Five destinations where you can appreciate the wonder of nature and be an eco-conscious traveler.
Don’t just visit our planet’s natural wonders — actively work to protect them on your summer trips.
Here’s an easy way to start: Don’t carve your initials into any ancient ruins or natural wonders. But you already knew that. Here are five more ways to appreciate this beautiful planet and be a good visitor as you travel.
Camp under the stars
Keep your carbon footprint low by setting up your tent somewhere close to home. Lucky for us, the Pacific Northwest is one of the best places in the world to do just that. Plan your menu with a focus on locally grown or raised selections, and stop by a farmer’s market to shop.
Practice “taking only pictures and leaving only footprints.” Bring reusable utensils and containers, and leave the campsite better than you found it. While exploring, stay on marked trails to protect fragile ecosystems.
Start your search for a campsite with the Washington State Parks site, where you can see photos and amenities and book spots online.
Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, Calif.
Get a glimpse of the rare ocean sunfish, the secret lives of seahorses, and the magical beauty of stingrays, jellyfish, penguins and sea otters. Housed in a converted cannery, the esteemed aquarium is one of the few places to exhibit both bluefin and yellowfin tuna.
One of the few living kelp forests is also on exhibit, where divers hand-feed sharks and other fish. Ask about the organization’s Sea Watch program that helps consumers and businesses make informed choices for healthy oceans.
Monterey Bay is a National Marine Sanctuary, and restaurants in the quaint town are fully dedicated to only serving local, sustainable seafood.
This Central America gem offers more than 87 distinct types of ecosystems, making ecotourism the lifeblood of its economy. Along with 150 identified species of mammals, the country has rain forests, Mayan temples, the world’s second longest barrier reef and an abundance of ecolodges educating travelers about the fragility of its ecosystem.
Stay at the Lodge at Chaa Creek for early morning bird-watching tours, a Blue Morpho Butterfly Exhibit, and medicine trail tours, where you’ll learn about the native plants that provide globally significant remedies.
Leaping Lamb Farm, Alsea, Ore.
Trade your technology for the chance to help with morning chores on this charming 64-acre farm in Oregon’s Coast Range. Craft a leisurely family breakfast in your own cozy cabin, including eggs your crew collected.
Later, find your way to the orchard to pick apples, pears or plums, or wander off to forage for mushrooms. Lend a hand in the greenhouse and garden, or learn about raising lamb and Heritage turkeys. Brush the horses and bottle-feed the baby goat before hiking and biking on neighboring trails.
The Road to Hana, Hawaii
Surf crashing on the rugged coastline, bamboo forests and stunning waterfalls make this iconic roadway a destination in itself. Offering a stark contrast to the resort-filled beaches on other parts of the island, you’ll find an unblemished, lush landscape oozing with remnants of the old Hawaiian culture.
The 52-mile trip over winding roads and through the rain forest requires the driver’s full attention. Yet, stops along the way for picture taking, hiking, picnicking on the beach and tasting the famous banana or mango bread make it worth the effort.
Consider spending the night in Hana to avoid rushing through the spectacular scenery.