The month of March is all about sustainable travel or “green” travel, and who doesn’t want to be mindful about protecting Mexico’s natural beauty when visiting? Let’s all do our part to protect the Riviera Maya’s amazing jungles, cenotes, wildlife and reef systems by taking simple steps to travel responsibly.
Pack Like a Mindful Traveler
Being a mindful traveler begins even before you leave the house. Packing ecologically friendly products is the first step you can take that will lead to making even more sustainable travel decisions during your Riviera Maya visit.
Did you know 9 out of 10 plastic water bottles wind up as garbage? That adds up to 30 million bottles a day worldwide! Carrying a reusable water bottle is one of the simplest things you can do to reduce plastic waste and help protect the environment.
The ubiquitous plastic grocery bag is another enemy of the environment. While in the Riviera Maya, you will most likely do some shopping. Pack a reusable shopping bag. They are inexpensive, available everywhere and useful for shopping, packing dirty laundry, beach combing, picnics…the list goes on.
Take time to “pack” some knowledge about the Mayan and Mexican cultures. Learning a little history about the people and maybe even a few phrases in Spanish or even Maya will help you to appreciate your hosts and perhaps even win you a few smiles from new friends.
Take an Eco-friendly Tour
Real eco-friendly tours educate themselves about how to preserve the unique ecosystems in Mexico and implement eco-friendly practices while introducing visitors to the area. Sustainable tours also give back to the surrounding communities and help to improve the lives of the indigenous people.
North of Coba about an hour from Tulum is a 5000 hectare protected reserve known as Punta Laguna Spider Monkey Reserve. With a population of over 600 Spider and Howler monkeys swinging through the fruit trees, you will experience and maybe even snap a few good shots of these happy guys living a free life in their natural home. Other activities on the reserve include jungle hiking, birdwatching, kayaking and zip-lining.
In the 1950s, 3 Mayan brothers founded Punta Laguna and since then their families have worked to keep their legacy protected. Today about 30 families live on and work the reserve. Punta Laguna is a great example of how local people, when they are supported by their government and visitors, can manage tourism while maintaining and protecting the integrity of their natural and cultural heritage.
Set aside as an internationally protected area by the Mexican government in 1986, this 1.3 million-acre tract of land known as the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve contains mangrove swamps, savannahs, tropical forests, freshwater and coastal lagoons, a barrier reef and is home to hundreds of species of birds, fish, crocodiles, plants and other animals. Which is the best way to explore this vast wetland? By kayak, of course! The Sian Ka’an Mayaking Tour begins at the CESiaK ecological center, here you will embark on an unforgettable nature adventure!
Immerse Yourself in the Local Culture
Sustainable travel is as concerned with cultural preservation as it is with environmental preservation. Mindful travelers want tourism to work for the indigenous people, to improve their lives while respecting their traditional ways. Are you ready to immerse yourself in a new culture?
Start by being a mindful photographer. Ask permission to take someone’s picture, and accept refusals gracefully. Also keep in mind, choosing to put the camera away will sometimes reward you with an authentic experience bringing you closer to your subject.
Be aware of the local concept of time. Here in Mexico, as with many Latin cultures, things move a bit slower leaving more time to enjoy life. Always be patient and courteous.
Learn as much as you can about the area before you even leave your home. Use guidebooks, online articles, movies and documentaries to gain a familiarity with local customs and history that will enrich your vacation.
Check out this very special eco-hotel.