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Want to fill your next trip to Mexico with tours and activities you can feel good about?

Ecotourism in Mexico is booming, and this list of socially responsible and sustainability-focused tour companies is the perfect place to start planning your trip.

Not only will you know that your money is supporting a plethora of good local causes and local families directly, but also that your travels will leave a positive footprint- something that hasn’t always been at the forefront of tourism in the past. 

A Few Best Practices and Responsible Travel Tips

Before we look at some of the best responsible tours in Mexico, here are a few quick tips on how to be a more responsible traveler no matter where you go. 

  • Consider carbon offsetting your flight, or book with an airline that will carbon offset on your behalf
  • Choose sustainable accommodation such as an eco-resort, or search for hotels with good sustainability initiatives such as plastic-free policies, recycling programs, low-energy appliances, etc. 
  • Consider animal welfare before booking tours/activities that involve animal interaction or entertainment
  • Use reef-safe sunscreen
  • Support local businesses over big chains
  • Don’t take photos of locals without their expressed consent, and even then, only if you have established a connection with them. The locals are not scenery! 
  • Be respectful of local culture and customs. 
  • Search for tour companies with social/environmental impact initiatives (such as the ones on this list!) 
  • And last but certainly not least, take time to research how to travel more ethically.

Eco tours in Mexico

Eco Colors Tours

What makes Eco Colors Tours a responsible choice? 

  • Small-group, limited travel to minimize the impact on natural areas
  • Collaborations with WWF, SEMERNAT, Adventure Travel association, Ecotourism Society, and The Smithsonian School to create environmental protection plans
  • Awareness campaigns about the ecosystems of Mexico and how to help rehabilitate them

A few of their best tours: 

snorkeling with a whale shark

Whale Sharks Cancun Tour

  • Length: 5-8 hours
  • Cost: $165 pp.

I think we’ve all put a snorkeling with the whale sharks tour on our travel bucket list for Mexico and one point or another, but when it comes to wild animal interactions and enjoying protected ecosystems, it’s of the utmost importance to choose an ethical tour company.

Thankfully, Eco Colors has one of the best whale shark tours around! Transportation, lunch, beverages, and snorkeling equipment are all included, and a percentage of your tour fee goes towards educational programs for children on the island of Isla Mujeres. 

Temazcal Ceremony in Cancun 

  • Length: 5-8 hours
  • Cost: $745 per couple.

This tour presents an opportunity to interact with the locals in a genuine and responsible way and participate in community-led cultural learning, but this day-long adventure also includes some quintessential Mexican experiences all under one tour umbrella. 

You’ll learn about the construction of a traditional Mayan home, learn to make tortillas as they were made thousands of years ago, visit the circle of sea snails and enter a Temazcal with a local shaman.

At the end of the day, you’ll be treated to a visit to a secret cenote for a swim and a yummy gourmet dinner. 

temazcal ceremony

Univers Maya Yucatan 

What makes Univers Maya Yucatan a responsible choice? 

  • “English for All” program supporting free English language classes for local children
  • Enviromentally friendly approach to tourism

A few of their best tours: 

El Cielo and Cozumel 

  • Length: Half-day
  • Cost: $70 pp.

Here’s an incredible aquatic destination in Mexico you may not have heard of yet. First, you’ll head to the oasis free-diving sites, Palancar and Columbia, at the Cozumel Reef Marine National Park.

This reserve still has a flourishing, colorful reef teeming with tropical species, but this is one of the least impressive stops of the day.

Next, you’ll head to El Cielo reserve which is a shallow diving site that’s home to thousands of giant starfish.

Finally, you’ll end your day with a visit to El Cielito, which is an ocean pool/sand bar known for being one of the best places to view rays. 

Sian Kaan Boat Safari

  • Length: Full Day
  • Cost: $160 pp. 

Visit the infamous UNESCO Sian Kaan reserve with a company willing to go the extra mile. You’ll start off perusing the mangroves in search of manatees and crocodiles. Then, after a quick break for a buffet lunch, you’ll head out into the shallow seas for some dolphin and turtle watching.  

Journey Mexico  

What makes Journey Mexico a responsible choice? 

  • Works closely with local communities to support their businesses and encourage participation in tourism in a culturally sensitive way
  • Financial contributions to several local environmental non-profits
  • Works with the Global Sustainable Tourism Council to promote tourism as a catalyst for sustainable development.

A few of their best tours: 

Axolotls and Chinapas in Xochimilco

  • Length: 6 hours
  • Cost: Varies

My goodness, this is a Mexico City experience like nothing you’ve ever dreamed of. First thing in the morning, you’ll board a colorful gondola and cruise down the floating gardens of Xochimilco, birdwatching and learning all about the area’s unique history.

The best part of this tour? You’ll have the rare opportunity to learn about the conservation of the internet-famous Axolotls and potentially see one of these endangered beauties in their natural habitat. You’ll also be treated to a fabulous lunch made from produce grown right in the floating gardens. 

lora in Xochimilco mexico

Hammocks Artisan’s Home Workshop in Tixkokob

  • Length: 6 hours
  • Cost: Varies

Chances are, if you’ve been to Mexico before, you’ve seen the iconic hand-woven hammocks that grace the walls of every souvenir shop and thought about the possibility of bringing one home. This is actually one of the largest income generators for local artisans and families.

With this tour, you can learn the incredible techniques that go into creating these hammocks while visiting a family workshop, and if you’d like, you can even try your own hand at weaving!

Of course, in the end, you’ll have the option to bring home one of these masterpieces straight from the source and with an incredible travel story behind it. 

Maya Ka’an

What makes Maya Ka’an a responsible choice? 

  • Certified under the Sustainability Requirements for Ecotourism in the municipality
  • Strict adherence to biosphere reserve guidelines and additional sustainability efforts made to reduce waste and water consumption
  • Works exclusively with local tour providers to keep profit within the community

Chewing Gum: A Mayan Legacy 

  • Length: —
  • Cost: Varies

Take an adventure through the Mayan jungle and visit a traditional chicle camp. Here, you’ll observe the ancient practice of extracting gum. If you’re lucky, you may even get to try some! Afterward, you’ll be treated to some refreshments and a boat tour around the Sian Kaan lagoon. 

Kayaking in the Siijil Noh Ha Lagoon

  • Length: —
  • Cost: Varies

On this tour, you’ll visit the criminally underrated Ejidal Reserve and spend the day enjoying the natural areas, both on dry land and in the water. You’ll have the opportunity to hike and search for wildlife, kayak the still lake, and hop on in for an afternoon swim. You’ll also be able to meander the onsite eco-museum and learn about the history and conservation needs in the area.  

Rutopia 

What makes Rutopia a responsible choice? 

  • United Nations and B-Corp sustainable business/social enterprise certified
  • Contributions to local economic development programs and efforts to conserve local heritage sites 
  • Prohibits activities with captive animals or irresponsible volunteer projects with vulnerable communities
  • NO commodification of culture-genuine interaction and learning with community partnerships only
  • Anti-discrimination policy covering prejudice based on gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, cultural expression, or social class.

**All of Rutopia’s tours are fully customizable, multi-day itineraries developed to meet your needs by one of their travel experts. To learn more, visit their website here

Banyan Tree Mayakoba

What makes Banyan Tree Mayakoba a responsible choice? 

  • Certified by Preferred by Nature, EarthCheck Gold, PROFEPA, and Distinctive S
  • No single-use plastics allowed on-site or during excursions 
  • Local conservation initiatives including tree planting, beach cleanups, reef conservation, and sea turtle protection programs
  • Community support including financial aid for education and small business startup training

A few of their best tours: 

Ixchel

  • Duration: 2 hours
  • Cost: Varies

Especially great for couples, this fusion and local cuisine dinner cruise will take you down the canals and through the mangroves of the Mayakoba river on a traditional trajinera boat.

You can also opt to take this cruise at breakfast time to watch the sunrise, but the nighttime experience is so extraordinary that it’s the inspiration source of the name for this tour. “Ixchel” translates to the moon goddess. 

Vive Mar

lora holding baby sea turtle puerto escondido

What makes Vive Mar a responsible choice? 

  • Leader in the conservation of sea turtles and birds in Mexico
  • Gives back to the community with environmental education

One of the most remarkable wildlife connections you can have is releasing baby sea turtles into the wild. With Vive Mar, you can partake in this experience in Puerto Escondido, one of Mexico’s most popular beach towns.

During the turtle nesting season, they invite visitors to come and partake in a sea turtle release. You’ll head out at sunset and release a turtle into the ocean, which instinctively know to go towards the sea. If you’re living in Mexico, you can also volunteer with them.

RED Travel Mexico 

What makes RED Travel Mexico a responsible choice? 

  • Tourism for Tomorrow award, as well as recognition from National Geographic 
  • Partnership with  
  • Pioneers of Ecotourism in Mexico Oceanic Society Films to build awareness about ocean conservation efforts

A few of their best tours: 

The Original Gaspereno Mule Ride Adventure

  • Duration: 6-8 hours
  • Cost: $780 for 3 travelers, $145 per additional traveler (private tour) 

Ever dreamed of living on a ranch or starring in a cowboy movie? Now’s your chance to make that dream a reality.

On this tour, you’ll take a 2-3 hour mule ride through the Sierra, looking over the deserts and the sea in the distance until you make your way to the Gaspereno Ranch. Once you’ve arrived, chef Ivan will prepare you a stunning farm-to-table meal.

Want to capture these memories forever? You can even add a private photographer o your experience or rent a go-pro so that you won’t have to miss a second, and you can relive this journey over and over. 

Historical Mining Trail Hike

  • Duration: 6-8 hours
  • Cost: $850 for 3 travelers, $140 per additional traveler (private tour) 

Take a day-long guided hike through the gorgeous canyons of La Paz while learning about the local desert flora and the region’s rich mining history.

You’ll see the remnants of old mines, receive a personalized wood walking stick to take home with you, and chow down on a delicious chef-prepared lunch. 

Wildlife Connections

wild dolphins

What makes wildlife connections a responsible choice?

  • First company in Mexico to work with free wild dolphins
  • Guides are professional biologists with master’s degrees in Marine Ecology
  • Contribute to the research of marine conservation in Mexico

Swimming with free wild dolphins

There are many places in Puerto Vallarta that advertise swimming with dolphins, but as a responsible traveler, you should avoid supporting these.

Instead, try this tour with wildlife connections, where you’ll have the chance to swim with dolphins in the wild. You’ll head out on the boat with marine biologists who use a hydrophone to listen for dolphin communication.

Depending on their mood, you have a good chance of swimming with them! From December to March, you can also see humpback whales, giant mantas, marine turtles, and if you’re lucky – orcas!

Whale watching

Puerto Vallarta is one of the best places to go whale watching in Mexico! Every winter, thousands of humpback whales migrate to the Bay of Banderas.

While there are many whale-watching tours to choose from, the best ethical choice is with wildlife connections. You’ll be in the company of a biologist, participating in a research project that helps to protect them.

It’s great to see ecotourism in Mexico growing every year. I hope this post could inspire you to check out some of these eco tours in Mexico on your next trip!

eco tourism in mexico

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