Ecological holidays by the sea are possible: follow the guide!

4 chiliennes rayées blanc et vert ou blanc et bleu sur une plage de cailloux face à la mer et avec des mouettes

When we think of summer holidays, we often think first of holidays by the sea. And this is not just an impression! In 2020, 54% of travellers chose a beach destination. Which means that, hang on to your hats, every year 35 million people regularly share 4% of the territory (1). When you want to illustrate mass tourism, this figure may well do the trick! However, do we all want to give up our day at the beach and our swim in the big blue? If some change to the countryside or the mountains to avoid the crowds, for others the grail is warm sand and feet in the water. And we can understand them, it’s still a fantastic moment! So to make your ecological holidays by the sea, we’ve put together a list of tips and addresses that will allow you to enjoy the beach and limit your impact on the environment. Pack your bags and let’s go!

  1. Organise your ecological holiday by the sea
    • Where and when to spend your holidays by the sea
    • Our ideas for responsible establishments
  2. The 8 commandments of an eco responsible day at the beach

Organising your ecological holiday at the sea

Where and when to spend your holidays by the sea

We have already talked about this in our article on organising an eco-responsible road trip: the choice of destination is essential. It is indeed an important element to limit the impact of the holidays. Holidays by the sea are no exception to this rule, given the influx of holidaymakers.

The Blue Flag label

This label was created in 1985 by Teragir, a non-profit association of general interest. The objective of the Blue Flag is to :

Each year, the prize is awarded to the municipalities and marinas that have a permanent policy of sustainable tourism development.

In concrete terms, how does this manifest itself on the beach? Well, you will find selective sorting bins, drinking water points, water analyses during the season for example… On the marina side, the certifiers check that there is no discharge of waste water into the water, recovery and treatment of polluting liquids… In 2017, there were 4700 referenced sites in 47 countries! With so much choice, you will easily find the beachfront that is right for you.

All the criteria are available on their website. And to find out more about the association we invite you to watch this video:

Choosing the right period

As with everything, it is not always possible. We know that most of you are dependent on school holidays or professional constraints. However, when you can, try to favour less busy periods for the coastal communities. That is to say, if possible, try not to leave between 15 July and 15 August.

This will be beneficial for everyone. Nature will be less stressed at any one time. For the resort and the shopkeepers, it allows them to spread out their income. And for you, it’s only advantages to have less people around you:

  • More calm
  • Tourism professionals are less overwhelmed with requests and therefore more accessible to share good tips for the region
  • Less expensive

Seaside resorts accessible by train

Whether in France or in Europe, the train is really a means of transport adapted to responsible holidays. So when it’s possible on your side, think about using it, even for your holidays at the sea. Indeed, many seaside resorts have their own train station.

Here is a non-exhaustive list of seaside towns accessible by train:

ecological holiday sea: train along a sandy beach and flowery dunes
  • In France
    • Saint-Valéry sur Somme to discover the Baie de Somme
    • Trouville-Deauville, which offers bus and train connections to several seaside resorts in the region
    • Saint-Malo and its famous walled city
    • The bay of La Baule and the surrounding towns such as Saint-Nazaire or Le Croisic
    • La Rochelle. Thanks to the bus network, you can easily get to the Ile de Ré or the Ile d’Oléron
    • Arcachon and its famous basin
    • Montpellier and also Marseille, which allow you to combine the discovery of the city with days at the beach
    • Sète to lay your towel on the beach of the Corniche
    • Nice and the Promenade des Anglais
  • In Europe
    • Barcelona is directly accessible by train from several French cities. You can enjoy the Ramblas and the beaches
    • As mentioned in a previous article, you can go to Venice by night train. You can discover the city of the Doges and relax on the beaches of the Lido island.

Our ideas for responsible establishments

It is not always easy to find your way around the range of establishments in these seaside resorts. That is why we have selected a few addresses for you. However, many others are waiting for you on the site, be it hotels, holiday rentals, campsites or gites by the sea.

Photo mosaic of 12 responsible hotels by the sea

And so many more! We invite you to discover them:

The 8 commandments of an eco responsible day at the beach

An eco-friendly holiday at the seaside also means changing our habits at the beach. That’s where we’ll be spending a large part of our holidays, so we might as well be careful about our impact.

#1 On foot or by bike you will arrive

ecological sea holidays: many bicycles parked along a sandy path leading to the beach

Again, if possible, of course, go to the beach in an environmentally friendly way. That is to say, on foot or by bicycle. This will limit the use of motorised transport during your stay. This will also have an impact on the air quality around the beach. Indeed, queues of cars going in circles, waiting for parking, are not the most pleasant. Both for air and noise pollution.

#2 Thou shalt favour sailing

Sailing or any other non-motorised water activity of course. For the same reasons as mentioned above and all the nuisances caused by motorised activities. Ecological holidays at the sea must therefore rhyme with ecological activities. You will find some ideas of ecological activities, nautical or not, to do on holiday on our blog.

#3 Thou shalt ban single-use plastic

The best waste is the waste we don’t produce. Everyone knows this adage and it applies to all aspects of our lives. This is also the case at the beach. As a reminder: find the checklist of items for a zero waste holiday on the explor’acteurs blog.

#4 Thou shalt pick up thy rubbish

Zero waste is not always an achievable goal, as we know. If we limit our waste to the maximum, that’s already good, no guilt. On the other hand, for the other waste, we remember to collect it and throw it in the appropriate bin. This includes cigarette butts, which you don’t bury in the sand. The smallest thing left on the beach will unfortunately end up at the bottom of the ocean during the next tide.

ecological sea holidays - woman on a pebble beach holding in her hand a lot of collected plastic waste

#5 A collection activity thou shalt organise

Are you the kind of person who gets bored after 5 minutes on your towel? And you get cold after 10 minutes of splashing around in the water? Why not organise a litter pick on the beach. With the tides our uncollected waste goes into the oceans (see point 5). But that’s not all: other people’s rubbish washes up on our beaches and spoils the landscape.

The collection activity keeps you busy on the beach and prevents the waste from being washed up on another beach. The icing on the cake is that you go home with a sense of pride and accomplishment.

To ensure that this activity runs smoothly, bring a plastic bag / bin and gloves to protect yourself. Don’t forget your best headgear to avoid sunstroke!

#6 Everything else you leave in place

However, one should not collect vegetation as it has its uses in its place on the eco-system. Similarly, the pebbles that are collected to make cairns can be harmful. Pebbles are used as a barrier against waves or as a shelter for bird eggs. For more information see this article “Cairns are a scourge for the environment”.

The other problem with bringing in a plant is that it can be extremely damaging to the eco-system you are taking it to.

#7 In the paths you will stay

Sometimes to reach the beaches you have to cross beautiful dune or forest landscapes. The temptation to leave the paths is great. This is not advisable when you want to make your holiday an ecological holiday by the sea. Indeed, these places are protected from human passage, which allows the fauna and flora to live freely and to regenerate. As for the cairns, some birds come to nest there for example.

ecological sea holidays - dunes with a path marked out by wooden fences with people in swimming costumes going to the beach at the end

Moreover, by walking all over the dunes we destroy them. They end up collapsing and no longer play their protective role for the eco system b ehind.

#8 Thou shalt use an eco-friendly sun cream

Sunscreens protect us from the sun, that’s for sure. However, unfortunately, they do not play the same protective role on the sea bed. We spoke at length about this problem in our article “How to choose between the different eco-friendly sun creams“. This is why we invite you to consult it in order to choose the cream that will both suit you best and protect the oceans.

So, are you a sea or a mountain person? Do you have any tips to add to our list?

Sources :
(1) https://www.lefigaro.fr/voyages/vacances-d-ete-la-mer-plebiscitee-par-54-des-futurs-touristes-20200608
– Image par dfsym de Pixabay 
– Image par André Rau de Pixabay 
– Photo de Daria Shevtsova provenant de Pexels
– Image par Rudy and Peter Skitterians de Pixabay 


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