Mexico’s ecological diversity is amongst the greatest on the planet. The country boasts an array of deserts, tropical rainforests, beaches and coral reefs, not to mention over 40 UNESCO World Heritage sites that are inherently connected to ecotourism. As the 6th-most-visited country in the world, Mexico has been strengthening its commitment to ecotourism by working with conservation agencies and locals to ensure tourism truly remains sustainable and environmentally responsible. Do your part by going green during your visit to sunny Mexico.
Eco-Friendly Accommodations in Riviera Maya
The picturesque sweep of the Caribbean Coastline on the Yucatán Peninsula makes Riviera Maya a popular vacation spot. Be warned that many of the all-inclusive resorts don’t have the best eco-friendly policies. With a bit of due diligence, you can find a resort that works with locals and regulatory agencies committed to maintaining sustainability policies. Eco-friendly resorts will often advertise their sustainable tourism certificate on their websites. Once you’ve found your green accommodation, check out eco-adventures offered by resorts like zip-lining through forest canopies, hiking, inner tubing, or snorkeling.
Located in the Sierra Madre Occidental, Copper Canyon is a made up of 6 major canyons that all together are about 4 times bigger than the Grand Canyon in the United States. Copper Canyon draws visitors from around the globe with its breathtaking landscape and abundant biological diversity. Join a guided hike or bike tour to take in the splendor of this geographical wonder. Visit during the months of October and November to skip the wet season and see the canyons at their most scenic.
Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve
The Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve in Central Mexico is a World Heritage Site and has been active since 1980. The reserve offers visitors the chance to get up close to Monarch butterflies and watch as they cover Oyamel trees by the thousands. Get there at sunrise and see the butterflies fly from the trees to feed on available nectar. Hikes in the reserve take up to three hours and can get steep at times. Employ and support a local guide to help you make the most of your experience in the reserve.
Baja California Peninsula
The Baja California Peninsula has a long stretch of Pacific beaches such as Chileno Bay, Santa Maria Bay and Medano Beach. If you plan on spending time on the beach to either surf, swim, or bathe, just remember to be eco-friendly and “leave no trace.” Next to its beaches, dolphin or whale watching are also available in Baja California. The best season for viewing in this area is February through April. Eco-friendly tour operators have bilingual guides, well-trained staff and crew to ensure you are in full compliance with government marine life watching policies. For further excursions take a boat tour out to the enchanting island of Espíritu Santo, just off the coast of Baja’s La Paz, and see its preserved beaches and protected wildlife.
Whether you plan to explore the Lacandon Jungle, hit the beaches of Cancun, or snorkel in the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, you will likely need some sunscreen. Mexico, like other popular beach destinations, has been increasing its efforts to promote biodegradable sunscreens as opposed to other, non-eco-friendly brands. Evidence shows that certain chemicals in non-biodegradable sunscreen can damage coral reefs, marine life, and contaminate freshwater. Biodegradable sunscreen is starting to be required for swimming, snorkeling, and even scuba diving in many locations throughout Mexico. So if you plan to visit Garrafon Park, Xcaret or the marine park in Cozumel, make sure to pick up 100 percent biodegradable sunscreen before you go as it is mandatory at these sites.