Though Earth Day was officially launched in 1970, this annual event celebrates a legacy of roughly 3.5 billion years, dating back to the earliest record of life appearing on our planet. While climate change, plastic pollution, and deforestation continue to pose a threat to global biodiversity, there’s no shortage of exemplary destinations that are working to steer us into a more sustainable future. As we enjoy the eve of Earth Day, take a look at how some of the earth’s most stunning ecotourism destinations are celebrating this year’s event.
Celebrating the Verdant Beauty of Hawaiʻi
The Hawaiian islands are renowned worldwide for their spectacular landscapes and rich biodiversity, and to honor the land this year, the state is celebrating with the annual Volunteer Week Hawaiʻi. There are more than 200 different events occurring across the archipelago from April 17th to 23rd, with potential opportunities ranging from beach cleanups to blood donation to animal shelter volunteering. Meanwhile, local businesses and organizations are joining in as well, with events like seedling planting and trash pickup at Maui’s Fairmont Kea Lani on the 22nd as well as a beach cleanup and honu (or green sea turtle) release presented by 808 Cleanups on the 24th.
Though Earth Day is the perfect time for a little environment-focused volunteering, visitors to Hawaiʻi can honor the islands year-round through the Mālama Hawai‘i Program, a voluntourism initiative that made its debut across the state last year. The program invites visitors to enroll in all sorts of campaigns ranging from restoring native Hawaiian fishponds to planting native trees—and to sweeten the deal, participants can receive discounts and even a free night’s stay from participating hotels. The spectacular natural beauty of Hawaiʻi certainly makes it an unforgettable destination, but for a truly memorable experience, be sure to engage in a little mindful travel during your trip.
The Beloved Blue Destination of Bonaire
When it comes to the Caribbean, one particular destination has always been at the forefront of sustainability—the idyllic island of Bonaire, located in the Leeward Antilles just off the coast of South America. This Dutch municipality made waves in 2019 when it was designated the earth’s first Blue Destination thanks to the island’s decades-long commitment to protecting the surrounding sea. Now, in the modern era, Bonaire is urging visitors to match their energy with the launch of the Bonaire Bond. Beginning tomorrow, potential visitors can sign a pledge to approach all Bonaire-based tourism from a responsible perspective, taking care to protect the unique flora, fauna, and landscapes found across the region.
To celebrate the bond, the island is kicking off Earth Day with an ode to some of the region’s most vulnerable wildlife—coral, to be precise. Working in partnership with Reef Renewal Bonaire, the municipal government will adopt a coral tree to honor those that signed the bond. More than 100 pieces of coral can be raised from one tree, providing some much-needed aid to the reefs that call Bonaire’s blue waters home.
Protecting the Rich Biodiversity of Belize
Belize may have the smallest population out of any Central American country, but when it comes to sustainability and conservation initiatives, this nation has a truly massive presence. While there’s no shortage of Earth Day-related events going on across the country this year, Belize has gone to great lengths to protect our planet for years on end. Off-shore drilling and most single-use plastics are outlawed, and the nation saw a major victory in 2018 as the Belize Barrier Reef was removed from the UNESCO World Heritage in Danger list—and in 2022, the country is celebrating its legacy with a wealth of conservation-forward events.
On Friday morning, the Ministry of Blue Economy and Civil Aviation is honoring some of the nation’s most essential flora—the mangrove, to be precise. Mangrove forests play a major role in protecting the coastline from erosion, and the department is planning a Restoration and Planting ceremony at Seashore Park in the nation’s former capital, Belize City. On a similar note, the Belize Audubon Society is offering trees to visitors all week at their Belize City office, urging them to snap a photo with their sapling and then plant it in a safe place.