Moritz Krebs | Soneva Fushi
There’s an undeniable appeal about a beach getaway — golden sand, perfect weather and sparkling blue waters. But underneath the waves, the ocean is suffering. Coral reefs are imperiled, pollution is taking the lives of marine animals and turtle nesting sites are endangered. However, there is hope. With a growing number of conservation initiatives around the world, there are now more opportunities than ever to help make our oceans healthier and save precious marine life.
Thanks to conservation efforts by leading green resorts, you can turn your coastal vacation into a source for good. From turtle conservation and reef restoration to plastic recycling, these properties are making an impact and offering guests a chance to give back.
Sea Turtle Protection
Where: Rancho Santana, Nicaragua
Located on 2,700 acres of Nicaragua’s Pacific Coast, Rancho Santana sits on five stunning beaches and a topographically diverse area. It offers visitors myriad experiences to explore the region’s natural beauty and learn about the environment, including the sea turtle ranger program that began in 2013. In collaboration with Paso Pacifico, a leading wildlife conservation agency, Rancho Santana is protecting the nesting sites of the critically endangered hawksbill and green sea turtles on Playa Escondida.
Sea turtles visit Playa Escondida year-round, but the egg laying and hatching happens between September and late December. Trained Turtle Rangers collect valuable data on mama turtles and oversee turtle nests, ensuring that they are protected from rising tides and predators. When the eggs hatch, rangers assist in their journey to the ocean.
Guests staying at Rancho Santana can download the resort’s app to learn when the turtle hatching is happening. It’s an incredible experience to watch new hatchlings making their way to the sea. Rangers are on hand to educate guests about turtles in between hatchings.
Reef Safe Sunscreen
Where: The Surfjack, Honolulu, Hawaii
Surfjack Hotel Swim Club
One of the key ingredients in most chemical sunscreens is toxic to corals. Just a small amount of oxybenzone or octinoxate can cause corals to bleach, making them susceptible to infection. Hawaii is the first state to institute a ban on the sale of sunscreens containing harmful chemicals. These chemicals can also negatively impact fish, algae, sea urchins and marine mammals. Though the ban is set to begin on January 1, 2021, resorts are starting to provide alternative sunscreen to guests.
At the The Surfjack Hotel Swim Club, managed by Aqua-Aston Hospitality, complimentary Raw Elements reef-safe sunscreen dispensers and sunscreen packets are provided upon check-in, so you can help protect the reefs while you swim or snorkel on your beach vacation.
Additionally, The Surfjack no longers provides plastic water bottles as in-room amenities, and the on-site restaurant, Mahina Sun, is one of Surfrider Foundation’s Ocean-Friendly Restaurants, operating without styrofoam and single-use plastic.
Where: Soneva Fushi, Maldives
Richard Waite | Soneva Fushi
The Maldives has some of the most beautiful beaches on the planet, and the island nation relies on its natural treasures for tourism. Unfortunately, the vast majority of trash produced is either burned or disposed of in the ocean. The archipelago’s “rubbish island” of Thilafushi is teeming with the world’s waste, including plastic that sometimes washes up onto pristine beaches.
Soneva Fushi, through its Soneva Maker Program, recycles 90% of the solid waste. The resort is also part of the Precious Plastic global initiative and is set to become the first company in the Maldives to recycle plastic into new products. The program encourages guests, especially younger ones, to use their Eco Centro machine to turn plastic into souvenirs such as bowls, toys and flower pots.
In 2018, Soneva launched the world’s first fully sustainable surf program that uses eco-friendly equipment made entirely from recycled waste. Guests have access to these sustainable surfboards, sunscreen and rash guards onsite.
Protecting the Salmon Population
Where: Clayoquot Wilderness Resort, British Columbia
Rosalyn Young | Clayoquot Wilderness Resort
Clayoquot Wilderness Resort is a Relais Châteaux, all-inclusive eco-safari resort at the edge of British Columbia near the town of Tofino. Surrounded and inspired by lush wilderness, the resort operates as sustainably as possible and strives to rehabilitate the damage done by logging, mining and commercial fishing. Recently, the resort phased out salmon fishing and removed salmon from the Cookhouse Restaurant menu. The goal is to reduce impact and raise awareness about the diminishing native chinook salmon populations that endangered orcas rely on in Clayoquot Sound. The resort works with the Canadian Department of Fisheries and First Nation of Ahousaht in restoring native stocks to river systems in the region.
The Coastal Ambassador Program, launched in 2018, offers guests the opportunity to get involved with the rehabilitation of wildlife habitat in Clayoquot Sound by traveling to remote islands to remove marine debris. The experience incorporates a helicopter tour and picnic lunch. A portion of the proce is donated directly to Clayoquot Cleanup, a local Tofino organization.
Sea Turtle Rehabilitation
Where: Hotel Xcaret Mexico, Riviera Maya
When you stay at Hotel Xcaret México by Grupo Xcaret, you can rest assured knowing that you are contributing to the preservation of marine life. Xcaret has more than a dozen conservation programs; among them is the turtle conservation and rehabilitation program. Organized by the Flora, Fauna y Cultura de Mexico A.C. foundation, the environmental arm of the Experiencias Xcaret Group, 13 main nesting beaches of loggerhead and green sea turtles are protected. Between 1996 and 2017, more than 12 million turtle hatchlings were released into the sea.
As part of the All-Fun Inclusive Concept, guests have access to all nine parks and tours, including a visit to the Marine Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center and the nearby Manatee sanctuary at Xel-Ha Park. Xcaret Hospital nurses sea turtles in need of care from lesions on their fins caused by nets, digestive issues caused by ingestion of hooks, skull fractures caused by boat propellers and bites from other animals. The hospital has saved the lives of 564 marine turtles in the past 15 years.
The newly reimagined Kimpton Angler’s Hotel South Beach has adopted a section of a reef in partnership with the University of Miami and their Benthic Ecology and Coral Restoration Lab. Angler’s Reef is now flourishing and has grown to the size of a large basketball court. In 2018, reef restoration divers planted 300 staghorn corals and two underwater “trees” at Angler’s Reef.
In partnership with Deco Divers, the hotel arranges experiences in the field for guests to ride, snorkel or dive out to the site to learn about reef restoration and its importance to marine life. The half-day, guided excursions are available for up to 35 hotel guests and depart from the South Beach Marina, a short walk from the hotel. There are also options to include scuba diving refresher courses or go as a group and receive catering from the hotel’s kitchen.
Where: Les Ilets de la Plage, St. Barths
Les Ilets de la Plage
Les Ilets de la Plage is a hidden gem in St. Barths, with 12 bungalow-style villas overlooking the popular Saint Jean Beach. The owners of this boutique property have partnered with Reef of Life, a grassroots organization dedicated to regenerating coral reefs in St. Jean Bay by using Biorock technology to generate coral.
Biorock is a patented method invented and developed by the late Professor/Founder of the non-profit Sun and Sea e.V., Wolf Hilbertz, and his research partner Dr. Thomas Goreau, President of the Global Coral Reef Alliance. Biorock is formed by the electro-accumulation of minerals on structures dissolved in seawater, growing into a white limestone similar to the substance that makes up coral reefs. Guests staying at Les Ilets de la Plage can visit the Biorock by diving in the area close to the resort.
Protecting World’s Third-Largest Barrier Reef
Where: Waldorf Astoria Resort of Casa Marina, Key West
Casa Marina, along with The Reach resort in Key West are joining the movement to protect the third-largest largest barrier reef in the world by offering reef-safe sunscreen from Raw Elements. Both offer snorkeling excursions directly from their private beach, the largest on the island, to educate guests about the importance of maintaining the world’s biodiversity. If you are scuba certified, you can explore the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary’s shipwrecks and admire the abounding colorful marine life. The resorts are also removing plastic straws from all dining outlets.
Coral Reef Recovery
Where: Hilton Northolme Resort Spa, Seychelles
Hilton Northolme Resort Spa
Hilton Seychelles Northolme Resort Spa, a boutique resort on the verdant Mahé Island, opened a coral nursery at the nearby Beau Vallon Bay to help protect and preserve the marine life along the island’s Northwest coast. Guests can snorkel along a coral trail and visit the nursery with a marine conservation specialist. There’s also an opportunity to adopt coral, especially the fast growing Acropora and Pocillopora, which have been adversely affected by rising sea temperatures. By adopting, you’ll be helping ensure the upkeep of the reef and support future restoration efforts in the Seychelles.
Guardians of the Reef
Mayakoba is a 1,600-acre resort destination in the Mexican Riviera surrounded by natural wonders. Andaz Mayakoba Resort Riviera, one of the four resorts found within Mayakoba, is dedicated to minimizing its ecological footprint and supporting local communities. Andaz Mayakoba’s Guardian of the Reef Experience gives guests an opportunity to become “reef guardians,” to preserve the ocean’s wide variety of coral reefs found nearby. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, guests can kayak from the private beach to the reef to plant new live coral colonies and learn about the endangered coral from an expert. Guests can also take complimentary boat tours at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. daily to learn about the flora and fauna found throughout Mayakoba.
Andaz Mayakoba Resort Riviera Maya recently announced that it is replacing plastic straws with sustainable avocado seed straws. These straws take approximately 90 to 240 days to degrade, instead of the 400-800 years it takes for their plastic counterparts. The property also features six water stations around the beach and pool area for guests to refill their reusable cups that are 100% biodegradable.