By now you know all about living a more sustainable home life – recycle, reduce waste, turn off your lights, switch to solar, car share, you’ve got it under control.

But what can you do to reduce your impact on the earth when you’re on holiday? Actually, quite a bit! So before you pull up poolside and grab a margarita, check out our top 10 tips for being a responsible traveller.

Stand Up Paddle Lesson with C-Change Adventures


As the Coffs Coast is NSW’s first ECO Destination certified by Ecotourism Australia, it’d be remiss of us to leave this one out! ECO Destinations are places where tourism activities have been built for locals, by locals. They take extreme care to tread lightly on the natural environment and respect the Indigenous culture of the area (on the Coffs Coast, that’s the Gumbaynggirr People). When you travel to these places, you’re not just a visitor, you’re part of a movement that celebrates conscious travel, sustainable business, and environmental protection. And we love that for you! 

2/ Choose ECO-accredited operators

Even if you can’t make it to an accredited ECO Destination, there’s still plenty (over 500 Australia-wide in fact) ECO-certified Operators whose businesses are backed by a strong, well-managed commitment to sustainable practices and high-quality nature-based tourism experiences. Check out the Green Travel Guide to discover genuine eco-operators wherever you’re travelling to. On the Coffs Coast, we have six. They are:

  • WAJAANA YAAM GUMBAYNGGIRR ADVENTURE TOURS: Stand up paddleboard tours led by Gumbaynggirr guides or Aboriginal guides with strong ties to Gumbaynggirr Country, in three incredible locations.
  • TREETOPS ADVENTURE: A tree ropes and ziplining experience in sublime natural habitat and with an abundance of local wildlife – what more could you ask for?
  • COFFS COAST MOUNTAIN RETREAT: Adult only, pet-friendly, accessibility accommodation offering private, tranquil spaces to unwind. Relax and enjoy the simple pleasures of the natural surroundings (along with a few luxuries of course).  
  • JETTY DIVE CENTRE: Swim with whales, dive with sharks and discover the majesty of the South Solitary Islands Marine Park. Local dive experts and genuine PADI diving courses. 
  • NORTH COAST REGIONAL BOTANIC GARDEN: Natural bushland, exotic species, rainforest and more! All linked together with wheelchair-accessible parks, boardwalks and a cafe.
  • BRUXNER FLORA RESERVE: In Orara East State Forest, the ultimate nature-based destination on the Coffs Coast. The centerpiece is Sealy Lookout with the majestic Forest Sky Pier. The Gumgali track is an indigenous interpretive walk to Korora Lookout with unparalleled views of the Solitary Islands Marine Park. 

3/ Pay your respects

Australia has been home to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nations since the Dreaming. The Traditional Owners are profoundly connected to the land, and the land to them. One way to be a more conscious and connected traveller is to pay your respects and broaden your knowledge by booking Indigenous-led experiences. There are numerous Gumbaynggirr-led experiences on the Coffs Coast where you can learn more about Country, culture, and how you can help protect and preserve it.

4/ Pack your reusable bags and bottles

This one goes without saying! Before you hit the road, remember to pop a reusable bag and bottle in your backpack. This will get you out of trouble when you need somewhere to stash wet swimmers, grab groceries, or smuggle some locally-bought souvenirs back into your hotel room. And of course, having a reusable bottle will encourage you to keep hydrated and save money on bottled beverages. It’s 2021, there’s no room for single-use plastic on holiday, folks! That includes asking for no straw in your margarita!

5/ Ditch heavy luggage

We all know planes are massive carbon-producing machines, but did you know that the more a plane weighs, the more carbon it creates? Yep! That means that when it comes to packing, every kilo counts. We know it’s tempting to purchase extra luggage, wear six layers, and sneak some extras into your carry-on, but it’s best to only pack what you really need. So put down the puffer vest and embrace the minimalist lifestyle — just grab your flip-flops and you’re good to go!

6/ Eat and drink local

A farm-to-table and seafood-lovers paradise, the Coffs Coast is jam-packed with some incredible food outlets. So many that we even made a directory for them! By buying lovingly-prepared and locally-sourced meals, you’re not only supporting our small businesses, you’re helping to minimise the carbon emissions created from shipping ingredients from far away. Extra points if you can walk to the restaurant instead of driving!

7/ *DO* ‘do not disturb’

If you’re staying in a traditional hotel, it’s pretty likely they’ll come in to swap your towels, sheets and travel-sized shampoos on the daily. But this creates a big problem. All that washing uses up loads of precious water, cleaning products and electricity. Plus, those tiny travel bottles? They add up to a lot of waste. So when you get into your room, chuck the ‘do not disturb’ sign on the door and ditch the cleaning service until you really need it.

8/ Use reef-friendly sunscreen

We grow up knowing to ‘slip, slop, slap’ and we’re here for it! But when it comes to slopping on your SPF sunscreen, there’s a right way and a wrong way to do it. Our ocean ecosystems are under immense pressure from climate change, overfishing and pollution, including from sunscreens. 97% of sunscreens on the market contain chemicals that are toxic to coral reefs, even at small concentrations. So when summer rolls around, look for sunscreen described as “reef-safe”, “reef-friendly” or “not containing oxybenzone and octinoxate”. They’re not just better for the planet, they’re better for your skin too!

9/ Leave no trace

As well as taking your rubbish with you when you leave a natural space, there’s a few things you can do to minimise your impact on the environment. When camping, set up your tent on durable surfaces like gravel or packed soil, rather than disturbing soft and delicate plants. While all campfires will leave some trace on the landscape if you do need to light one, make sure it’s low-impact. Skippy the kangaroo might look like he’s keen on your cookies but respect the local wildlife by keeping your distance and your food to yourself. Finally, make sure the only souvenirs you take home are from the local shops, not the natural landscape. That means leaving flowers, shells and timber behind.

10/ Travel green

Whether it’s by road or air, there’s plenty of ways to travel green. If you’re flying, choose to offset your ticket when you book. Most airlines have a carbon offset scheme, so you’ll just pay a small extra fee on top of the flight cost which is donated to the scheme. It’s a small price to pay to help the environment! When you get to your destination, opt to hire a bike (or maybe a paddleboard!) to get around, and if possible, stay close to attractions to reduce your time on the road.

Travelling to a new destination is all about immersing yourself in culture, community and country, and on the Coffs Coast, we’ve got loads to share.