Sustainable and responsible tourism is on the rise. People are becoming more conscious about the environment and paying closer attention to impacting it less. Indeed, it’s hard not to think about the impact you have on the earth these days. A great way to experience the wonders of nature and traveling while supporting conservation efforts is to visit places that make sustainability a top priority.

Here are six beautiful eco-destinations that inspire us to want to do more to keep our planet clean and green.

Alaska

Alaska scenery

When you think of Alaska, you naturally imagine the snow-capped mountains, forests, and bears. It’s the largest and most sparsely populated U.S. state but is also one of the few places where you can spot a brown bear trying to catch salmon swimming upstream.

There’s a vast number of endangered wildlife in Alaska. Polar bears, a variety of whale species (from humpback to blue whales), short-tailed albatross, and Steller sea lions are just a few that are protected under the Endangered Species Act, which helps conserve threatened and endangered species and their ecosystems.

Alaska is the destination for those keen on experiencing a wide range of outdoor activities in over 100 national parks. You can also immerse yourself in the local culture by visiting the museums, where you can learn about the indigenous people of Alaska and their way of life.

Oregon

waterfall in Oregon

The eco-friendly city of Portland, Oregon, has a lot to be proud of. It ranks in the top 25 in air quality amongst all cities in the U.S. It recycles 63% of its waste and uses over 33% renewable energy. There’s no arguing that it’s one of the cleanest cities in the country.

Portland is also one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in the U.S. With over 300 miles of special bike lanes and paths, you can rent a bike and head down the well-marked routes on your own mini-tour of the city.

Local businesses are trying to do their part in going green too. From restaurants only serving fresh, local produce to eco-friendly hotels offering discounts to guests driving zero-emission cars or using alternative fuels, there’s a big sense of responsibility for the environment here. By investing in sustainable agriculture, Oregon was one of the initiators in the local food movement, which has now been adopted globally.

One of the best things to do in Portland is to go hiking in Forest Park, where you can enjoy 70 miles of tree-lined trails and many small waterfalls as well.

California

California sunset

California has a lot of green initiatives making it an especially eco-friendly state.

The state’s clean car regulations led to an electric car revolution. And their green farming initiative found a way to turn waste energy from cows into a usable energy source. All new houses being built also have to follow the eco-friendly housing legislation, which requires them to use renewable building materials and limit the use of water and energy.

California’s Yosemite National Park boasts some of the best views and hiking trails, and has the tallest waterfalls, trees, and cliffs rising 4,000 feet from the valley floor. It’s the go-to favorite for when you want to escape the city and immerse yourself in nature, in the most eco-friendly way.

Vermont

man relaxing near a river in Vermont

Ranked as the greenest and most sustainable U.S. state, Vermont is what “green tourism” is all about. It has the lowest carbon footprint of all states, high air quality, and is dedicated to promoting energy efficiency.

With 223 mountains standing at over 2,000 feet, along with its valleys and lakes, it has a lot to offer hikers and campers.

Go boating or ice fishing on Lake Champlain — one of the largest freshwater lakes in the U.S. Explore preserved areas and spot the wide variety of wildlife inhabiting Vermont. The state is well known to be the home of the dairy industry due to its fertile river valleys and 1.5 million acres of agricultural land. So why not incorporate a visit to one of the farms to learn more about it? There are large numbers of farmers markets to explore as well.

Costa Rica

person ziplining in costa rica

For as long as people can remember, Costa Rica has been ranked as one of the most eco-friendly places to visit in the world. From its beautiful beaches to its impressive rainforests, it ticks many boxes.

There are over 500,000 animal and plant species in Costa Rica alone, which makes up approximately 4% of the world’s wildlife. It’s home to many sanctuaries that help rescue injured and abandoned animals. Naturally, animal conservation is very important to Costa Ricans, who work hard to make it the best environment for their animal friends too.

Whether you’re looking to go on an adventure through the jungle, discover your own paradise somewhere along the 750 miles of beaches, or learn more about the endangered wildlife, Costa Rica has it all. Stay in an eco-friendly lodge to explore what Costa Rica has to offer and do your bit to help preserve it too.

Learn about how you can be more of a socially and eco-conscious traveler! 

Botswana

person taking picture of giraffe, Botswana

Botswana doesn’t necessarily come to mind when looking for a safari in Africa. It’s one of the most sparsely populated countries in the world, but it’s important to note that the unspoiled wilderness protects an impressive range of wildlife. In fact, it’s home to 40% of Africa’s elephant population. A hunting ban in the country a few years back put an end to the ivory trade, which also allowed wildlife to roam freely and thrive.

The eco-friendly lodges in Botswana are designed to cause minimal impact on the environment. Many of them are fuelled by solar power and they operate largely on the principle of recycling and repurposing. They work closely with the locals and provide them with employment opportunities. By using locally grown produce, it helps support the local community and reduce their carbon footprint.

If you’re excited about going on a safari and doing some animal tracking, then Botswana could be the below-the-radar safari destination that could surprise you.

Are you keen to commune with nature and help preserve it when you travel? Tell us where your favorite eco-destinations are.

About The Author

Chris Osburn

Chris Osburn is a freelance writer, photographer, consultant, curator, and the driving force behind the long running and award winning blog, tikichris.com. Originally from the American Deep South, Chris has lived and worked all over the world. He's called London home since 2001.