Are you looking forward to a beach vacation? I understand! Beach trips are incredible holidays and provide some of the best memories. However, coasts and oceans are also very fragile ecosystems that require our attention. To help you make your trip more eco-responsible, here are easy sustainable beach tips for an unforgettable sunny getaway with friends or family!
Looking for the perfect beach getaway? Check out this article: 10 Most Beautiful Beaches in the Algarve, Portugal
We all love the sea, and somehow, we are responsible for its pollution. The main causes? Plastic, litter, cruises and harmful activities. All have a consequential impact on flora and fauna and damage our planet.
For example, did you know that by the year 2050, all corals might disappear? They do so much good for us and our planet, yet, we are destroying them.
- Why are they good? Corals are the lunges of the ocean and are necessary for the underwater ecosystem.
- Why are they suffering? Global warming, overfishing, pollution.
- What can we do? Educate ourselves, buy wisely, waste less, and help to restore and preserve.
Corals are just one example among many. We all have a role to play and must take care of marine life. And it starts when you set foot on the beach!
Fortunately, they are ways to minimise your impact on the environment and create a positive experience for everyone. Adopting a zero-waste lifestyle is one of them. It includes embracing eco-responsible habits and choosing sustainable items without worrying about microplastics, toxic chemicals or throwing trash into the ocean.
What we bring to the beach is extremely important, so come prepared. To help you, I share in this article 10 easy ways to make your next beach vacation more eco-friendly with packing list ideas for a responsible summer holiday by the sea. Enjoy!
- Overview: 10 tips for a sustainable beach trip
- Ways to make your beach trip more eco-friendly
- What does sustainable travel mean?
- Eco-friendly beach trip essentials
- Brands we recommend
Overview: 10 tips for a sustainable beach trip
- Stay in green accommodation
- Prioritise sustainable methods of transport
- Be zero waste
- Respect wildlife & do not feed animals
- Use reef-safe sunscreen
- Choose eco-friendly water activities
- Do not collect shells and sand
- Stick to marked paths
- Leave no trace
- Buy & eat local
Ways to make your beach trip more eco-friendly
1- Stay in green accommodation
Once you have chosen your destination, book your beach vacation at a hotel or B&B that adopts eco-responsible practices. Many accommodations are now working toward becoming greener by innovating and reducing their impact.
In addition, prioritise accommodation not far from the beach, so you can easily walk or use a bike (this will help reduce your carbon footprint). And avoid big resorts.
What is an eco-conscious accommodation?
Eco-conscious accommodations or sustainable hotels significantly reduce their environmental impact through green practices in maintenance, services, logistics, products, and supplies. The core elements revolve around reducing waste, saving energy, and decreasing water usage.
How to know if a hotel or guesthouse is eco-friendly?
Doing your research is essential. Go further than greenwashing and find a responsible retreat that helps you explore your destination whilst leaving a positive impact.
Always read the hotel description carefully, and do not hesitate to ask questions.
Here are some more guidelines to determine if a hotel or guesthouse is sustainable and using green practices:
- It has a sustainability policy or green certification.
- It is committed to limiting its environmental impact.
- It works closely with the local community.
- It encourages guests to get involved.
- It is locally owned.
2- Prioritise sustainable methods of transport
Limit your carbon footprint by staying in accommodation not far from the beach so you can easily walk. Plus, it will allow you to slow travel and truly enjoy your surroundings!
If the beach is too far, rent a bike or use public transport such as buses.
Avoid cruises. Going on a cruise sound like fun, but they have proven to be the most pollutant for our environment. According to a 2017 study, even the most efficient cruise ships emit more carbon dioxide per passenger per kilometre than commercial flights. However, a cruise is another great way to slow travel, so what do you do if you care about the environment but are not ready to abandon cruises? Look carefully at the company website, consider a smaller ship or sailing boat, reduce your single-use plastic consumption and be mindful of your energy and water usage onboard.
And if you need to rent a car, go for an electric or at least the smallest vehicle that suits your demands.
3- Be zero waste
Always pick up your trash or any you come across, and avoid plastic at all costs!
The best way to reduce waste when spending a day at the beach is to arrive prepared. Here are some ideas for travel essentials to bring with you:
- Reusable water bottles (reduce single-use plastic)
- Eco-friendly tote bags (reduce single-use plastic)
- Eco-friendly travel towels (reduce water usage)
- Reusable cutlery and containers (reduce single-use plastic)
- Reusable straws (reduce single-use plastic)
- Biodegradable shampoos (reduce toxic chemicals)
- Solid toiletries (reduce water usage)
- Portable solar chargers (reduce energy usage)
Check out this page for more ideas on eco-friendly products & gear.
4- Respect wildlife & do not feed animals
Remember that the beach (and ocean) forms a fragile ecosystem and is home to many plants and animals.
Be mindful of your surroundings and adopt a responsible attitude towards wildlife, on land and in the sea. Do not come close to or touch animals and corals.
In addition, do not feed any animals. Seagulls can be persistent, but avoid giving them any human foods as this can hurt them and make them sick.
And if you are in a destination where you have the privilege of witnessing a sea turtle outbreak, keep your distance and appreciate the moment.
5- Use reef-safe sunscreen
Protecting your skin from the sun during the hottest hours of the day is non-negotiable, especially during outdoor activities. But be careful about the cream you choose.
Some ingredients (Oxybenzone and Octinoxate) in chemical-based creams and commercial sunscreens have catastrophic effects on the ocean and corals. They devastate coral reefs, affect the fertility of marine life, and contribute to coral bleaching.
So prioritise non-toxic suncare!
Zero-waste and reef-safe sunscreens are an excellent alternative to chemical creams and create safe and healthy protection from the sun. These eco-friendly sunscreens are incredibly beneficial for many reasons: they protect the environment by reducing plastic waste and preserve your health by eliminating harmful components.
Therefore, by using reef-safe sunscreen, you will minimise your carbon footprint, protect the ocean and help create a better future for our planet, setting an excellent example for many other travellers. 🙂
Learn more here about zero-waste & reef-safe sunscreens and decide which cream is best for you!
6- Choose eco-friendly water activities
Beach holidays are a great way to relax but also discover new sports. If you decide to do a water activity, go for carbon-neutral such as kayaking, paddle boarding or surfing. They will reduce your impact, generate no noise and protect marine life.
Snorkelling is another great way to immerse yourself in an entirely new world and explore marine life and its fragility. However, responsible snorkelling and scuba diving are essential to protecting this ecosystem. You can either snorkel on your own or decide to join an eco-friendly tour operator to discover the beauty of the ocean sustainably.
Choose your dive centre carefully. Look out for dive schools or snorkelling tour operators working responsibly – Green Fins is a great example.
Here are more eco-tips for a sustainable beach water activity:
- Pick up any trash you encounter.
- Wear reef-safe sunscreen.
- Consider more local diving.
- Do not feed or touch sea life.
- Be mindful of where you step and fragile plants.
- Remember, you are only a visitor in the underwater world, be grateful.
7- Do not collect shells and sand
Shells, pebbles, and sand all form the ecosystem of our coastlines. It may be tempting, but taking them and bringing them back home is harmful and weakens this ecosystem.
It applies to marine life and the underwater world too. Do not bring any souvenirs when snorkelling, as reef ecosystems are complex. That is why it is essential to think about the consequences of your actions and the butterfly effect – where even the tiniest change can have a compounding effect.
8- Stick to marked paths
Always stay on marked paths when going to the beach or wandering along the coast. The dunes are home to a fragile ecosystem, and walking on them can have a catastrophic effect.
Dunes act as barriers preventing beach erosion, protecting beachfront structures and providing refuge for birds and other animals. In addition, walking or playing on them damages the beach grass and other rare plants that hold the dune together.
We can all do our part, so read the signs carefully and do not try to shortcut your way to the beach. One small step for you can have significant consequences on the environment.
9- Leave no trace
Once you are ready to leave the beach and go home, check out that you have not forgotten anything behind you, level out sand castles you have made or come across and fill in the holes. Building sandcastles is fun but can also be dangerous for wildlife. For example, baby turtles can get stuck in the gaps or struggle over the peaks. So try to put the sand back as it was before you came.
If you are a smoker, remember that a single cigarette butt pollutes and takes years to degrade. Always carry a pocket ashtray with you and pick up any cigarette butts you come across.
And to take it a step further, you can join a beach clean-up event/meeting to give back and help create a better future for our beautiful planet!
10- Buy & eat local
When spending your holiday by the sea, being mindful of what you eat and buy is key to leaving a lower footprint and being a sustainable vacationer. Ask the locals where they like to eat, buy your food at local markets, avoid big resorts and head to local vegetarian and vegan restaurants supporting farmers and sustainable produce.
Making an effort to buy from local producers is a great way to make your trip more eco-responsible. By looking for independent and locally owned businesses, you ensure that your money stays in the local community.
The same goes for the souvenirs you bring home. Paying attention to your shopping habits is another way to become more responsible and contribute to the local economy.
Ask questions to learn more about the product you want to buy and its origin, shop local, decline objects made with animal products and refuse single-use plastic bags.
Be sure to support authentic, local artisans and be aware of tourist traps and illegal vendors. For this, look for certification and follow your own judgement.
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Fancy a sunny getaway to Santorini in Greece? Check out this article: Travel Guide to Santorini, Greece: Best Things to Do
What does sustainable travel mean?
Sustainable travel means exploring the world whilst being aware of your surroundings and having a positive social, environmental and economic impact on the places you visit.
It could be by adopting more sustainable methods of transportation, staying in more environmentally friendly accommodations, eating local and seasonal foods, or avoiding harmful activities to flora and fauna.
Ultimately, the primary goal of sustainable travel is to create a better and more viable long-term future for tourism.
As a result and in response to climate change and the negative impacts of travelling on our planet, ecotourism was born and continues to expand.
According to The International Ecotourism Society (TIES), you can define ecotourism as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserve the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people and involves interpretation and education”.
In other words, ecotourism means providing positive experiences to visitors and hosts whilst developing a culture of environmental respect and having a favourable social and economic impact.
WANT TO KNOW MORE?
- The Complete Guide to Sustainable Travel
- 10 Best Sustainable Backpacks for Travel & Hiking
- Carbon Offset your Flights: What, Why & How
- Best Ecotourism Activities Around the World
- 8 Best Filtered Water Bottles for Travel & Hiking
Download your FREE sustainable travel checklist ↓
Want to surprise a friend or loved one? Check out this article: 15 Best Eco-Friendly Gift Ideas for Travellers
Eco-friendly beach trip essentials
we suggest the following travel gear & products:
(to make your next beach vacation more eco-responsible!)
Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning that at no additional cost to you, we will receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase. For more information, read our full affiliate disclosure here.
Brands we recommend
beach reading inspiration
& to help you prepare for your sunny getaway, check out:
The beach packing list & outfit planner
The templates you need to better organise yourself & enjoy your summer trip stress-free.
And you, what are your favourite eco-friendly beach essentials?
Do you have any other tips for a sustainable beach trip?
Let me know in the comments below!