Shell Island, Panama City Beach

Shell Island, Panama City Beach

Top 5 Ecotourism Attractions in Panama City Beach

(This story was sponsored by Panama City Beach, but our opinions remain our own.)

 

Growing up in Atlanta, spending most of our family vacations hiking or backpacking in the north Georgia mountains, the idea of a trip to Panama City Beach seemed almost impossibly exotic. It was only a 5-hour drive away, but to a little kid who had never seen a beach it might as well have been Tahiti.

 

The first time my parents took me there, on a retreat for our Episcopal Church’s Youth Group, Panama City Beach seemed like some incredible tropical wonderland. I vividly remember the feeling of digging my toes into the sugary white sand, giggling madly while leaping into the waves of the Gulf of Mexico, and having my mind blown by the lights and sounds of my first arcade.

 

These days, the “Emerald Coast” along Florida’s Panhandle has changed a lot. The population in PCB has grown from around 2,000 back in the ‘80s to over 12,000. CNN/Money named Panama City Beach the No. 1 Real Estate Market in America back in 2006, with new high-rise condos largely replacing the older motels.

 

Overall, the area has become more upscale and family-friendly, while at the same time preserving much of the old school Florida charm that attracted my family to the area nearly 40 years ago. Our PCB Bucket List includes a surprising array of Ecotourism attractions that are perfect for nature lovers:

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Green Travel Media Crew in #EcoCostaRica

Part of the Green Travel Media Crew in #EcoCostaRica

 

Keeping secrets is a funny thing: I’m very good at it, but I find it excruciating when there’s exciting news to share.

 

You can probably imagine the pain (oh, the PAIN!!!) of sitting on this announcement for the past 6 weeks or so, waiting for all the I’s to be dotted and T’s to be crossed so we could finalize the details of our agreement. I didn’t want to talk about it for fear of jinxing it, because this is by far our biggest business deal since Mary and I launched GGT four years ago.

 

So here it is:  Our company Green Travel Media LLC has been selected by eco-tour operators International Expeditions to be the editorial voice behind their 2015 rebranding efforts.

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Dr Martha Honey at TBEX Cancun 2014

INTERVIEW: Dr. Martha Honey on

Ecotourism, Dolphin Tours & Travel Bloggers

 

It might sound like hyperbole to say that Dr. Martha Honey wrote the book on Ecotourism, but it’s true. Ecotourism & Sustainable Development: Who Owns Paradise? is literally the most authoritative tome on the topic, providing a comprehensive overview of the myriad complexities involved in responsible travel.

 

An award-winning investigative journalist with over 20 years in the field (Costa Rica and Tanzania), Dr. Honey has gone on to become one of the world’s most respected thought leaders on Ecotourism trends. She served as Executive Director of The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) from 2003 to 2006, and co-founded both the Center for Responsible Travel (CREST) and its non-profit charitable program, Travelers’ Philanthropy.

 

It was an honor to be involved in landing Dr. Honey as the Opening Keynote Speaker for the TBEX Travel Blogging Conference in Cancun last week, and an even greater honor to be asked to interview her onstage for the Keynote session. But perhaps the greatest honor of all was the quality time Mary and I got spend with Martha and CREST’s Washington Program Associate, Samantha Hogenson, during our four days in Cancun.

 

In preparation for the conference, Dr. Honey and I conducted a telephone issue to discuss topics ranging from the evolution of Ecotourism  and why she feels it’s the best form of travel to the TBEX Dolphin Tour controversy and the role she sees travel bloggers playing in the future of responsible travel.

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Sunset at Piedra Escondida in Mexico's Riviera Maya

7 Awesome Cancun Ecotourism Attractions to See at TBEX

 

Tomorrow morning Mary & I leave for our appearance in the Opening Keynote Session at TBEX (a.k.a. Travel Bloggers Exchange), in Cancun, Mexico. It’ll be our first-ever travel blogging conference, but our third time visiting the Riviera Maya in the last five years.

 

I’ll admit to being both nervous and excited about it: Though I’ve attended major events such as SXSW and the Toronto Film Festival numerous times as a journalist, speaking on stage is a different story. Fortunately I’ll be getting to interview one of my personal heroes, Ecotourism pioneer Dr. Martha Honey, founder of the Center for Responsible Travel and Travelers Philanthropy, a non-profit founded to help travelers give back to community conservation and sustainable development projects.

 

None of this would’ve happened if it hadn’t been for the huge controversy over the Cancun CVB offering Swim With Dolphin Tours to visiting bloggers as part of the official TBEX Fam Tours. When the most popular blogger in the world, Nomadic Matt, suggested bloggers boycott TBEX unless they canceled the tour of the dolphinarium– which many of us eco-friendly folks think are cruel and inhumane- there was a standoff, with neither side seemingly willing to budge. Fortunately, having worked with the CVB Cancun before, we were able to work diplomatically to get the tours cancelled.

 

The irony that the all-inclusive hotel the conference is in and the location of the Opening Night Party both offer captive cetacean tours is not lost on Dr. Honey or I. But we’ve agreed that the Big Picture– getting to talk about the importance of responsible ecotourism, and of bloggers covering these types of issues in their work– allows us to educate and inform the key travel industry influence in a way that could help make a difference. I mean, just imagine if even half of the bloggers attending TBEX started writing about Sustainable Travel issues regularly?

 

So in that spirit of focusing on the positive and encouraging people to celebrate the beauty of nature and cultural conservation, we thought it’d be fun to share seven of our favorite Cancun ecotourism attractions. Check out the videos!

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Photos of J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge in Sanibel Island, Florida

PHOTO GALLERY: The Beauty of

J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge

 

Without Jay Norwood “Ding” Darling, Sanibel Island, Florida as we know and love it today might not even exist.

 

Born in 1876, Ding (a contraction of his last name, which he used to sign all his work) became one of the leading editorial cartoonists of the 20th century, working primarily with the New York Globe and New York Herald Tribune.

 

Darling used his work to criticize the role industrial commerce played in the pollution of America’s rivers, the role of hunting in the rise of endangered species, the scourge of deforestation, and the businessmen and politicians who seemed not to care about the long-term implications of their actions. He won two Pulitzer Prizes for his work, in 1924 and 1943.

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Co-Founded by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett, Green Global Travel is an ecotourism, nature / wildlife conservation & cultural preservation magazine. More about us.

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Check out our other sites! Green Travel Media
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Proud members of: The International Ecotourism Society

As Seen In:

Destinations We’ve Covered:

• AFRICA
Egypt- Top 5 Eco Attractions
Morocco- A Journey into the Atlas Mountains
South Africa- Londolozi Game Reserve Safari
South Africa- Kruger National Park
South Africa- South Africa- Zulu Memories
Tanzania- Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro

 
• ANTARCTICA
How To Get To Antarctica w/out Doing the Drake
The Haunting Beauty of Icebergs
Penguins of Antarctica
Taking the Polar Plunge
Top 5 Eco Attractions in Antarctica
Whales of Antarctica
 
• ASIA
India- Ranthambhore National Park
Laos- The Pastoral Paradise of Muang Ngoi
Malaysia- Borneo Sun Bear Conservation Centre
Malaysia- Orangutan Conservation at Sepilok
Nepal- Hiking The Annapurna Circuit
Taiwan- Top 5 Eco Activities in Taipei
Thailand- Top 5 National Parks
 
• AUSTRALIA/OCEANIA
Australia- Top 5 Eco Attractions
Australia-Kangaroo Island
New Zealand- Kapiti Island
New Zealand- Tongariro National Park
New Zealand- Top 5 Ecotourism Attractions
Tahiti- First Impressions
Tahiti- Photo Gallery
Tahiti- Moorea 4x4 Safari Tour
Tahiti- Moorea, Tiki Village Theater
Tahiti- Pearl Diving in Bora Bora
Tahiti- Ruahatu Marine Sanctuary, Bora Bora
Tahiti- Swimming With Sharks in Bora Bora
Tonga- Eua Island Eco Activities

 

• NORTH AMERICA
CANADA
Churchill- Into the Wild of Manitoba
Churchill- Polar Bear Fight
Churchill- Polar Bear Photo Gallery
Churchill- Tundra Wildlife

UNITED STATES
America’s Best Volcanoes
AK- Denali National Park
CA- Hiking The John Muir Trail
FL- Sanibel Island Eco Activities
FL- Crystal River, Swimming with Manatees
GA- Barnsley Gardens
GA- Top 5 Autumn Activities Around Atlanta
GA- Best Christmas Light Displays
GA- Top 20 Atlanta Christmas Events
GA- Jekyll Island Eco Activities
GA- Weekend in North GA Mountains
GA- Top 5 Eco Attractions in North GA
HI- Hawaii’s Big Island
HI- Hawaiian Mythology
HI - Top 5 Kauai Nature Attractions
LA- Mardi Gras Indians Super Sunday
MT- Hiking Glacier National Park
NC- Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge
NC- Asheville's Green Restaurants Scene
NC- Greensboro Travel Guide
NC- Great Smoky Mountains National Park
NC- Outer Banks Wild Horses
NM- Top 5 Eco Attractions
NY- Going Green in NYC
WV- Outdoor Adventures
Yellowstone- Mammoth Hot Springs
Yellowstone- Lamar Valley
Yellowstone- Grand Canyon & Hayden Valley
Yellowstone- Upper Geyser Basin
Yellowstone- Lower Geyser Basin

MEXICO
Cancun- Cancun Underwater Museum
Cancun- Mayan Museum of Archaeology
Cancun- Swimming with Whale Sharks
Riviera Maya- Monkeys, Pyramids & Pottery
Riviera Maya- Rio Secreto
Riviera Maya- Tulum & Coba
 
• CARIBBEAN