Unearthing the Greenest Travel Destinations in the World

Want to do some good while you explore the world? Check out these amazing ecotourism destinations, including Ecuador, Costa Rica and Australia.

A father and son walking across a bridge in a lush forest

6min read

Published 21 December 2023


Want to do some good while you explore the world? Check out these amazing ecotourism destinations, including Ecuador, Costa Rica and Australia.

There’s no doubt that mass tourism can and has led to some major problems for the environment — but in recent years, the industry has been collectively working towards lessening the global impact of travel on the environment and local communities. After all, sustainable and responsible travel is pertinent to ensure a destination’s habitats, animal species and natural beauty remain intact for generations to come.

Of course, it’s not just the travel companies that have to do the work. You can also make a difference by visiting ecotourism destinations around the world, such as those described below. Keep on reading to learn more about what ecotourism is and how you can travel more sustainably.

Travellers kayaking in an ecotourism destination
Travellers kayaking in an ecotourism destination
Travellers kayaking in an ecotourism destination

What is ecotourism?

Ecotourism is a form of sustainable tourism and responsible travel that puts an emphasis on experiencing the natural world — creating environmental and cultural connections, cultivating respect for nature and facilitating a deep understanding of conservation.

Raja Ampat is one of the world's top ecotourism destinations
Raja Ampat is one of the world's top ecotourism destinations
Raja Ampat is one of the world's top ecotourism destinations

What are the best spots for ecotourism?

The world is full of incredible places just waiting to be explored — including these amazing spots, which have become known as some of the world’s best ecotourism destinations.

Galápagos Islands, Ecuador

The Galápagos Islands are a group of volcanic islands located roughly 1,000km off the coast of Ecuador. The islands are home to a wide variety of unique and endemic species, including giant tortoises, iguanas, penguins and sea lions. In fact, the ecology of the Galápagos Islands is renowned for its role in Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, which he developed after sailing to this destination in 1835.

Ecotourism in the Galápagos Islands is regulated by the Galápagos National Park, which limits the number of visitors to each island and requires tour operators to follow strict environmental guidelines. Even so, travellers have a unique opportunity to experience the beauty of the islands and learn about the global importance of conservation. Visitors can go hiking, biking, snorkelling and diving — and they can also visit research stations to learn about the work that is being done to protect the islands' wildlife.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Galápagos Islands are a truly special place, and ecotourism is a great way to experience them and support the local economy.

Great Barrier Reef, Australia

There’s a reason the Great Barrier Reef is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Australia. In addition to being home to incredibly diverse marine species, there are plenty of ways to explore it — from snorkelling and diving to glass-bottom boat tours.

In recent years, there has been growing concern about the impact of tourism on the reef. Some tour operators, for example, have been accused of damaging the coral reefs by anchoring their boats too close to them. Not only that, but there are concerns about the amount of waste produced by tourists.

That said, there are also many ecotourism operators who are working to minimize their impact on the reef. These operators have adopted environmentally friendly practices, such as using renewable energy and recycling waste, and educate their guests about climate change and the importance of conservation.

If you're planning a trip, it's important to do your research and choose an operator that is committed to sustainability. By doing so, you can help to ensure that this amazing natural wonder is preserved for future generations.

Costa Rica

Costa Rica is one of the best ecotourism destinations in the world, primarily because over a quarter of the country is dedicated to national parks, nature reserves and conservation efforts. The country has a rich variety of ecosystems, including rainforests, beaches, volcanoes and cloud forests, which makes it a great place to see wildlife — from monkeys and sloths to toucans and jaguars. 

The Corcovado National Park was built in 1975 and conserves the largest primary forest on the American Pacific Ocean coastline. In fact, Corcovado National Park is one of the most important ecological UNESCO World Heritage Sites on this list; there are 13 diverse ecosystem areas located throughout the park’s 264km.

Here are some of the most popular ecotourism activities to enjoy in Costa Rica:

  • Snorkelling and diving excursion: Home to some of the best snorkelling and diving spots in the world, you can see a variety of marine life. 
  • Rainforest tours: Monteverde Cloud Forest and Corcovado National Park are just a couple of the lush rainforests you can explore in Costa Rica. 
  • Volcano tours: There are several active volcanoes in Costa Rica, including Arenal Volcano and Poás Volcano. On many guided tours, you can hike to the top of the volcanoes and see the craters. 
  • White water rafting: Costa Rica has several rivers that are popular for white water rafting. This is a great way to see the rainforest and get your heart pumping.

Raja Ampat, Indonesia

If you love Bali but don't love the crowds, then Raja Ampat is the place for you. Made up of a group of islands located in the westernmost part of Indonesia, it’s known for its stunning natural beauty — including its clear waters, lush rainforests and diverse marine life. The area is home to over 1,500 species of fish and 600 species of coral, making it a popular destination for divers and snorkellers, as well as a major ecotourism destination. 

There are a number of eco-lodges and resorts in the area that offer sustainable tourism options and support local communities. If you’re looking for a unique and unforgettable travel experience, Raja Ampat is a great off-the-beaten-track option. The area is one of the world's most beautiful and biodiverse ecotourism destinations committed to responsible tourism.

Here are some of the things you can do while on vacation in Raja Ampat: 

  • Dive or snorkel: Raja Ampat is a world-renowned diving destination. There are numerous sites to explore, including some of the most biodiverse reefs in the world. 
  • Take a boat trip: There are a number of boat tours available that will take you to some of the most beautiful spots in Raja Ampat. You can go snorkelling or diving, or simply relax on the boat and enjoy the scenery. 
  • Visit a local village: Visiting a village in Raja Ampat is a great way to learn about the local culture and meet the people who live in the area. 
  • Go hiking: Hiking is a great way to explore the rainforest and see wildlife, and there are plenty of trails to choose from.

Daintree Rainforest, Australia

David Attenborough has said Daintree National Park is one of his favourite destinations on Earth. It’s therefore no surprise that renowned naturalists and travellers also rate it among the best ecotourism destinations. The secluded Daintree Rainforest is located in Australia's Tropical North Queensland, starring alongside the Great Barrier Reef as another one of the region's UNESCO World Heritage sites. 

The national park and rainforest, which is roughly 130–180 million years old, is just a little older than the Amazon Rainforest in Brazil and is home to an incredible range of flora and fauna. This includes over 1,200 species of plants, 130 species of reptiles, 43 species of frogs and 30 species of mammals. It is also home to several endangered species, including the Northern Cassowary and Bennett's Tree Kangaroo. 

While many people think the Daintree National Park warrants only a day trip from nearby Port Douglas, staying a few days will really let the secrets of the rainforest open up to you. A stop at the Daintree Discover Centre at Cow Bay on the way to Cape Tribulation is a must-do alongside connecting with the custodians of the region. (The Kuku Yalanji people have called this area home for over 50,000 years!) Embark on a tour with a local Indigenous guide to learn more about their connection to the land, try your hand at traditional hunting practices and, if you’re lucky, catch a mud crab or two.

South Island, New Zealand

New Zealand is our final pick of the best ecotourism destinations to consider for your next vacation. Twenty percent of the country's land is designated as a national park, forest or wildlife reserve to protect the abundance of glaciers, fjords, lush rainforests and snow-capped mountains. 

Combined, the North Island and South Islands have a population of less than five million and a sheep-to-person ratio of about 7:1. Visitors can spot kiwis, kayak in Abel Tasman National Park, whale watch in Kaikōura, mountain bike along the challenging Old Ghost Road Trail or experience thermal hot springs after hiking Franz Josef Glacier.

With so many publicly accessible national parks entrusted to visitors, it’s important to travel responsibly — leaving the kauri forests, volcanic plateaus and hidden beaches just as you found them. New Zealand is also a popular eco-adventures destination with a plethora of biking, skiing, kayaking and camping tours to choose from. 

Travellers relaxing at an eco-lodge
Travellers relaxing at an eco-lodge
Travellers relaxing at an eco-lodge

What else can I do to travel sustainably?

In addition to choosing eco-friendly initiatives and eco-friendly destinations, there are several other sustainable practices that travellers can do to reduce their impact on the environment. 

These include: 

  • Choosing to fly less often and across shorter distances
  • Steering clear of big hotels and instead staying in eco-friendly accommodations 
  • Eating local food and supporting sustainable businesses
  • Doing activities that give back to the local communities
  • Recycling and limiting usage of plastic bags and plastic water bottles
  • Travelling in electric vehicles or going off the grid on active expeditions


By making these choices, travellers can help to protect the environment and ensure that future generations and nature lovers can enjoy these protected lands. Our consultants can also help you plan a vacation that puts the planet first. Get in touch today!

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