Planning to hit the road in 2013 and want your travels to have a positive impact on the planet? Ethical Traveler has put together a list of the Top 10 Developing World’s Best Ethical Destinations to help you head off on your dream adventure and pick a country you can feel good about visiting. Ethical Traveler reviews the policies and practices of hundreds of nations in the developing world and then selects the 10 countries that are doing the best job of promoting human rights, preserving their environment, and upholding civil society – and at the same time creating a sustainable, community-based tourism industry.
- For eco-conscious SCUBA diving visit Barbados Blue. Barbados Blue is dedicated to the conservation and preservation of the marine ecosystem they operate in, and employ two full time Marine Biologists.
- The Soup Bowl, near Bathsheba, on the east coast of the island, is meant to have some of the best and most challenging surfs in the whole of the Caribbean, and world-class surfers flock here for an adventure. Other popular spots are Cattlewash Beach and Bottom Bay Beach.
- Barbados is famous for its rum. For those interested in small local craft batch production, take a tour of St. Nicholas Abbey.
- With black sand beaches, bleached-white beaches, high cliffs and mountainous peaks and desert plains interrupted by volcanic cones there’s plenty to see and do. Try diving, hill walking, fishing, windsurfing or just relaxing on the beach.
- As tourism is a relatively recent arrival, you can still experience the real culture of the islands from the European Sao Vicente to the African Santiago.
- The islands of Sao Nicolau, Santiago and Boa Vista have a major focus on ecotourism. Monte Gordo National Park on the island of Sao Nicolau, near the main island of Sao Vincent, is part of the Protected Areas of Cape Verde Network.
- Ecotourism lovers will be in heaven with Costa Rica’s 20 natural parks, eight biological reserves, and a series of protected areas.
- There’s plenty to keep you busy with horseback riding, hiking mountainous paths in the cloud forests, and guided bird-watching tours.
- Tortuguero National Park is especially famous for sea turtle nesting that takes place every year, and the natural canals that are full with protected species such as crocodiles, manatees, and otter.
- Ghana boasts several national parks that are worth visiting, including Kakum and Mole.
- A vast array of wildlife including elephants and monkeys, marine turtles, crocodiles, hundreds of colourful bird and butterfly species will keep animal lovers busy.
- Get back to nature with stunning beaches and greatly varied landscapes.
- Virtually half of Latvia is covered in unspoiled nature and it’s a safe haven to countless protected species.
- The country has a strong culture of ecotourism and apart from marked private property, Latvia’s forests, berries, mushrooms and hazelnuts are accessible to anyone.
- There are four state reserves, three national parks, 22 nature parks, 211 nature reserves, six protected landscape areas, and one biosphere reserve.
- Small harbours neglected or destroyed during the Soviet era have been revived and now support a thriving fishing culture – tourists are welcome to take part.
- The beautiful town of Zarasai in north-eastern Lithuania is surrounded by rivers and lakes and was named one of the European Destinations of Excellence (EDEN) in 2010. It offers dozens of diverse tourism opportunities.
- Climb a mountain or explore nature through forests and plants. Enjoy the spectacular beauty of waterfalls or for a bigger thrill how about actually taking a tumble over the falls yourself!
- Take in Mauritius’s breath-taking views on foot, on bike or by kayak. Go trekking through fields, rivers and forests on quad bikes and discover the magnificent views of the south-eastern coastal regions.
- The Rock Islands Southern Lagoon was named as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2012
- Palau is home to four TripAdvisor 2012 Certificate of Excellence recipients – Palau Royal Resort, Fish n’ Fins, Palau Pacific Resort and Sam’s Tours.
- Staying in a beach fale is the simplest form of eco-tourism in Samoa and a great way to experience traditional island life. Beach fales are all locally owned and operated by local villagers and enable them to achieve a standard of living whilst retaining their daily subsistence lifestyle.
- Falealupo Rainforest Preserve (in the north) and Tafua Peninsula Rainforest Preserve (in the south), provide eco-tourism infrastructure in the form of organised tours and canopy walks.
- On the island of Savaii caves, lava fields, waterfalls and the surviving traditional village life are must-sees.
- Uruguay’s landscape is a grassland full of animals, plant life and opportunities for outdoor exploration.
- It’s an amazing bird watchers paradise, home to many rare and colourful species and destinations like Rocha and Laguna de Castillos close to the seashore are well equipped for observing and photographing the local wildlife.
- There are miles of unspoiled beaches at Punto Diablo, Cabo Polonio and Fortaleza de Santa Teresa, with the crashing waves and surfing on the Atlantic Ocean.
Main image: Poas Volcano, Costa Rica by Scott Robinson