Last year, Vail was deemed a top sustainable destination. The town also hopes to be certified under The Mountain IDEAL Destination Standard, which could become a model for mountain communities everywhere. To get the seal, towns must meet 40 sustainability criteria including waste reduction and education.
The adventure: A guided backcountry hike at The Walking Mountains Science Center. The non-profit learning center runs four- to 10-mile hikes in 30 locations throughout Vail where environmental guides teach travelers about glacial geology, local wildflowers, edible plants (which you’re welcome to taste), and wildlife like porcupine and moose. “We believe you’ll only protect what you love, and only love what you experience and understand,” says Peter Suneson, the center’s community programs manager. Book it here.
The country is home to lush rainforests, jungles, beaches, and 2.5 percent of Earth’s biodiversity, so it’s no surprise the locals have concern for the land. Emerging ecotourism opportunities are now giving travelers a chance to learn about the landscape.
The adventure: A tour of Corcovado National Park, one of the most biologically diverse places on Earth. You’ll walk and hike through coastal trails and tropical landscapes while learning about different plant species and endemic wildlife. Keep your eyes peeled for toucans, monkeys, and even jaguars. Book it here.
Hawaii has already banned the sale of sunscreens with the coral reef-killing ingredient oxybenzone and it’s working on another bill that would blacklist plastic straws, which contaminate the ocean and can kill sea turtles and fish.
The adventure: An educational oceanfront outing led by boat captains and canoe racers. In this monthly offering, these locals take you on a paddleboard course through marine sanctuaries, give a beachfront talk on land protection, and lead coastal cleanups on Ka’anapali Beach at sunrise. Book it here.
About 90 percent of turtle-nesting in the U.S. takes place on Florida beaches in the summer. Unfortunately, due to light pollution, sandcastles, and other man-made obstacles, many animals don’t survive. One of the oldest Sea Turtle Conservancy programs in the country is doing its part to help the animals.
The adventure: An eco charter tour through the turtles’ natural environment. Cruise island estuaries exploring grass flats, mangroves, and shallow waters (dolphin sightings are common), learn from a marine biologist just how the South Florida ecosystem functions. You’ll also find out how you can help the turtles make the safe trek to the ocean, like by filling in holes on the beach and turning off your lights at night. Book it here.