Responsible Travel: Why it Matters & How it Affects Coastal Shores

responsible tourist picture

Hey there, beach lovers! We rely on ads and affiliate links to keep the good times rolling and support our site. If you purchase through our links, we may earn a small commission, but it won’t cost you a thing.

Your support helps us provide valuable content and keep the good vibes flowing. Know that every click and purchase you make makes a splash in our hearts. Thanks for making our beach party the place to be!

Do you participate in responsible travel? Chances are you don’t. Most people don’t to be honest. And you can’t blame all of us for this.

Often it takes learning or becoming aware there’s an issue in the first place to be able to change.

But, it also comes down to each individual’s inner preference or beliefs as to whether to act on help solving the issue or just plain ignore them.

A favorite travel destination amongst Americans are the beaches. According to a study published by the Ocean and Coastal Management over 129 million people visit the beaches each year.

And Southern California has an average of 56 million yearly. (1) That’s a lot of people flocking to the coastal shores each year.

With also the increasing of affordability in traveling now humans are more than ever exploring new destinations. So it’s imperative to become a responsible tourist.

What does it mean to be a responsible tourist?

So, you may be wondering what does it mean to be a responsible tourist? Well, there are several measures you can in being a responsible tourist.

Being a responsible tourist just means being consciously aware of decisions you are making when you travel. You’re decisions when traveling to the beaches or anywhere in general play a role in this ecosystem.

Believe it or not. 

sustainable tourism effects
Photo by Dustan Woodhouse 

Why sustainable tourism matter

Sustainable tourism matters because as a traveler you are changing the impact you have when visiting a place.

For instance, when you decide to leave trash on the beaches or participate in recreational activities such as boating, snorkeling you can have an effect on the marine life.

By snorkeling in certain areas where coral reefs are already fragile you are contributing to their destruction. 

Either by touching them or by stirring the sediment that disrupts its natural habitat. Even boating disrupts the marine habitat.

Noise pollution from cruise ships, fisherman boats, or tour boats affect whales, dolphins along with other marine wildlife. As stated by the Marine Insight:

“Two main reasons that make environmental impact of noise in marine life especially grave are- firstly noise travels much more in water, covering greater distances than it would do on land while travelling through air, and secondly because the marine life is extremely sensitive to noise pollution.

Due to their extreme reliance on underwater sounds for basic life functions like searching for food and mate and an absence of any mechanism to safeguard them against it, underwater noise pollution disrupts marine life in more serious ways.”

*Full reference below from Marine Insight

As a tourist we aren’t aware of how these recreational activities at the beach play a role with wildlife.

tips for responsible travel
Photo by Michaela 

Tips for endorsing responsible travel at the beach?

There are several ways you can as a traveler be a responsible traveler to the beach.

Below we got a few tips for those wanting to learn more about how to become responsible travelers to the beach. 

Though, there will be always some individuals who won’t take these tips in consideration I still believe in hope that there are more conscious individuals in this world than those who just don’t give a damn.

Pick up after yourself

The first and most is pretty obvious. Plain and simple “do always pick up after yourself.” The beach is a lovely place to enjoy it with your loved ones and even yourself.

But, it’s also not a place to be left with your garbage. Being a responsible traveler means respecting the oceans or any new destinations.

There are trash bins around the beaches for a reason. Each time you leave your garbage behind you increase pollution amongst the oceans. In which when the tides rise they wash it amongst the sea.

Also, animals by the sea such as turtles and birds can get caught up around the trash. It’s a big no no! Please, don’t stop down to that leave and pick up after yourself.

lady feeding seagull
Photo by Lucas Sankey 

Leave wildlife alone

I want to believe that the humans who participate in feeding the wildlife at beaches are ignorant. That they lack the knowledge and don’t participate in this act intentionally.

That they are unaware of the consequences they are inflicting on the wildlife. There’s a reason people why wildlife eats different foods from humans for the most part.

Unless, we are having a discussion on fish and plants. But, that’s not what I’m addressing here.

If you look at evolution between Homo sapiens and the animal kingdom you will understand how we came about. How our bellies are also different.

These are some consequences humans do to wildlife when they feed them.

The following information comes from a study published from the Wildlife Ecology and Conservation. (2)

  • behavioral problems in the birds—they lose their fear of humans and become aggressive;
  • malnutrition from eating foods with low or no nutritional value;
  • injuries from swallowing hooks (Figure 1) and nonfood items;
  • entanglement in fishing line—which can lead to starvation, loss of a wing or foot, and death;
  • injuries from swallowing large fish bones which they cannot digest—large fish bones can puncture a bird’s pouch, get caught in the throat, and even puncture a bird’s stomach;
  • becoming tame, losing fear of humans;
  • increased spread of disease;
  • degradation of water quality (from concentrations of bird feces);
  • parent birds who are dependent on humans for food and therefore cannot teach their own young proper foraging techniques to feed themselves.

It’s shocking how seagulls which are one common type of wildlife at the beaches have become our landfills. On a study published by Popular Science scientist found that 80% of 3 gulls species from Canada had debris inside their bellies. From plastic to other trash.

You are doing a disgrace to wildlife when you participate in leaving your garbage behind and feed them. As a responsible traveler acknowledge the wildlife, but leave it alone! Enough said here! You get my point.

responsible travel companies
Photo by You X Ventures 

Support social enterprises that are leaving legacies

Encourage and support those companies that are doing well for this planet. By, well what I mean is those that are making a better difference, leaving a legacy.

For instance, 4Ocean, is a great example. Founded by 2 guys who where surfers and become shocked at the how much trash was in the waters when they would surf.

This problem triggered motivation for them to take these matters into their own hands that would lead to 4Ocean.

A company who is creating jobs around the world through beach clean ups, education, and selling recycled plastic bracelets.

4Ocean Bracelet with Charm Made from 100% Recycled Material Upcycled Jewelry

Another, amazing company is Sand Cloud. Founded by 3 friends from San Diego. They set off on a mission to create beach sustainable products. Their T-shirts are made from recycled plastic bottles.

They give 10% of their profits back into marine conservation organizations. Their mission is to help save Marine Life.

Sand Cloud Turkish Towel – Peshtemal Cotton – Great for Home or Beach or as a Blanket – Tie-Dye – As Seen on Shark Tank (Luna)

Sand Cloud Bamboo Water Bottle 100% BPA Free 18 Fl oz.

These are a few companies that are shaping our environment in a better way. Become part of the movement and support companies like these.

local community woman
Photo by Isaiah Rustad 

Support local communities

When traveling to the beaches if possible try to opt out of franchised restaurants and hotels if possible, instead try eating at local mom and pop shops or staying at there hotels.

For instance, if you are in Oceanside Harbor visiting check out these 10 Seafood restaurants. But, one restaurant that I want to point out here is Harbor and Fish and Chips.

Which is a family operated business that has been running for over 40 years. You can learn more about the struggles they endured and how they would become a local favorite place amongst the Oceanside community.

smiling girls at beach
Photo by Thought Catalog 


The world is changing whether you want to acknowledge it or not. Humans are living longer than ever before and that’s great news for us. Traveling is also becoming cheaper for us.

However, with an increase of the human species and traveling we need to become aware more of our actions we take daily and how it impacts daily the planet.

We need to encourage responsible travel. From our coastal shores to the land we live in. For we are only given one planet that allows us to breath its air and provide us food from its land.

Actions such as trashing oceans and not recycling are a few examples of what impact we are making. Everything starts with you. You deciding to making change.

I still believe there is more good to us humans.

That there are a majority of us still fighting each day in bringing awareness and making change. Call me ignorant, but I still believe.

After all, like the saying goes, “Hope, dies last.”

Responsible Travel Pin


(1) Dwight, Ryan H., et al. “Beach Attendance and Bathing Rates for Southern California Beaches.” Oregon Health & Science University, Elsevier BV, 1 Jan. 2016,

(2) Hostetler, Mark E., et al. “Why Shouldn’t We Feed Water Birds?” EDIS New Publications RSS, Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, 20 Nov. 2018,

(3) Smita, et al. “Effects of Noise Pollution from Ships on Marine Life.” Marine Insight, 9 Dec. 2019,


Jess & Jeanette

Jess and Jeanette, two sisters who founded Unseen Beaches, were inspired by their family’s beach vacations while growing up.

Their passion lies in guiding you toward the most remarkable beach destinations across the U.S., while also protecting and preserving these beautiful coastal treasures! 🌊❤️

You May Also Like…

Don’t be caught off-guard like many others. Equip yourself with our Top Favorite 5 Essential Beach Must-Haves and avoid common beach pitfalls! 🏖️🌞🌊

1. YETI Wheeled Cooler: Keep your drinks and snacks chilled under the sun.

2. Kelty Tent: Seek refuge from the sun with a lightweight, easy-to-set-up beach tent.

3. BeachBub Umbrella: Stay cool and protected with a durable, stylish UPF beach umbrella.

4. Trailhead Chair: Sit back and relax with a comfortable and sturdy beach chair.

5. CGear Sand-Free Mat Sand Blanket: Keep the sand at bay and stay comfortable with a sand-resistant blanket.

Recent Post…