At your home country it may be easy to make environmentally friendly decisions. But what about during a vacation in the Dominican Republic, especially on the North Coast? If you stay in Sosua, Cabarete or Puerto Plata, you may want to know about these 10 simple steps that will make your vacation more eco-friendly.
Use refillable water bottles.
When on a vacation in a tropical country, you need to consume a lot of water to keep your body hydrated. In the Dominican Republic it’s not recommendable to use tap water for drinking. That’s why most people use bottled water. But instead of buying a single-use plastic water bottle, you can use a refillable water tank. You can fill it up at the hotel or vacation rental where you’re staying before leaving to the beach or any activity. Some restaurants and offices will allow you to refill your reusable water bottle too. Moreover, you can buy coconut water or fresh juices from street vendors. It will additionally help to reduce the use of foam cups.
Don’t use plastic straws.
How many times have you seen these idyllic pictures of a coconut on the beach? And there is usually a plastic straw kindly inviting you to enjoy the refreshing coconut water hidden inside. But you will greatly increase your green factor if you decide to use a metal, paper or bamboo straw instead of a single-use plastic one. You can bring a personal reusable straw with you or buy it here. After all, not using straws is also an option. It will be helpful to remember the word straw in Spanish (sorbete, calimete) and order your mojito or piña colada without a straw.
Respect fishing bans.
Every year the Dominican Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources publishes a list of fishing bans. The fishing ban means a period of the year when fishing, storage and sale of a particular species are prohibited. The reason behind the ban is to prevent the depredation of natural resources and to allow the reproduction of some species. Thus, it’s not allowed to fish or sell crabs and lobsters or any products made of them during the period from March 1 till July 1. Moreover, there is still a 2-year ban on fishing parrot fish. This species is especially important for natural sand production and beach formation. That’s why we ask you to behave consciously about these bans. And if your vacation is during one of these bans, please don’t consume the protected species. Even if some restaurants try to convince you to do the opposite, please ignore them.
Use environmentally-friendly skin care products.
When heading to the Dominican Republic, a sunscreen is an indispensable item to put in the luggage. But you should remember that not every sunscreen is environmentally-friendly for the marine eco-system. Some of the sunscreens contain a chemical product that destroys coral reefs when washed off in the water. When choosing the right non-toxic sunscreen, be sure to get one without Oxybenzone, Butylparaben, Octinoxate, 4-methylbenzylidene camphor, Octocrylene, Triclosan, Para-aminobenzoic acid. These ingredients are especially dangerous for the reef life. You can always check your sunscreen with the nonprofit Haereticus Environmental Laboratory that keeps track of all confirmed environmental pollutants.
Don’t take starfish out of water
During the vacations in the Puerto Plata province, you may want to visit the Paradise Island and Punta Rucia. It’s one of the best places on the North Coast for snorkeling and swimming. You can see numerous tropical fish of all colors, starfish, crabs and other sea creatures. But please don’t pull starfish out of water to make a series of pictures for Instagram. These beautiful animals die if they stay out of the water for too much time. Furthermore, modern waterproof gadgets allow to take photos underwater. And underwater photos with a starfish on the palm of your hand will look way cooler than outside of the water. Finally, it’s important to know that starfish, conches and big shells can cause you border control troubles if found in your luggage. Turtles, lambi mollusk, starfish are all protected species which make all items made of them illegal for transportation. We invite you to check our eBook instead to learn about other remarkable souvenirs you may take home from your Dominican vacations.
Use reusable shopping bags
If you stay in a vacation rental in Sosua, Cabarete or Puerto Plata, you will most likely need to do your groceries. Local supermarkets rely heavily on plastic bags. Almost each item is packed in an individual bag. As the bags are fragile, more than one is used to pack the same things. So if you want to reduce your environmental impact, it can be a good idea to get a reusable shopping bag. You then take it on every visit to a supermarket and pack your groceries in it avoiding overuse of plastic bags.
Keep beaches clean
There are many spectacular beaches on the North Coast of the Dominican Republic. And it’s the responsibility of every and each visitor to respect the nature and keep the beaches clean. Please don’t leave any garbage. If you can contribute and pick up the garbage left before you, it will be even more meaningful. It’s especially important to be responsible if you go to a beach with your pet. Please be sure to keep the practice of cleaning up after your pets just like when you take them out for a walk in your hometown or city.
Vacationing on the North Coast of the Dominican Republic is never boring. There are so many activities for all ages and tastes. We’ve prepared a free activities guide that you can check on this link. Among all the numerous activities from the guide, you will also find some eco-tours involving visiting pristine natural areas and focusing on responsible travel and sustainability. There is a number of relatively undisturbed by mass tourism places in the Puerto Plata province, such as Rio Sonador, Rejoya Waterfall, Charco de Militares, Cabarete Lagoon and others. Get in contact with us to know more about trips to such unexploited areas.
Support eco-friendly restaurants.
There is a number of restaurants in the area that have made environment sustainability a part of their policy. For example, Panmigo in Sosua offers free drinking water, wraps its delicious sandwiches in paper and serves in cardboard, bagasse bags, containers and cups with paper straws. The famous coffee&waffles shop Vagamundo in Cabarete uses paper cups and plastic lids made of recycled materials. Moreover, there is a whole initiative called Partnership for Safe Water that unites local businesses committed to safety and environment responsibility. By going to these restaurants, you show support for their environmental friendly choices.
Participate in Puerto Plata Recicla activities
There is a new initiative started a few months ago in Puerto Plata. Translated from Spanish as Puerto Plata Recycles, the initiative seeks to raise public awareness about environmental issues. They install bins in public places for waste sorting, organize mass actions of street cleanups and motivational speeches to teach people how to recycle and be environmentally responsible.
We’d like to conclude this small guide how to make your vacation more eco-friendly with a popular saying “Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints”. And we’d like to add “Nothing but footprints and a good example of environmentally responsible behavior”. Enjoy your vacation!