Sustainable Destinations

We’re all longing to be let out from lockdowns and travel restrictions. If you love the beach, traveling, and outdoor activity, then like many people, your wanderlust craving is through the roof! We looked around and shortlisted these five sustainable tourism destinations around the world to satisfy your wanderlust and celebrate new-found freedom.

“Travel – The best way to be lost and found…. All at the same time.”

  • Brenna Smith

Think about it for a moment…. Finally getting to go surfing, hiking or on the camping trips you used to enjoy with friends or loved ones. Throw in some adventure, beautiful scenery, maybe some cocktails on the beach as you catch some rays, and you’re in paradise.

Now that Sustainable Living, Reducing our Carbon Footprint and Global Warming are on our minds more than ever, it raises a couple of questions, like:

  • How does Sustainable Living work into our holidays?
  • How do you have Sustainable Travel and Sustainable Holidays?
  • Can ‘Sustainable’ and ‘Holiday’ even be used in the same sentence? Or will it end up being as enjoyable as a Flat Beer?

First Things First: Understanding Sustainable Terms

Let’s get to understand a couple of these terms so that when we are using them, we’re all on the same page.

What is Sustainable Living?  In a nutshell, Sustainable Living involves: 

  1. Being kind to our planet; using resources we have mindfully, and in non-wasteful, non-polluting ways;
  2. Protecting our environment from harm and pollution; 
  3. Making deliberate daily decisions (what we eat, wear, use) that positively impact nature.

What is Sustainable Travel? Sustainable Travel means being mindful of the local environment when we travel, so that the natural resources and environment in the destination cities can be preserved and maintained for the future. 

What is Sustainable Tourism? It means visiting a place as a tourist, and while you’re there, you try to make a positive impact on the environment, economy, and society in the area you are visiting. So sustainable tourism is economically viable. 

Responsible tourism and sustainable tourism both aim to educate travelers on how to reduce the impact people have on nature and the environment. In many cases, travelers are involved in support programs implemented to improve the economic well-being of the local communities living in the area. These support programs include schools, medical centers, farming projects, and many others. 

Sustainable tourism also involves practicing the concepts of – 

  • The 3 R’s – Reuse, Recycle and Reduce waste
  • Zero plastics
  • Green energy

It does not destroy the resources on which future tourism will depend, especially the physical environment and the social fabric of the host community.

What to Look for in a Sustainable Destination for your Holiday

A beautiful mountain resort

Sustainable Destinations across the world have different Eco-friendly practices they implement. Some of the most common sustainable activities might include these:

  1. Use of energy-saving practices and renewable energy sources such as solar and wind energy.
  2. Initiatives and activities that support local communities around the locale.
  3. Recycling and closed-loop practices. These might include things like recycling water, composting of restaurant leftovers for use in their kitchen garden, and so on.
  4. Locally sourced products and consumables. Some holiday resorts support local crafts-workers by contracting them to produce consumables they need.
  5. It is employing locals to work in the lodges, hotels, and resorts. This promotes economic growth in the communities around the destination.
  6. Environment conservation and protection activities like Forest conservation, marine conservation, and so on.
  7. Wildlife conservation and protection activities such as rhino sanctuaries, orang-utan rescue centers

One important thing to note is that no destination can be fully sustainable. Every country still has issues they continually work on to improve. What’s generally considered is the number and extent to which the destinations practice sustainable efforts. So our choice includes some of the most sustainable countries in the world, as well as countries with sustainable development.

Happiest Countries in the World

One additional consideration we made in selecting the five sustainable destinations is their ‘Happiness Ranking.’ Each year, the United Nations researches different indicators to assess the ‘Happiness’ of 156 countries around the world. 

The countries are then ranked according to their performance, and a Happiness Report explaining the rankings compiled. To shortlist the sustainable destinations, we will be considering countries that come in the top 20 on the 2020 edition of the World Happiness Report.

With all this in mind, let’s look at some amazing sustainable destinations to satisfy your wanderlust in 2021.

Finland

This beautiful, snow-clad country is found in the Northern part of Europe and is famously known to be the home of Santa Claus. Finland has scenic vistas everywhere you look, from wintery-white terrain to lush forests and crystal clear lakes scattered across the remote regions. 

Scenes from Frozen, Snow White, or even the traditional Christmas cards we used to exchange decades ago flash through the mind when you see photos of Finland. It almost seems as though everywhere you turn, you see winter wonderland landscapes like they were picked straight from your favorite childhood fantasy. 

It’s not just the terrain that’s amazing; the night skies are also worth braving chilly weather to admire. The spectacular Aurora Borealis can be seen roughly 200 nights a year in Finland, a sight that’s only visible in clear, unpolluted skies. 

For the 3rd year running, Finland was ranked the happiest country in the world in 2020, according to the World Happiness Report. Some of the reasons the Finns consistently rank high in happiness include: 

  • A top-notch schooling system;
  • Good healthcare for all its citizens;
  • High per capita incomes;  
  • A culture of trust; and
  • A personal connection to nature, it’s no wonder that they’re a happy bunch.

We found a couple more unique things that we love about Finland. 

1. The Wife-Carrying Competition 

The Finns are credited for this hilarious Wife-Carrying competition, where men tackle an obstacle race while carrying their wives. Usually, the women cling onto the guys while upside down for dear life while the men navigate the obstacles. It’s a real test of muscle for the men, and quite funny to watch. The reward for the winner is a stack of beer equivalent to his wife’s weight – definitely worth it after such a feat.

2. Sauna Culture

In Finland, the sauna is a huge part of people’s lives. So much so, that sauna bathing is an integral part of the Finnish culture. The Finnish sauna is all about mental and physical relaxation, and it is taken as a vital bonding process among the people. Getting an invitation to a sauna bath by a Finn is an honor, and is taken seriously. Want to know more about Finnish Saunas? Take a look at these eye-opening sauna tips for beginners to understand this unique culture.

3. Ranks Among Countries with the Cleanest Air

The air quality in Finland is among the highest in the world, according to statistics taken in late 2019 by World Air Quality Index (AQI) ranking. The Environmental Performance Index placed Finland 6th overall in terms of good air quality in the last quarter of 2019.

Some of the reasons why the air quality is so good in Finland are these:

  1. Finland’s location way up in the North puts it far enough from other European countries to avoid air pollution carried over by wind currents.
  2. Helsinki is Finland’s only major city, meaning that pollution arising from traffic and industries is minimal.
  3. Add to that the fact that the population of Finnish people is relatively low per square mile, and traffic hardly happens. With her total population falling just under 5.6million people (estimated as of May 14th, 2020), Finland is indeed sparsely populated. This makes cumulative emissions of air pollutants very low.
  4. When it comes to the manufacturing industries operating in Finland, emissions arising from their operations have been highly controlled. Industries are required to practice ‘clean technology’ processes that minimize emissions, thereby controlling the release of greenhouse gases.

4. Numerous Cultural Events and Festivals:

Finns love socializing, and the country has a busy calendar of cultural events and festivals held throughout the year. What’s even more exciting about these events is that they are often held against the backdrop of nature, such as lakes and forests.   Sadly, With the current social distancing and health restrictions in place due to the Covid19 pandemic, the majority of the cultural events in Finland have been postponed or canceled. We are longing for a return to normalcy in the coming months so that Finnish cities can once again reopen to host these events.

5. Fiskars Village, Finland – Best of Europe, 3rd most Sustainable Destination 

Fiskars Village is a community that started as a group of artisans and craftsmen coming together to produce works of art and crafts for sale. The community in Fiskars Village implement sustainable living concepts into most areas of their lives. For instance:

  • Promoting the circular economy through recycling and reusing;
  • Construction and renovation projects utilize recycled materials;
  • Energy-efficient means of generating power, including wind, wood chips;
  • A controlled number of tourists visiting the community. They encourage visitors to stay longer, discouraging mass tourism.  

These are among several sustainable practices of the residents at Fiskars Village, which earned it the coveted ‘Best of Europe’ Sustainable Destinations award—interested in visiting Fiskars Village for a holiday? Take a look at their packages and visitor information here to help you plan your trip, due to their restrictions on tourist numbers. 

Exploring Helsinki:

Helsinki, the capital of Finland, is said to be one of the best cities to live in. Located on the far south of Finland, Helsinki is a seaside city that’s fun and vibrant, with plenty of rich history in it. The city has an eclectic blend of both modern and historical buildings that are worth touring.

The city has so much to interest visitors, such as museums, the opera, art galleries, and unique sights like the Temppeliaukio Church. This church is an architectural marvel. It was built in 1961 by two brothers, Timo and Tuomo Suomalainen, who built it into the rock. One of the many places to add to your must-see bucket list if visiting Helsinki.

Germany

The Medieval Town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Bavaria

Medieval Town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Bavaria

When you think of Germany, many things immediately come to mind:

  1. BMW, Mercedes-Benz and other luxury vehicles
  2. Oktoberfest
  3. World Class Football – Bundesliga
  4. Good Beer

1. BMW, Mercedes-Benz and other Luxury Vehicles

German technology in car making is famous the world over. Their technological innovations such as fuel injection, anti-lock braking system, front-wheel, and all-wheel drive systems have popularized several car designs including:

  • BMW
  • Mercedes-Benz
  • Volkswagen
  • Audi

These cars don’t just look extremely good; they perform superbly too. Once you buy German, you won’t look back.

2. Oktoberfest

This huge beer festival is held in Munich and is attended by over 7 million people from around the world. The festival happens over three consecutive weekends, starting in mid-September to early October. 

During the festival, only beer from within Munich city is sold in keeping with the festival’s tradition. Oktoberfest didn’t originally start as a beer festival, as is the case today. Historically, Oktoberfest was a party held to celebrate the marriage between Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese in 1810.

Today, Oktoberfest is a fun-filled, no-holds-barred three weeks, filled with parades, games, Bavarian food, and plenty of beer. Like any other mega event, if you plan to attend Oktoberfest, Book Early. The closer it gets to the main festival, the more expensive services become, and the harder it is to find suitable accommodation.

3. World-Class Football – Bundesliga

A footballer in mid-kick

World-class football – Bundesliga

We’re talking the Bundesliga, Germany’s football league, featuring powerful teams including:

  • Bayern Munich (Current champions of the Bundesliga)
  • Borussia Dortmund
  • Schalke
  • Bayer Leverkusen, among others.

Football fixtures across the world have been closed due to the ongoing Covid19 pandemic, leaving fans bored without their regular weekend fixtures. The good news is that the Bundesliga reopened on Saturday, May 16th, 2020, after several months of closure. You can take a look at the upcoming matches on the Bundesliga table here. For the masses of fans who’ve been starved of football action, this is the best news ever. 

The matches are set to be played at the home stadia of each team, and behind closed doors – without any fans present. Thanks to technology, that won’t be a problem and fans will be able to watch the matches as their favorite teams play—no more dead-boring weekends for game addicts. To plan your stay-at-home schedule, here are the Bundesliga match fixtures, courtesy of Supersport.

4. Good Beer

A german pub, with a waitress serving beer to guests who are saluting

Germans are fun-loving people who live a very social life and love getting together. Part of getting together almost always includes having a beer, and Germans pride themselves as having the best quality beer in Europe. Beer is a significant part of German culture, so it’s no surprise to find beer festivals being held across different cities in the country. The largest of these festivals is the renowned Oktoberfest.

If the quantity of beer downed during Oktoberfest 2019 is anything to go by (7.3 million liters), then it’s clear that Germans love their steins and lagers. It’s no wonder that Germany is one of the world’s largest barley producers, producing an estimated 8% of the world’s barley.

There are about 1300 breweries in Germany, producing a whopping 5000 brands of beer. German beer has alcohol content ranging between 4.7% to 5.4% depending on the brand. However, beer sold at the Oktoberfest festival is stronger, running at 6% proof. There’s so much to know about German Beer, and it’s something to try out if you decide to take a trip there.

5. Fairytale Castles in Germany

We could leave out a mention of the scenic castles found in Germany, some of which are centuries old. There are about 16 spectacular castles in Germany, all well-maintained and which you can visit to tour. One of the castles, Wartburg Castle, was the first of Germany’s castles to be designated a World Heritage site by UNESCO. 

The Neuschwanstein Castle is the most photographed building in Germany, and also happens to be among the most popular tourist destinations in Europe. So captivating is Neuschwanstein Castle in structure and surrounding vistas, that Walt Disney used it as the inspiration behind Sleeping Beauty’s castle, for the cartoon and also for the Disneyland model. 

The rich, romantic history behind each of Germany’s castles makes them must-sees when you get to Germany. Do make sure to include them in your itinerary when you visit this amazing country.

Germany as a Sustainability Destination

Aside from being the most innovative country in the world (Bloomberg, 2020), Germany ranks as one of the most sustainable destinations in the world. It has been quite active in implementing several initiatives touching on climate change, energy and resource efficiencies, and biodiversity. 

These initiatives cut across all sectors of the economy, including tourism and travel. Let’s take a look at some specific actions that make Germany one of our favorite sustainable destinations.

  1. There’s a noticeable increase in ‘Green Infrastructure’ in Germany. Green roofs, Green pavements, and so on.
  2. Federal nature-protection laws and building codes have made it a requirement for citizens to restore or compensate for natural landscapes impacted by human activity.
  3. In the first three months of 2020, Germany produced 50% of its electricity for domestic use from renewable sources.
  4. Germany turned old mines into beautiful lakes and beaches.
  5. In partnership with the Netherlands and Denmark, Germany will be building an island that will provide renewable energy to a target population of 80 million.

Those are just a few of the sustainable initiatives Germany has implemented or is in the implementation process. As a country, there’s no doubt that they are fully engaged in sustainable initiatives in all sectors of the economy. Coupled with the fact that Germany ranked 17th on the World Happiness Report – 2020, this is a wanderlust haven worth visiting. 

Costa Rica

Known as the Butterfly Capital of the World, Costa Rica is a no-brainer for the perfect sustainable holiday. Costa Rica is one of the top Environmentally Sustainable countries in the world, according to the World Energy Council. The country is on track to becoming the first carbon-neutral country in the world by 2021, through committed efforts across all it’s industries to offset their carbon footprint.

Costa Rica was ranked the 7th most Environmentally Sustainable country in the world in 2019, according to the World Energy Council report. Many resorts, hotels, and tourist-oriented properties actively practice sustainability concepts to minimize their impact on the environment. 

Sustainable Tourism is a concept where the host and the travelers engage in responsible activities that will benefit both the current and future economic, social, and environmental well-being of the host country. The stats on this beautiful country are truly fascinating – take a look at this;

  • Costa Rica uses 99.2% renewable energy, with hydroelectric energy sources contributing 78% and geothermal sources contributing 18% of the energy. Costa Rica even plans to be carbon neutral by the end of 2020. 
  • The Costa Rican government, corporations, and communities all work to enforce programs and practices that promote environmentally-friendly practices throughout the country. 

The natural diversity and unspoiled beauty of this country make for a holiday of a lifetime. You can enjoy trips that include volcano tours, jungle hikes, mangrove boat tours, and even something called a Cloud Forest Tour.

Here’s a run-down of what we found to be the Top 6 Reasons to visit Costa Rica.

1. White, Sandy Beaches

The Pacific Ocean borders costa Rica on the South-West and the Caribbean Sea on the North-East. It has beautiful white sandy beaches that are considered to be among the best in the world. The miles of beach-front border crystalline clear blue ocean, providing the most scenic and relaxing views of the water.

2. Eco-Tourism & Sustainable Tourism Are Priorities

Until just eight years ago or so, the practice of Eco-tourism was a new concept for many tourist destinations. Costa Rica was one of the pioneers in Ecotourism in the world, and they practice it intentionally and intensively across the country. 

This is one of a few countries that have a sustainability certification program for properties and businesses. It’s called the Certification for Sustainability Tourism (CST), and it advocates the savings and efficient use of the country’s natural resources. 

In contrast to mass tourism, Eco-tourism involves having small groups of tourists visiting fragile and virgin nature spots. Costa Rica has a rich and unique biodiversity, which protects diligently. Therefore, practicing Eco-tourism allows visitors to appreciate this biodiverse country without harming natural habitats. 

3. Flora & Fauna Are Abundant & Diverse 

In case you’re not quite sure, ‘Flora’ means Plantlife, and ‘Fauna’ means animals. Costa Rica is home to a rich mix of plants and animals, with about 5% of the world’s biodiversity found in this country. 

To preserve the natural environment of the unique plants & animals, Costa Rica has placed a whopping 25% of its land under protected national parks and reserves. Just to give you an idea of the diversity found in this country, here are some of the statistics of the amazing creatures found in this ecologically rich country:

  1. There are over 900 species of birds found here.
  2. Six hundred species of mollusks (snails, slugs, octopuses, and mussels) have been discovered in the coastal waters of Costa Rica. 10% of these species are unique to the country (meaning, they aren’t found anywhere else in the world).
  3. The world’s fastest running lizard, the Spiny-Tailed Iguana, is found here. Yes, there is such a thing as a running lizard, and apparently, some of them are pretty fast!
  4. With over 50 species of hummingbirds in the country, Costa Rica can be called the hummingbird haven of the world. If you’re planning to visit and do some bird-watching, you will need a good camera and plenty of memory storage.
  5. This is the Butterfly Capital of the world. Costa Rica has 66% of all species of neotropical butterflies, and 18% of the world’s butterfly population. 

4. Volcano Country

Costa Rica is home to a whopping 14 volcanoes……. All in one country! So amazing. Most countries in the world usually have maybe two or three mountains and a couple of hills. This country is something special, right. That’s not all; 6 of these volcanoes have been active in recent years, with the Arenal volcano being the most active out of all of these….so cool! If you decide to visit Costa Rica, you could add Mount Arenal to your itinerary – there’s so much to see there. The volcanoes in Costa Rica form part of what’s called ‘The Pacific Ring of Fire – sounds like something out of the Game of Thrones, right. So cool! With all this volcanic activity going on in Costa Rica, there are several hot springs around the areas with volcanoes. Spa and Wellness Tourism has become popular in the country, with Wellness Centres coming up all around the hot springs. Spa Tourism packages health and wellness trips for travelers who want to experience the medicinal and soothing effects of the natural hot springs. 

5. Costa Rica Is One of the Happiest Countries in the World

Costa Ricans believe in living life to the fullest and maximizing joy. Over the last three years (2017-2019), the United Nations World Happiness Reports have ranked Costa Rica among the top 15 happiest countries in the world. To be honest, this is something many people in the world could do with right now. Just getting a Good Soak in ‘Happiness’ and unloading the baggage and negative energy, many people carry around with them.

6. Coffee That’s Among the Best in the World

Over the years, the volcanic activity in Costa Rica has given rise to rich fertile soil, making it conducive for agriculture. Coffee is one of the key cash crops in the country. Costa Ricans refer to their coffee as the ‘Golden Bean.’ Coffee is very important to the economy of Costa Rica, and the ‘bonding’ culture of her people. If you’re a coffee-lover like me, this right here is the best news ever! 

To look up some of the best Eco tours in Costa Rica, sites like TripAdvisor and Expedia are particularly helpful. Reading through the reviews from recent travelers might be a good idea to help you choose your sustainable holiday. 

Austria 

Austria is a scenic, landlocked European country, comprising diverse terrain of mountain ranges (the Alps), forest and lakes. The country holds several attractions, ranging from historical, natural and architectural, to artistic and musical in diversity. 

As a tourist destination, Austria receives about 30 million visitors a year and has been recognized as the “most tourism-friendly destination” by the World Economic Forum. Austrians are genuine and genial in nature. They make visitors feel welcome, and warm greetings are customary wherever you go across the country. 

Because beautiful scenes of nature closely surround them, Austrians have developed a keen sense of appreciation of their environment. They live sustainably and are all united in the common cause of environmental conservation and protection. 

Surrounded by all the beauty, the love for opera and art, plus a vibrant economy, it’s no wonder that Austria consistently ranks among the top 10 happiest countries in the world. Take a look at a few more things to love about Austria.

1. Natural Beauty

Lake view of Hallstatt Town, Austria

From the majestic Alps to breathtaking lakes, Austria’s landscape offers tourists so much to explore and fall in love with. Two-thirds of Austria is covered by the Alps, creating a multitude of ski slopes and plenty of opportunities for skiing.

Fun Fact: Did you know that Austria has 300 lakes? 

Yes, that many! Most of them are set on a picturesque backdrop of mountain peaks, rolling hills, or lush forest. Truly, Mother Nature at her best. If you love outdoor photography, the opportunities are endless and effortlessly available. There’s so much on offer in Austria that can be packaged into a winter wanderlust adventure and ski holiday. 

2. Home of Classical Music 

Sculpture of Johann Strauss playing the violin located in Vienna, Austria

Austria is the renowned home of classical musical genius. It has produced numerous legends such as Mozart, Schubert, Strauss, Haydn, Hummel, and so many more. Modern-day Austria continues with this culture, 

Salzburg, the town where Mozart was born, is known as the ultimate destination for lovers of classical music. It hosts several orchestras and music events all year round, such as the famous ‘Sound of Music’ Festival. There’s plenty to see and do in this iconic little town, so if you have time, do include it onto your itinerary.

3. Land of Castles and Palaces

Hohensalzburg Castle as visible from the Mirabell Garden, both located in Salzburg Austria

Tucked into the beautiful landscape of Austria are several castles and palaces, each with rich historical tales of grandeur, romance, and conquests. What’s great about the castles is that you can book guided tours to your favorite ones, along with an English speaking guide to explain things along the way.

Of the over 40-odd castles and palaces, we thought these were the most spectacular:

  1. Schloss Ort Castle in Gmunden, Upper Austria – located right on Traunsee lake, the magnificence of this castle and its surroundings are simply jaw-dropping;
  2. Hohensalzburg Castle in Salzburg – overlooking the city of Salzburg, this castle dates back to the 11th Century and is one of the best, fully preserved Castles in Europe. A must-see for tourists to Salzburg;
  3. Ambras Castle in Tyrol- contains magnificent art displays and a manicured English garden;
  4. Liechtenstein Castle in Lower Austria – Features in several movies, including the 1993 movie ‘The Three Musketeers’, were filmed here;  

Austria as a Sustainable Destination

A hill view of a Mountain Ski Resort in Solden, Austria

With most Austrians living right at the doorstep of beautiful landscapes, forests, lakes, and hills, the desire to protect the environment has been ingrained in the citizens for decades. Environmental protection and sustainable practices are core drivers in the formation of policy and shaping the lifestyles of Austrians.

Vienna, Austria’s capital, is one of the most sustainable cities in the world, with nature coexisting harmoniously with built-up neighborhoods. Let’s look at some sustainable initiatives being implemented by Vienna and Austria as a country.

1. Protecting Green Spaces in the City: 

Although it has the highest concentration of inhabitants compared to the rest of the country, Vienna is committed to protecting green spaces and reducing its carbon footprint. To achieve this, Vienna has created 90 parks and gardens, setting apart half of the city for green space. 

2. Reduction of Greenhouse Gas Emissions by Households: 

Estimates of Greenhouse gas show that emissions by households, especially those in cold climates, are higher than CO2 emissions from the transport sector. This is predominantly because of the energy sources used in homes for heating.

Vienna is actively implementing innovative developments to reduce per capita greenhouse gases by 80%, come 2050. One of the ways it is doing this through innovative heating technologies, such as the heating systems produced by Ochsner Heat Pumps.

3. Reduction in Use of Fossil Fuels and Switch to Renewable Energy Sources: 

Austria plans to eliminate the use of fossil fuels by 2040, by boosting their capacity for renewable energy sources. One major milestone in this direction is that Austria has recently (April 2020) stopped using coal to produce power.  In Europe, Austria is the leading country when it comes to utilizing energy from renewable sources, mainly due to its highly developed hydropower capabilities. Currently, 60% of Austria’s electricity is generated from hydroelectric power, and the country is working on increasing its solar and wind energy capabilities. 

Austrians are incentivized to install solar power systems in their homes, to be able to generate and store solar power for domestic use. In total, Austria generates about 71% of its electricity from renewable sources – hydro, solar, and wind energy. 

The country has set itself an ambitious green energy production target, aiming for 100% green electricity production by 2030. With the focus on innovations and commitment to implement green technologies, Austria is well on the way to achieving this.

Australia

Sydney Opera House at dusk

Sydney Opera House at dusk

Oceania’s largest country, Australia, is a melting pot of wildlife biodiversity, high-class education, and a highly urbanized, metropolitan lifestyle, all creating a synergistic blend. Because it’s such a large country, the diversity of landscapes varies widely. 

Australia’s landscapes include:

  • Beautiful white sandy beaches;
  • Azure blue to turquoise ocean depths; 
  • Lots of Mountains – We found a list of over 50 mountains in Australia;
  • Tropical and subtropical forests, mainly with hardwood trees like Eucalyptus;
  • Limestone caves;
  • Red and ochre hues on the hot desert terrain that stretches over most of the country, and much more.

And as if that’s not enough, there are all manner of unique animals, many of which are endemic to Australia. These are like kangaroos and koala bears, but more on this a little later. All in all, Australia has so much appeal to her. Let’s look at a few attractions that would entice you to visit for a holiday.

1. Miles of Beautiful Beaches

The Surfer’s Paradise beach, Queensland

Surfer’s Paradise, Queensland

The first place most people will flock to, once shelter-in-place restrictions and travel bans are lifted, is to the beach. The craving to be outdoors near the ocean, allowing the sound of the surf to lull you into blissful relaxation, is greater than any other holiday incentive for most of us. We like to call it the magic of sun, sand, and surf. 

Swimming pool next to the ocean - Bondi Iceberg Club

Swimming pool next to the ocean – Bondi Iceberg Club

Since the ocean surrounds Australia, beaches across the country are in delightful abundance. Most of the big cities are located near the ocean coastline – Sydney, Perth, Melbourne, and Brisbane, to name a few. 

Bondi Beach in Sydney is the most popular beach, pulling crowds of 100s during peak seasons. Bondi Iceberg Club is a huge favorite of Aussies in Sydney, for its swimming pool built right next to the ocean. On rough days, ocean waves crash spectacularly against the wall, and right into the swimming pool. It’s quite an experience and worth putting onto your must-see list when visiting Sydney. 

Whitehaven Beach (Whitsundays, Queensland) is another beautiful beach with white sand and warm turquoise waters. For many years, Whitehaven held 1st place for ‘Best Beach in Australia,’ voted for its undeniable, pristine beauty. Currently, several other beaches rank equally high, so tourists are spoilt for choice, no matter which state you’re visiting.

2. The Great Barrier Reef

Great Barrier Reef, Aerial View

Great Barrier Reef, Aerial View

Known to be the largest ecosystem in the world, the Great Barrier Reef is the world’s greatest coral reef system. It’s located off the coast of Queensland and covers an area of approximately 344,000 sq. Km. in size. That’s bigger than Holland, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom put together – Huge!

In terms of providing a habitat for different marine species, the stats on marine life visiting or calling the reef’ home’ is mind-boggling. It is estimated that the reef hosts the following species:

  • 10% of the world’s fish;
  • 17 species of sea snakes;
  • Six species of sea turtles breed on the reef;
  • 30 species of whales, dolphins, and porpoises;
  • 215 bird species visit the reef to roost or nest on the islands within the reef;
  • And so on, this list is not exhaustive.

It’s no wonder that this is one of the seven wonders of the world, attracting over 2 million visitors each year. Deep-sea divers travel from far and wide to explore the underwater beauty of the reef, both for leisure and for scientific research. 

The Great Barrier Reef has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is a protected site under the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. 

3. Animal Species Unique to Australia

Koala Bear in Eucalyptus Tree

Koala Bear in Eucalyptus Tree

The geographical isolation of Australia from other continents meant that several animal and plant species evolved in the country, and are endemic to it. Australia is one of only 17 ‘megadiverse’ countries in the world. Endemism of the wildlife species means that they’re found nowhere else in the world; they include the following:

  • Koala bear
  • Kangaroos
  • Yellow-footed Rock Wallabies
  • Bandicoots
  • Wombats
  • Gouldian Finch

4. Waterfalls that Are Simply Breath-taking

A view from the base of the Blue Mountains Waterfall, Australia

Blue Mountains Waterfall, Australia

Who would have thought that a continent that’s 70% arid/ semi-arid would have the most amazing waterfalls too! Well, that’s how diverse Australia’s landscape is. Granted, most of these waterfalls aren’t grandiose as some found in other rainfall-rich regions, but they are still quite spectacular to look at during the rainy season. Here’s a video capturing the best of these beauties.

5. Warm, Laid-back Culture of Aussies

‘G’ day Mate!” and “No Worries!” are some of the oft-repeated statements heard among Aussies of all classes, accompanied by a big smile and hearty handshake (pre-Covid19). Aussies are among the friendliest, easy-going people in the world. They dislike airs/ stuffiness, suits & ties and prefer light & casual rapport with those around them.

Sport and active lifestyles are huge in Australia. They love getting together socially, whether it’s for barbecues or to watch live matches. Rugby and cricket are some of the most popular sports, and crowds throng the stadiums or nearest pubs to watch live games.  Weekends are usually packed with get-together activities for friends and family, and it’s common to find people closing offices from Friday lunchtime, to begin the weekend.

Australians rank 12th in the World as the happiest people in the world – and their outgoing, effervescent nature is a testament to this. Whether it’s because of living by the beach or just something in the air making them a happy bunch – it doesn’t matter.  Who wouldn’t want to be around such a fun group of people, right!

Australia as a Sustainable Destination

The primary reason that sustainability is so important in Australia is because of the endemic populations of plants and animals. Because hundreds of species are found only in Australia, any threat to their habitats puts them on the path to extinction. 

As it is, Australia’s mammal extinction rate is the highest in the world. The statistics vary, but an estimated 100 species of mammals are now classified as extinct since Europeans first arrived on the continent. In the last decade alone, three species have gone extinct in Australia. 

And of course, the recent forest fires that ravaged the country have worsened the toll on land-based mammals, wiping out significant animal populations and their habitats. (Check out what Smilodox – a German athleisure brand – did to help support rescue work for the forest fires.)

Although there are laws in place meant to uphold and enforce protection of the environment and habitats of vulnerable species, implementation has largely been lacking. One non-profit that has stood out for its conservation efforts is the WWF.

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is one of the non-profits that has been at the forefront in Australia’s push for greater action by the government and stakeholders. 

WWF also partners with organizations, communities, and individuals to protect landscapes and ecosystems where vulnerable species live. They have done a lot to stem the tide of animal extinction in Australia, and continue to do so. If you’re interested to know more about what WWF does internationally, and how you can get involved, their site offers so much detail on this and more.

Have you heard of other organizations doing similar conservation work to support Australia’s wildlife? Please share it with us in the comments section below. We would love to hear from you.

Tips on How You Can Be a Sustainable Tourist

Maria on a trip taking a picture with a Go-Pro camera with a view on the ocean

  1. Use natural resources with a measure. These include water, electricity.
  2. Try not to create excessive waste during your trips. Practice the principles of reducing, reuse, and recycle as frequently as possible.
  3. When outdoors in nature, respect the environment around you. Try not to damage the plants, trees, and flora found in-game reserves, forests, and parks.
  4. Make the least possible impact on coral reefs and marine life by being aware of your skincare products. If you want to know the best sunscreens and skin care products that are reef-friendly, check out our exclusive coverage and suggestions on the Top 5 Ocean Friendly Skincare Products.
  5. For a guide on the best swimming habits when snorkeling or deep-sea diving, this video shows how you can do your part to protect coral reefs and marine ecosystems.
  6. When planning your trip, as much as possible, look for service providers who practice sustainable tourism, support conservation efforts, and support local communities.
  7. Support the local communities by buying gifts from small shops, rather than from the hotels and lodges. This is because when you buy directly from small traders, the benefit goes directly to the trader’s family and community.
  8. Respect the culture of the locals. Some places you visit may be considered sacred, or places of religious significance to the locals. They may not want photos taken, or may take offense if you go into caves, structures, or climb onto the features like rocks or trees they deem sacred. Always ask first, or have your guide confirm that it’s okay to do so. Here are some examples of highly popular sites that are sacred to the local community in the respective areas:

Mt. Uluru (Ayers Rock) in Australia

Uluru Panorama at Sunset - Photo by Stuart Edwards (Own work)

Uluru Panorama at Sunset – Photo by Stuart Edwards (Own work)

Uluru is a giant sandstone inselberg (island mountain) found in Northern Territory, Australia. This mountain has a unique characteristic in that it appears in different colors at different times of the day. In the evening and at sunrise, Uluru appears as a striking red ochre color. Tourists would flock to Uluru to climb it for adventure and to see the color changes it would display. Sadly, it made the local custodians – the aborigines – unhappy, since the rock is sacred to them. The government now strictly enforces a ban on climbing Uluru, to respect the traditions of the locals.

Israel’s Religious sites 

Pilgrims praying at the Crucifixion Site in Israel - Photo by Eunice Claire (Own Work)

Pilgrims praying at the Crucifixion Site in Israel – Photo by Eunice Claire (Own Work)

In ultra-Orthodox sites in Israel, exposed skin is not permitted. Often-times, women are required to cover up bare arms and shoulders, and sometimes even their hair. In some places, even wearing shorts for men is prohibited. To play it safe, ladies are advised to carry a shawl or wrap with them during tours. When booking your tour to Israel, it’s best to have an experienced guide advise you on correct etiquette in advance.

We Would Love to Hear From You:

What are some destinations you would love to visit for a holiday? What have been your travel experiences in different cities? Ready to Live Consciously? Have you started living consciously? Are you involved in any Eco activities? We would love to know: Drop us a line on any of our Social Media handles and share your thoughts and experiences with us.

Let’s Do This Together!