My Promise to Aruba is but one way this gorgeous Caribbean island is getting more eco friendly
By Charlotte Lynham
Sustainable travel was once mainly associated with hippies staying in hostels in places like Morocco and Ibiza. But things have changed: even the most discerning travellers to the most exclusive destinations are demanding more ethical travel.
And that relationship goes two ways: there are certain places on this planet that are more vulnerable to the effects of pollution, overcrowding and overuse of resources, such as the Maldives, Costa Rica and Venice. But we can also include most of the Caribbean on that list.
A few years ago, I visited the Island of Barbados for the first time, which I wrote about for Eluxe Magazine. I was surprised to see how important sustainability was there in general. But more recently, I was in a neighbouring island – Aruba – and discovered that they’re taking eco-tourism to a new level.
Aruba is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in the southern Caribbean Sea. Along with its sister islands Bonaire and Curaçao, Aruba forms a group referred to as the ABC islands. It consistently receives the least rainfall in the Southern Caribbean, and they are also located outside the Hurricane Belt, which means you can expect excellent weather no matter what time of year you choose to visit.
The island’s mantra is “one happy island,” and upon visiting I could see why – not only are the locals hospitable and friendly, but the country is stunningly beautiful, packed with vibrant flora and fascinating fauna, including myriad lizards, birds, monkeys, fish, and my favourite bird, flamingoes.
To keep it that way, the government has created a ‘My Promise to Aruba’ campaign.
My Promise To Aruba
The premise of the promise is simple: if tourists vow to behave in an ecologically and socially responsible way, they will safeguard Aruba’s future. The nation exists within a highly delicate ecosystem with limited space for all who live and co-exist there. With ever-growing visitor numbers and an expanding local population, indigenous flora and fauna are declining and coral reefs are slowly disappearing.
Aruba needed to do something urgently, so they came up with their Code of Conduct to protect this happy island. This covers everything from cultural requests to ecological demands.
For example, renewable energy features strongly. The island is promoting the use of solar and wind energy to better harness its 5,000 wind and 2,500 solar hours annually. Indeed, Aruba has tremendous potential for sustainable energy generation, as demonstrated by the Vader Piet wind farm, which generates 17 percent of the island’s electricity. The island has also just completed their largest solar park at the Reina Beatrix International Airport.
Secondly, in 2017 the Aruban government banned the use of single-use plastic bags on the island, and by 2019, 71.8% of all retailers have complied. The country is also working on implementing a ban on common single-use plastics in 2020. Banned items will include plastic cups and straws, utensils, party balloons, confetti and Styrofoam boxes, for example. In essence, disposable plastic that is commonly used for the consumption of food and beverages will be banned from use on the island. Unfortunately, for now, this does not yet include plastic water bottles or commodities pre-packaged in plastic, but the island is looking into this.
Of course, one of the biggest ecological issues here is the pollution of the ocean. Aruba is implementing a ban on all sunscreens that contain oxybenzone, and by 2020, it will open the new Aruba Aloe coral nursery, a project funded by the Aruba Aloe, the oldest Aloe company in the world. The company has invested not only in upholding the island’s tradition of organic aloe cultivation, but also in helping to preserve the island’s flora and fauna for future generations.
In addition to producing reef-safe mineral-based sunscreens, Aruba Aloe has donated money to the Scubble Bubbles for the purpose of constructing a coral nursery – a safe place where coral reef fragments can be rehabilitated and nursed back to a mature size before being transplanted back out onto the reef. These nurseries provide the proper growing conditions for promoting coral health, diversity, and abundance.
Romantic and Luxurious
Even larger hotels, such as the Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino, are joining the sustainability movement. This resort, for example, has invested an impressive $3.8 million in to energy saving and green projects to help to reduce the resort’s impact on the environment. The property has also added energy-efficient features, such as a solar power hot water system and a guest room exhaust air system, helping to save on electricity and air conditioning.
Whether you’re looking to relax and unwind, or are seeking adventure and excitement, Aruba is chock-full of incredible things to do, making it the perfect destination for trips of all types. My partner and I stayed at the Aruba Marriott on a romantic getaway, and the island could not have been more perfect for this – think: pristine beaches, incredible food outlets, luxury hotels, spas, experiences and expeditions there are plenty of things to do and see.
Other pursuits we undertook were having our chakras realigned with some meditation on the rocks of Tres Trapi with local yoga and meditation guru Maria Pucci. This was an extraordinary place to practice a relaxing form of yoga with the sound of the waves crashing underneath the rocks. We also visited the spa at the Ritz Carlton Aruba for a very tranquil massage. This space was great for a day of pampering.
For more cultural pursuits, the village of San Nicolas is a must see – especially look out for its famous street art. It was well worth braving the heat to walk around the quaint town whilst taking in the giant artworks splashed around the buildings. Artists have been invited from around the globe to create their art on the buildings and the variety of styles and skills are spectacular; it has certainly put San Nicolas on the map.
Images: Aruba Art Fair
The Caribbean, like many places on the planet, is under threat from human activity. But it’s good to know that Aruba is doing something to protect itself from all the damage tourism can do. My Promise To Aruba was designed to ensure its wonderfully warm locals, great hotels and restaurants, tranquil spas and above all, stunning nature, will be here to enjoy for many future generations. I’ve made my promise; will you?
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