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Sustainable Tourism: Eco-Friendly Experiences in The Palm Beaches

Protecting Oceans, Wild Places, and Beautiful Spaces During Your Vacation

By: Hannah Deadman-Arnst

When you live in or visit a coastal region as beautiful as The Palm Beaches, experiencing balmy breezes, taking in the salt air, and feeling the ocean’s cool touch become second nature after just a few days.

We live in paradise—and we love sharing it with visitors. As tourism continues to grow in The Palm Beaches, there’s also a growing concern for sustainable, ethical experiences to ensure our wild spaces are still around for generations to come. That’s why I’ve curated a go-to list with key ways you can help protect the environment and reduce your carbon footprint while visiting our slice of paradise.

By engaging in environmentally friendly experiences and supporting eco-minded organizations, you can enjoy an unforgettable, one-of-a-kind vacation in The Palm Beaches—and be part of the solution to keep our blue planet beautiful.

Go Wild with Conservation

The Palm Beaches are home to several organizations that support the conservation of wildlife—whether they’re native to the region, like Florida panthers or sea turtles, or from other places around the globe, such as tigers or giant anteaters at the Palm Beach Zoo. While on vacation, you can see (and support) the conservation of wild species.

Loggerhead Marinelife Center

Situated next to one of the world’s most densely populated sea turtle nesting beaches is Loggerhead Marinelife Center, a nonprofit sea turtle hospital and ocean conservation center. Located in Juno Beach, this free facility gives guests the chance to view rehabilitating sea turtle patients up close and learn about South Florida ecosystems through programs including beach walks, guided hikes, and more.

Want to help keep our beaches healthy? Consider participating in one of the weekly self-guided beach cleanups to help tidy up marine debris. You can also symbolically “adopt” a sea turtle patient, which supports the center’s work to rehabilitate and release endangered sea turtles. Each adoption package comes with a personalized certificate, educational materials, a sticker, and a photo of the turtle—plus other goodies when you level up!

Palm Beach Zoo And Conservation Society

The Palm Beach Zoo is another great place to learn about wildlife. In addition to educational exhibits that teach guests about the dozens of species at the Zoo, the West Palm Beach-based organization’s conservation initiatives help protect species and ecosystems around the world, including providing important data to save Florida’s coral reef systems, trail cameras, and data to advocate for the Florida Wildlife Corridor, and other fieldwork.

Palm Beach Zoo

Busch Wildlife Sanctuary

After a trip to the zoo, consider heading up to Jupiter to see native wildlife up close. Dedicated to protecting Florida species, Busch Wildlife Sanctuary is a nonprofit that rescues and rehabilitates more than 5,000 injured wild animals every year, including endangered Florida panthers and bears. The animals that cannot be released due to medical issues or other reasons serve as ambassadors that you can see when you visit the sanctuary.

Florida panther, Busch Wildlife Sanctuary

Enjoy Eco-Friendly Experiences

Whether you love to stroll outside or engage in fun, energetic activities, there are plenty of ways to enjoy The Palm Beaches’ natural areas while supporting the environment.

Pan’s Garden

Consider an afternoon walk in Pan’s Garden at the Palm Beach Preservation Foundation. Established in 1994, this half-acre botanical garden features native Florida plant life. Planting and caring for native flora is a great way to care for our planet. These plants need less water and promote pollinators and biodiversity.

Fun fact: the garden was named after Pan of Rohallion, a bronze statue that welcomes visitors who pass by the entrance pool. Designed by Frederick MacMonnies in 1890, the statue represents Pan—the ancient Greek deity of flocks and shepherds. It’s certainly a fitting name for a garden that focuses on indigenous species!

Loxahatchee River Center

The Loxahatchee River Center is a fantastic organization dedicated to fostering environmental stewardship of the Loxahatchee River.

With a variety of education programs and exhibits, the center is the perfect place to learn about Florida’s first Wild and Scenic River—a federal designation—from its cypress swamps to brackish estuaries like the Jupiter Inlet.

After learning about this beautiful waterway, why not embark on a kayak tour with the Jupiter Outdoor Center? Their experienced guides will take you on the river, shaded by gorgeous cypress swamp canopies. Along the way, they’ll point out gators, river otters, osprey, and other “locals”! Or, rent a kayak to take in the view on your own time.

girl kayaking

Undersea Spots

The Palm Beaches are home to some amazing undersea spots. Pura Vida Divers on Singer Island offers a variety of excursions, including guided group dives and snorkels at the world-renowned Blue Heron Bridge, plus diving charters.

Jupiter Dive Center also offers experiences like snorkel tours and dive charters. Both shops offer you an up-close encounter with some of Florida’s most vibrant marine life, including angelfish, eels, octopus, starfish, and reef sharks.

Airboat Rides in the Everglades

One of South Florida’s most unique features is the Everglades—and there’s no better way to enjoy the River of Grass than by airboat! I actually went on one for the first time last year, after living in the area for nearly a decade!

Airboat Rides West Palm Beach offers a 90-minute eco-tour, giving you a chance to see wildlife up close (and safely). During the ride, which is a blast in and of itself, you’ll spot gators, common moorhen (also called swamp chickens), egrets, wild hibiscus, and much more. Wear comfortable shoes, bring plenty of water and sunscreen, and don’t forget your camera!

Stay in a Sustainable Hotel

It’s easy to find a quality resort or hotel in The Palm Beaches—and selecting a property dedicated to sustainability can make your stay (and dreams) even sweeter.

Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa

Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa is unmatched in its commitment to the environment. And with a name like “eau” (the French word for water), this Forbes 5-Star luxury resort lives up to its name.

Located in Manalapan on the glimmering Atlantic, Eau integrates countless eco-friendly practices such as water conservation, a towel and linen reuse program to minimize waste, energy-efficient LED lightbulbs, and smart thermostats to regulate temperatures.

They even have compostable coffee pods in the rooms and locally sourced fare and sustainable cutlery in their restaurants. Knowing that half the fun of vacation is sightseeing, the resort also has various eco-conscious transportation options, including electric vehicle charging stations, bike sharing, EV car rentals, and jogging maps.

Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island Resort & Spa

Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island Beach Resort & Spa is another notable property, with certifications in the Green Key Eco-Rating program. During sea turtle nesting season, the resort offers a “Meet a Sea Turtle” package, which includes a one-day pass to Loggerhead Marinelife Center for two adults and two children with a self-guided audio tour ($20 value).

You’ll also receive a symbolic sea turtle adoption package with a personalized certificate! Best of all, a portion of proceeds from the stay are donated to Loggerhead Marinelife Center to continue protecting endangered sea turtles.

Nosh on Responsibly Sourced (Sea)food

Lionfish Delray Beach

Finding eco-friendly eats may seem like a daunting task, but many restaurants in The Palm Beaches have sustainable options for every meal. Honored twice as a James Beard Foundation Smart Catch Leader, Lionfish Delray Beach is the perfect place to grab a bite of fresh, sustainable coastal cuisine—from locally sourced ingredients to grass-fed meats.

Try the local ceviche with herbs and citrus, charred avocado and serrano pepper, locally caught yellowfin tuna sashimi, or the restaurant’s namesake! The lionfish is an invasive species with no natural predators that can be detrimental to any ecosystem in which it lives. But catching them helps protect our marine ecosystems—and this flaky, delicious catch is rich in Omega-3s and low in mercury.

Echo

If you’re craving Japanese, head to The Breakers Palm Beach Echo for delectable sushi rolls, stir fry, noodles, and more. Lionfish and Echo are also Ocean-Friendly Restaurants, a certification from the Surfrider Foundation for ocean-friendly dining practices.

PB Catch Seafood & Raw Bar

Craving more coastal cuisine? Stop in for shrimp, oysters, or fresh mahi-mahi at PB Catch Seafood & Raw Bar in Palm Beach.

This restaurant is the only raw bar on the island! With a commitment to serving fresh, responsibly caught seafood, this “sea”-stainable restaurant is sure to please. Do not miss the sweet, tender stone crab claws when they’re in season October through May.

Bonus: this Florida delicacy is also a sustainable catch—because its claws will grow back!

PB Catch

Twisted Trunk Brewing Co. & Tequesta Brewing Co.

Craving a cold beverage after your day of adventure? Palm Beach Gardens’ own Twisted Trunk Brewing Co. offers a seasonal beer called the Loxahatchee Lager. A percentage of proceeds go toward the Palm Beach County Department of Environmental Resources Management to protect natural areas. Don’t forget to stop by their sister brewhouse, Tequesta Brewing Co. for a brew and to sit on the mangrove-lined patio—which is part of a mangrove seed project by MANG, a local restoration organization. Planting mangroves improves water quality, protects local ecosystems, and provides shelter for marine life. I’ll drink to that!

Of course, if you’re interested in vegetarian and vegan options to further reduce your environmental impact, we’ve got you covered. Check out this list of great restaurants serving up more delicious dishes.

Ready to plan your eco-friendly vacation? Visit our planning page for more idea starters and links to book your flight, room, and more.

Become a Sustainable Superhero!

In addition to the above recommendations, here are a few tips to help you implement more eco-minded practices during your stay in The Palm Beaches:

  • When leaving your hotel room, don’t forget to turn off the lights and bump up the temperature to conserve energy.
  • Consider biking or walking to your destination. Downtown West Palm Beach, Lake Worth Beach, and Delray Beach are all extremely walkable. Don’t forget your camera to capture all those unforgettable memories!
  • Bring a reusable water bottle to fill up while you’re out and about.
  • Remember the old saying, “Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints”? This still stands true today! No matter where you visit, remember the Leave No Trace (LNT) rules. This includes leaving things as you found them, properly disposing of trash or recyclables, and respecting wildlife and others.
  • When in doubt, remember to refuse, reduce, reuse, and recycle! Refuse single-use plastics or other products that may be environmentally harmful (for example, skip the plastic straw when ordering a beverage), reduce your overall consumption of single-use plastics and other disposable items, reuse (for example, take a cute canvas bag to shop with!), and recycle items like glass, plastic bottles, and paper or cardboard in the proper containers.

Hannah Deadman-Arnst

A creative thinker with a passion for storytelling, Hannah Deadman-Arnst is a full-time writer, communications professional, and traveler. While she calls Palm Beach County home, she travels and works remotely in her camper with her husband, Ryan, and huskies, Buddy and Sapphire. She has explored 42 states, visited 36 national parks and, since 2021, has driven 20,000 miles with her RV. Her love for travel and the outdoors began at a young age—boating Lake Huron, taking road trips, and having fun outside. She is also a trained dancer and singer. When she’s not creating, she loves to photograph her travels, hike with her dogs, find really good coffee and cuisine, and read. Follow her outdoorsy adventures at @hannaharnst!

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