Five Eco Vacations Sure To Make Travelers Feel Good

eco vacations

Consumption-conscious travelers are big swapping carbon footprints for sense of place and meaningful travel experiences. Here are five destinations that embrace sustainable, socially-aware practices while delivering the very best eco vacations.

Ka'ana Resort and Spa, Belize
Sitting on the fertile land just beneath the Mayan ruins of Xunantunich, this 15-room boutique resort is perfect for travelers who prefer an intimate eco vacation experience. All of the furnishings – from the woodwork to the art on the walls – are crafted by local Belizean artisans. The resort has a dedicated "green team" who works to make the property greener. The spa uses local products and an onsite organic garden supplies a large percentage of herbs and vegetables served at the resort. Guests have the opportunity to participate in Ka'ana's Trade Trees for Travel program where they plant a tree on the property to offset their own carbon footprint.

Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve, South Africa
Those seeking a grand game reserve affair in the African bush turn to Sabi Sabi. Set in Kruger National Park, eco vacations at this fabled wildlife resort celebrate conservation and community. For example, waste-water is cleaned naturally through oxidization dams that create a wetland area, which is ideal habitat for waterfowl. Within the community, Sabi Sabi employs many of its 200 person staff from the nearby Limpopo Province. Reserve guests are also able to gain a glimpse into authentic village life by taking part in a tour of neighboring communities during their stay.

Hacienda de San Antonio, Mexico
Built at the end of the 19th century as part of a (still) working coffee plantation, this 5,000-acre ranch in the small Pacific state of Colima encompasses lagoons, rivers and orchards. Cooler yet, the serene hacienda is situated at the foot of Volcan de Fuego (Fire Volcano), the most active volcano in Mexico (eruptions still occur today). With no in-room television or cell phone service, this boutique is the real deal for those who want total escape. French chef David Ferré exalts standard fare to foodie nirvana with organic dairy, meats, fruits, vegetables and coffee grown right on the ranch's own organic ranch, el Jabali. Outdoor enthusiasts will adore the horseback riding, hiking and mountain biking options.

Gaia Retreat & Spa, Australia
In the magical hills of the Byron Bay hinterland, Gaia works hard to reduce its environmental footprint, from using energy efficient lighting and windows and cleaning products to a comprehensive composting and recycling program. The Olivia Newton-John-owned resort also has its own organic vegetable and herb garden. In line with the 'Rainforest Rescue Regeneration Scheme,' Gaia is implementing plantings of 2000 trees per year. Savor a photo-op worthy moment at Samira Lookout, the highest spot on the property, which affords incomparable sunsets.

Turtle Island, Fiji
Wealthy folks wanting to get away from it all rent the entire island of Turtle Island (all 500 acres and 14 beaches of it!), which can otherwise accommodate up to 14 couples at a time. Guests stay in private beachfront bures (or cottages) and soak up island activities like deep sea fishing, scuba diving, sailing and kayaking. Although the island is basically undeveloped, there is an emphasis on preservation – no high rises, television, billboards or strip malls here – just a 4 acre organic garden, and intensive reforestation program and plenty of natural island habitat and wildlife. Although every amenity can be catered to on the island, guests come here to keep it simple.

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