Save the Turtles, Save the World
Become your own hero on your next Fijian vacation. Or become an artist. Or become both! (You don’t even have to drink any kava to do it.)
Turtle Island, located in the Yasawa Group in Fiji (known for being the film location for Blue Lagoon), has a Turtle Release program, in which it buys green and hawksbill turtles from local fishermen. The turtles are auctioned off to Turtle Island resort guests, who then get to paint their names on the turtles’ shell. The turtles are then released back into the ocean. The paint is permanent, but non-toxic, which means that it won’t hurt the turtles. But it will make them useless to trophy hunters, who want turtles for their shells.
Thanks to Kim Lisagor and Heather Hansen, who blogged about Turtle Island on EndangeredPlaces. Both eco-savvy women were part of our 522-member team of sustainable tourism experts that we consulted for our upcoming “Places Rated: Islands” story in the November/December 2007 issue. Also be sure to check out Kim and Heather’s upcoming book, Disappearing Destinations (2008), which highlights 37 of the world’s most endangered places.
The 500-acre Turtle Island is known as one of the most luxurious stays in Fiji. To stay in a bure costs $1,632 per couple/night (includes three meals per day). It’s rare when top-end resorts are also leading sustainable destinations, but that’s why we want to say a big Vinaka! to Turtle Island owner Richard Evanson for his eco-efforts in the South Pacific.
Aside from the Turtle Release program, Turtle Island employs over 120 local Fijians, has planted over 300,000 trees, and serves its guests vegetables from its four-acre hydroponic and organic vegetable garden. Evanson also established the Yasawas Community Foundation, which supports the local community through tourists’ donations (like the Evanson Learning Center).
In case you can’t afford a stay on Turtle Island, check out Oarsman’s Bay Lodge on nearby Nacula (from $14 per night/dorm), or IT-tested Sunrise Beach Resort (pictured, right) on Nanuya Lailai (from $38 per night/dorm). Like most lodgings in the Yasawa Group, prices for the resorts include pick-up and drop-off from larger boats (like the Yasawa Flyer) coming from Viti Levu.
- Nat Geo Expeditions