Beach holidays: 10 ways to be eco-friendly this summer

eco-friendly beach holidays

It’s in season, many travellers will pack their bags to go to the beach this summer.

Whether you opt for a beach staycation or travel to the other side of the planet, even on holiday, take your eco-friendly habits with you

The coastlines and oceans around the world are fragile, so before leaving, here is a reminder of the actions you can adopt  for  eco-friendly beach holidays.

1.Limit your carbon footprint

limiting your carbon footprint at the beach

In addition to choosing an eco-friendly holiday accommodation, choose one that is close to the beaches, to go there on foot or by bike.

If you are further away, use public transport or shuttles that many seaside cities set up during the summer.

The advantage: in addition to limiting your carbon footprint to get to the beach, you’ll have more time to spend on the sand.

Beach holidays are a great time to relax, have fun, practice different sports than usual.

If you decide to practice a water activity, opt for eco-friendly water sports. Paddle, surf, kite surf, or simply snorkle.

In addition to the noise pollution and carbon footprint that motorized activities generate, they also disturb marine wildlife.

2. Choose a blue beach

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Ready to discover our Blue Flag sites? The list of 2019 Northern Hemisphere beaches, marinas and boats awarded the Blue Flag are now on our website! You can check the full article here: And thank you to @naoiseculhane (© in the picture) and @antaisce1 for this beautiful picture taken during the 2019 Blue Flag ceremony in Ireland! #BlueFlag #blueflagglobal #FEEglobal #ecolabel #tourism #environment #oceans #sea #water #environmentalprotection #climatechange #climateaction #nature #beach #marina #boats #sutainability #sdgs #travel #environmentaleducation #sustainabletourism #ourocean

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There are more than 4500 beach towns and marinas with the Blue Flag label in the world.

An environmental label created in Europe in the 1980s dedicated to certifying cities and marinas committed to sustainable tourism.

Choosing a beach with the Blue Flag label is also a guarantee of swimming in clean water.

Indeed, among its many criteria, the label analyses the quality of bathing water in labelled municipalities up to 5 times a year.

There are blue flag beaches in more than 45 countries around the world, so you have a choice.

3. Be zero waste at the beach

zero waste tips for the beach

To avoid bringing garbage to the beach, adopt the same zero waste reflexes as in the city.

  • Avoid plastic bottles and take your reusables with you, there are now many models available, which will keep your favourite drinks cool all day long.
  • Avoid individually wrapped products and take the children’s treats in airtight containers
  • Choose heavy material bags, and bring no lightweight plastic which are likely to fly away in the wild.
  • If you are a smoker, remember that a single cigarette butt pollutes up to 500 litres of water and takes years to degrade. Always take a pocket ashtray with you and while you are at it check out of respect for your towel neighbours that you are not on a non-smoking beach
  • Some beaches labelled blue flag, practice sorting, do your part. And if you don’t see any bins on the horizon, take everything with you to recycle once you’re home.

4. Choose ocean friendly sunscreen

reef safe sunscreen

Protecting yourself from the sun at the beach is essential.

But some of the ingredients in chemical based sunscreen have disastrous effects on the ocean and corals.

Several ingredients are pointed out, but Oxybenzone is the main one. So much, that some destinations, like Hawaii, have decided to ban them from their beaches.

To go further on the subject, we invite you to (re)discover our article on the effects of sunscreens on the oceans.

The right thing to do: adopt a sunscreen based on mineral filters, without nanoparticles. Many brands now offer effective and reef-safe alternatives.

5. Why you shouldn’t collect sand or shells

do not collect sand or shells

Shells, pebbles, and sand form the ecosystem of our coastlines.

Sea leashes (e.g : algae, driftwood, cuttlefish bones) play a role and often serve as a food reservoir for birds.

Taking shellfish, bringing back sand, or pebbles, is harmful and weakens this ecosystem.

In addition, some countries have very strict regulations and you risk heavy fines if you are caught with sand souvenirs in your luggage.

6 Respect biodiversity

beach biodiversity

Remember to have an ethical attitude towards wildlife whether on earth or in the sea.

Do not life rocks, so as not to disturb the species that have settled there. Do not pick up live animals like starfish or crabs just for the fun.

If you dive don’t touch the corals, stay away from the large mammals you encounter and don’t feed the fish.

If you are going to a destination, and have the privilege of witnessing a sea turtle outbreak, keep your distance and simply enjoy the show.

If you fish or fish on foot, find out about protected species, limit yourself to authorized species and respect regulated sizes. And fish only what you need for your own consumption.

7. Stay on the tracks

protect dunes

If you visit a popular beach, you will probably see specific accesse, like boardwalks or stairs designed to get there.

If you are more interested in secret beaches or quiet coves, this may not be the case.

Whatever happens, take the marked paths to the beach and don’t give in to the temptation to go through the dunes to get to the sea faster.

The dunes are home to a fragile ecosystem. Birds often choose them as nesting areas. Also the rare plants that grow there and may seem harmless, are often protected species and play an essential role against dune erosion.

8. Save water

water resources at the beach

Many beaches provide showers for holidaymakers to rinse off after swimming.

Be smart and avoid showering after each swim to preserve water. And avoid using chemical soaps and shampoos, you can do that at home.

9 Eat local

local and seasonal fish

If you are a seafood lover, remember that the seasons are also valid for fish.

Make sure the fish you eat are from  sustainable fisheries: focus on trap, net or line fishing.

Even better, organize a fishing trip with a local fisher in the marina and bring your lunch home.

10. Do your part

beach clean up

Each year 8 million tonnes of plastic are found in the oceans. The equivalent of a garbage truck unloaded into the ocean every minute.

Take action and do your part. If the beach you are going to is dotted with plastic, take two minutes to do a little cleaning or join a beach clean-up organized by an association in the town you’re visiting.

What’s your ultimate tip to be eco-friendly at the beach? Come share it in the comments.

Holiable is an eco-friendly travel planner helping you find sustainable hotels, green restaurants and ethical tourism activities around the world. Holiable was developed to share experiences, advice and reviews on sustainable travel, making it easier to prepare your next eco-friendly holiday.
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