.
  • Support locally owned tour companies providing residents with stable year-round jobs, training, and income-earning opportunities. 
  • Support local businesses and buy local products when traveling through vulnerable communities.
  • Visit places during the shoulder or off-season to support a healthy year-round economy.
  • Avoid booking with international tour companies and all-inclusive resorts unless they engage in the trip-bottom line. 

Valley of Fire Outdoor activities Las Vegas

5. Create meaningful and high-quality visitor experiences

If you’re stepping out of a tour bus for that Instagram photo opportunity without learning about your destination, you are not having a meaningful or high-quality experience. Slow down and enjoy the lesser-known sights, and learn about the local food, nature, and people. These tourism experiences should be led by locals with a deep affinity for a region, allowing you to connect them to the place on an intimate level. Canada has a rigorous tour guide certification called interpretative guides. The guides aim to foster a deep and meaningful connections between the local people, places, and tourists. Tourists are more likely to care for their destination if they have a connection and understanding regarding why its protection is important.

  • Tour busses that drop people off in a protected area to look around and snap a few photos and leave without offering educational information or ways to learn about the landscape.
  • Violating local rules to gain access to a protected area for an Instagram photo.
  • Engage in ecotourism that hinges on environmental education and cultural connection.
  • Stay in a region longer than a bus stop or half a day.
  • Book locally-owned accommodation, engaging in regenerative practices that educate you meaningfully.
  • Please do it for more than the gram.

glacier calving into a lake

The Pros and Cons of Ecotourism

There is no perfect model of truly sustainable ecotourism. Even the most sustainable ecotourism models will have some negative implications, but the ultimate goal is to create a long-term sustainable plan that maximizes benefits and minimizes negative impacts .  As you can see the potential benefits are almost equal to any potential negative impacts. The key is understanding how your presence can have a positive or negative impact, and strive to check as many positives as possible. Ensure you are engaging in ecotourism that ticks positives in environmental, social, AND economic, otherwise, it is likely the negatives outweigh the positives of sustainable ecotourism. 

Does the Good Outweigh the Bad?

brown bear viewing anchorage

I went on an eco-tour to see brown bears in the wild in Alaska . We learned about brown bears from a distance and the Lake Clark National Park ecosystem (environmental) with a local company (economic) on a quality tour (social). However, they could have included more information about the region’s Indigenous culture (social). So, I did some of my own research, doing a land acknowledgment  and discovering the park’s true name is Qizhjeh Vena , meaning a place where people gather in the Dena’ina language. Despite a few shortcomings, I decided this ecotour had more positive than negative impacts especially since Indigenous Alaskans have access to the park. But this shows that not everything will be perfect. You can weigh your options and take personal actions outside of the tour to balance it out, such as independent research, donations, land acknowledgments, and buying high-quality souvenirs.

Ecotourism in Practice

We’ve covered a lot so far, but let’s review a few real examples of sustainable and unsustainable ecotourism in practice so you can better identify them.

Sustainable – Mountain Gorilla Trekking Ecotourism

Mountain gorilla treks in Uganda and DR Congo are great sustainable ecotourism models supported by local government, residents, and conservation groups. Uganda even has a conservation economy that prioritizes conservation as an economic value. Mountain gorillas are endangered in a vulnerable natural habitat surrounded by high-density rural farmers. A sustainable ecotourism model in the region protects both gorillas and includes the livelihood of residents.

Environmental: The presence of tourists deter poachers and encourage local governments to implement protection of the gorillas. Gorilla populations are increasing as a result of sustainable ecotourism. 

Economic: Locals are offered stable employment opportunities as guides, trackers, and anti-poaching guards. Many of them are ex-poachers, which reduces the poaching threat even more.  Over five years, US$428,000 was directly invested in Rwandan communities, helping locals build schools, enact locally-driven environmental projects, and aid food security.

Social : Cultural exchange between local guides and tourists enhances cultural and environmental education. Local guides can showcase years of local expertise and take pride in their culture and nature. Gorilla ecotourism has played a fundamental role in keeping the peace in Rwanda in a post-genocide landscape. 

mountain gorilla eating a leaf

Interested in learning more about ethical mountain gorilla treks? Kesi from Kesi to Fro created an awesome guest post detailing her first-hand experience seeing mountain gorillas in the wild. You can join her on a group trip to Uganda to work with local tour operators to support conservation, boost the local economy, and engage in cultural exchange. Learn more about sustainable gorilla trekking!

Unsustainable – Machu Picchu Ecotreks

Ecotourism in Machu Picchu has exploded over the last decade. Tourism in the region has grown unchecked, with international and local tour companies capitalizing on the economic benefit of a booming industry. However, tourism grew unsustainable, focusing primarily on the economy rather than the environment or social aspects. This is a prime example of when ecotourism turns into mass overtourism. 

on eco tour

Photo by Alan Hurt Jr. Unsplash

Environment: Mass development in the region surrounding Machu Picchu threatens South America’s last remaining pocket of the Andean cloud forest. Increased waste from humans adds to air and water pollution. Heavy foot traffic damages the fragile Paramo grasslands. Noise pollution contributed to the disappearance of the Andean condors from the region. Migrating and breeding patterns of threatened animals have changed.

Economic: Most workers and guides are left without work or stable year-round income during the off-season. Tourism leakage, where locals do not benefit as much as they should from tourism in the region, is problematic. 

Social: Portions of the city are sliding downhill, causing damage to a cultural and historical icon. Visitors have defaced, broken, and damaged parts of the city. An increase in cheaply made trinkets has caused a decline in local artisanal craftwork. Overall, the region has suffered a loss of cultural authenticity. The visitor experience has suffered greatly, too, with packed trails and long waits.  

*This does not mean that all Machu Picchu treks are bad. You can still visit, but be respectful as you visit, support local tour operators, respect permits, buy quality souvenirs, pay additional fees, and follow all instructions from your guide to minimize your impact. You should also consider other ways to learn about the region’s history or find an alternative hike.

View this post on Instagram A post shared by Susanna • Sustainble Travel (@curiositysaves.travel)

Tips for Planning a Sustainable Ecotour

By now you should have a pretty good idea of what constitutes sustainable ecotourism and be able to identify if your next nature-based adventure checks some of these boxes, but here are my top tips to help you get started. 

Read Their About Page

You can tell a lot about a tour operator by looking at their “about” page. I always say the more details, the better. Tour companies, hotels, and excursions near vulnerable nature and communities should freely offer up a lot of detailed information about how they are hitting that triple bottom line. If any of the three pillars of sustainable ecotourism is missing from their mission statement or is not easily accessible online, that is your first major red flag. Browse the website to see how they support the environment, local economic development, and cultural conservation. 

Look for Greenwashing

There is the possibility that companies will engage in greenwashing, presenting information on their website that makes for a convincing sustainable ecotourism model. Some signs companies are greenwashing are when they offer vague information, make general statements about committing to sustainability without examples, or put customer satisfaction and fun at the center of their advertising rather than social impact. 

Cliffs of moher Ireland

When in Doubt, Ask

I always recommend sending an email asking how they give back to the community, where your money goes, what local conservation efforts are, how they engage with local culture if they employ locals, etc.  The tour company should be able to respond with detailed statements of how they consider and benefit local communities, economic vitality, and conservation of the natural environment.

Check Their Business Model

Is sustainability part of their core mission, or is it an afterthought? Research shows that companies built around a sustainable business model prioritizing social, economic, and environmental benefits to the local community are more likely to be ethical in the long term. Companies that create a sustainable statement as an afterthought or in response to harmful behavior they are caught for are more likely to engage in damaging behavior. A great example of this is Carnival Cruises. Carnival has literal pages outlining their commitment to the environment, but this was created because a court ordered them and not necessarily because they wanted to do it from the goodness of their heart. Look for companies that were founded to create a positive impact. This information is often included in an origin story or about section.

Alaska Bald Eagle

Find the Owner

Who owns the company? Is it locally owned? Google the name of the owner. For example, many cruise lines and resorts appear to be small boutique companies, but they are owned by large international conglomerates. If in doubt, Google “Who owns X eco-resort.”

Look for certifications, read reviews, and the internet stalk them. Look for environmental warnings report cards, read comments on their social media, and dig up any information you can find.

Self Planning? Carefully Craft Your Itinerary

If you are self-planning carefully, identify each hotel and excursion operator to see how they engage in the triple-bottom line. Research environmental concerns in the area. For example – did you know you should clean your shoes in Hawai’i before entering protected natural areas?  Learn about Indigenous and local culture and history. Be aware of local etiquette for engaging in nature.

Ecotourism 101. Understanding what is ecotourism. Is ecotourism good or bad. Why we need sustainable ecotourism.

  • Create a checklist and save it on your computer to help you identify sustainable ecotourism. Having this handy will help you identify sustainable ecotourism excursions that you can feel good supporting.
  • What are some of your favorite sustainable eco-tour companies or excursions you’ve supported? Let us know in the comments so we can all learn about great companies around the world working toward helping local communities and protecting our environment.

Make sure you share this post so all your fellow travelers can discover the benefits of sustainable ecotourism and be able to identify the difference between sustainable and unsustainable ecotourism – so we can all do our part to save travel!

on eco tour

About the Author: Susanna Kelly-Shankar

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20 comments.

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Eco-tourism may eventually turn into over-tourism. AFAIK Bhutan is the leader in eco-tourism and they have achieved so through active community participation and effective government regulation.

Thanks for writing the post.

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Hi Pawan, Yes, ecotourism can quickly turn into over-tourism and it is the responsibility of the traveler to do their research and engage in sustainable ecotourism. That’s lovely you’re engaging the community! I wish you the best and hope I am able to visit Bhutan in the future!

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This is so detailed! So much to think about and consider how we can do better during our travels. There’s always room to do better!!

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I love how much ecotourism is starting to get attention. I think, especially for travelers, we love the earth and communities around the earth so much that it’s so important to learn how to connect responsibly and take care of it/each other

It really is important to learn about sustainable ecotourism and how to engage to be mindful of the environment. Thanks for reading.

' data-src=

This is alot of great information.

' data-src=

Thank you for such a thought provoking post. I learned a lot. You’ve given me much to think about. Thank you for all that you’ve invested in this post.

' data-src=

Thanks for sharing this insightful post on ecotourism. The way you broke down and explained everything was better than anything else I’ve read on the topic.

' data-src=

I love this! It’s so important to differentiate between nature-based tourism and eco tourism, and I feel like even I have been guilty of confusing thee two in the past. Definitely saving this and sharing!

It’s super confusing – and not always the fault of the traveler with greenwashing or companies that simply don’t know any better or lack resources to be sustainable. So, hopefully, this guide to ecotourism helps differentiate between nature-based tourism, sustainable and unsustainable ecotourism. Thanks for reading.

' data-src=

This is such a smart post. It’s well written and very compelling. It’s the kind of information I would gladly assign my environmental ed. students. Great job!

Oh let me know if you end up sharing it with some of your students. It is a great topic to learn about regarding the intersection of the environment and tourism.

' data-src=

For island destinations, the problem is often even more a concern. Islands belonging to countries with a mainland usually have tourism that’s developed from the mainland, with resorts being technically local but are really effectively like foreign owners since there’s often a distinct cultural difference between the two. After all, if the tourism collapses because the nature is gone, the resort investor just liquidates and goes back to the mainland, where they have their real homes. But the islanders are often tempted by the promises of employment by such resort developments, that sometimes they don’t query too hard which of the resorts are legit committed to them and which are insincere. It’s really bullying and it pisses me off.

That’s a great addition talking about islands with the mainland – that even though they are local there can still be problems. I know this likely happens in the Hawaiian islands. I agree with the bullying tactics. Sometimes the lure of money is so tempting for these places that they are pigeonholed into supporting sustainable tourism. In Alaska, one small Indigenous town simply asked a major cruise line to limit capacity during their drop-offs and within 2 days the cruise line said they would no longer dock there and take all their money. It was an all-or-nothing situation for people simply asking for larger cruise companies to engage in some sustainable behaviors. Thanks for sharing!

' data-src=

That’s a good hard look at an issue we are all struggling with. I’m going to keep all this in mind when booking my next trip.

' data-src=

Thanks for this insightful blog post! Love to read something different and outstanding! We really need to talk more about ecotourism!

this was so informative I didn’t realize there were so many aspects to eco tourism. Thanks for sharing

It is a great article about eco-tourism and sustainable tourism, you have explained everything in detail. It only teaches us how we can travel responsibly. Thanks for this valuable information.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this, I really appreciate it. I hope you learned something new about sustainable ecotourism. Make sure you share it to pass along the message.

Very insightful article. Thank you so much.

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Green Global Travel

World's largest independently owned Ecotourism / Green Travel / Sustainable Travel / Animal & Wildlife Conservation site. We share transformative Responsible Travel, Sustainable Living & Going Green Tips that make a positive impact.

What Is Ecotourism? (The History & Principles of Responsible Travel)

What is Ecotourism? 10 Simple Tips

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. All hosted affiliate links follow our editorial policies .

What is ecotourism? How does it work? Why does it matter? And how can we, as travelers, put the core principles of ecotourism into practice?

In recent years, the growth of interest in responsible travel has outpaced that of traditional sun/sand tourism by an increasingly wide margin.

With some experts estimating that ecotourism now represents 11.4% of all consumer spending, these sorts of questions have become more and more common. 

And, as we continue to see more negative impacts of mass tourism on beloved destinations around the world, the answers to these questions will become increasingly vital.

Part of the confusion surrounding sustainable travel  is the plethora of names being used for it within the industry.

E cotourism, a movement that began to take shape back in the 1980s, is the oldest and most commonly used word for it.

More recent industry buzzwords include sustainable tourism, green tourism, nature tourism, responsible tourism, ethical tourism, mindful travel, conscious travel, pro-poor tourism, and many others. 

Regardless of what you call it, the central concepts that these philosophies share in common are that the travel industry as a whole should adopt more environmentally friendly practices, protect the natural and cultural heritage of a destination, and support local communities.

With the United Nations designating 2017 as the  International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development , this seems like a great time to deepen the conversation about what ecotourism is and why it’s important for the future of travel.

Here we’ll explain the definition of ecotourism, examine its history and evolution, explore its core principles and benefits, and look at 10 ways that each of us as responsible travelers can ensure our adventures ultimately make a positive impact.

READ MORE:  How Mass Tourism is Destroying Destinations

What Is Ecotourism? (The History & Principles of Responsible Travel). Ecotourism was defined by Megan Epler Wood in 1990 as "Responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people." But what does that look like in action for travelers, and why does it matter? We examine the history and evolution of ecotourism through interviews with Wood (founder of The International Ecotourism Society) and Dr. Martha Honey (founder of the Center for Responsible Travel). We also explore some of the world's hottest ecotourism destinations, and look at how individuals can make their travel adventures more sustainable for the local people and the planet. via @greenglobaltrvl

  • The Definition of Ecotourism
  • A Brief History of Ecotourism
  • Ecotourism in the ’90s & Beyond
  • The Principles of Ecotourism
  • Ecotourism Principles in Action

The Benefits of Ecotourism

  • Other Articles on Ecotourism

What is Ecotourism - The Definition of Ecotourism

THE DEFINITION OF ECOTOURISM

According to The Oxford English Dictionary , the word “ecotour” was first recorded in 1973, followed by “ecotourism” in 1982.

There, the word is defined as, “Tourism to areas of ecological interest (typically exotic and often threatened natural environments), especially to support conservation efforts and observe wildlife; spec. access to an endangered environment controlled so as to have the least possible adverse effect.”

Ecotourism was perhaps best defined in 1990 by Megan Epler Wood, the co-founder of The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) and author of six influential books on the subject.

Her latest, Sustainable Tourism on a Finite Planet: Environmental, Business and Policy Solutions ,  was released in 2017.

Now the director of the  International Sustainable Tourism Initiative at Harvard, Epler Wood’s original definition was more simple and to the point. She described ecotourism as, “Responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people.”

In simple words, the meaning of ecotourism is travel that makes a positive impact on both the ECO logy and ECO nomy of a given destination.

One mistake many people make is assuming that ecotourism is all about conserving nature and wildlife by any means necessary. But if a destination or business’ tourism development strategy does not actively provide concrete financial benefits for the indigenous people, it’s not truly ecotourism.

Other NGOs, such as The Center for Responsible Travel  (CREST, whose co-founder Dr. Martha Honey also served as the Executive Director of TIES for four years), have since expanded on Epler Wood’s concept to provide more in-depth definitions of ecotourism.

CREST currently defines ecotourism as, “Responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, socially and economically sustains the well-being of local people, and creates knowledge and understanding through interpretation and education of all involved (including staff, travelers, and community residents).”

Other responsible travel organizations may have their own take on what ecotourism is, but these three are the most significant definitions.

READ MORE: Megan Epler Wood on the Evolution of Ecotourism

History of Ecotourism

A BRIEF HISTORY OF ECOTOURISM

Ecotourism’s earliest origins arguably began with the Sierra Club’s Outing program. Launched in 1901, these annual expeditions took hikers into the Sierra Nevada’s backcountry in order to show members natural wonders, “so that those persons could become active workers for the preservation of the forests.”

The modern movement began to take root in the environmental activism of the 1970s. Some sources suggest that the term ecotourism was originally coined by Mexican architect-turned-environmentalist  Héctor Ceballos-Lascuráin . He used the word to describe traveling to undisturbed areas in order to enjoy their natural beauty and culture.

In 1981 Ceballos-Lascuráin became the founding president of the Mexican Association for the Conservation of Nature, the most influential Mexican NGO in the conservation arena. In 1984 he founded the first Mexican ecotourism agency, ECOTOURS.

His 315-page book on Tourism, Ecotourism, and Protected Areas  was published in 1996 by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). He served for many years as an Ecotourism Advisor to both the IUCN and United Nations World Tourism Organization.

Megan Epler Wood was another one of the ecotourism movement’s earliest adopters. She was a young wildlife biologist hired by World Wildlife Fund founder (and former EPA director) Russell Train right out of grad school in the early ’80s.

Their all-star team at the time also included Russell Mittermeier  (now President of Conservation International) and  Thomas Lovejoy , who’s known as the “godfather of biodiversity.”

“In the 1980s the idea of sustainable development was new,” Epler Wood recalls. “There was a big conversation about finding ways to benefit local people who wanted to conserve natural areas. A few years later my husband and I lived in Colombia on a joint Fulbright scholarship. [We realized that] people visiting the rainforest were bringing a majority of the benefits those locals were seeing.

READ MORE: Top Ecotourism Destinations According to Experts

History of Ecotourism: Megan Epler Wood

ECOTOURISM IN THE ’90s & BEYOND

After she returned home in 1988, Epler Wood went on to produce The Environmental Tourist  for PBS. She started pitching conservation NGOs a documentary on ecotourism that would be “the very first global investigation of how tourism could contribute to conservation of natural resources and local well-being.”

When that project lost its funding, she tapped into her contacts and started The International Ecotourism Society. The organization’s goal was to contribute to the development of ecotourism as a viable tool for conservation, protection of bio-cultural diversity, and sustainable community development.

Epler Wood left TIES in 2002 to start her own consulting firm. She was replaced by Dr. Martha Honey, the veteran journalist/historian who wrote the seminal book, Ecotourism and Sustainable Development: Who Owns Paradise?   in 1999. She was Executive Director of the organization from 2003 to 2006, and eventually founded the Center for Responsible Travel in Washington, DC.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Honey during a keynote presentation at the TBEX Travel Blogging Conference in Cancun, Mexico in 2014. When I asked about the changes she’s seen in the ecotourism industry over the past 20 years, Dr. Honey insisted that they were positive for the most part.

“It hasn’t lost or changed its core values, which are essentially that tourism should be done in a way that’s beneficial to environmental conservation and local communities and respectful of local cultures…The Slow Food movement, organic agriculture, travel philanthropy, concern about human trafficking and child sexual abuse, fair trade , carbon offsets, and animal welfare are all branches on the original tree.

There have been countless other ecotourism icons over the past 30 years, from Jonathan Tourtellot (NatGeo’s Destination Stewardship Center) and Jeff Greenwald (founder of Ethical Traveler) to eco-design authority Hitesh Meta.

Now ecotourism is considered one of the fastest-growing sectors in the travel industry (about 5% annually), accounting for around 6% of the world’s gross domestic product. Even as the market for traditional tourism grew stagnant, the UNWTO’s global forecast projected rapid growth in the ecotourism industry over the next decade.

READ MORE: Q&A With Dr. Martha Honey on Ecotourism

The Principles of Ecotourism

THE PRINCIPLES OF ECOTOURISM

Ecotourism is essentially all about bringing nature/wildlife conservationists, local communities, and the responsible travel industry together to ensure development focused on long-term sustainability rather than short-term profits.

The goal is to develop tourist accommodations, activities, and attractions that benefit everyone involved– the local flora/fauna, the local people, travel industry stakeholders, and travelers alike.

With this mission in mind, the ecotourism industry has collectively developed a number of core guiding principles over the past few decades. Although international regulation and accreditation have remained elusive, these guidelines provide a general blueprint for responsible tourism development.

Many of these principles align with those of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council , which developed an extensive list of criteria for sustainable destinations, hotels, and tour operators.

1. Build Environmental & Cultural Awareness

Education is a key aspect of ecotourism initiatives, for locals and visitors alike. Most of these efforts are focused on improving awareness, sensitizing people to environmental issues, and encouraging them to be conscious of their impact on the places they visit.

Some tour operators create conservation education programs for local schools. Many offer interpretative guides, naturalists, and guest lecturers to help deepen travelers’ understanding of their experiences.

Immersive interactions with local cultures are also becoming increasingly common. These experiences often emphasize interaction rather than a typical performer-audience relationship with visitors.

2. Design & Operate Low-Impact Eco Tours/Facilities

Remember the old environmental adage, “Take only pictures, leave only footprints”? Today’s ecotourism industry strives to take it one step further.

The focus is all about sustainability, minimizing the negative carbon footprint travel often leaves on the environment. But these days the big picture goal is to create positive, rather than merely neutral impact.

From using alternative energy sources and ensuring all building materials are locally sourced to limiting eco tour group sizes, conscious consideration should be made to ensure low impact at every stage, from development to implementation.

3. Provide Financial Benefits for Conservation

The idea of using the revenue generated by ecotourism to help fund the conservation of nature and wildlife is not a new idea. In fact, it dates back more than 100 years, to the creation of the US National Parks Service .

Referred to by documentarian Ken Burns as “America’s Best Idea,” this concept has since been applied to more than 6,000 national parks in nearly 100 different countries around the world.

When managed properly, ecotourism can help provide a revenue-generating alternative to urbanization, deforestation, unsustainable agriculture, and poaching. And though critics claim ecotourism often fails to deliver on its promise, recent scientific studies continue to illustrate its conservation benefits.

4. Provide Financial Benefits for Local People

Critics have similarly pointed out that some ecotourism initiatives have created more problems for local people than they solve. Poorly managed programs can lead to conflicts over land and resources, unfair profit distribution, and cultural exploitation.

This is what happens when the phenomenon known as greenwashing – the disinformation disseminated by an organization so as to present an environmentally responsible public image– rears its ugly head.

True ecotourism MUST provide financial benefits to local people, whether through direct (tours, admission fees, and donations) or indirect means (such as taxes on travel or accommodation). It generally works best when there is smaller scale, slower growth, and greater involvement by local communities in all steps of the tourism development process.

5. Support Human Rights

Ecotourism initiatives should always strive to support human rights, economic empowerment, and democratic movements in a given destination.

In addition to increasing awareness about sociopolitical and environmental issues facing a given destination, ecotourism initiatives should support local businesses and the rights of indigenous inhabitants to control their land and assets.

This principle is arguably the most problematic and contentious. Should tour companies or travelers boycott a given destination due to human rights abuses or unfair treatment of its indigenous population? In many cases, such boycotts don’t punish the powers-that-be nearly as harshly as the locals who rely heavily on tourism revenue to survive.

READ MORE: Why Responsible Travel Matters

ECOTOURISM PRINCIPLES IN ACTION

Becoming a more responsible traveler is the best way to ensure your adventures are positive for the local people and the planet. 

Whe n the core principles of ecotourism are applied, it can stimulate financial growth in developing nations, strengthening the global economy.

Individually, one person taking these baby steps to going green might not seem to make much of an impact. But if we all take simple strides towards being more conscious of our choices, collectively we can m ake a world of difference. Here’s how!

Lightening up your load saves money on baggage fees and increases plane fuel-efficiency.

Pack items that can be washed in the sink and are quick drying so they can be worn multiple times during your trip.

We recommend (but do not receive compensation from) the ExOfficio brand, and wear it everywhere we travel.

Take shorter showers, turn off the faucet while shaving and brushing your teeth, and re-use towels for multiple days.

And NEVER use the hotel laundry, as they typically wash each guest’s clothes separately, even if there are only a few items.

READ MORE:   The Best Travel Clothing For 7 Travel Styles (An Epic Guide)

Examples of Ecotourism -Learning Mayan Pottery In Coba

SAVE ENERGY

When you leave your hotel room, turn off the lights, heat/AC and TV.

Consider leaving the “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door so that the housekeeping staff won’t clean your room every day.

This will save on harsh chemical cleaning supplies and the electricity of vacuuming and washing bed linens.

REDUCE/REUSE/RECYCLE

Take a BPA-free water bottle you can refill, use just one bar of soap for both sink and shower.

Return brochures and maps once you’re finished using them, and hold on to your trash until you find a place to recycle it.

Seek out indigenous artisans and learn about their craft.

When we were in the Riviera Maya near Coba, we saw tons of assembly line art.

But instead we wound up buying from a man who taught local children and tourists the ancient craft of Mayan pottery and distributed profits equally among families in his village.

READ MORE:   What Is An Eco Lodge? A Guide to Eco-Friendly Accommodations

Types of Ecotourism: Shop small businesses like Jay D's in Dominica

LEAVE ONLY FOOTPRINTS

Stick to marked trails to avoid harming native flora, and consider taking a bag to pick up trash along your journey.

Not only is it a great way to help keep the outdoors beautiful, but it also protects wildlife that might eat or get tangled in the garbage.

BE A TRAVELER, NOT A TOURIST

Take time to immerse yourself in the local music, art and cuisine. Embrace the cultural differences that make it unique.

Get to know the locals and how they view life. You might be surprised at the things you learn when you open your mind to new ideas!

HONOR LOCAL TRADITIONS

Some cultures have very different traditions from yours.

Women are forbidden to show skin in some Muslim countries. For some, being photographed in like having your soul stolen.

Understand and respect these traditions, or risk offending the people whose culture you’re there to experience.

READ MORE: Embracing the Culture of the Maasai People of Tanzania

Importance of Ecotourism -International Expeditions Tour Company Donates School Supplies in the Peruvian Amazon

Developing nations are badly in need of basic necessities most people take for granted.

Traveling gives you a unique experience that stays with you for the rest of your life.

In return, consider giving something back, such as bringing school supplies on tours in which you know you’ll interact with locals.

SHOP SMARTER

Read labels, and ask questions like “What is this item made from?”

All over the planet people sell items made from non-sustainable hardwoods, endangered species, and ancient artifacts.

It may be alright in their country to sell them, but you can still vote with your wallet by refusing to buy them.

READ MORE: The Problem with Animal Selfies

Benefits of Ecotourism- Galapagos Islands

THE BENEFITS OF ECOTOURISM

To quote CREST founder Dr. Martha Honey during our Keynote session at TBEX Cancun in 2014, we earnestly believe that ecotourism is “ simply a better way to travel . ” Here’s a look at how this transformational approach to travel benefits conservation, increases cross-cultural understanding, and ultimately turns travelers into environmental advocates:

Benefits to Wildlife

To see how ecotourism benefits nature and wildlife, let’s look at endangered species such as African Elephants . Ivory from Elephant tusks is worth $1500 a pound on the black market, which has led to a dramatic increase in poaching.

But  Elephants are worth 76 times more alive than dead . When you consider the revenue from wildlife photography tours , luxury safari camps, and other ecotourism offerings, a single Elephant is worth $1.3 million over the course of its lifetime!

Other heavily poached species, such as Lions and Rhinos , have shown to be similarly valuable alive. Ecotourism offers a long-term alternative to exploitation, generating sustainable revenue and ensuring better overall health of the ecosystem.

Benefits to the Environment

Nature reserves and national parks help prevent deforestation and pollution, while also protecting the habitat of endemic species.

The revenue that ecotourism provides can help replace profits from exploitative practices such as mining or slash ‘n’ burn agriculture. It can also help ensure the long-term financial viability of the area.

Naturalist guides also help travelers understand the value of a pristine ecosystem, and teach them about the importance of conservation. This ultimately help to create a more mindful and conscious legion of travelers.

Benefits to Local People

When managed properly, ecotourism can offer locals alternative revenue streams. In wildlife-rich countries such as Rwanda , former poachers are often employed as guides or trackers, capitalizing on their knowledge of the animals and their habitat.

In Costa Rica , unemployment has fallen to less than 10% since the country started building its ecotourism infrastructure in the 1970s. The country now enjoys the highest standard of living in Central America .

Involving local communities in tourism management empowers them by ensuring that more revenue is reinvested locally. Ecotourism also offers indigenous peoples an opportunity to remain on ancestral land, conserve it, and preserve traditional culture.

Benefits to Travelers

In the words of United Nations Secretary General Talib Rifai, the Year of Sustainable Tourism provided “a unique opportunity to advance the contribution of the tourism sector to the three pillars of sustainability– economic, social and environmental– while raising awareness of the true dimensions of a sector which is often undervalued.”

Sure, being a responsible traveler takes a greater level of commitment to being conscious and mindful of the impact we have on the destinations we visit. But ecotourism also offers us incredible, transformative experiences, allowing us to develop closer personal relationships to the nature, wildlife, and local people we encounter during our adventures.

Learning about ecotourism during my life-changing experience in South Africa   in 2000 permanently changed my understanding of mankind’s role in our planetary ecosystem. And I firmly believe that, once you’ve had that sort of travel experience, you’ll never want to travel the traditional way again.   –Bret Love; photos by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett unless otherwise noted

Green Global Travel's Articles on Ecotourism

OTHER ARTICLES ON ECOTOURISM

How Mass Tourism is Destroying Destinations Travelers Love

Why Responsible Tourism is Better

7 Harmful Practices Tourists Should Never Support

Why Slow Travel is Better

Why Community Based Tourism is Vital to Responsible Travel

What Is An Eco Lodge? A Guide to Eco-Friendly Accommodations

What Is Glamping? An Intro to Luxury Camping

10 Steps to Becoming a More Responsible Traveler

Green Travel Tips: The Ultimate Guide to Sustainable Travel

How to Choose a Green Hotel

How to Choose a Responsible Scuba Diving Tour Operator

How to Eat Ethically When You Travel

Top 10 Latin American Ecotourism Adventures

Top 10 Off the Beaten Path Ecotourism Destinations

Ecotourism in Costa Rica

Ecotourism in Jordan

Ecotourism in Antarctica

Ecotourism in Australia

Ecotourism in Cancun

Ecotourism in Egypt

Ecotourism in Ireland

Ecotourism in Jamaica

Ecotourism in New Zealand

Ecotourism in Northern Italy

Ecotourism in Sabah, Borneo

Ecotourism in Spain

Ecotourism in Taipei

Ecotourism in Tonga

What Is Ecotourism? (The History & Principles of Responsible Travel). Ecotourism was defined by Megan Epler Wood in 1990 as "Responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people." But what does that look like in action for travelers, and why does it matter? We examine the history and evolution of ecotourism through interviews with Wood (founder of The International Ecotourism Society) and Dr. Martha Honey (founder of the Center for Responsible Travel). We also explore some of the world's hottest ecotourism destinations, and look at how individuals can make their travel adventures more sustainable for the local people and the planet. via @greenglobaltrvl

About the Author

Green Global Travel is the world's #1 independently owned ecotourism website encouraging others to embrace sustainable travel, wildlife conservation, cultural preservation, and going green tips for more sustainable living.

We've been spotlighted in major media outlets such as the BBC, Chicago Tribune, Forbes, The Guardian, Lonely Planet, National Geographic, Travel Channel, Washington Post and others.

Owned by Bret Love (a veteran journalist/photographer) and Mary Gabbett (business manager/videographer), USA Today named us one of the world's Top 5 Travel Blogging Couples. We were also featured in the 2017 National Geographic book, Ultimate Journeys for Two, for which we contributed a chapter on our adventures in Rwanda. Other awards we've won include Best Feature from both the Caribbean Tourism Organization and the Magazine Association of the Southeast.

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The Best Destinations for Ecotourism in the US

Footbridge across Merced River, on The Mist Trail, Yosemite National Park, California

Now more than ever, travelers are aware of their environmental impact and the measures they can take to reduce it. That’s why ecotourism, wherever we choose to go, can and should be central to our travel plans. If you’re looking for the most sustainable places to visit in the United States , here’s our pick.

Ecotourism provides a means of accessing the world’s most remarkable places without destroying what makes them so special in the first place. By way of conservation, alternative energy, sustainable practices, awareness and environmentally sound methods, you’re now free to take that vacation with a clear conscience.

Alaska has been leading the way when it comes to environmentalism, and with more than 100 national and state parks, plus dozens of threatened or endangered species in the state, this comes as no surprise. Ecolodges, which run solely on alternative power sources, have emerged throughout, and many ecotourism operators offer ecotours and adventures to explore the vast tundra, colossal glaciers, soaring mountains and pristine wilderness of the majestic landscape. Big, remote and wild – Alaska calls to naturalists.

Denali National Park and Preserve is one of many protected spaces in Alaska

Hawaii has been practicing sustainability for millennia. So, for residents and Natives who hold fast to the notion of malama ‘aina (to care for the land), staying green comes easy. A long-time member of the International Ecotourism Society, Hawaii offers more than just ecofriendly beach activities, such as surfing , snorkeling , kayaking and scuba diving . You can also learn about ancient sustainability methods at Pu‘uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park, hike to Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park or learn about Hawaiian culture at a hula festival. Ecolodges are aplenty, but if you’re looking for a hotel that satisfies all of your travel needs, check out Culture Trip’s curated selection .

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Go kayaking on the Wailua River in Kauai, Hawaii

Green travel is as much a part of the Californian culture as açai bowls and staying fit. The western state, which already has hundreds of thousands of green jobs, has shifted the tourism landscape. For example, about 95 percent of Yosemite National Park is protected from urban activity, while efforts to decrease emissions for the other 5 percent include hybrid shuttle buses and green concessions. Meanwhile, in Palm Springs, you can go on eco-friendly excursions to the San Andreas Fault , Indian Canyons and Joshua Tree National Park.

It’s easy to make your stay in California eco-friendly, especially with sustainability-focused hotels like those we’ve curated here .

When in California, take an eco-friendly tour of Joshua Tree National Park

The Pacific Northwest has always been a pioneer in the green movement. Surrounded by miles of natural beauty, there is plenty to explore by foot, and with efforts to support its growing cycling population, Oregon has made way for tons of trails and bike routes – so there’s no need to start that engine. Amity Vineyards, a sustainable vineyard since 1991, produces three “eco-wines” that are both organic and sulphite-free. Portland offers ecotours of its surrounding area and is also home to Hopworks Urban Brewery, an eco-pub that operates under the motto of reduce, reuse and recycle.

For somewhere to stay, we’ve handpicked the state’s best boutique hotels – many with a firm focus on sustainability.

Oregon is home to several eco-friendly wineries

While it’s home to wildly diverse terrain, including Glacier and Yellowstone national parks, Montana has been targeted for natural gas drilling in recent years. However, in places such as Missoula, Whitefish and Bozeman, efforts have been made to bring the region back on the eco-track. Hotel Terra Jackson Hole , the first LEED-certified hotel in the state, uses water conservation systems, alternative energy and 100 percent organic towels, mats and bathrobes. And the Grand Teton Lodge Company, which owns several luxury ecolodges across Montana, purchased wind credits to conserve energy and diverts half of its waste by reusing and recycling.

If you’d like to keep your carbon footprint down while touring the Treasure State, you’ll find a wonderful range of eco-friendly cabins and cottages in its most beautiful towns .

Pack your hiking gear to explore Avalanche Lake in Glacier National Park, Montana

Traveling in Colorado as an ecotourist is hardly a challenge. In a region where diverse landscapes are ubiquitous, residents are understandably keen to preserve the state’s natural beauty. Many Colorado attractions and lodgings are dedicated to the LEED Certification Program, with the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver being the first gold-certified museum in the nation. Element Denver Park Meadows has implemented energy conservation and recycling practices, while local tourism companies offer eco-friendly adventure activities – whether that means rafting through river canyons or exploring Rocky Mountain National Park .

For more great accommodation options in the state, browse our selection of the best hotels in Colorado for every traveler .

The Colorado River is an excellent place to go rafting

At Mount Rainier National Park, ecotourism is king. Stay at Adrift Hotel , a certified Social Purpose Corporation on the Washington Coast, for an eco-first approach to boutique hospitality. Hiking , rock climbing and kayaking are popular eco-activities, while a visit to Seattle offers visitors the chance to sample sustainably sourced produce, such as seafood, coffee and beer. There are some fantastic places to stay in the Emerald City – we’ve rounded up the best boutique hotels and the best pet-friendly hotels in case you can’t bear to leave your best four-legged friend at home.

Mount Rainier National Park is a top ecotourism site popular with adventurers

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Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

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Costa Rica Eco Tours

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Costa Rica with Wildlife Experts

Costa Rica is an outdoor adventurer's paradise. There are miles of unspoiled beaches to see, rainforests and cloudforests to learn about, world-class whitewater rafting and canoeing, fiery volcanoes and hot springs, and heart-stopping encounters with exotic wildlife and colorful tropical birds at every turn. Experience it all with our Costa Rica Eco Tours.

A Wildlife Lover's Paradise Twelve distinct ecological zones of breathtaking beauty cover an area the size of New Hampshire, from the mangrove forests of the Caribbean lowlands to the misty cloudforests that blanket the top of the continental divide and back down to the sunny Pacific beaches. Nowhere else on earth is biological abundance and diversity so evident than in the Costa Rican rainforests: tropical rainforests contain more than half of all living things known to man. The rainforest is a place of peace and renewal; mysterious, life-affirming, and of majestic proportions. Costa Rica alone has more plant species than the whole of Europe, and a staggering world of exotic wildlife that runs into the millions of species.

Wild Planet Adventures offers a variety of Costa Rica wildlife tours to meet individual budgets and interests. Our Ultimate Wildlife itinerary is our most comprehensive, but we also offer custom trips for individuals, families, groups, organizations, travel agents, and special interest trips like yoga. As you browse our Costa Rica tours, if you don't see what you're looking for, please give us a call!

Wild Planet Adventure’s Costa Rica eco tours are every wildlife lover’s dream trip. Choose from a variety of our Costa Rica trips and all-inclusive vacation packages, including our award-winning Costa Rica Ultimate Wildlife Eco-Tour, which is the most comprehensive wildlife-focused itinerary available in Costa Rica.

We are National Geographic Adventure award-winning wildlife experts, with 30 years of direct, on-the-ground travel experience in Costa Rica as a wildlife-specialty tour operator. We operate our own trips, with our own local staff, packed with Wild Planet Adventures’ legendary wildlife expertise. Our Director, wildlife expert Josh Cohen, guided in Costa Rica for over 10 years himself, and our 30 years of in-depth logistical and wildlife expertise comes from the humble roots of his personal, first-hand experience. No other company will expose you to so much wildlife!

In addition to our award-winning wildlife expertise, our all-inclusive Costa Rica wildlife adventures include everything you’d expect from a trip named one of the Top 10 Must-Do Trips in the World by FODORS . They include:

  • All accommodations , specializing in top rated rainforest eco-lodges, small boutique hotels, tropical beach cabanas and cloud-forest mountain hideaways, selected both for their breathtaking accommodations as well as best access to prime wildlife viewing habitat.
  • All meals - including meals eaten at restaurants
  • All ground transportation
  • All activities , including hiking, wildlife viewing and birdwatching in up to 10 national parks and biological reserves, plus cloud-forest canopy tours, whitewater rafting (mild, to emphasize wildlife viewing) flat-water wildlife river float trips, hot springs, volcanoes, beaches on both coasts, sea-kayaking with dolphins, snorkeling at night in the bioluminescence, a sloth rescue center and more.
  • All National Park admissions
  • All high-end naturalist or biologist guides (all but one of our guides are biologists and most have been working with Wild Planet Adventures for 10 years or more.)
  • Small Groups - Average 6-10 travelers, never more than 12!

Our Costa Rica EcoTours Include More Value We recommend that you compare our award-winning Costa Rica Ultimate Wildlife EcoTour to any other Costa Rica itinerary. We include significantly more value –more destinations, more activities and more park admissions– than any of our competitors. Our specially designed activities enable you to see more wildlife, for longer periods, at closer range. Our expert local biologist and naturalist guides accompany you throughout the entire tour to spot wildlife, lead our world-class excursions and provide highly skilled wildlife knowledge about local migrations, seasonal courtship, nesting, peak activity times, and travel secrets for safe, up-close encounters of wildlife in their natural habitat, all with an authentic Costa Rican flair.

Our Adventures Include a Diversity of Eco-Systems for the Best Chance to Spot Wildlife in their Natural Habitat Costa Rica boasts over 6% of the world’s biodiversity, and our ability to expose you to as many eco-systems as possible, in a comfortable, relaxed pace, is one of the many secrets to our 30 years of success as wildlife experts. Traveling to a wider diversity of different ecosystems maximizes wildlife sightings - both number of animals as well as the number of species. It also affords the best chance to spot rare and endangered wildlife, in their natural habitat. Our 9-day Costa Rica Ultimate Wildlife Eco-tour visits approximately 6 national parks & wildlife reserves, and our 14-day itinerary includes 10 national parks, all with less travel than required by most trips half their length! It’s no wonder that over 85% of our Costa Rica travelers choose our full 14-day Ultimate Wildlife tour.

The Pace of our Costa Rica EcoTours is Spacious, Not Rushed. Wildlife Viewing Takes Time Including more eco-systems and more wildlife doesn’t have to mean traveling at a rushed pace – far from it! Travel in Costa Rica requires an expert understanding of its unique geography – and its circular continental divide – or travelers risk crisscrossing the continental divide, backtracking or retracing your steps. The best Costa Rica itineraries like Wild Planet Adventures’, logistically sync together the maximum number of ecosystems in a route that circles around the continental divide, while avoiding these common pitfalls. Our years of extensive logistical expertise allows us to include the widest diversity of eco-systems possible, while keeping travel times to a minimum. As wildlife experts, our pace needs to be slow because the slower we go, the more wildlife we see. We also spend at least 3 days/2 nights in most destinations to make sure the ratio of time spent enjoying is significantly more than the time spent traveling.

We Combine Destinations that are Off-Tourist-Radar with Iconic Destinations Our blend of remote destinations, special wildlife activities, and top naturalist and biologist guides provides the best possible chance to see rare animals in the wild. We visit some of Costa Rica’s most wildlife-rich destinations. Our focus on off-the-beaten-path destinations like Cahuita, La Selva, Carara, Puerto Jiminez, and the more remote Carate side of Corcovado National Park give you that remote, untouched and special feeling for the widest variety of both wildlife and different types of adventure activities. We still include excursions in some of the more popular destinations such as Arenal Volcano, Monteverede Cloud-forest, and Manuel Antonio’s famous beaches, but even in these destinations we strive to avoid the crowds and provide an experience that wouldn’t otherwise be possible on your own.

Our Costa Rica Wildlife Eco-Tours are All-Inclusive You’ll discover miles of unspoiled beaches, hike rainforests, enjoy cloud-forest canopy tours (including cloud-forest canopy bridges or optional zip lines), enjoy world-class whitewater rafting, wildlife river float-trips, fiery volcanoes and hot springs, sea-kayaking with dolphins, snorkeling at night in the bioluminescence, and heart-stopping encounters with exotic wildlife and colorful tropical birds at every turn. All of these activities are including in our award-winning Costa Rica Ultimate Wildlife Eco-Tour! There is NO fine print indicating "free days" that require you to pay more money for activities that should have been included in your trip – our Costa Rica eco-tours are all inclusive. We also operate our own trip and do not have lodges run our Costa Rica tours. That’s because lodge-run activities are much more commercial and typically visit the same places every day, often with large groups, which seriously limits the possibility of all but the most habituated wildlife sightings. Lodges also do not have high-quality biologist guides on staff with Wild Planet’s depth of wildlife expertise.

Costa Rica Eco-Tours for Wildlife Lovers Costa Rica’s twelve distinct ecological zones of breathtaking beauty cover an area the size of New Hampshire, from the mangrove forests of the Caribbean lowlands to the misty cloud-forests that blanket the top of the continental divide and back down to the sunny Pacific beaches. Nowhere else on earth is biological abundance and diversity so evident than in the Costa Rican rainforests: tropical rainforests contain more than half of all living things known to man. The rainforest is a place of peace and renewal; mysterious, life-affirming, and of majestic proportions. Costa Rica alone has more plant species than the whole of Europe, and a staggering world of exotic wildlife that runs into the millions of species.

We offer A Wide Variety of Costa Rica Wildlife Adventures Suitable For All Ages and Skill Levels Wild Planet Adventures offers a variety of Costa Rica wildlife tours to meet individual budgets and interests. Our Ultimate Wildlife itinerary is our most comprehensive, but we also offer custom trips for individuals, families, groups, organizations, travel agents, and special interest trips like wildlife photography. As you browse our Costa Rica tours, if you don't see what you're looking for, please give us a call!

Costa Rica Award-Winning Wildlife EcoTours - Select Your Adventure Below:

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Costa Rica - Ultimate Wildlife 14-Day Adventure

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Our most value-packed Costa Rica itinerary emphasizing wildlife and bird watching "off the beaten path." Includes both Caribbean and Pacific coasts, rivers, cloudforests, beaches, and more paid admissions to national parks and wildlife refuges than any other tour. This is our signature trip; special touches include hands-on interaction with animals, night hikes for nocturnal animals, world famous sloth sanctuary, kayak with dolphins & snorkel in biolumenesence.   Learn More>

2024 - $6,998 | 2025 - Please call 2012 - $4,398 2013 - $4,598 -->

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Costa Rica - Ultimate Wildlife 10.5-Day Adventure

A shortened Costa Rica itinerary emphasizing wildlife and bird watching "off the beaten path." Includes both Caribbean and Pacific coasts, rivers, cloudforests, beaches, and more paid admissions to national parks and wildlife refuges than any other tour. This is our signature trip; special touches include hands-on interaction with animals, night hikes for nocturnal animals, world famous sloth sanctuary, kayak with dolphins & snorkel in biolumenesence. Learn More>

2024 - $5,798 | 2025 - Please call 2012 - $4,398 2013 - $4,598 -->

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Costa Rica - Ultimate Wildlife 9-Day Adventure

A shorter version of our most popular itinerary for wildlife lovers who have only a week, the first 8 days are the same as our 14 day Costa Rica Ultimate wildlife itinerary. It includes many of Wild Planet's special touches, such as interactions with animals and scientific researchers, night hikes for nocturnal animals and more. Enjoy wildlife viewing, whitewater rafting, cloudforest canopy tour, beaches, a world-famous sloth sanctuary & more. Learn More>

2024 - $5,298 | 2025 - Please call 2012 - $4,398 2013 - $4,598 -->

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Costa Rica - 8-Day Costa Rica Private Bubble Corcovado Luxury Adventure

Travel within your social bubble! This fully self-contained Corcovado wildlife tour features a choice of breathtaking ocean-view buy-out properties (giving you the whole property for as few as 2 travelers!) or ultra-small eco-lodge. Includes private transportation and expert naturalist or biologist guide –tested for COVID-19 within 3 days of your arrival! We limit close contact with other people in every way possible and adhere to Costa Rica’s COVID-19 protocols for maximum safety. Includes a wide choice of activities each day in the most remote and wildlife-rich part of the country. Learn More>

Add $250 for peak week departures.

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Costa Rica - Travel on Your Own

Choose your destinations, go whenever - and wherever - you want. Choose from any destination in the country and we can put your trip together for you. Gain access to our local, full-service office and our expert naturalist and biologist wildlife guides, vehicles, logistical support, and intimate knowledge of local accommodations, activities, and destination value. Allow us to customize a trip to meet your heart's desires! Learn More>

2012 - $4,398 2013 - $4,598 -->

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What Is Ecotourism? Definition, Examples, and Pros and Cons

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Ecotourism Definition and Principles

Pros and cons.

  • Examples of Ecotourism
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Ecotourism is about more than simply visiting natural attractions or natural places; it’s about doing so in a responsible and sustainable manner. The term itself refers to traveling to natural areas with a focus on environmental conservation. The goal is to educate tourists about conservation efforts while offering them the chance to explore nature.

Ecotourism has benefited destinations like Madagascar, Ecuador, Kenya, and Costa Rica, and has helped provide economic growth in some of the world’s most impoverished communities. The global ecotourism market produced $92.2 billion in 2019 and is forecasted to generate $103.8 billion by 2027.

A conservationist by the name of Hector Ceballos-Lascurain is often credited with the first definition of ecotourism in 1987, that is, “tourism that consists in travelling to relatively undisturbed or uncontaminated natural areas with the specific object of studying, admiring and enjoying the scenery and its wild plants and animals, as well as any existing cultural manifestations (both past and present) found in these areas.”

The International Ecotourism Society (TIES), a non-profit organization dedicated to the development of ecotourism since 1990, defines ecotourism as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people, and involves interpretation and education [both in its staff and its guests].”

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) looks at ecotourism as a significant tool for conservation, though it shouldn’t be seen as a fix-all when it comes to conservation challenges:

“There may be some areas that are just not appropriate for ecotourism development and some businesses that just won’t work in the larger tourism market. That is why it is so important to understand the basics of developing and running a successful business, to ensure that your business idea is viable and will be profitable, allowing it to most effectively benefit the surrounding environment and communities.”

Marketing an ecosystem, species, or landscape towards ecotourists helps create value, and that value can help raise funds to protect and conserve those natural resources.

Sustainable ecotourism should be guided by three core principles: conservation, communities, and education.

Conservation

Conservation is arguably the most important component of ecotourism because it should offer long-term, sustainable solutions to enhancing and protecting biodiversity and nature. This is typically achieved through economic incentives paid by tourists seeking a nature-based experience, but can also come from the tourism organizations themselves, research, or direct environmental conservation efforts.

Communities

Ecotourism should increase employment opportunities and empower local communities, helping in the fight against global social issues like poverty and achieving sustainable development.

Interpretation

One of the most overlooked aspects of ecotourism is the education component. Yes, we all want to see these beautiful, natural places, but it also pays to learn about them. Increasing awareness about environmental issues and promoting a greater understanding and appreciation for nature is arguably just as important as conservation.

As one of the fastest growing sectors of the tourism industry, there are bound to be some downsides to ecotourism. Whenever humans interact with animals or even with the environment, it risks the chance of human-wildlife conflict or other negative effects; if done so with respect and responsibility in mind, however, ecotourism can reap enormous benefits to protected areas.

As an industry that relies heavily on the presentation of eco-friendly components to attract customers, ecotourism has the inevitable potential as a vessel for greenwashing. Part of planning a trip rooted in ecotourism is doing research to ensure that an organization is truly providing substantial benefits to the environment rather than exploiting it.

Ecotourism Can Provide Sustainable Income for Local Communities

Sustainably managed ecotourism can support poverty alleviation by providing employment for local communities, which can offer them alternative means of livelihood outside of unsustainable ones (such as poaching).

Research published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that communities in regions surrounding conservation areas in Costa Rica had poverty rates that were 16% lower than in areas that weren’t near protected parks. These protected areas didn’t just benefit from conservation funds due to ecotourism, but also helped to reduce poverty as well.

It Protects Natural Ecosystems

Ecotourism offers unique travel experiences focusing on nature and education, with an emphasis on sustainability and highlighting threatened or endangered species. It combines conservation with local communities and sustainable travel , highlighting principles (and operations) that minimize negative impacts and expose visitors to unique ecosystems and natural areas. When managed correctly, ecotourism can benefit both the traveler and the environment, since the money that goes into ecotourism often goes directly towards protecting the natural areas they visit.

Each year, researchers release findings on how tourist presence affects wildlife, sometimes with varying results. A study measuring levels of the stress hormone cortisol in wild habituated Malaysian orangutans found that the animals were not chronically stressed by the presence of ecotourists. The orangutans lived in the Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary, where a local community-managed organization operates while maintaining strict guidelines to protect them.

Ecotourism May Also Hurt Those Same Natural Ecosystems

Somewhat ironically, sometimes ecotourism can hurt ecosystems just as much as it can help. Another study in the journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution found that ecotourism can alter animal behaviors in ways that put them at risk. If the presence of humans changes the way animals behave, those changes may make them more vulnerable by influencing their reaction to predators or poachers.

It's not just the animals who are at risk. As ecotourism activities become too popular, it can lead to the construction of new infrastructure to accommodate more visitors. Similarly, more crowds mean more pressure on local resources, increased pollution, and a higher chance of damaging the soil and plant quality through erosion. On the social side, these activities may displace Indigenous groups or local communities from their native lands, preventing them from benefiting from the economic opportunities of tourism.

Ecotourism Offers the Opportunity to Experience Nature

Renown conservationist Jane Goodall has a famous quote: “Only if we understand, will we care. Only if we care, will we help. Only if we help, shall all be saved.” It can be difficult to understand something that we haven’t seen with our own eyes, and ecotourism gives travelers the opportunity to gain new experiences in natural areas while learning about the issues they face. 

Ecotourism also educates children about nature, potentially creating new generations of nature lovers that could someday become conservationists themselves. Even adult visitors may learn new ways to improve their ecological footprints .

EXAMPLES OF ECOTOURISM

The East African country has some competitive advantages over its neighbors thanks to its rich natural resources, paired with the fact that it has allocated over 25% of its total area to wildlife national parks and protected areas. Because of this, an estimated 90% of tourists visit to Tanzania seeking out ecotourism activities. Ecotourism, in turn, supports 400,000 jobs and accounts for 17.2% of the national GDP, earning about $1 billion each year as its leading economic sector.

Some of Tanzania’s biggest highlights include the Serengeti, Mount Kilimanjaro , and Zanzibar, though the country still often goes overlooked by American tourists. Visitors can take a walking safari tour in the famous Ngorongoro Conservation area, for example, with fees going to support the local Maasai community.

The country is also known for its chimpanzees , and there are several ecotourism opportunities in Gombe National Park that go directly towards protecting chimpanzee habitats.

Galapagos Islands

It comes as no surprise that the place first made famous by legendary naturalist Charles Darwin would go on to become one of the most sought-after ecotourism destinations on Earth, the Galapagos Islands .

The Directorate of the Galapagos National Park and the Ecuadorian Ministry of Tourism require tour providers to conserve water and energy, recycle waste, source locally produced goods, hire local employees with a fair wage, and offer employees additional training. A total of 97% of the land area on the Galapagos is part of the official national park, and all of its 330 islands have been divided into zones that are either completely free of human impact, protected restoration areas, or reduced impact zones adjacent to tourist-friendly areas.

Local authorities still have to be on their toes, however, since UNESCO lists increased tourism as one of the main threats facing the Galapagos today. The bulk of funding for the conservation and management of the archipelago comes from a combination of governmental institutions and entry fees paid by tourists.

Costa Rica is well-known throughout the world for its emphasis on nature-based tourism, from its numerous animal sanctuaries to its plethora of national parks and reserves. Programs like its “Ecological Blue Flag” program help inform tourists of beaches that have maintained a strict set of eco-friendly criteria.

The country’s forest cover went from 26% in 1983 to over 52% in 2021 thanks to the government’s decision to create more protected areas and promote ecotourism in the country . Now, over a quarter of its total land area is zoned as protected territory.

Costa Rica welcomes 1.7 million travelers per year, and most of them come to experience the country’s vibrant wildlife and diverse ecosystems. Its numerous biological reserves and protected parks hold some of the most extraordinary biodiversity on Earth, so the country takes special care to keep environmental conservation high on its list of priorities. 

New Zealand

In 2019, tourism generated $16.2 billion, or 5.8% of the GDP, in New Zealand. That same year, 8.4% of its citizens were employed in the tourism industry, and tourists generated $3.8 billion in tax revenue.

The country offers a vast number of ecotourism experiences, from animal sanctuaries to natural wildlife on land, sea, and even natural caves. New Zealand’s South Pacific environment, full of sights like glaciers and volcanic landscapes, is actually quite fragile, so the government puts a lot of effort into keeping it safe.

Tongariro National Park, for example, is the oldest national park in the country, and has been named by UNESCO as one of only 28 mixed cultural and natural World Heritage Sites. Its diverse volcanic landscapes and the cultural heritage of the indigenous Maori tribes within the create the perfect combination of community, education, and conservation.

How to Be a Responsible Ecotourist

  • Ensure that the organizations you hire provide financial contributions to benefit conservation and find out where your money is going.
  • Ask about specific steps the organization takes to protect the environment where they operate, such as recycling or promoting sustainable policies.
  • Find out if they include the local community in their activities, such as hiring local guides, giving back, or through initiatives to empower the community.
  • Make sure there are educational elements to the program. Does the organization take steps to respect the destination’s culture as well as its biodiversity?
  • See if your organization is connected to a non-profit or charity like the International Ecotourism Society .
  • Understand that wildlife interactions should be non-invasive and avoid negative impacts on the animals.

Ecotourism activities typically involve visiting and enjoying a natural place without disturbing the landscape or its inhabitants. This might involve going for a hike on a forest trail, mountain biking, surfing, bird watching, camping, or forest bathing . 

Traveling in a way that minimizes carbon emissions, like taking a train or bike instead of flying, may also be part of an ecotourism trip. Because these modes of travel tend to be slower, they may be appreciated as enjoyable and relaxing ecotourism activities.

The Wolf Conservation Center ’s programing in New York State is an example of ecotourism. This non-profit organization is dedicated to the preservation of endangered wolf species. It hosts educational sessions that allow visitors to observe wolves from a safe distance. These programs help to fund the nonprofit organization’s conservation and wildlife rehabilitation efforts.

Stonehouse, Bernard. " Ecotourism ." Environmental Geology: Encyclopedia of Earth Science , 1999, doi:10.1007/1-4020-4494-1_101

" What is Ecotourism? " The International Ecotourism Society .

" Tourism ." International Union for Conservation of Nature .

https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1307712111

https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0033357

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tree.2015.09.010

https://doi.org/10.5897/JHMT2016.0207

" Galapagos Islands ." UNESCO .

" About Costa Rica ." Embassy of Costa Rica in Washington DC .

https://www.stats.govt.nz/information-releases/tourism-satellite-account-2019

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on eco tour

The Eco Tour

This tour is also famously known as “Eli’s Eco Tour” . Using our open 52 foot powercat designed to get into shallow waters and tight reefy spots. Here is a little video of the tour:

Adventure Antigua, the eco tour. from A C Q U A F I L M S on Vimeo .

Local Antiguan and former Olympian Eli Fuller grew up on the North coast of Antigua, spending most of his spare time boating, windsurfing, snorkeling and diving in the pristine eco-system of the North Sound area. His knowledge and love of these unspoiled waters, with their mangrove and reef habitats, prompted the design of his famous Eco-Tour which has now been running since 1999 and has been the template of many other tours island wide over the years.

Eli’s aim has always been to make everyone who comes on the tour feel like they have spent the day with old friends and his crew is proud to claim that the personal attention they lavish on guests would not be surpassed if they really were family members from abroad.

Eco Tour in the Narrows

The emphasis of the tour is on the ecology and history of the area. The warm, clear waters, protected by over twenty little islands, countless reefs, flats and mangrove nurseries are always calm and there are perfect opportunities for spotting some of the local residents, including Turtles, Frigate Birds, Herons, Pelicans, Spotted Eagle Rays, Sting Rays, Barracuda, Osprey, Turns, Noddies, Laughing Gulls, and the beautiful Tropic Birds. The crew will talk about local flora and fauna and the interesting scientific turtle project at Jumby Bay, and guests will be entertained by their anecdotes and stories of local history and folklore.

During the tour guests have the opportunity to participate in a variety of activities. Before lunch, a snorkeling lesson will be given for those who have not snorkeled before or who want a refresher. All equipment is supplied and crew members will accompany both guided snorkeling sessions after lunch. However, if you simply want to relax, there is plenty of shade on the boat and of course, easy ladders for those of you who fancy a refreshing dip.

Snorkeling

There is also a chance to bathe in the natural jacuzzi at Hell’s Gate island. And throughout the day there will lots of time to take those souvenir photos that will make you the envy of your friends back home! Local fruit juices and other refreshments are available throughout the day and the delicious lunch is served on the boat while it is moored in one of the breathtaking bays of Bird Island. As the tour draws to a close and the boat heads home into the setting sun, Eli’s “secret recipe” rum punch is presented to make a perfect end to a perfect day.

Hells Gate

The boat itself is extremely spacious and comfortable and has a fresh water shower and a restroom. Designed in the USA and US Coast Guard certified for 49 passengers, numbers on this tour are deliberately kept lower (a max of 31) to enhance the casual and relaxing feeling, Eli wants his guests to experience.

You will leave this tour feeling that you have been welcomed into a very special community of the most privileged visitors to Antigua and Barbuda: those who have had a taste of what is really means to have grown up in the islands, and have been let into the “secrets of the North Sound”. Snorkeling gear, food and drinks are provided.

Special Offer!

Book both the Xtreme Tour and Eco Tour and receive a 20% discount on the Eco Tour.

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collage photo of 4 out of 22 canadian eco tour adventures

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23 Canadian Eco Tour Adventures Worth Investing In For 2024

Is ecotourism popular in canada, locations in canada that offer ecotourism opportunities, 1. polar bears & beluga encounters in churchill, manitoba, 2. family surfing in tofino, british columbia, 3. family road trip along the new fundy trail parkway, new brunswick, 4. go glamping in a national park, 5. connect with the coast at klahoose resort, desolation sound, british columbia, 6. explore canada’s culture with indigenous lead experiences, 7. explore the capital with summer celebrations or skating in ottawa, ontario, 8. go beach hopping in the gulf islands, british columbia, 9. marvel in mother nature at clayoquot wilderness lodge, vancouver island, british columbia, 10. stay on the rocks at rockwater secret cove resort, sunshine coast, british columbia, 11. sleep under the stars at siwash lake wilderness resort, 70 mile house, british columbia, 12. run wild at wild skies resort, river hills, manitoba, 13. embrace prairie life at bin there campground, moose jaw, saskatchewan, 14. chase the northern lights at blachford lake lodge, yellowknife, northwest territories, 15. embrace the eco-tique experience at le baluchon éco villégiature, quebec, 16. hit the hay on ice at hôtel de glace, quebec, 17. reimagine camping at huttopia in sutton, quebec, 18. choose your glamping style at chute lake lodge, naramata, british columbia, 19. float your boat at staying afloat in pleasantville, nova scotia, 20. make basecamp at glamp camp in waterborough, new brunswick, 21. experience an ecolodge next to canada’s highest mountain at mount logan ecolodge, haines junction, yukon, 22. a restorative escape awaits at echo valley ranch & spa, clinton, british columbia, bonus – 9 alberta eco tours worth exploring, what activities might an eco tourist do:, when booking your trip look for places that:, tips for creating a great glamping eco experience:.

While travellers from all around the world have to put their dream trip to Canada on hold, we Canadians have a unique opportunity to be able to explore one of the world’s most magical destinations, right here in our backyard. Perhaps that is why our national anthem starts with “O Canada?” This is why we want to share with you these 23 Canadian Eco Tour Adventures that are sure to be unforgettable experiences for your family.

From “far and wide” Canada has some of the most amazing bucket list eco experiences for families to explore, but we also have an opportunity as Canadians to support our Tourism Industry by investing in our local market this year. In 2019 the Canadian tourism industry generated 104.9 billion dollars in tourist spending with 22.1 million people visiting our country that year. In 2019 1 in ten jobs in Canada were connected to the tourism industry which contributed to $43.5 billion in GDP.

As one of the largest countries in the world, Canada has some of the most diverse ecosystems on the planet with more bucket list experiences a person can make than they will ever achieve in one country. Each province and territory offers visitors a unique opportunity to explore the landscapes, flora and fauna that make up that region. So whether you’re looking to stay local and explore your backyard or want to travel across the country, here are 23 Canadian Eco Tour Adventures perfect for your exploring!

Best Canadian Eco-Tourism Destinations

2024 is your year to go on an epic adventure right here on Canadian soil. To challenge yourself to explore your backyard and discover new opportunities across our beautiful country. Surround yourself with spectacular scenery, world-class outdoor experiences, come face to face with new animals and create magical moments with your family. Here are my top 23 Canadian Eco Tour Adventures to inspire you to #ExploreCanada this year:

polar bear walking on snow and looking at the camera

Imagine the excitement of rolling over the frozen ice in an Electric Vehicle Tundra Buggy ®, only stopping to let the local polar bears cross. The tundra buggy drivers are knowledgeable on the region’s history and the local wildlife, and get you an up and close personal interaction with one of Canada’s most magnificent mammals.  Floe and Drift are two of the local polar bears who live in the Western Hudson Bay area that the Frontiers North guides named through the Polar Bears International (PBI) polar bear tracking program. While Polar Bears are typically the stars of the show, be sure to keep your eyes out for many other local animals on your tour, equally exciting and sometimes elusive. Want to keep the adventures rolling? Frontiers North also offers zodiac tours with Belugas . This intimate experience will bring you face to face with wild belugas, whose friendly demeanour will make you feel like you’re on a playdate with giant puppies!

Where to explore: Family owned and operated since 1987, Frontiers North is an internationally recognized leader in authentic and sustainable adventures in Canada’s north. This certified B Corp organization has been recognized as a “company that takes the extra steps needed to leave a positive impact on our travellers, on our employees and on the communities where we operate.” They are also a platinum sponsor of PBI and through their partnership have collaborated and supported a number of projects to inspire people around the world. Frontiers North is a company that understands its opportunity and responsibility and has brought them together to create unique itineraries that deliver meaningful experiences with a focus on wildlife, photography, and experiential adventure travel, thus making my 23 Canadian eco-tour adventures list.

on eco tour

There’s nothing like learning how to surf along the sandy beaches of Tofino, BC. With a lower center of gravity kids often pick surfing up better than their parents, leaving smiles on the faces of everyone in the family. The crashing waves on the edge of the coastal forest are the perfect pairing for a spectacular seaside family vacation, offering you lots of activities to explore beyond the surf. Marine explorations, hot springs, hiking, biking, food trucks to fine dining, national parks and educational programs, the biggest problem you’ll have with your trip to Tofino is not having enough time to do it all.

Where to stay: The Long Beach Lodge offers surfers the unique ability to walk right from their surfing lessons into the hot tub, no cold waiting and changing on the sand required. Once my kids had experienced this level of luxury surfing it was the new standard in how to surf. The family-friendly resort is filled with a variety of activities for you to explore and the perfect base camp for you to head out and explore the Ucluelet and Tofino region. Tofino is the ultimate West Coast family adventure and why it has made my 23 Canadian eco tour adventures list!

winding road on a mountain top with the ocean in the distance

After 26 years in the making, the new Fundy Trail Parkway is now complete. This spectacular scenic coastal drive now links the entire southern portion of the province from St. Stephen in the west to Sackville in the east. Visitors can expect cascading coastal cliffs, walking and hiking trails, and lots of stops along the way (don’t forget your camera). Explore world-renowned Fundy National Park, Hopewell Rocks and Cape Enrage and UNESCO designated sites Fundy Biosphere Reserve and Stonehammer Geopark. To start planning your visit the Fundy Trail Parkway website here.

two people sitting on red chairs outside an otentik

Canada’s National Parks are one of our greatest treasures and Parks Canada has created many wonderful immersive experiences for visitors to explore. More comfortable than a traditional tent, glamping in a national park offers more conveniences of home in an environment that puts you in the center of all the action, with fewer logistical plans needed. Waking up in the morning you’re likely to be greeted by local residents, and depending on which park you’re at that could be Elk in Banff , Moose in Gros Morne, or a pod of orcas off Pacific Rim National Park.

Incredible scenery combined with high-quality educational programming makes our National Parks a treasure waiting for every family to explore. With a variety of glamping options for families, from oTENTik , Oasis, Microcube, Yurt, Teepee, or other custom accommodations, there’s so much more than a “bed” to retreat to at the end making this a unique (and very affordable) option for Canadian families to explore. This is why all of Canada’s National Parks make this ultimate 23 Canadian eco tour adventures list.

resort and docks in the evening under a starry sky

Accessible only by boat or seaplane, your adventure begins before you’ve even arrived as you traverse your way through Desolation Sound to the Klahoose Wilderness Resort. This off-the-grid experience offers your family an all-inclusive luxury experience in the coastal wilderness of Desolation Sound.

Klahoose is BC’s newest Indigenous cultural experience offering families a resort that reflects the traditional values and offers an immersive exploration into the wilderness, culture, and wildlife in the region. The best time for families to visit is in the summer months when kids can enjoy spending their time outdoors, swimming, kayaking, SUP, and hiking. This hands-on adventure will have children pulling up prawn traps, investigating intertidal zones, and checking out the off-the-grid power system. If you are visiting after August 25th  (note this date), you will be taken further into the rainforest to see BC’s beautiful Grizzly Bears, as they feast on salmon in a remote wilderness river. Back on shore families can take part in Indigenous activities such as cedar weaving, storytelling, and evening campfires.

To learn more about Klahoose visit their website here.

a woman and child admire a totem pole from a distance

Learning how to connect with our land’s people and history is a unique experience for Canadian families to explore. With more and more indigenous-owned and operated resorts, adventures and activities starting up families can look to explore the indigenous culture, food, land, and animals of the region they are visiting.

Parks Canada offers a variety of educational programming in their Visitor Centers as well as on-site in parks, connecting visitors to the indigenous culture in the park. And with so many National Parks to explore and a wide range of unique indigenous history across Canada, it’s a great way to connect with history, culture, arts, and stories. We are so happy to have Parks Canada on our list of 23 Canadian Eco Tour Adventures!

If you’re looking to explore an experience outside of our National Parks look for adventures and experiences that are owned and operated by Indigenous people. Local Tourism Boards are experts on service providers and are a great way to get advice on companies that they recommend.

Ottawa, Ontario

A mix of culture, nature, and Canadian pride, Ottawa is a place where you can kick off Canada Day in our nation’s capital, or choose to go skating on the Rideau Canal in the Winter. Exploring our capital city with the family is something every Canadian kid will enjoy. A strikingly clean, vibrant, and active city, the pride of the nation is on display at every corner.

Winterlude is the celebration of the season and the streets are filled with activities for the whole family including giant slides, art displays, music, food, and entertainment. Summer brings warmer weather and a variety of outdoor activities including kayaking, biking, beaches, and boat tours.

family sitting at the table in the Gulf Islands, British Columbia

A Mediterranean-like climate awaits as you wake up to the sound of the waves hitting the sand. An otter swims by with her baby on her chest while she sneaks in a nap before swimming off to find the morning breakfast. An eagle eyes you from above, one eye on you and one eye looking out for its own meal. The sound of orcas cascades over the waves to remind you how we’re a small part of Mother Earth’s world. With picture-perfect scenery complete with so many amazing residents, exploring the beaches of the gulf islands is an iconic Canadian experience into a rare Westcoast ecosystem. Making this area of BC the perfect addition to our 23 Canadian eco-tour adventures list!

Families can kayak, hike, or cycle the lush paradise exploring mountain-top viewpoints, lighthouses, and shores and lagoons that will have you beachcombing for days. A popular park for locals and visitors to explore, be sure to book early and plan ahead for your adventure.

on eco tour

The first time I ever saw the above image it was a catalyst moment that changed the projection of my life.  The image showcases a grand tent perched on the edge of a mountain top showcasing some of the most magnificent scenery that BC has to offer. A place where families could go and have a unique eco-experience, letting mother nature engulf them and showcase all of the wonders of her world. And with that, Adventure Awaits was Born – I knew I wanted to tell stories about unique places like this around the world and teach families how to explore such regions.

Named after Clayoquot Sound, a 62-mile wide inlet on the Pacific Ocean, this UNESCO-protected Biosphere Reserve hosts a diverse range of ecosystems including temperate coastal rainforests, old-growth forests, deep ocean fjords and rocky coastal shores. At the center of the reserve is Clayoquot Wilderness Lodge, a luxury wilderness resort welcoming visitors to experience one of BC’s most magical sanctuaries.

Families can stay in the luxurious white canvas tents, which in 2021 were reimagined with a fresh and new contemporary look. These unique accommodations offer guests an opportunity to have a truly immersive experience with the unique ecosystem they are surrounded by. The outdoors will beckon you to come and explore the region through hikes, yoga, wildlife spotting, and even fishing and heli-tour experiences. You’ll be invited to culturally connect with the land as the lodge is located in the First Nations territory of Ahousaht and guests are invited to visit this ancestral village. To learn more about this unique BC experience visit the Clayoquot Wilderness Lodge website.

on eco tour

Perched on the rocky shores of the sunshine coast lies the Rockwater Secret Cove Resort. Families are invited to glamp in the refurbished cabins. Originally built in the 1950s and used by hundred and fishermen, these updated retreats are the perfect basecamp for families looking to explore the sunshine coast. Guests will love the private oasis overlooking the Salish Sea, this is truly the definition of an immersive experience, where you’ll be soaking in your surroundings with all of your senses.

When you venture out, there will be a variety of adventures to explore. From beachcombing and kayaking, yoga, hiking, mountain biking, snorkelling, diving, and harbour tours. If you’re interested in heading into town you can explore golfing, art galleries and a variety of unique eateries. To learn more and book your adventure visit the Rockwater Secret Cove Resort website.

iwash Lake Wilderness Resort, 70 Mile House, British Columbia

Your very own dark sky reserve awaits families at Siwash Lake Resort. Children will enjoy the astronomy travel experience of sleeping in the fresh air canvas tent while stargazing from the deck, or from underneath the special skylight built into their unique accommodation. The experience is only elevated if you soak in the scenery from your private hot tub, or around a private family campfire at night.

With climate change at the forefront, many families are looking to invest in travel experiences that are not only sustainable but also regenerative. Siwash Lake Wilderness Resort is a small and private resort suited to those who are committed to sustainable, regenerative and impactful life-enriching experiences. A luxury wilderness resort where horses, adventure, and ecology are all intertwined and guests get to experience authentic, off-the-beaten-path rugged adventures.  Siwash Lake Wilderness Resort recently survived a massive wildfire and their oasis now showcases the resiliency as the ecosystem starts to regenerate. “We are here to show how we can thrive amid an uncertain future within a powerful, ever-changing landscape — helping to cultivate environmental & cultural connection in others.” To learn more about Siwash Lake Wilderness Resort, visit their website here.

Wild Skies Resort, River Hills, Manitoba

Ten acres of unscheduled play await you at Wild Skies Resort, Manitoba’s first luxury glamping experience. This family-owned paradise resort is situated on the Whitemouth River and brings you the magic of the outdoors, creating deeper connections with each other and the place you call home during your stay. Whether it’s marvelling in the morning frost, staring at a shooting star, being mesmerized by the ripples in the water, or losing track of time around a campfire, Wild Skies resort evokes your inner child and provides you with a place to let that child out to play.

When you’re ready to settle down for the night families will love cuddling into the geo-domes next to the Whitemouth River. These perfect 4 person glamping pods combine the luxury of luscious linens, a skylight to watch the stars, a kitchenette, private showers, a wood stove and a solar fan to keep you cozy all night long. In the mornings, you can wake up and check out the panoramic view overlooking the river, and start your day with a family campfire and breakfast on the patio. To learn more about how to book your luxury wild retreat visit the Wild Skies Resort website.

on eco tour

Does it get any more authentic than staying in a converted grain bin cabin in the middle of Saskatchewan? These transformed bins are the vision of retired farmers, who now welcome guests to their farms, using the land in a whole new way. These two-story cabins are equipped with skylights, two queen beds, and even heat and air conditioning, putting your comfort a priority while giving you the full life on the prairie experience.

Families can enjoy a variety of on-site activities including the nightly feeding of the trout in the pond, hiking on local trails, or tee-pee ring tours. If you’re looking to venture off-site there is the Nicolle Flats Interpretive Area or the Buffalo Pound Provincial Park close by, both offering a lot of eco experiences for families to explore. To learn more and book your prairie experience visit the Bin There Campground website.

Blackford Lake Lodge, Yellowknife, NWT

The aurora borealis awaits your arrival at the Blachford Lake Lodge. The dancing sky will wrap itself around you, leaving you in awe no matter what direction you turn. Each night is a new “show” with mother nature showing off in all the colours of the spectrum. Imagine staying warm around the campfire in this tipi while you wait for the lights to rise up into the sky.

Families can expect an off-the-grid experience in Canada’s North but know they are travelling in comfort with the luxury experience. Yes, you’ll find family-style cabins, hot running water, flush toilets, and luxury food awaiting your adventure at Blachford Lake Lodge. The most important part is the large style windows to ensure you don’t miss any of the aurora happening outside! There is a reason why Blachford Lake Lodge made my top 23 Canadian eco-tour adventures list. To learn more about packages, booking, and the whole scope of this epic adventure visit the Blachford Lake Lodge website .

eco-resort covered in snow in quebec

Number 16 on my 23 Canadian eco-tour adventures list can only be described as experiencing the future while travelling to the past… At least that’s how it felt the second we arrived at Le Baluchon Éco Villégiature, Québec’s premier eco-tourism resort. 1,000 pristine Canadian acres await your family with an “eco-resort,” experience awaiting. The transformation for visitors largely comes from the way they interact and think about nature and the environment. From the materials used to build the guest rooms and the locally-sourced, sustainable food options available on-site, to the never-ending list of outdoor activities that take guests back to the days our ancestors lived off the land, a stay at Le Baluchon Éco Villégiature is a stay with purpose.

Le Baluchon Éco Villégiature is a world-class resort showcasing the absolute best of what winter in Québec has to offer. In the winter, families can experience dog sledding, a Nordic spa, fat bike skiing, cross-country skiing, private carriage rides, horseback riding and hiking. Summer brings forth a whole other host of activities including hiking, biking, a maple stand and sugar house, horseback riding, and a variety of trails, ponds and places to explore and see beaver dams, local flora and fauna, and historical buildings. To see more photos from our recent winter trip and get detailed insights on how to plan your trip check out this article.

on eco tour

Walking through the front doors of Hôtel de Glace you quickly recognize that you are in a place of imagination, whimsy and creativity. Where artistry meets architecture and challenges generally accepted ideas of indoor and outdoor living. A place that blurs together fantasy and reality to prove that life doesn’t have to be so serious. A hotel stay is more than a sleepover, it transports you to a whole new level of living.

Families can book a stay at this unusual accommodation choosing from 42 rooms and themed suites. With options of one to three beds, in-room fireplaces and even a suite with a private hot tub and sauna, you are sure to be able to find the right accommodations for your family.

The temperature inside the hotel, no matter the weather outside, is between -3o and -5o C (23o and 27o F). Sleeping bags built to resist even colder temperatures along with an insulated bed sheet and pillow are provided. But just in case someone in your group realizes they are not the ice queen they thought they were, your reservation at the ice hotel also gets you a traditional room—for the same night—at the 4-star Hôtel Valcartier which is about a one-minute walk away. Not only does this give you a Plan B for you and the kids, but it also gives you somewhere to store your luggage and take a shower.

And while our kids loved the ice hotel, they equally loved the Bora Park where we went from -30 outside to +30 inside! 102,000 square feet of summer fun await including a large wave pool, 14+ water slides, a family pool with water games, a multi-activity adventure river, a double surf wave and a terrace restaurant. To learn more about the ice hotel and our experience check out this article .

Camping at Huttopia in Sutton, Ontario

“At Huttopia, we have been rethinking the Art of Camping since 1999.” Families can indulge in glamping with comfortable and functional accommodations, including nice and cozy beads immersing you in the outdoors while ensuring your comfort at every turn. Suited for groups of up to 6 people, Huttopia understands that families come in all sizes and that there’s nothing more special than a group hanging around a campfire at night.

While your kid won’t want to leave the tent, they could be enticed by all of the fun activities that await them. Swimming, fishing, yard games, forest-free play, and scheduled activities all await, ensuring the kids are having fun and enjoying mother nature’s backyard. To learn more about the full Huttopia experience and unique accommodations visit: their website here.

on eco tour

A resort that is over 100 years in the making Chute Lake Lodge welcomes families to explore the future of camping while appreciating the past rich history of the land. Nestled lakeside in Naramata, BC your unique stay is a “design your own experience” where you can choose how you want to travel, where you want to stay, and how you and the family want to explore. With accommodations ranging from lakeside tents for two, to large family log cabins, you can find the perfect basecamp for your Naramata adventure.

When you’re not inside soaking in the luxury glamping experience head on out to take on a plethora of activities. Ebiking and mountain biking, hiking, paddle boarding, swimming, canoeing and more await you. To learn more about this incredible glamping experience visit the Chute Lake Lodge website.

on eco tour

Nothing says Nova Scotia better than being on the water, making this location the perfect East Coast location in my 23 Canadian eco-tour adventures list. Ketch Cottage is a cute little float that sits on the shores of the beautiful LaHave River in Bridgewater, NS.  This home welcomes you and the family aboard to experience an authentic East Coast stay. With over 400 sq ft of space, this floating cottage features all the comforts you’ll need including a loft bedroom, full bathroom, full kitchen, and even a TV and digital package (not that you’ll need it) and a cozy 200 sq ft deck. Enjoy your time on Ketch Cottage barbecuing, fishing, soaking up the sun or sitting by the fire to wind down the day.

Adventurous families will enjoy being on the Lighthouse Route, an iconic roadway that is home to Nova Scotia’s best sandy beaches including Risser’s, Crescent and Green Bay Beach. Looking to head to town, visitors can hop over the river and explore the Town of Lunenburg, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and check out the stunning geography of Oven’s Natural Park. With too many places to explore the only recommendation is to ensure you’ve booked enough days to stay at Ketch Cottage to see it all. To learn more visit the Staying Afloat Vacation Rentals website.

Glamp Camp in Waterborough, New Brunswick

“A fusion of glamour and camping, glamping is a way to authentically experience the most awe-inspiring places worldwide.” Situated on a private 90-acre wooded property in Waterborough, New Brunswick is Glamp Camp. It features 10 luxurious themed fully-equipped stargazer domes awaiting your family adventure. Glamp Camp allows you to embrace a camping experience without the hassle of bringing your own camping gear or sleeping on the ground. Each dome has fine linens, cozy blankets, plush towels and luxurious robes, perfect for wearing to and from your private wood-fired hot tub! The necessities to fuel the family are all there too, with a fully-equipped kitchen with a mini-fridge, microwave oven, induction stovetop, coffee maker and kettle as well as the necessary pots, pans, cutlery and crockery.

If you dare to leave the dome you can embrace mother nature-led activities including hiking in the summer and snowshoeing in the winter. With lots of availability now is the time to book your next adventure before they fill up: visit their website here.

Mount Logan EcoLodge, Haines Junction, Yukon

“Yukon Glam” is the new trend to be embraced at Mount Logan EcoLodge. Located just a 2-hour drive outside of Whitehorse, Mount Logan Ecolodge boasts stunning views of Kluane National Park, allowing families to enter the call of the wild and start exploring Canada’s North. Summer guests can head out and explore fishing, kayaking, guided hikes, electric fat bike tours, in Kluane National Park and the surrounding area, and yoga back at the lodge. For those looking for a true arctic experience, head up to the lodge in the winter and embrace northern lights tours, ice fishing, and dog sledding.

At the lodge, back from your excursions, you’ll fuel up with family-style dinners and then choose from a variety of accommodations including a 4-person yurt that even has a skylight for aurora viewing. There is also a Gold Rush-era cabin, a “Yukon-glam”well-insulated wall tent with two levels and interior timber beams, plus it features a wood stove. Finally, a new “Mount Archibald Pod” cabin with a panoramic window to provide views of the mountains in the South while the North-facing window allows you to take in the aurora borealis. To plan your Yukon adventure visit the Mount Logan EcoLodge website!

Echo Valley Ranch & Spa, Clinton, BC

For 25 years, Eco Valley Ranch has given guests the opportunity to experience adventure, revitalize their spirit, and connect with nature in its eco-luxury oasis. Calling the Cariboo Region home, this family-owned retreat isn’t merely a vacation destination, it’s a transformative, “a once-in-a-lifetime awakening of their spirit and a rediscovery of their childlike sense of wonder.”

The whole family will love exploring the local region through a variety of soft adventures including hiking, cycling and fishing, taking you through the 160-acre property that sits majestically at the convergence of four distinct geographic regions: the Marble Mountains, the Mighty Fraser River and Canyon Desert, Cariboo Plateau Boreal Forest, and the Cariboo Grasslands. This pristine sanctuary enables guests to achieve a feeling of peace and relaxation through a variety of activities including morning yoga and forest bathing, stimulating body and soul, all while enjoying the comfort of magnificently appointed rooms and cabins and the luxury of five-star cuisine. To learn more and plan your visit: Echo Valley Ranch & Spa.

23. Explore the Wild West Coast At the Wickaninnish Inn, Tofino

on eco tour

If you’re looking for a luxury eco experience, the Wickaninnish Inn in Tofino is a bucket list type experience offering unparalleled luxury in one of Canada’s most beautiful destinations. For 25 years the resort has been interwoven with the environment of which it calls home, immersing guests in a front-row experience over the black rocks of Tofino’s shores. “The story of the Inn starts with Charles McDiarmid who was raised on this majestic coastline, where he grew up watching the huge waves crash into the sandy beaches that run parallel with old-growth rainforests. Today Charles can walk down the winding dirt path recounting his childhood from many years ago. On these trails, you can feel the seven-year-old spirit and envision Charles as a child running barefoot, back and forth in between the off-grid family cottages with his brothers.”

Visitors will enjoy a luxury stay with front-row rooms overlooking the shores of Chesterman Beach. While Tofino is known for the summer, the winter storm season is something to be rivalled with, and the Wickannish Inn gives guests a front-row seat to the storms.

Alberta Eco Experiences

Alberta is a great place to enjoy eco experiences. From hiking to learning about the flora and fauna of a region to rafting in the Rockies to staying in a new Indigenous-owned Wildlife Park, Alberta is a great starting point for those looking for eco-adventures. Here are 9 Alberta eco experiences for you to enjoy with your family.

As you can see from the extensive list above, there are a variety of ways to experience Canada’s Eco-Tourism Scene. Eco Tourists seek out places that have incredible natural environments and are passionate about exploring the region all while leaving a positive impact on the destination. Eco Tourists can decide what tours they want to experience which can include:

  • Snorkelling
  • Horseback riding
  • Snowshoeing
  • Dog Sledding
  • Photography
  • Beach Combing
  • Cultural Immersion Experiences

Tips for Booking a Canadian Eco Tour Experience:

Canadian Eco Experiences provide families with a way to travel and experience the ecosystem in the regions they are visiting, all while learning how to travel sustainability to minimize their environmental impact. The goal is for your trip to leave the place better than you found it, through financial investment with your travel dollars, regenerative travel through your ecotourism, and education for the next generation to invest and protect in our planet.

  • Strive to minimize their environmental impact.
  • Use ethically sourced materials.
  • Provide economic support to their local community by hiring local, and purchasing from local suppliers.
  • Put systems in place to encourage guests to reduce their environmental impact (composting food, low-flow toilets, reusable towels, and way more).
  • Embrace models of transformational and regenerative travel.
  • Grow and harvest their own produce.
  • Offer interpretive programs that connect guests with the history and ecosystem they are visiting (Parks Canada does a great job of this!).
  • Are B Corp Certified –  “B Corp status is reserved for companies that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental good, Public transparency in self-reporting and Legal accountability to balance profits and purpose.”
  • Are members of trade associations such as the Transformational Travel Council (Like me!).
  • Before you arrive, confirm what’s included (and what’s not). Things like bedding, towels, and kitchen supplies may or may not be included depending on where you stay.
  • Learn about local fire safety requirements and if fires are allowed on-site. If they are be sure to put it 100% out before you retire for the evening.
  • There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing. Check the forecast and pack the appropriate clothes for adventures!
  • Exercise Bear safety by having a BARE campsite .
  • Leave the site better than you found it and pack out what you packed in.
  • Stay on hiking and biking trails to avoid erosion.

We hope this article has inspired you to go on an epic adventure right here on Canadian soil. To challenge yourself to explore your backyard and discover new opportunities across our beautiful country. Let me know in the comments if there are other Canadian Eco Adventures I should explore!

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Sponsorship Disclosure:  No, this is not a sponsored post. I feel strongly about families taking part in ecotourism and transformational travel experiences and therefore wanted to share these incredible Canadian places with my readers.

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Full Time Travel Writer, Mom who is passionate about empowering and educating travelers on how you can use your own tourism dollars as a catalyst for positive change worldwide. Click here to learn more about us, our family, and how we lead an adventure filled life!

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Ecotourism World

10 Reasons to Take an Eco Tour

The word Ecology is defined as ‘The relationships between the air, land, water, animals, plants, etc., usually of a particular area, or the scientific study of this’. ( Cambridge dictionary )

‘Ecology, as the living state and structure of the environment. To combine ecology and tourism in a way which does no harm to the environment and allows for the traveler to learn about the environment is the act of ecotourism.

By observing and experiencing nature, we are able to learn about its functions and mechanisms. On eco-friendly trips that engage in activities that protect wildlife and the natural environment, preserve archeological sites and indigenous cultures, we have the opportunity to be active participants in preservation efforts.

There are three main pillars of the concept of ecotourism for sustainable tourism: Conservation of nature and culture, economic return of profits to local communities, and the learning experiences of the travellers. An eco-tour is a tour that turns these experiences into actions.

1. Contribute to environmental protection through eco-tours

Ecotours themselves include activities aimed at environmental protection (such as planting trees and maintaining trails, etc). Many tours direct all or part of the profit from the ecotours, into environmental protection efforts. Indirect contributions to environmental protection also exist in the form of admission fees to national parks and nature reserves, which are used to maintain, protect and improve and preserve the environment in the protected area.

2. Contribute to cultural preservation through ecotours

Visits to archeological sites, admission fees to cultural museums and taking culture tours, all contribute to cultural preservation.

Culture can be a delicate issue. Issues with regard to the relationship with indigenous peoples, such as the Aboriginal case of tourists climbing Ayers Rock, a sacred site for the Aborigines, or the Nordic Sami culture regarding tourism activities. Sometimes this can be challenging, because some tour companies can have doubts about the traditional costumes, traditional happenings or do not communicate well with the indigenous people. This is why it’s recommended to give consideration not only to the tour itself but also to the fact that the culture was properly communicated in the form desired by the indigenous people and to consider the indigenous people’s cultural activities. It is important to check the policies of the tour company in this regard.

3. Prevent extra damage to the environment and culture by being aware of and practicing the principles of ecotourism 

Being aware, on the part of travellers, can help to prevent both environmental and cultural damage. Some examples of awareness are: not littering, using sunscreen which is deemed safe for the coral reefs, not approaching or touching animals, not giving unreasonable items to the local children, booking direct flights, travelling by foot / bike or using local transport to reduce emissions. There are many things that one has control of, which can make a difference.

4. Contribute to local communities through ecotours

One thing travellers should pay attention to is if the ecotour utilises the services of local companies and accomodations. Sustainable & ecotourism involves benefiting the local community. When payments are directed towards local tour / ranger guides and ecolodges, it is income for and employment of local residents.

5. You can eat delicious things that you can get locally on the eco tour

‘Local production for local consumption.’ This is a good phrase to remember and simply means to consume locally produced products, locally. Both food waste and CO2 emissions can be reduced by consuming only what is needed, and sourced locally. In addition to this, one is able to enjoy delicious meals made with locally grown ingredients, and maybe to even discover a new ingredient which one has never tried before!

on eco tour

6. You can learn more about the locals through eco-tours

When on an ecotour, there is high probability that one will be visiting a nature park or nature reserve with a local guide, such as a ranger. These rangers are experts in the local culture and the nature. They will certainly tell you much about the locals, the nature, the flora and fauna of the area. A days worth of learning will be of much higher value to you, than if you went around yourself and these stories went unsaid.

7. One can grow through the ecotour experience

Participating in an ecotour raises awareness about the environment. Acting as a trigger for thought, one may experience deep-thoughts on various issues, such as environmental issues and local socio-economic-political issues within the community. Through such awareness, one is able to reflect on one’s own growth.

8. Educate children through eco-tours

Families with children are able to benefit from ecotours. As children are more inclined to soak in their surroundings and retain the information more than most adults, ecotourism is an excellent source of information for them.  Learning how to interact with the environment from childhood is valuable. Take the time to discuss the meaning and significance of environmental protections with your children, and the actions that they can take in daily life.

9. Influence others by reviewing ecotours

You don’t need 1million followers on instagram to be an influencer. Your thoughts and opinions matter! Many people do some internet research about their chosen destinations before making arrangements. By sharing your positive experiences online, as well as while chatting with friends, you can positively influence others. In the long term, the higher the number of people participating in ecotours, the higher the demand. As the tourism industry caters to high demand, this could help to transition the tourism industry into a more eco-friendly entity.

10. After doing good things for earth in the ecotour, it feels good!

It feels good to be on an environmentally friendly journey. The satisfaction that comes when making earth-friendly decisions, is good!

People sometimes think that their individual actions do not have an affect on the larger issue. However, you must remind yourself that these actions accumulate. Many small actions, make bigger actions. Oftentimes we do not even realise the effect our daily choices have on the whole. There are many millions of tourists every year. Think about the effect it will have if even half of those make small, more environmentally aware tourism decisions. “Many a little makes a mickle ” meaning that even though it is a small thing, when it accumulates, the impact will be bigger.

One thing to note is that despite the name Eco Tour, there are regular tours that exist which are not really ecotours. Unfortunately, some tourism operators ‘greenwash’ their options to appeal to the sustainable market. These are usually just a tour that looks good which includes the name ‘eco’. In order to avoid these greenwashing tactics and make informed decisions, these are the 3 things that will make it an ecotour:

  • Conservation of nature and culture
  • Economic return of profits to local communities
  • Provides a learning experience for the travellers

It is very important to check the contents and motivation of the tours, and to ask questions if the information is not readily available. If you are unsure, you may prefer to select an ecotourism certified organisation, company or service.

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Visit Catalina

Catalina Island Eco Tours Provide Natural Fun

Catalina Island Eco Tours

Popular Eco Tours

The Jeep Eco Tour is a program departing from the Catalina Island Conservancy House. It takes visitors into the “rugged” parts of the island. This refers to the interior sections of the island as well as the seaward side. Your Jeep adventure can travel for two of three hours. Because of their rough nature, many travelers think of these Jeep excursions as mini-safaris.

The “ Cape Canyon Expedition ” and the “ East End Adventure ” are eco tours offered through Tour Catalina . These feature riding in a unique open-air “Green” Hummer. This vehicle actually runs on recycled vegetable oil from local restaurants. Above all, the tours are fascinating journeys and both offer an opportunity to encounter the island’s world famous bison.

Catalina Island Eco Tours are fun for the entire family

Catalina Island Tours

Journey Catalina Tours are another option with three different tours offered. The most popular is the 2 and half hour “Bison Jeep Eco Tour”. The trip features a stop at the Airport in the Sky and a visit to the Nature Center. Visitors will also enjoy the drive through Rancho Escondido with views of the Rusack Vineyard.

The tour continues to the backside of the island with views of Little Harbor and Shark Harbor. There is even an Eagle Sanctuary along the way to add to the journey. And don’t forget, as with all of the inland Catalina Island Eco Tours, there is the chance to see the world-famous bison!

The Catalina Zip Line Eco Tour is an example of a popular eco tour. Your adventure begins as you travel through Descanso Canyon from 5 zip line stations. You eventually make your way to Descanso Beach. The tour lasts about two hours and will be one of your most treasured Catalina Island eco tour adventure memories. You will have fun on Eco tours because you get to experience the rough terrain. Most noteworthy, your hosts give presentations on historical and cultural facts about the island.

Summer Naturalist Program

Catalina Island Eco Tours

If you are traveling to Catalina Island, why not arrange to take an eco tour before you head back home? An eco tour provides more than just scenery. It is an adventure in learning and one that will benefit you as well as the beautiful island of Catalina.

For more information on Catalina Island tours, see our “ Tours ” page.

Wealth of Geeks

Wealth of Geeks

24 of the Best Florida Gulf Coast Eco-Adventures

Posted: February 22, 2024 | Last updated: February 22, 2024

<p>With over 1,350 miles of shoreline between the Florida Gulf Coast and the Atlantic, the Sunshine State has plenty of beaches for all. Florida’s coastline is a playground for outdoor adventurers from the Northwest Panhandle region to Southwest Florida. While we love the many regions of Florida, something about the Gulf brings out the explorer in all of us. </p>

With over 1,350 miles of shoreline between the Florida Gulf Coast and the Atlantic, the Sunshine State has plenty of beaches for all. Florida’s coastline is a playground for outdoor adventurers from the Northwest Panhandle region to Southwest Florida. While we love the many regions of Florida, something about the Gulf brings out the explorer in all of us. 

<p>When you head to the coastline, the change of pace is palpable. The sun shines a little brighter, there’s a faint scent of saltwater in the air, and the idyllic beaches call your name. Turquoise waters are begging for divers, trails are better by horse, and the shade of the mangroves is best when you’re in a kayak. There’s an eco-adventure for every level of nature lover, leaving you in awe when visiting the Florida Gulf Coast. </p>

The Best Florida Gulf Coast Eco Adventures

When you head to the coastline, the change of pace is palpable. The sun shines a little brighter, there’s a faint scent of saltwater in the air, and the idyllic beaches call your name. Turquoise waters are begging for divers, trails are better by horse, and the shade of the mangroves is best when you’re in a kayak. There’s an eco-adventure for every level of nature lover, leaving you in awe when visiting the Florida Gulf Coast. 

<p>The NorthWest Florida region is the only area of Florida that sits in two different time zones. Known as the “panhandle,” the Northwest features several notable coastal areas, including the Emerald Coast, where <a href="https://wealthofgeeks.com/sunny-things-to-do-in-destin-florida-for-families/" rel="noopener">Destin</a> is located, and the Forgotten Coast, where towns like Port St. Joe and Cape San Blas are located. Interstate 10 extends from the far west region of the Panhandle to the Atlantic side, which makes it easy to explore. Aside from the dozens of beaches, each unique in its own way, a visitor will also find the Apalachicola River, numerous state parks, and scenic forests.</p>

Northwest Florida

The NorthWest Florida region is the only area of Florida that sits in two different time zones. Known as the “panhandle,” the Northwest features several notable coastal areas, including the Emerald Coast, where Destin is located, and the Forgotten Coast, where towns like Port St. Joe and Cape San Blas are located. Interstate 10 extends from the far west region of the Panhandle to the Atlantic side, which makes it easy to explore. Aside from the dozens of beaches, each unique in its own way, a visitor will also find the Apalachicola River, numerous state parks, and scenic forests.

<p>Located near Tallahassee, <a href="https://www.floridastateparks.org/WakullaSprings" rel="noopener">Wakulla Springs State Park</a> has so much to offer: swimming, kayaking, hiking, snorkeling, and birding—to name a few. Don’t miss the Jungle Cruise Boat Tour, where a park ranger guides you through the natural habitat living in the springs. Visitors will see alligators, turtles, birds, fish, and manatees. Kids can partake in the Junior Ranger Program at any Florida State Park to earn patches and passport stamps. The Lodge at Wakulla Springs State Park is perfect if you want to stay close to the outdoor fun.</p>

1. Wakulla Springs State Park

Located near Tallahassee,  Wakulla Springs State Park has so much to offer: swimming, kayaking, hiking, snorkeling, and birding—to name a few. Don’t miss the Jungle Cruise Boat Tour, where a park ranger guides you through the natural habitat living in the springs. Visitors will see alligators, turtles, birds, fish, and manatees. Kids can partake in the Junior Ranger Program at any Florida State Park to earn patches and passport stamps. The Lodge at Wakulla Springs State Park is perfect if you want to stay close to the outdoor fun.

<p><a href="https://www.floridastateparks.org/parks-and-trails/ichetucknee-springs-state-park" rel="nofollow noopener">Ichetucknee Springs State Park</a> is a 2,669-acre wildlife haven where guests feel miles away from the fast-paced hustle that Florida has adapted to. The park is home to beaver, otter, softshell turtle, wild turkey, wood duck, and limpkin. Its eight crystal-clear springs join together to create the 6-mile Ichetucknee River. Three nature trails guide visitors through the lush park forest or kayak in the pristine waters.</p>

2. Ichetucknee Springs State Park

Ichetucknee Springs State Park  is a 2,669-acre wildlife haven where guests feel miles away from the fast-paced hustle that Florida has adapted to. The park is home to beaver, otter, softshell turtle, wild turkey, wood duck, and limpkin. Its eight crystal-clear springs join together to create the 6-mile Ichetucknee River. Three nature trails guide visitors through the lush park forest or kayak in the pristine waters.

<p>Did you know that there’s a designated trail to paddle around the entire coastline of Florida? Designed for advanced and experienced paddlers, the <a href="https://floridadep.gov/parks/ogt/content/florida-circumnavigational-saltwater-paddling-trail" rel="nofollow noopener">Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail</a> offers a multi-day trip unlike any other. Paddle through the saltwater, marshes, and mangroves on the Florida Gulf Coast. If you aren’t ready for the entire trip, hop onto the trail portion for a day trip. The journey starts near Pensacola and covers the Gulf before circling to the Atlantic.</p>

3. Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail

Did you know that there’s a designated trail to paddle around the entire coastline of Florida? Designed for advanced and experienced paddlers, the  Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail  offers a multi-day trip unlike any other. Paddle through the saltwater, marshes, and mangroves on the Florida Gulf Coast. If you aren’t ready for the entire trip, hop onto the trail portion for a day trip. The journey starts near Pensacola and covers the Gulf before circling to the Atlantic.

<p>Visitors who crave snorkeling, shelling, surfing, and swimming will love <a href="https://www.floridastateparks.org/parks-and-trails/st-andrews-state-park" rel="nofollow noopener">St. Andrews State Park</a>. Imagine sugar white sands, emerald green waters, and a symphony of winged feather friends to greet you. The park offers a ferry boat to Shell Island, where you can find thousands of sand dollars, moon snails, conch shells, pin shells, and olive shells. Reserve one of the park’s eco-tents for a glamping adventure under the stars.</p>

4. St. Andrews State Park

Visitors who crave snorkeling, shelling, surfing, and swimming will love  St. Andrews State Park . Imagine sugar white sands, emerald green waters, and a symphony of winged feather friends to greet you. The park offers a ferry boat to Shell Island, where you can find thousands of sand dollars, moon snails, conch shells, pin shells, and olive shells. Reserve one of the park’s eco-tents for a glamping adventure under the stars.

<p>Advanced hikers looking for a multi-day experience will love the 1,300-mile <a href="https://www.fs.usda.gov/fnst" rel="nofollow noopener">Florida National Scenic Trail</a>. Travel through subtropical prairies, swamps, pristine oak hammocks, and pine forests. The trail begins in the panhandle portion of the state before it continues into Central Florida. Hikers will see National Forests, beautiful beaches, and Florida waterways where nature reigns. </p>

5. Florida National Scenic Trail

Advanced hikers looking for a multi-day experience will love the 1,300-mile  Florida National Scenic Trail . Travel through subtropical prairies, swamps, pristine oak hammocks, and pine forests. The trail begins in the panhandle portion of the state before it continues into Central Florida. Hikers will see National Forests, beautiful beaches, and Florida waterways where nature reigns. 

<p>You may have been to <a href="https://wealthofgeeks.com/best-beaches-in-florida/" rel="noopener">Florida beaches</a>, but have you been to a sand bar? Crab Island is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Destin. It’s a famous sand bar people drive their boats to and many stay on the sand bar all day. The water depth varies from 1-4 feet deep, and the only way to access Crab Island is by boat. Watch for dolphins and see the various animals that visit Crab Island depending on the tide. </p>

6. Destin’s Crab Island

You may have been to  Florida beaches , but have you been to a sand bar? Crab Island is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Destin. It’s a famous sand bar people drive their boats to and many stay on the sand bar all day. The water depth varies from 1-4 feet deep, and the only way to access Crab Island is by boat. Watch for dolphins and see the various animals that visit Crab Island depending on the tide. 

<p><span>Tide pools are an isolated pocket of seawater that collects from the tide coming in. In Destin, The Norriego Point Tide Pools form from rocks and are roped off for guests to enjoy. Walk along the shallow water and look for hermit crabs, starfish, and fish. </span></p>

7. Norriego Point Tide Pools

Tide Pools are a fantastic eco-adventure for kids. Walk along the sides of the tide pools and view the wildlife that calls the area home. It’s a great way to see hermit crabs, starfish, and fish. Tide pools are best to visit at low tide. To choose a good day for tide pooling, use a tide table showing the times and tidal heights of all high and low tides throughout the year. The Norriego Point Tide Pools are near Fort Walton Beach. 

<p>Cape San Blas is the perfect beach destination to explore on horseback. Riding experience is not necessary for an unforgettable time. Whether riding off into a sunset or booking a private excursion with a guide, there’s a horseback adventure for everyone. It’s a leisurely way to see the coastline, and this type of horseback riding is designed for all ages.</p>

8. Horseback Riding on the Florida Gulf Coast

Cape San Blas is the perfect beach destination to explore on horseback. Riding experience is not necessary for an unforgettable time. Whether riding off into a sunset or booking a private excursion with a guide, there’s a horseback adventure for everyone. It’s a leisurely way to see the coastline, and this type of horseback riding is designed for all ages.

<p>Located slightly inland of the Panhandle, there are plenty of ways to explore the Choctawhatchee River. Discover nature at its best on a paddleboarding river tour. Expect various wading birds, osprey, turtles, and maybe a gator. It’s the natural <a href="https://wealthofgeeks.com/roadside-attractions-in-florida/">Florida</a> that’s too often forgotten. While it’s more inland than the other Gulf options, it’s a freshwater adventure packed with nature.</p>

9. Choctawhatchee River Adventures

Located slightly inland of the Panhandle, there are plenty of ways to explore the Choctawhatchee River. Discover nature at its best on a paddleboarding river tour. Expect various wading birds, osprey, turtles, and maybe a gator. It’s the natural Florida that’s too often forgotten. While it’s more inland than the other Gulf options, it’s a freshwater adventure packed with nature.

<p>One of Florida’s most pristine coastal dune lakes, Campbell Lake, is at <a href="https://www.floridastateparks.org/parks-and-trails/topsail-hill-preserve-state-park" rel="noopener">Topsail Hill Preserve Park</a>. Dunes, maritime forests, and abundant native flora surround the 100-acre lake. Bald cypress, fragrant water lilies, spatterdock, and black needlerush are along the lake. It’s a gorgeous destination for birding and geocaching. </p>

10. Topsail Hill Preserve Park

One of Florida’s most pristine coastal dune lakes, Campbell Lake, is at Topsail Hill Preserve Park . Dunes, maritime forests, and abundant native flora surround the 100-acre lake. Bald cypress, fragrant water lilies, spatterdock, and black needlerush are along the lake. It’s a gorgeous destination for birding and geocaching. 

<p>Aptly named The Nature Coast, it’s the state’s most extensive coast that spans eight counties. As its name implies, popular activities in this region include nature hikes, observing wildlife, fishing, and boating. There are also popular snorkeling and diving spots along the rivers in Homosassa Springs, Homosassa, and Crystal River. In winter, visit Homosassa Springs and the Crystal River to see hundreds of manatees. </p>

11. Florida’s Nature Coast

Aptly named The Nature Coast, it’s the state’s most extensive coast that spans eight counties. As its name implies, popular activities in this region include nature hikes, observing wildlife, fishing, and boating. There are also popular snorkeling and diving spots along the rivers in Homosassa Springs, Homosassa, and Crystal River. In winter, visit Homosassa Springs and the Crystal River to see hundreds of manatees. 

<p>If you’re looking for some fascinating culture, look no further than the Tarpon Springs sponge diving adventures. Tarpon Springs is a little slice of Greek culture on the Florida Gulf Coast. Book a Tarpon Springs boat tour departing from the sponge docks if you want a mild outdoor adventure. You’ll learn about the history of sponge diving, how sponges are harvested from the sea, and what they’re used for today.</p>

12. Tarpon Springs Sponge Diving

If you’re looking for some fascinating culture, look no further than the Tarpon Springs sponge diving adventures. Tarpon Springs is a little slice of Greek culture on the Florida Gulf Coast. Book a Tarpon Springs boat tour departing from the sponge docks if you want a mild outdoor adventure. You’ll learn about the history of sponge diving, how sponges are harvested from the sea, and what they’re used for today.

<p>Comprised of beaches and wetlands, the Southwest Region attracts vacationers year-round looking for rest, relaxation, and an opportunity to walk on the wild side. Located just north of the Everglades, this region also allows visitors to discover one of the country’s most well-known natural landscapes.</p>

Southwest Florida

Comprised of beaches and wetlands, the Southwest Region attracts vacationers year-round looking for rest, relaxation, and an opportunity to walk on the wild side. Located just north of the Everglades, this region also allows visitors to discover one of the country’s most well-known natural landscapes.

<p>The most fascinating parts of Florida are occasionally below the water’s surface. To get the best view, consider a clear kayak tour. Shell Key Preserve is a hidden gem, A 1,828-acre archipelago off the coast of Tampa. You must get there by boat, and only half of the island can be explored; the other half is a haven for wildlife. The best way to see this barrier island is to book a clear kayak tour. It’s Florida at its purest.</p>

13. Clear Kayak Tour of Shell Key Preserve

The most fascinating parts of Florida are occasionally below the water’s surface. To get the best view, consider a clear kayak tour. Shell Key Preserve is a hidden gem, A 1,828-acre archipelago off the coast of Tampa. You must get there by boat, and only half of the island can be explored; the other half is a haven for wildlife. The best way to see this barrier island is to book a clear kayak tour. It’s Florida at its purest.

<p>Another mild way to experience nature is to take a dolphin tour. There are countless ways to see dolphins in the Sunshine State, but Anna Maria Island offers unique tours. The boat tours take you at high speeds through some of the most scenic waters around the island and can be fully customized based on the places you want to see. Local guides are storytelling experts who share bits of history in between your dolphin spotting.</p>

14. Anna Maria Island Dolphin Tours

Another mild way to experience nature is to take a dolphin tour. There are countless ways to see dolphins in the Sunshine State, but Anna Maria Island offers unique tours. The boat tours take you at high speeds through some of the most scenic waters around the island and can be fully customized based on the places you want to see. Local guides are storytelling experts who share bits of history in between your dolphin spotting.

<p>Another popular Anna Maria Island eco-adventure is snorkeling. Egmont Key, a barrier island near Anna Maria, is one of the most popular snorkeling destinations. Due to the clear water and the abundance of wildlife you may encounter, guests love to snorkel in this spot. You will want to catch a boat or a ferry to Egmont Key to find the perfect snorkeling area.</p>

15. Snorkeling at Egmont Key

Another popular Anna Maria Island eco-adventure is snorkeling. Egmont Key, a barrier island near Anna Maria, is one of the most popular snorkeling destinations. Due to the clear water and the abundance of wildlife you may encounter, guests love to snorkel in this spot. You will want to catch a boat or a ferry to Egmont Key to find the perfect snorkeling area.

<p><a href="https://www.naplesgarden.org/" rel="nofollow noopener">Naples Botanical Gardens</a> strives to preserve the natural habitats of the Southwest Florida tropics. Celebrate the beauty of nature, learn about local conservation efforts, and leave inspired. Walk through twelve different garden areas and preserves. It’s one of the only places to see a few of Florida’s endangered plants.</p>

16. Naples Botanical Gardens

Naples Botanical Gardens  strives to preserve the natural habitats of the Southwest Florida tropics. Celebrate the beauty of nature, learn about local conservation efforts, and leave inspired. Walk through twelve different garden areas and preserves. It’s one of the only places to see a few of Florida’s endangered plants.

<h3>Biscayne National Park – Miami, Key Biscayne and Homestead</h3><p>Biscayne National Park is a water lover’s dream off the coast of Miami. Boat, paddle, or fish in the gorgeous waters. If you snorkel or dive, follow the underwater Biscayne Maritime Heritage Trail to view scattered shipwrecks.</p><h3>Dry Tortugas National Park – Key West</h3><p>Snorkel in these crystal-clear waters to get amazing views of marine life! Swimming and paddling are also encouraged. Check out Fort Jefferson on Garden Key if you’re a history lover. It’s one of the country’s largest 19th-century forts. </p><h3>Everglades National Park – Miami, Naples, and Homestead</h3><p>As the third-largest park in the contiguous 48 states, there is plenty of room to roam. Rent paddling equipment or take a guided boat tour of a fraction of the 1.5 million acres of wetland. If you’re lucky, you’ll see a manatee, an American crocodile, or even the rarely-sighted Florida panther!</p>

17. Tour the Florida Everglades

Everglades National Park is a 1.5-million-acre wetlands preserve on the southern tip of the U.S. state of Florida, including a portion on the Southwest corner. Take a naturalist-guided Everglades tour from Naples. The airboat ride will take you to see the majestic nature that lives in the Everglades, like gators, snakes, great egrets, wood storks, purple gallinules, and herons.

<p><a href="https://rookerybay.org/visit/explore-the-reserve/" rel="nofollow noopener">Rookery Bay Reserve</a> is 110,000 acres along the Florida Gulf Coast that offers recreational opportunities for kayakers & boaters, campers, anglers & shellers, beachgoers, nature photographers, and birdwatchers. In particular, the Mangrove Tours are most unique. Paddle in a kayak through the mangroves to see the unique ecological systems. Kayaking through the tight mangrove spaces offers a different perspective than open water. </p>

18. Rookery Bay Reserve Mangrove Tour

Rookery Bay Reserve  is 110,000 acres along the Florida Gulf Coast that offers recreational opportunities for kayakers & boaters, campers, anglers & shellers, beachgoers, nature photographers, and birdwatchers. In particular, the Mangrove Tours are most unique. Paddle in a kayak through the mangroves to see the unique ecological systems. Kayaking through the tight mangrove spaces offers a different perspective than open water. 

<p>Jetting 20 miles directly into the Gulf of Mexico, <a href="https://www.floridastateparks.org/parks-and-trails/th-stone-memorial-st-joseph-peninsula-state-park" rel="nofollow noopener">St. Joseph Peninsula</a> is a great destination to spot wildlife. The area provides vitally essential habitats for beach-nesting birds and turtles. Visitors enjoy overnight stays in the 46-site RV campground, eight cabins, and 14 primitive campsites in the Wilderness Preserve. It’s an excellent place for fishing, swimming, or watching the sunset. </p>

19. T.H. Stone Memorial St. Joseph Peninsula State Park

Jetting 20 miles directly into the Gulf of Mexico,  St. Joseph Peninsula  is a great destination to spot wildlife. The area provides vitally essential habitats for beach-nesting birds and turtles. Visitors enjoy overnight stays in the 46-site RV campground, eight cabins, and 14 primitive campsites in the Wilderness Preserve. It’s an excellent place for fishing, swimming, or watching the sunset. 

<p>If you want to see nature but don’t want to get wet, take a glass-bottom boat tour. An <a href="https://www.ecotourismflorida.com/partner/old-florida-boat-tour/" rel="nofollow noopener">eco-boat tour</a> on Jug Creek in Bokeelia, Florida, is a serene way to see what’s below the water’s surface. Guests board the Princess Donna boat, built in 1934. She’s also the oldest operating commercial tour boat in the state. </p>

20. Glass Bottom Boat Tours

If you want to see nature but don’t want to get wet, take a glass-bottom boat tour. An  eco-boat tour on Jug Creek in Bokeelia, Florida, is a serene way to see what’s below the water’s surface. Guests board the Princess Donna boat, built in 1934. She’s also the oldest operating commercial tour boat in the state. 

<p>Lake Okeechobee is the largest freshwater lake in the state of Florida. It’s famous for largemouth bass fishing. It’s so big that locals call it “Florida’s inland sea.” Boating allows fishermen to scout out great bass fishing areas. A Florida fishing license is easy to obtain online and allows guests to enjoy places like Lake Okeechobee.</p>

21. Lake Okeechobee

Lake Okeechobee is the largest freshwater lake in the state of Florida. It’s famous for largemouth bass fishing. It’s so big that locals call it “Florida’s inland sea.” Boating allows fishermen to scout out great bass fishing areas. A Florida fishing license is easy to obtain online and allows guests to enjoy places like Lake Okeechobee.

<p>This paved and off-road trail circles around Lake Okeechobee. The trail takes bikers or hikers through communities at the heart of Florida’s agriculture. The trail is 110 miles long and remains quiet as you circle the lake. Take the beauty of untouched nature and listen to the sounds of native birds. It’s a wide trail and perfect for group bikers who want to ride beside each other. </p>

22. Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail

This paved and off-road trail circles around Lake Okeechobee. The trail takes bikers or hikers through communities at the heart of Florida’s agriculture. The trail is 110 miles long and remains quiet as you circle the lake. Take the beauty of untouched nature and listen to the sounds of native birds. It’s a wide trail and perfect for group bikers who want to ride beside each other. 

<p>North Port’s market sees an average listing price of $454,930, towering over the expected value of $327,986, a difference of 38.70%. North Port’s reputation as a tranquil yet growing city could be driving its housing prices up.</p>

23. Warm Mineral Springs

Located slightly inland from Ft. Meyers, Warm Mineral Springs is one of the most famous springs to swim in. With a consistent average temperature of 85 degrees year-round,  Warm Mineral Springs Park  provides visitors with several therapeutic and passive recreation options. At over 200 ft deep, you can soak, swim, free dive, or even dive in the 30,000-year-old sinkhole all year round. The water is comprised of 51 minerals, and it’s said to have natural healing properties. 

<p>One of the best ways to see the Florida Gulf Coast marine life is to scuba dive into a wreckage. The USS Mohawk sunk in 2012 off the coast of Fort Meyers. It sounds backward, but now the wreckage is part of an artificial reef-building program. The former World War II-era vessel sits perfectly upright in 90 feet of water. The ship is home to dozens of Goliath grouper (weighing over 300 pounds) and is also a frequent stop-off point for whale sharks as they make their way toward the coast.</p><p><strong>More from Wealth of Geeks</strong></p><ul> <li><a href="https://wealthofgeeks.com/disney-springs-restaurants/">Restaurants in Disney Springs Kids Will Absolutely Love</a></li> <li><a href="https://wealthofgeeks.com/wizarding-world-of-harry-potter-no-rides/">15 Things to Do in the Wizarding World Besides Rides</a></li> </ul>

24. Scuba Diving To USS Mohawk

One of the best ways to see the Florida Gulf Coast marine life is to scuba dive into a wreckage. The USS Mohawk sunk in 2012 off the coast of Fort Meyers. It sounds backward, but now the wreckage is part of an artificial reef-building program. The former World War II-era vessel sits perfectly upright in 90 feet of water. The ship is home to dozens of Goliath grouper (weighing over 300 pounds) and is also a frequent stop-off point for whale sharks as they make their way toward the coast.

More from Wealth of Geeks

  • Restaurants in Disney Springs Kids Will Absolutely Love
  • 15 Things to Do in the Wizarding World Besides Rides

<p>Discussions about places to visit in Montenegro tend to begin with Kotor, and it is easy to see why. Kotor packs plenty into its relatively small borders, with a proud maritime history allied to modern cafes, restaurants, and bars, plus some of the most alluring churches in this part of the world. Stop for a romantic courtyard lunch at Pržun before taking the arduous walk up to the fortress walls, where the ultimate view of the Bay of Kotor awaits.</p>

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Wild On Eco Tour

Tours / Punta Cana / Wild On Eco Tour

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Wild On Eco Tour

Tour Description

Wild on Eco Tour, a vibrant visit to nature. Experience and learn everything about nature with Wild on Eco Tour! Are you a lover of nature and its preservation? Wild on Eco Tour has it all! The day starts at your hotel at 8:30 (tentatively depending on the hotel), to take you to Punta Cana Resort & Club, location where you will have a pleasant welcome. After a brief informative talk about the safety measures to take into account, the adventure begins! Experience an enjoyable tour in your own golf cart! You will head to the fruit orchard of the Punta Cana Ecological Foundation to visit the apiary. Learn about the preservation and production of organic honey and taste it as well. The second stop is the organic vegetable plantation where you will also find the iguanary, where you can take souvenir photos! These curious reptiles are very interesting and you will see them in their natural habitat. Don't miss the huge rhinos that are also at this stop. The day is not over yet, continue with the nice ride (about 30 minutes) along the coast until you reach the beach of Punta Cana inside the jungle in the Reserve, have a refreshing swim in the crystal clear waters, while enjoying the natural beauty that surrounds you. After this great day we will take you back to your hotel.

  • directions_bus Transportation to and from the hotel
  • record_voice_over Specialized Guide
  • fastfood Snacks

Tour Modalities

From 75.00 USD

: Mon,Wed,Fri

From 75.00 USD : Mon,Wed,Fri : 4 Horas

Restrictions for Wild On Eco Tour

Pregnant women are not allowed Not under 6 years old

Frequently asked questions about Wild On Eco Tour

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OTIUM INTERNATIONAL is adhered to the Code of Conduct for the protection of children and adolescents of ECPAT INTERNATIONAL that fights against child exploitation in the tourism industry.

The following policies reflect the attitude of OTIUM INTERNATIONAL for the protection of children or adolescents:

a) All persons under the age of 18 are considered minors and must receive the corresponding treatment.

b) Any intimate relationship between collaborators and a minor is prohibited. If this rule is not followed, the employee is dismissed without delay and the police will be informed.

c) We do not allow minors to access our facilities and transportation units without the accompaniment of an adult / guardian.

d) In any case in which the relationship between an adult and a minor is suspicious, the situation will need to be clarified. Our policy requires that we always be vigilant to ensure the protection of children.

e) All of our business partners are explicitly against the sexual exploitation of children in tourism and refuse to cooperate with the companies or individuals who participate in it.

f) Each of the workers within our company has received sufficient training to guarantee faithful compliance with this policy.

g) Each of the workers within our company represents and is therefore responsible for ensuring that the above guidelines are implemented

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Information regarding measures due to COVID-19 pandemic

Transfer and excursion services

We observe the protocols established by the local government with which we accredit our certification for the operation of tourist activities. These protocols include prevention measures that determine the optional or mandatory use of face masks, monitoring of body temperature, and reductions in the capacity of vehicles, premises, and activities depending on the current situation of the pandemic in each country.

COVID-19 testing for passengers

We can advise you on local laboratories and clinics to schedule your Covid-19 test ahead of time, before traveling back home.  

Don't worry about anything during your stay. Your trip is safe with us! For more information please write us via this email address: [email protected].

Inshore, Offshore, Deep Sea & Shark Fishing Trips in Daytona Beach, Florida with Captain Corey Simmons

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Dolphins spotted on our Daytona Beach eco-tour on the Halifax River

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Manatee mama and her calf in the Halifax River.

Dolphins playing with our boat in the ocean.

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Thirty years ago, spotting one of the goliath-size, deer-like creatures in the Eastern Kentucky mountains would have seemed almost mystical.

Elk hadn't roamed those hills in more than a century.

But just after dawn on an unseasonably warm winter day in January, we parked a tour van so close to a majestic female elk that she could probably smell the exhaust. She didn’t scurry or flee but rather appeared comfortable. Her eyes looked curious, and her muscular body seemed at ease.

Today, a herd of more than 11,000 rocky mountain elk thrives atop reclaimed coal mines in Eastern Kentucky, but that wasn’t the case just three decades ago. The herd's close cousins, the eastern elk, were hunted to extinction by early European settlers. But now, in an unsuspected way, these animals help aid an economy that’s withered alongside Eastern Kentucky’s coal industry. There are more than 4 million acres of reclaimed coal mines across 16 counties that serve as home to these larger-than-life creatures and their reintroduction to the region took about six years.

The elk tour where I met this breathtaking female was one, very small part of it. Samantha Johnson, the former executive director of Prestonsburg Tourism , described the impact of elk as a boost to motor-coach tour sales, which has an average economic impact of $12,000 per day in the community. Having the herd in the mountains also provides a lift in the winter season, which was historically been the slower season for tourism in the area.

About an hour earlier, at 6:30 a.m., I boarded a van at Jenny Wiley State Resort Park with naturalist Nathan Harless. Elk are somewhat active in the park, he explained. Hikers and bikers have spotted them while traveling the 13 miles of trail systems. People fishing have seen them from boats, and visitors in the lodge often hear their throaty, scream-like mating calls from across the lake.

There’s a place in the Kentucky Wildlands , though, where Harless swears the elk are more active than anywhere else in the commonwealth.

“They just feel safe here, and a lot of times we can just drive right up,” he said

And to find the best view of them, we needed to get there before dawn.

How Kentucky elk went from extinction to a herd 11,000 strong

Harless drove us around the perimeter of Dewey Lake underneath the pitch-black sky. Throughout the 25-minute trip, he kindly entertained my elementary questions about the lake, the elk in the mountains, the people who hunt them, and the reclaimed coal mines where they roam.

Newspaper clippings from 1997 estimated more than 3,000 spectators came to watch a group of five female rocky mountain elk and calves climb over a hill in a single file and disappear into the wild. Schoolchildren, hunters, environmentalists, nature photographers, and officials alike turned out to welcome the elk back to Kentucky for the first time since the 1850s.

To bring the elk back to the region, conservationists needed to identify 100,000 acres of viable land for the eastern elk’s closely related cousin, the rocky mountain elk. The reclaimed surface mines where we were headed provide so much more than that, Harless explained.

You don’t necessarily need to take a formal tour to find the elk, and booking one like I was on doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll see them. But the odds are pretty good.

“I’ve got a good feeling they are out, but they’re wild, free-ranging animals,” Harless told me. “They’re going to go wherever they want to go.”

Harless jokes that he can’t find the ketchup bottle in his refrigerator, but he can spot the difference between an elk and a deer from a distance even in low light.

Until they’re standing side by side, Harless explained, it can be hard to tell just how much bigger the elk are.

Or of course, until they’re right in front of you.

In those moments, the elk’s undeniably sweet, musky smell seeps into the bus. Sometimes tour guests will scream with delight when they spot their first elk. Others demand that Harless pulls over. He’s hosted tours before where as many as 70 elk are right along the roadside in the first minutes.

And he’s given plenty of tours like the one I was taking, where we had to search a little harder for them.

“There they are,” he told me, as he pulled the van over to the side of the road.

I stared out at the dark hillside, unsure of what I was looking at.

Then he handed me a pair of binoculars, and sure enough, through the lenses I could see about two dozen females lounging on the hillside blending into the background as though they were part of the mountain itself.

Could elk hunting revitalize Eastern Kentucky?

This, Harless explained, is a little more relaxed than what we would have seen in September and October during mating season. On those tours, it’s not uncommon to see males, with their massive four-foot antlers rolling around in ditches, or even dashing across the roads in a fury trying to impress the females.

By this point of the season, though, the males have retired to what he called a “bachelor group” and the females, like the ones in front of us, stayed off to themselves with their young.

This group sat more than 60 yards away, and so we started the van again hoping to find elk closer to the road. As we drove, we passed Big Sandy Regional Airport, a federal prison, an apple orchard, and Czar Coal Corporation. Years before this area had been slated for an industrial park, but as coal left the region, so did plans to develop it.

The reclaimed coal mine sits too far from any interstate to attract businesses, Harless explained, and now the leftover building shells give it a strange, industrial, ghost town feel. He can point to the building that once manufactured the truck beds that hauled coal, but that shuttered when there wasn’t enough coal to haul. Another a little further back made mining equipment. It's gone now, too.

But even as far away from the interstate as this industrial desert sits, on most evenings, people drive slowly on this road, hoping to see the elk. The draw goes much deeper than spectators. It only took a handful of years for the rocky mountain elk population to grow enough to safely hunt it, and with it, Harless said, a whole industry has popped around it.

Hunters, who are lucky enough to win a tag from the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife , will often spend thousands of dollars in the region to hunt a single elk. A serious hunter would spend upward of $5,000 to hire a local guide. Meanwhile, these hunting groups stay in the area for days eating at restaurants, sleeping in hotels, and pumping dollars into the economy.

“The reason they call it a lottery is it's like winning the lottery to get one of those tags if you're a hunter,” Harless explained.

Harless hit that jackpot once, but it was for a female. Males have antlers on the crowns of their heads that can grow more than twice the size of what you’d see on a typical deer. That’s where the real prize is, but hunters don’t choose whether they’re after a male or a female or even where in the mountains they’re allowed to hunt.

The lottery decides all of that, and arguably, for good reason. History could certainly repeat itself if hunters had unfettered access to grassy, flat mountaintops where the elk roam.

'Tourism is the future of Eastern Kentucky'

As light broke on top of the sleepy mountain, I searched the pasture for a grown bull with a four-foot crown of antlers atop his head like the ones Harless had told us about, but none appeared.

We circled back to that first group of females, and now that we had the early morning light in the sky, we could see two young bulls in the mix. Their antlers weren’t fully grown, but two smaller points stuck out of each side of their heads.

But Harless had a backup plan.

There was one place on the mountaintop that not everyone had access to — and he was certain there was at least one crown of antlers, there.

The security gate outside of Big Sandy Regional Airport opened, and Gary Cox, the airport director, greeted us grasping onto a set of antlers the size of a conventional oven. A few years back, a male elk ended up injured on the airport grounds and it didn’t survive. Cox has a permit to keep its antlers, and he uses them to educate tourists about the elk.

But perhaps, what’s even more jaw-dropping than the racks are the stories Cox tells. He sees plenty of people fly into the airport just to have a hamburger at the neighboring Cloud 9 Cafe, take in the stunning mountain view, and see the elk for themselves.

And typically, the elk don’t make it that hard.

He pulled out a stack of photos, and one showed an elk sitting comfortably on the restaurant’s porch.

Then Cox reached for his phone and showed me a social media post picturing 14 elk lined outside of Cloud 9 Café. He’d written a caption joking about how the restaurant already had a "waiting list" for the morning. Cox hoped they wouldn't be too disappointed the café didn't serve breakfast.

In recent years, he’s built a few small cottages near the airport grounds, and the elk have been enthusiastic about greeting his customers. Another picture showed more than a dozen scattered around that rental.

“When you stay at The Airport Cottages, sometimes the neighbors show up unexpectedly,” he told us, laughing.

Tourism, Cox says, is the future of Eastern Kentucky.

Travelers are craving an authentic experience with nature. He operates a small side-by-side tour business, too, where people traveling in can see the view from the mountaintop, hear the rustle of a creek, and explore a hollow. These reclaimed surface mines, Cox says, have the potential to become Gatlinburg without commercialization.

The stunning herds of elk are a wonderful but small part of a much bigger movement, Harless explained, as we left the airport and headed back to Jenny Wiley.

And while I never saw that full-grown, majestic bull as I’d hoped, I still left the mountains with a sense of wonder.

Nearly 200 years after settlers hunted the eastern elk to extinction, their cousins live in a calm, peaceful oasis atop this reclaimed coal mine.

And this isn't mystical at all.

These mountains are their home.

Features columnist Maggie Menderski writes about what makes Louisville, Southern Indiana and Kentucky unique, wonderful, and occasionally, a little weird. If you've got something in your family, your town or even your closet that fits that description — she wants to hear from you. Say hello at [email protected] or 502-582-4053. Follow along on Instagram @MaggieMenderski.

WHAT: Elk viewing tours atop reclaimed coal mines in Eastern Kentucky

WHEN: September to early March.

WHERE: The tour bus leaves Jenny Wiley State Resort Park at 419 Jenny Wiley Dr. in Prestonsburg.

COST: Tours start at $30 per adult and $15 for children, but prices vary by package.

TO BOOK: To make reservations call 606-889-1790.

MORE INFO: prestonsburgky.org/adventures/elk-watching/

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As part of Ecolympics, join us on a tour of the Oberlin Drinking Water Plant to learn about their operations! Come learn about the fascinating process that is used to treat the water relied on by 3,000 homes and businesses in the area. Treating water is a labor-intensive process that will make you more conscientious about the way you use water in your daily life! Transportation will be provided.

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aespa brings LIVE TOUR – SYNK : Parallel Line concert to Singapore in July 2024

SM Entertainment girl group aespa will hold their debut concert in Singapore in July 2024 with LIVE TOUR – SYNK : Parallel Line.

Singapore will see a slew of K-pop groups performing in the city-state for 2024, from IVE to STAYC and SHINEE. Now, girl group aespa will join this list.

aespa LIVE TOUR – SYNK : Parallel Line in Singapore concert details: Venue, ticket prices, and more

On February 19, the K-pop quartet announced on Instagram that they will make a stop in Singapore for their 2024 aespa LIVE TOUR – SYNK : Parallel Line. They will be performing in Singapore on 20 July 2024. This tour will be the quartet’s first full-scale performance in Singapore. Details like venue and prices will be revealed in the coming weeks.

On the same announcement, aespa will kick off their LIVE TOUR – SYNK : Parallel Line in Seoul with a two-day concert on 29 and 30 June 2024. Following this, the girl group will bring the tour to cities like Fukuoka, Nagoya, Saitama, Osaka, Hong Kong, Taipei, Jarkarta, Sydney, Melbourne, Macau, and Bangkok, in addition to Singapore. The same post also teased there may be more stops in the future for this tour.

Previously, aespa went on their first world tour with the 2023 aespa 1st Concert ‘SYNK : Hyper Line’. This tour brought the group to selected cities in Asia, North America, South America, and Europe.

The best and most anticipated 2024 music concerts and festivals in Singapore

Who is aespa?

Aespa Drama group concept photo 10 image credit SM Entertainment

aespa is a four-member K-pop girl group conceived by SM Entertainment that debuted in November 2020 with digital single ‘Black Mamba’. Also stylised as æspa, the quartet consists of Karina, Giselle, Winter, and Ning Ning.

The group’s name is a combination of “æ”, which means ‘Avatar X Experience’, and “aspect”, which means double-sided. When combined, their name stands for experiencing a new world through an avatar of yourself.

aespa’s most recent music release is their fourth mini album, Drama, in November 2023, which contained the title track single. SM Entertainment has also revealed that aespa will be releasing an English full-length album and their first South Korean full-length album in 2024. They are known for hit songs like ‘Next Level’, ‘Spicy’, ‘Better Things’, and ‘Savage’.

The group also notably performed at Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in 2022 as part of 88rising’s Head in the Clouds Forever showcase. This feat made them the third K-pop girl group to perform at the music festival, after 2NE1 and BLACKPINK.

( All images credit: SM Entertainment )

aespa brings LIVE TOUR – SYNK : Parallel Line concert to Singapore in July 2024

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