Sometimes, it feels like getting away from it all inevitably means making a sizable increase in your carbon footprint, from the plane you take, to the decadent, imported treats you nosh upon arrival.
But a new generation of eco-resorts—which are not only environmentally-friendly, but located in remarkably cool eco-systems—aim to make your next vacation as sustainable as possible.
If the lists of amenities are anything to go by at many of the spots on our list (medicinal herb gardens and organic spa services, anyone?), we won’t have any trouble at all “sustaining” ourselves.
AUSTRALIA: Australia's pristine Kangaroo Island is home to over 7,000 seals, a unique breed of kangaroo and—most importantly—the world's tiniest, cutest penguins. Suffice it to say, there's plenty of eco sight-seeing to do at the Southern Ocean Lodge, a luxe green retreat built from recycled materials perched on a secluded cliff over the coast of Hanson Bay. Hanson Bay, Kangaroo Island; southernoceanlodge.com.au.
Southern Ocean Lodge/Southern Ocean Lodge
SOUTH AFRICA: Situated on 18,000 acres on the foot of the Cedar Mountains, Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve is home to threatened species like red hartebeests, bontebok and Cape Mountain zebras. The Koro Lodge—which was built in an existing farmhouse—offers sweeping views of the reserve along with sustainably-made amenities. Cederberg Mountains; bushmanskloof.co.za.
Bushmans Kloof/Bushmans Kloof
PANAMA: Why look up at the trees when you could be in them? Panama's Canopy Tower Lodge is located 630 feet above the Panama Canal—literally in the jungle canopy—granting visitors glimpses of howler monkeys and over 380 species of birds. Eco-friendly amenities like water-saving showers and sustainably-made furniture add to its already green appeal. Calle de Anton; canopytower.com.
Canopy Tower/Canopy Tower
MEXICO: With twenty-nine thatched "palafitos," or huts, scattered across a massive wildlife sanctuary between the Sierra Madre and the Pacific, Mexico's Hotelito Desconocido offers luxe spa treatments (water for which is provided by a local windmill) and an all-organic menu of local fare in addition to striking views. Playon de Mismaloya, La Cruz de Loreto; hotelito.com.
Hotelito Desconocido/Hotelito Desconocido
NEW MEXICO: El Monte Sagrado's adobe villas may look old school, but once inside, this Southwestern eco lodge is thoroughly modern, with an organic menu harvested from the on-site "biolarium" and solar-powered guest rooms. 317 Kit Carson Road, Taos; elmontesagrado.com.
El Monte Sagrado/El Monte Sagrado
FIJI: If bigger resorts are your speed, book an eco-excursion to Jean-Michel Cousteau Fiji Islands Resort, a sprawling estate located on a 17-acre former coconut plantation. When you're not relaxing in one of the 25 lagoon-front cabanas, go for a medicinal plant walk, plant mangrove trees or snorkel with a marine biologist. A remarkable waste water system uses coconuts and recycled bottles to produce clean water. Savusavu, Vanua Levu; fijiresort.com.
Jean Michel Cousteau/Jean Michel Cousteau
COSTA RICA: Perched high in the Osa Peninsula rain forest, the Luna Lodge shares its neighborhood with sloths, kinkajous and occasionally jaguars. Bananas, plantains and pineapples are grown on-site, making for tasty breakfast fare, while each of the stylish bungalows boasts its own private tropical garden. Carate, Corcovado, Osa Peninsula; lunalodge.com.
Luna Lodge/Luna Lodge
TANZANIA: With charming wood cabins finished in gauzy white cotton, Pole Pole is an eco-adventurer's paradise, and can coordinate water or land excursions through local safari companies. As for its "green" cred, all wastewater is treated with an advanced phyto-purification system. Utende Beach, Mafia Island; polepole.com.
Pole Pole/Pole Pole
ST. JOHN: The Concordia Eco Tents—which are outfitted with solar showers, heat-repelling roofs and translucent walls—are located on a bluff overlooking the Caribbean's best snorkeling. For visitors seeking a more traditional beach-bound experience, the compound also offers "efficiency" units, that won't leave you quite so exposed to the elements. 16371 Concordia, Virgin Islands National Park; concordiaeco-resort.com.
Concordia Eco Tents/Concordia Eco Tents
CALIFORNIA: Located in a former army outpost in San Francisco's Marin County, Cavallo Point is furbished with sustainable fixtures and organic amenities, from bedding and linens to an all-organic spa that uses an on-site medicinal garden for its signature treatments. 601 Murray Circle, Sausalito; cavallopoint.com.
Cavallo Point/Cavallo Point