Costas Christ

of National Geographic Traveler

Costas Christ is an award-winning travel writer and editor at large for National Geographic Traveler magazine, where he pens the “Trending” column. Follow Costas on Twitter @CostasChrist.

In addition to his work with National Geographic, Costas's articles and essays have appeared in The New York Times, Virtuoso Life, International Herald Tribune, and the Sunday Times of London, among other publications.

One of the world's leading sustainable tourism experts, Costas's work and travels have taken him to more than 125 countries across six continents. He has been recognized along with Dr. Jane Goodall, Ted Turner, and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. as one of 50 Global Visionaries working to save the planet.

Costas also serves as chairman of the National Geographic World Legacy Awards, which honor companies, organizations, and destinations on the leading edge of positive change in the global travel industry.

Over a decade ago, the film “Under the Tuscan Sun” tossed Italy’s Maremma region into the global tourism spotlight. For today’s thoughtful travelers, this fertile region offers authenticity and nature on a grand scale best sampled in spring, when the days are warm, the nights are cool, and the land is bursting with life renewed.

Has the age of flying green arrived? Not quite.

I have been traveling to Belize every year for more than a decade and am already planning my next trip. Why? This small Central American nation delivers cultural and natural heritage in spades. Here’s a prescription for the perfect week in this small but mighty wonderland.

Fellow travelers frequently ask me if there are any places I have been that I would go back to in a heartbeat. Well, Sri Lanka quickly comes to mind (I’m currently planning my third trip there). Which, of course, begs the question: Why? Here are seven reasons Sri Lanka is on my revisit list for 2015.

Invasive species are wreaking havoc on fragile natural ecosystems. In response, a culinary movement spearheaded by conservation groups and sustainably minded chefs is gathering steam, with a clear message: Eat the invaders.

Yellowstone became the world’s first national park in 1872, leading the British diplomat James Bryce to declare national parks “the best idea America ever had.” Indeed, it was, and is. But celebrations and plaudits aside, look at what we have done to our national treasures. As we prepare to celebrate the National Park Service centennial in 2016, here’s a birthday wish for the future.

In the 1950s, Peru’s Cabo Blanco Fishing Club was a famous rod-and-reel outpost—the world record black marlin, weighing 1,560 pounds, was caught here. Ernest Hemingway visited, along with other celebs. Now the classic coastal village and some 2,500 square miles of ocean around it could become part of a new ecotourism project—or be turned over to more oil drilling platforms.

As a new generation of Greeks reclaim their heritage, they’re looking past overtouristed islands like Mykonos to quiet stunners such as Ios. Reachable only by boat (including a daily ferry from Santorini), this 42-square-mile island in the Cyclades archipelago largely retains its traditional way of life, making it a welcome alternative to its more built-up neighbors.

A few weeks ago, I challenged myself to embrace a different kind of travel. Despite having spent two decades traversing more than 100 countries in all manner of ways, I had never been in an RV. And yet, hitting the road in one of these self-contained mobile domiciles is exactly how thousands of fellow travelers see the world. What was I missing?

The pillars of the Acropolis are glowing in sunset gold and crimson glory as I meander down Ermou Street to Monastiraki—a pedestrian enclave in the heart of old Athens. The lively scene is a far cry from the smoggy, traffic-clogged city I remember in my youth. Now Athens is the place to be.

In 1979, I was a young backpacker in search of paradise. I found it in southern Thailand. Lost on Ko Phangan, I stumbled upon the brilliant sands of Haad Rin. I stayed there a month, made a hand-drawn map of its location, and vowed never to let the secret out. But others discovered it. Today Haad Rin represents tourism gone wrong.

In early 2014, the Dallas Safari Club, a Texas-based hunting outfit, came up with an unconventional idea for protecting the critically endangered African black rhino: Auction a permit to shoot one and donate the money for conservation. What kind of precedent does this set—and what are enlightened travelers to do?

It’s not easy to get out from under the shadow of a place like Brazil’s Pantanal—a natural wetland bigger than England and home to a biodiversity bonanza of such rare species as the tapir and the jaguar. Yet the town of Bonito, on the Pantanal’s border, is emerging as one of Brazil’s favorite adventure outposts­.

In the course of my travels–and my career as a promoter and practitioner of sustainable tourism–one question comes up again and again: “What can I do to be a more responsible traveler?” So I thought I’d pen a primer. Here are seven things globetrotters can do to lessen their impact on the planet.

Some people look for the pool. Others head to the concierge. Me? The very first thing I do when I arrive at a hotel is stand in the lobby and take a visual 360. Can I tell what country I’m in (or even what continent I’m on) from the décor, the staff uniforms, the architecture?…

Generations of “lobsta” families form the backbone of villages dotting Maine’s rugged coast, where they haul traps in the cold Atlantic waters. The good news? The Marine Stewardship Council has certified Maine lobster as among only 10 percent of fisheries worldwide that are sustainable.

I consider travel an enlightening experience, but it never occurred to me that beams of light might change the way we travel. Recently, lighting scientists (yes, they exist) have dissected the specific wavelengths of electric light to better understand how they affect our bodies. “Hotels will offer guest rooms with lights that help us to…

A confession: I don’t play golf, partly because I’m unable to reconcile my conservation work with a sport also known for habitat destruction, massive water consumption, and heavy use of chemicals. Now the sport may be about to take a big step, in a surprising place.

If you’re like me, you drink water from a glass or a reusable container when you’re home or about town. When you travel, it’s a different story. Throwaway plastic bottles remain the most convenient way for hotels to distribute water, generating trash that often ends up in our oceans. But the tide is turning, thanks to the Whole World Water campaign.

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The superrich have long been known — accurately or not — for their competitiveness. But that doesn’t have to be such a bad thing. Learn more about four billionaires who are investing in the future of our oceans.

There are more than 7,000 islands in the Philippines, so it comes as no surprise that after tourism’s heavy trek across Southeast Asia’s once pristine outposts, the less explored parts of the archipelago are poised to be the latest “paradise found.” Indeed, that is already under way, which is why the tale of two islands — Palawan and Boracay — offers lessons as the country lays out the welcome mat to more visitors.

Since 2007, the illegal ivory trade has more than doubled. If the massacres do not stop, our children could be the last generation to see an African elephant in the wild. As travelers, we can — and must — do something about it. Here are the crucial actions to take.

Today, cities are sprouting some of the most innovative green projects in the world, redefining a sustainable future for urban dwellers — and attracting travelers, too.

Here are just a few examples.

Each spring, Traveler Editor at Large Costas Chris tucks his passport away and turns into a blueberry farmer, tending the crop on a 40-acre organic farm in Maine. Call it his double life.

Costas Christ brings us five Friday-to-Monday getaways from Maine to Manhattan that deliver friendly service and great food along with a palpable commitment to caring for the environment.