Pirate's Trap Beach in Staniel Cay, Bahamas

Pirate’s Trap Beach, a Short Golf Cart Ride From Embrace

Embrace Resort

Brings Sustainability to the Exumas

 

(Editor’s Note: In the 2.5 years we’ve been running GGT, we’ve never profiled a hotel. We’re featuring Exuma’s Embrace Resort because its founder, Nicole Ferguson, is working to build an ecotourism industry to serve small islands that have never had one. Aside from hosting our stay, we received no compensation for our services. But we do hope to ensure that eco-friendly independent entrepreneurs like Ferguson will be rewarded for their efforts, as we believe that they are the future of responsible ecotourism.)

 

To say that the 2-square mile island of Staniel Cay is tiny would be an understatement. With a population of just 110, Staniel Cay has had just one resort, one main restaurant/bar, and one marina for over 50 years now. But with the ongoing construction of the new Embrace Resort, that’s all about to change.

 

Located in the Exumas, this sleepy island is best known as a filming location for the 1965 James Bond film Thunderball. A mainstream tourist mecca this is not: Aside from picturesque Thunderball Grotto and the famous swimming pigs of Major Cay, there’s not much here to draw the cruise ship crowd. There’s no duty free shopping. No chain restaurants. No golf courses or spas. Nothing but the exquisite natural beauty for which the Bahamas are known. In short, it’s a potentially perfect ecotourism haven.

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Two long tail boats- Koh Kradan Beach, Thailand

Two long tail boats- Koh Kradan Beach, Thailand

 Top 5 Thailand National Parks

 

When you think of Thailand, you probably think of white sandy beaches, tropical cocktails, and crumbling temples. You probably also conjure up images of delicious food and friendly people. Those were certainly the visions I had before I visited, and thankfully they all turned out to be true.

 

But, after three months of exploration, I realized Thailand has a lot more to offer than *just* gorgeous beaches, temples and people. There are plentiful opportunities for getting up close to nature in some fantastic national parks, where the local wildlife comes front and center to the experience. Here are some of my favorite national parks in Thailand, to give you an idea of what the country has to offer!

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Bornean Orangutans photo via WWF

Bornean Orangutans, photo via WWF

ENDANGERED SPECIES SPOTLIGHT

Bornean & Sumatran Orangutans

 

SPECIES:  Sumatran orangutans (Pongo abelii) & Bornean orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus)

CURRENT RANGE:  Sumatra (Indonesia) & Borneo (Malaysia and Indonesia)

CURRENT THREATS:  Deforestation, poaching

CONSERVATION STATUS:  Critically Endangered (Sumatran) and Endangered (Bornean)

WHERE YOU CAN SEE THEM:  All over Malaysia and Indonesia, in the wild or at a rehabilitation center.

 

What are they?

The word “orangutan” means “man of the forest” in the Malay language… which makes sense when you consider that orangutans share 96.4% of our genes. They have grasping hands at the end of long arms, which allows them to swing through trees from branch to branch. They can grow to be between 1.25 and 1.5 metres tall; females weigh in at 30-50kg, and males at 50-90kg. We can easily identify orangutans by their red hair, but another distinguishing physical feature in males can be specified as “flanged” or “unflanged.”  The flanged males have prominent cheek pads and a throat sack for long calls, whereas the unflanged orangutans do not have such features. They eat wild fruits such as lychees, mangosteens, and figs, and extract water from holes in trees by slurping it up.

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Tilikum, the Killer Whale from the Blackfish Documentary

Tilikum, the Killer Whale Responsible for Trainer Dawn Brancheau’s Death

Blackfish Documentary Director

Gabriela Cowperthwaite Takes On Sea World

 

In February of 2010, during a moment of post-show bonding, a killer whale at Sea World in Orlando suddenly grabbed his trainer by the ponytail, pulled her underwater, and shook her violently. The trainer, 40-year-old Dawn Brancheau– literally the poster girl for the theme park– was pronounced dead on the scene. Gabriela Cowperthwaite, director of the Blackfish documentary, had a simple question: Why?

 

Inspired in part by The Killer in the Pool, an in-depth expose written by Tom Zimmerman for Outside magazine, Cowperthwaite delved deeper into the murky world of captive cetacean facilities. Former Sea World trainers came out of the woodwork to talk to her for Blackfish, in large part to refute much of the misinformation about the tragic incident being spread by Sea World’s PR people.

 

Doing for whales what The Cove did for dolphins, Blackfish examines how whales were historically captured for facilities such as Sea World, explains why these remarkably intelligent creatures are especially ill-suited for captivity, and shines a harsh spotlight on an entire industry that uses animals for human entertainment. In the end, the film suggests that it’s not Tilikum who is to blame for Dawn Brancheau’s death, but Sea World itself (and its customers, by proxy).

 

There’s been a lot of controversy swirling around the documentary, with Sea World and the filmmakers (including Zimmerman, who served as an associate producer) each firing off press releases accusing the other of lying. So we were excited to get a chance to speak with Cowperthwaite about her undeniably disturbing film.

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Sunrise Over Moorea, Tahiti

Sunrise Over Moorea

Photos of Moorea 4×4 Safari Tour

 

We tend to seek out ecotourism adventures wherever we travel. But such is the mystical allure of Tahiti that even we were tempted to simply hang out in our luxurious over-water bungalow at the Sofitel Moorea Ia Ora Beach Resort and embrace the R&R approach to paradise.

 

It would’ve been easy, given that the resort’s waters were a marine sanctuary, with myriad coral, fish and spotted rays all around us. But our insatiable curiosity ultimately got the better of us, and I think these photos of Moorea show why leaving the comfort of your hotel and exploring the island’s interior via a 4×4 Safari Tour will help you to better appreciate the beauty of the people and landscapes of Tahiti.

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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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Destinations We’ve Covered:

• AFRICA
Egypt- Top 5 Eco Attractions
Madagascar- Ring-tailed Lemurs at Anja Reserve
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
Borneo- Sabah Ecotourism Attractions
India- Ranthambhore National Park
India- Tibetan Culture In Ladakh
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
Australia-Maria 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
AL- Fishing Mobile Bay
AL- Mobile Carnival Museum
AK- Denali National Park
CA- Hiking The John Muir Trail
FL- Sanibel Island Eco Activities
FL- Crystal River, Swimming with Manatees
FL- Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge
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- Lafayette Cajun Food Tour
LA- Mardi Gras Indians Super Sunday
LA- Voodoo Museum
MT- Hiking Glacier National Park
NC- Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge
NC- Asheville's Green Restaurants Scene
NC- Asheville's Top Ecotourism Attractions
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
TX- Sea Turtle Rescue, South Padre Island
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