If you’re in the market for a responsible, but still glamorous, holiday, you need look no further than the seat of the ecotourism movement, the Caribbean. These luxe lodges are gems of the region, each more equipped than the next to help you get close to nature on a dream vacation.
Hix Island House
Don’t call it modern – Hix Island House is an example of Wabi Sabi, a Japanese style of architecture that actually dates back to the fifteenth century. Nestled in a 13-acre natural reserve in Vieques, Puerto Rico, the minimalist property encourages man to adapt to nature, not the other way around. Eschewing any decoration not necessary for the building’s structure, Hix Island House is naturally fire- and earthquake-proof, and has also survived three hurricanes, making it perhaps the safest eco-lodge you’ll ever call a home away from home. Its more contemporary eco-friendly credentials are just as impressive. Solar power fuels most of the rooms, and many suites also feature a rainwater collection system, which helps water flow to the resort’s gardens, growing papayas, lemons, bananas, and guavas.
Located in South Andros in the Bahamas, Tiamo’s sustainable pine wood villas sit on a private white sand beach, granting couples a special level of seclusion. It’s easy to fill your days, whether you prefer sipping a tropical cocktail by the infinity pool or birdwatching in the nearby West Side National Park, the largest park in the Bahamas. Nature loving explorers might also opt to hop in a glass bottom kayak or join a snorkeling excursion to seek out everything from dolphins and flamingos to stingray and sharks. The resort ensures it preserves its stunning natural environment by cooling the villas through stilt elevation, and using only eco-friendly cleaning products and toiletries.
Belize is the homeland of the ecotourism movement, and few places are closer to that history than the wildly civilized Chaa Creek. This pioneer among sustainable resorts has been in the tourism game for over 30 years since its early days as a simple family farm. After the first night in your palm thatched cottage, you’ll have ample opportunity to learn about the area, often without leaving the resort. The Natural History Center covers everything from anthropology to zoology, while the Blue Morpho Butterfly Exhibit breaks down each stage of the Belizean Blue’s life cycle. Take a horseback ride to the onsite organic farm, which grows much of the produce used in the resort’s dining room, or sign up for a regional expedition. Chaa Creek has particularly impressive educational opportunities for families with children, including jungle trail treasure hunts, guided tours of Mayan ruins at Xunantunich, and visits with local families where you’ll learn how to make corn tortillas.
When only the most luxurious experience will do, you can combine the best of Belizean natural beauty and Hollywood glamour at the Francis Ford Coppola-owned Blancaneaux Lodge. This collection of stunning cabanas overlook cascading waterfalls and lush tropical gardens in the depths of Belize’s Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve. Learn about traditional Maya medicinal plants on a jungle hike with an expert guide, spend an afternoon relaxing at the resort spa, or take a horseback ride to the tucked-away Big Rock Falls. In addition to providing eco-friendly amenities like organic and locally sourced toiletries and natural air circulation in the cabanas, the resort supports many local charities and community endeavors, including research institutes, health clinics, and a variety of academic scholarships.