Mindful travelers and Mindful vacationers can recycle, reduce and reuse on land, but what about the ocean, the cenotes, the lagoons of the Riviera Maya? With over 73% of the planet housing bodies of water, having some back pocket ideas on how to treat the oceans mindfully is a great way to travel lightly while on vacation in the Riviera Maya.
We think of the Caribbean as our backyard, the place where we play, dine, hang out with friends and build many of our memories. Our impact can be seen more in the water than on land sometimes but we have little information (or pressure) to protect this ecosystem. Hmmm so what can we do? Listen up and find ways to travel a little lighter when hanging out in the water or by the water!
Sunscreen is a must when under the Caribbean skies, and in no way do we support going without sunscreen. What we do support is a biodegradable sunscreen that will not leave residue in the water. This recommendation is for the ocean, cenotes and lagoons when traveling through the diverse water systems in the area.
A great hat, a great cover up and a rash guard can also help to accomplish the same effect. Though none of us want to cover up, adding a hat or a cover up can have you outdoors for longer, or in the ocean snorkeling for longer!
As much as we love the sensory experience of touching something, the ocean is not a fan of hands and feet. Once you embrace the don’t touch rule there are a few other rules to follow when hanging out with your fins or feet. Kicking up sand by coral reefs can suffocate the coral. Yup, it is true. If you kick up a lot of sand when snorkeling or diving, or just hanging around, the sand particles can choke the filtration systems of the coral. If you are snorkeling and find you are needed a little extra help to stay afloat, use a life jacket. If you are a diver, practice good buoyancy so you are not leaving a trail of sand in your path.
When hanging out with the famous turtles of the Rivera Maya, as tempting as it is, touching is not allowed. Even if you think no one can see you, this simple act of touching can remove important particles on the outside of a turtle shell. If you are tempted to look at a conch, and turn it over to see what is inside, this disrupts their ability to crawl the ocean floor. There are more of these ocean secrets that can be put under the heading, don’t touch.
If you find yourself in a cenote, the formations that the Riviera Maya is so famous for, fall under the don’t touch rule. They are not living objects but they are delicate. The formations are delicate and part of the vast system that runs over 700 kms through the Riviera Maya cave and cavern system. If you touch, if they break, they will not reform….which means anyone who comes to view the cenotes after you will miss the beauty that you have just seen.
Garbage is anything that is not organic. If you find yourself on the beach, in the ocean or anywhere near by, bring a garbage bag with you and take out what you brought in. If you see some garbage on the beach, pick it up and take it with you so that it can be recycled or disposed of in the proper facilities. Local businesses and individuals regularly host beach clean ups up and down the coast to remove the debris that washes up on the shore. If we all do our part, the beach will remain one of the most beautiful in the world! If you are staying on the beach at one of our wonderful beachfront villas, it is important to review our outside areas to ensure that the wind does not take your garbage away to the beach! It happens but only if you let it!
If you are not sure how your land activities can impact the ocean, take a Discover Scuba Course or learn to snorkel so you can witness first hand the ecosystem that lives in all of the water systems, ocean, cenotes and lagoons. Once you get a view of the delicate life that lives in the ocean, these suggestions may ring truer than if you did not take a peek. There is a whole other world out there, but if you don’t see it for yourself, it is hard to image what can live under water. The entire world is our backyard now, ocean and bodies of water included.
If the ocean is not your thing, visit a lagoon or cenote. There is no where else in the world where you can access such incredible ecosystems like the cenotes or the lagoons like we have in the Riviera Maya. To make your footprint even more sustainable, have a local guide share their secrets, understandings, and stories about the local water location you are visiting. The history of each individual water destination is fascinating and will give you a greater appreciation of how water interacts and is the source of life in the Riviera Maya. The beaches made this location famous, but the other water locations make it magical! There is more to a cenote than meets the eye so put on a mask and snorkel and be amazed!
Traveling by water is a great way to enhance your vacation or travels in the Riviera Maya by paddle board, by kiteboard, by kayak, snorkeling or scuba diving. We are fortunate to have a calm ocean that is clear as day, be located on the second largest barrier reef in the world and have people to support the exploration of the ocean in safe and fun ways. Just leave a lighter footprint, and investigate the waters of the Riviera Maya either from your beachfront terrace, a swim in the ocean or a dip in a cenote. Leave it as you found it so that others can experience the same thrill that you just had.