Avalon Bay, Catalina Island. Credit: Catalina Chamber of Commerce
Though eco-travelers may be enthused about renting greener cars or making their road trips more environmentally friendly, sometimes it feels best to leave the car behind altogether. To that end, I’ve put together this introductory list of “car-free islands” in the U.S. There’s no better time than fall to discover them, when summer crowds have flocked back to the mainland, and these idyllic isles welcome slower-paced travelers yearning for a serene getaway.
What says “fall” more than big, luscious, bright orange pumpkins? October is the season to celebrate them, and many communities do so in a big way. As autumn marks harvest time, so, too, do a slate of festivals that focus on fall’s bounty from the fields.
Eco-travel is a rapidly growing sector of the travel industry. From cruise lines to rental cars to adventure tour providers, many businesses are trying to capitalize on a perceived consumer desire for a greener on-the-go experience. Hotel guests are encouraged to re-hang their used towels. Cruise ships recycle millions of plastic bottles each week. Tour operators offset carbon output for the individual guests on their trips.
On Christmas morning in 1969, I opened a large package to find a new light-blue Jansport backpack, sized just right for a second-grader. I wasn’t too excited by my present then, but on its inaugural outing the next summer — a gentle 5-mile round-trip along the Baker River in Washington’s North Cascades — I began to discover the gifts that wilderness camping could bring.
Treasured creatures of the sea
Last year when I was in the Galapagos, one of the highlights of this extraordinary wildlife adventure was a chance to snorkel with Pacific green sea turtles.
They are exquisitely graceful creatures, flapping gently beneath the waves in search of food, their wizened faces close enough at times to touch — although we didn’t, of course.
I finally saw Disneynature’s new film, Oceans, the studio’s follow-up to last year’s acclaimed Earth, an equally dazzling visual tour-de-force. If it’s still on a big screen near you, dash out and see it while you can. Then, consider the suggestions below for an offshore vacation to awaken your eco-sensitivity.
When I was growing up in damp western Washington, I remember many occasions where my dad insisted we kids leave the TV and spend time outside. It may have been gray and drizzly, but he knew there was something valuable about fresh air and green spaces. I usually didn’t need much convincing. I have fond memories of long walks in the woods with my dog, riding my bike and watching waves roll in to the beach on Puget Sound.
Photo by Wendy Worrall Redal
Is there anything that says “spring” more effusively than a tulip? As soon as colorful bunches start popping up in the grocery store in February, I quit thinking about wet snow, gray skies and winter’s lingering grip. However pretty a bright bouquet of cut blooms is, there’s nothing like surveying row upon rainbow-striped row of these spring floral icons in full, growing glory.
If you’ve had the good fortune to pamper yourself at a fancy spa, you know how fabulous it feels to be steamed, sprayed, scrubbed, stroked and soothed. Chances are you may have been too distracted to notice the large volumes of water used, or to tally up the number of chalk-white robes and towels that must be laundered and bleached every day. But over-the-top indulgence doesn’t have to mean being environmentally profligate.
When it comes to global warming, few enterprises have more at stake than the ski industry. So it’s no surprise that many ski resorts have taken steps toward greening their operations, relying less on CO2-producing energy sources and more on renewables.