For the last in our bitesized guide series on eco-friendly holidaying, we take a look at some of the world’s greenest destinations. From exploring Costa Rican cloud forest and reef diving in Belize, to hiking in the snow-capped Swiss Alps, these natural beauties offer the eco-conscious traveller plenty of opportunity to experience nature at its finest.
Verdant Costa Rica is a staggeringly biodiverse pocket of the world; misty cloud forests and sprawling coffee fincas carpet the undulating volcanic landscape, and mangrove-lined shores provide nesting grounds for six of the world’s endangered sea turtles. Sustainable ecotourism is high on the agenda, with nearly a third of the country protected by national parks.
- Wander through Monteverde cloud forest: a mountain-top wildlife refuge with over 500 species of mammal and bird life, and 2,500 species of plants.
- Volunteer on a turtle conservation project. Organised schemes help protect the endangered Loggerhead, Olive Ridley, Leatherback, Hawksbill, Green and Pacific Green turtles.
Heavily forested Belize is flanked by the Belize Barrier Reef – a 300km (186-mile) section of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef – that plays home to a vast array of marine life. The reef and its residents are now largely protected by the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System.
- Dive with whale sharks at Gladden Spit: a marine reserve on the reef that is globally recognised for its popularity with the marine giants.
- Observe the gentle and endangered manatee by joining a tour at the Swallow Caye Marine Sanctuary.
Switzerland repeatedly finds itself gleaming in first place when anyone decides to rank the world’s most environmentally friendly countries. This landscape of snow-capped Alps and glistening lakes is a world leader in recycling and utilising sustainable energy sources, and nearly 30% of the country is protected natural area.
- Breathe in fresh mountain air and partake in the beloved Swiss pastime of hiking. Choose from over 50,000km (31,070 miles) of marked trails.
- For a speedier but equally fume-free way to traverse the fertile landscape, pick up a bike. Many railway stations offer bike hire.
The emerald islands that make up New Zealand are so remotely placed from the rest of the world that many animal species and up to 80% of the country’s plant life are endemic. Several of New Zealand’s small outer islands have been used for island restoration projects, where many destructive non-native pests have been removed, and native species reintroduced.
- Swim with dolphins in the Bay of Islands, the Coromandel Peninsula, Kaikoura and Whakatane, or whale-watch all year round on the eastern coast of South Island.
- Visit the Willowbank Wildlife Reserve in Christchurch which focuses on the conservation and rehabilitation of New Zealand’s rare and endangered native creatures.