Ecotourism is popular in Phuket
Ecotourism is expanding throughout the world and Phuket is no exception. Ecotourism can encompass several different aspects of travel. It can be both leisurely and educational, usually exploring different areas throughout the globe to visit ecosystems, cultures and natural habitats specific to the region. These areas are usually protected and in their natural state. Ecotourism helps to support the local environment and cultures financially and promotes a sustainable ethic in tourism.
One of the goals of Ecotourism is to leave a minimal footprint. Many people rent hybrid vehicles to reduce their carbon footprint while traveling. Other programs such as recycling, water conservation and energy efficiency are also implemented on an individual basis to promote the sustainability of the areas visited. Ecotourism is an environmentally aware way to travel. Phuket offers many different options for Ecotourism from kayaking mangroves to scuba diving the natural reefs to taking a safari through the jungle.
Sirinat National Marine Park in Phuket
Sirinat National Marine Park is located in the northwest corner of Phuket. In the park there is a large mangrove forest where the fresh water and the salt water mix. Being unable to survive in pure fresh or salt water, the mangrove provides a unique opportunity to view and learn about its ecology. Birds and other wildlife found in the mangrove may also be observed. Sirinat National Marine Park also offers Phuket’s largest coral reef in shallow water. Only 700-1000 meters off shore, the reef is easily accessible. Between November and February, the endangered Olive Ridley turtles may be seen on occasion as they come to nest. Being a protected area, the coral reef and mangrove forest are some of the most pristine Phuket has to offer. The rates to visit the park are 200 THB for adults and 100 THB for children.
Elephant Trekking in Phuket
Many tourist guides warn against taking elephant treks. This is due to the mistreatment or abuse of the elephants in captivity. Phuket does indeed offer some elephant trekking with providers that take very good care of the elephants. Some of these companies even contribute percentages of funds generated from tour packages to aid in the conservation efforts of elephants in Thailand. Seeing the jungle of Phuket from elephant-back provides an amazing and unique perspective. Many tours also go to Khao Sok. This is a rare opportunity to view endangered wildlife in a protected area while perched on the back of an elephant. The average cost is around 3,000 THB for the day for adults and 1,500 THB for children.
Sea Canoeing from Phuket
Phuket has several different options to go sea canoeing. In addition to canoeing the mangroves on the east side of the island, there are trips from Phuket to canoe and explore the sea caves of Phang Nga. When the tide is right, the limestone caves and interior lagoons on Phang Nga Bay may be entered. These trips can be both beautiful and educational as many guides discus how the caves were formed. Several sea canoe excursions also explore the lagoon systems in Phang Nga. In these lagoon systems, the green of the jungle flows down from the hills to meet the water. The sea canoe trips provide an opportunity to view and learn about these delicate eco-systems while paddling through them without leaving a footprint. Some of the companies providing the trips also organize events to have guests help clean up Phang Nga Bay. The average cost is about 3,000 THB for adults and 1,500 THB for children.
Sea Gypsies in Phuket
The Sea Gypsies are considered to be the indigenous people of Phuket. Traditionally, the Sea Gypsies travel from bay to bay and settle until the resources have run out. They then relocate to another bay to give nature time to recoup. The livelihood of the Sea Gypsy culture is traditionally based on fishing and pearl diving, and there are seasonal settlements, with long periods of time living on the water. There are Sea Gypsy settlements in Rawai and Chalong that can be visited to buy fish or other wares. The cost is free but buying their goods is highly encouraged to support the local population.
Scuba Diving in Phuket
Phuket is widely regarded as one of the best scuba diving locations in the world. There are many different options for diving in Phuket. The west coast offers a number of different beaches where the water is clear enough to offer great visibility while exploring the reefs. From Phuket, there are trips to many of the surrounding islands. From Coral Island to Surin Island to the Similan Islands, there are many to choose from that offer outstanding diving. Coral Island is part of a marine preserve where the reef is pristine, making it worth the short 5km travel to get there. From exploring the reefs on the west coast of Phuket to the short daytrips to surrounding islands, the diving has much to offer. There are also a number of dive schools and instructors located locally. The PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) Open Water certification costs between 10,000-18,000 THB.
Phuket has many options to consider when looking into Ecotourism. There are several activities offered that leave behind almost zero carbon foot print. Whether an Ecotourist is looking for ecosystems above or below water, Phuket has many to experience.