[Photo:Heron Island]
 

There is a special feeling that comes over you when you enter that perfect hideaway that vibrates in harmony with nature. Green vacations are not just about water-efficient bathrooms and recycling, but so much more. Our best green vacation ideas list includes unique mountain lodges with a view, rainforest retreats, wilderness expeditions, beach hideaways and an amazing treehouse.

Explore the pristine wilderness of British Columbia, snorkel on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia or relax on the beach in Fiji. Whether you are planning a honeymoon, family getaway or a special celebration, eco-friendly getaways offer a unique way to get back to nature.

Rancho La Puerta

Rancho La Puerta is an amazing destination spa which has been a green getaway since its beginnings in 1940. The resort has an on-site garden with 22 full time gardeners which produces vegetables for the resort kitchen. The gardens are fertilized using composted organic matter and employ natural pest management.

You will see many migrating birds on the property which has become a sanctuary for them on their migratory path. There are 200 different plant species at Rancho La Puerta which remain as undisturbed as possible.

The resort is a leader in their community, offering innovative eco-friendly ideas to those around them. For example, at the end of the Christmas season, Rancho La Puerta' wood chipper is used to turn Christmas trees into mulch for the grounds.

At Rancho La Puerta, you will find green buildings and furniture, innovative water conservation practices, energy conservation and recycling. This is a truly exemplary green vacation getaway (rancholapuerta.com, 800-443-7565, 858-764-5500).

Blue Lagoon - Powered by Clean Geothermal Energy

 

Blue Lagoon is an awesome spa destination which is 100% powered by clean geothermal energy. The resort built a special power plant which meant drilling deep wells up to 2,000 meters into the ground to tap into the 240 degree geothermal fluid. This is used to create electricity and heat water for central heating at Blue Lagoon. This innovative power plant is the only one of its kind in the whole world.

The design of the resort reflects harmony with nature. The entrance to Blue Lagoon leads across a footpath cut through lava rock and past a beautiful lava wall built from 70,000 lava pieces (bluelagoon.com).

Lapa Rios Rainforest Reserve, Costa Rica

[Photo:Lapa Rios Rainforest Reserve]

Enjoy beautiful ocean views and pristine Costa Rican rainforest at the Lapa Rios Rainforest Reserve which offers bungalows with scenic views. Guest bungalows are located along a stunning 1000-acre Rainforest Reserve which is dedicated to preserving animal and plant life, including 319 bird species, the jaguar, three-toed sloth, silky anteater and all four Costa Rican monkey species. Lapa Rios guests are invited to participate in environmental programs such as tree planting and education at the school founded by the resort.

Sundance Resort, Utah

Sundance Resort in Utah has been committed to green practice since its beginning. The resort recycles, uses organic products and helps with mountain restoration by laying erosion blankets and restoring vegetation.

Resident artists at the Art Studio break down glass bottles to create decorative art and housewares used around the property (sundanceresort.com, 877-831-6224).

The Kasbah du Toubkal, Morocco

[Photo:The Kasbah du Toubkal]

Toubkal National Park, located just 60 km from Marrakech, is a beautiful spot for nature enthusiasts. The photos of this place are stunning. The Kasbah du Toubkal is an eco lodge set at the foot of Jbel Toubkal, the highest peak in North Africa. Visit this unique mountain getaway as a side adventure on your trip to Morocco, or call the hotel and have them arrange a complete hiking trip for you.

Accommodation options include Deluxe and Standard en suite rooms, and Berber Salons with areas for families and groups. The luxurious Garden House has a glass wall looking up the mountain peaks. Guests can also stay at a remote trekking lodge in a traditional Berber village in a nearby valley. Rates start from 130 Euro per night (+212 (0)524 485611, website). The resort founded an association which helps the community with projects like providing the region's first ambulance and driver, building a hammam (the region's first community steam bath) and assistance with the construction of a school for 80 children.

Nimmo Bay Resort, British Columbia

Nimmo Bay Resort is a sustainable hideaway in the British Columbia wilderness. The resort uses a waste management system which cleans black and gray water so that only clean water is returned to the surrounding nature.

Nimmo Bay works with local suppliers to be able to serve their guests sustainable foods and other products.

Fishing at Nimmo Bay is catch & release in order to protect the local fish population. The resort is helping protect wild juvenile Pacific Salmon from sea lice (nimmobay.com).

Tabacon Grand Spa Thermal Resort, Costa Rica

[Photo:Tabacon Grand Spa Thermal Resort]

Tabacon Grand Spa Thermal Resort in Costa Rica is a getaway for nature lovers. You will be surrounded by the pristine rainforest, filled with tropical birds and wildlife. The resort was awarded the three-leaf Sustainable Tourism Certificate for its sustainable tourism practices. Green practices include recycling, use of biodegradable materials, water and sewage treatment, and reduction of energy consumption. You can enjoy your stay, making a small footprint and helping preserve this unique destination. The spa offers unique treatments such as invigorating hydrotherapy therapies and volcanic mud therapies. You can bathe in natural mineral hot springs known for their rejuvenating properties. The property offers 102 guest rooms and suites at the base of the Arenal Volcano. Rooms at the hotel start from $175 per night.

Strawberry Hill, Jamaica

Strawberry Hill in Jamaica has beautiful gardens and a farm with 350 endemic and exotic species. The hotel was built with the purpose to maintain a traditional 19th century Jamaican aesthetic.

The 48-acre farm at Strawberry Hill was originally a coffee plantation. The farm grows vegetables used in the hotel kitchen (strawberryhillhotel.com).

Singita Lebombo Lodge in South Africa

Singita Lebombo Lodge in South Africa is surrounded by some of the most amazing wildlife on the planet. The lodge is located in Kruger National Park. It has a guest swimming pool with comfortable lounge chairs great for relaxing between Land Rover and walking safari tours. Guests can request massage and other spa services at the lodge. The hotel has 15 spacious guest suites decorated with native materials and colors. The lodge serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, included in the daily rate. Teas, coffees and drinks are available to hotel guests. Fly to Kruger Mpumalanga Airport or Johannesburg International Airport and catch a connecting flight to the lodge. Singita may also be accessed by private air charter directly to the lodge during daylight hourse (+27-21-683-3424, website).

Arctic Kingdom

Arctic Kingdom's mission is to bring travelers closer to nature, helping them visit far away places and unexplored destinations. Arctic Kingdom guides approach the wildlife with mindfulness and respect, following set company guidelines.

Arctic Kingdom leads small groups of 4 to 12 people to the Arctic, making sure that each experience is unique and personal (arctickingdom.com).

Canadian Mountain Holidays

Canadian Mountain Holidays offers incredible heli-hiking and heli-skiing adventures in North America.

The founder Hans Gmoser was a committed environmentalist and that spirit still permeates the company culture 50 years later. Canadian Mountain Holidays operates 11 remote lodges where you can get in tours with incredible wilderness in an eco-consious way (canadianmountainholidays.com).

Treebones Resort, California

Treebones Resort in Big Sur, California, is an eco-friendly camping getaway surrounded by forest and ocean views. Guest tents all have a sky dome above the bed, through which you can watch the stars at night.

Treebones recycles, composts and grows most of the vegetables on site in their organic garden. All of the electricity is created by clean burning micro turbines which provide hot water and heat the pool (treebonesresort.com).

Assiniboine Lodge, Canada

Explore the Canadian wilderness on skis while staying at Assiniboine Lodge in British Columbia.

The lodge participates in projects dedicated to preserving the surrounding nature. For example, during the "Art for the Park" initiative, several paintings depicting Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park will be reproduced and sold to support the parks in the area (assiniboinelodge.com).

Cunucu Arubiano, Aruba

A small luxury hotel in Santa Lucia, Aruba, Cunucu Arubiano has just three guest villas. While the eco-lodge is not right on the beach, sandy Caribbean beaches are just a few minutes away. The villas feature 19th century Aruban and Dutch-influenced architecture and modern amenities, including flat-screen TVs, air-conditioning and unlimited Wi-Fi internet. You will be surrounded by peace and tranquility on your vacation. Surrounding the luxury villas is the Donkey Sanctuary and undisturbed nature. The hotel is just 5 miles from the airport. There is a complimentary shuttle service from the airport to the hotel. Villa accommodations start from $345 per night. The resort has a Donkey Sanctuary where guests get a chance to interact with donkeys in a natural setting (cunucuarubiano.com).

Mahali Mzuri, Africa

Sir Richard Branson loves Keyna (he was made a tribal Maasai elder in 2007). If you are a fan of his other properties, such as Necker Island and Ulusaba, you will enjoy this 12-tent Kenyan wilderness camp located right in the path of the annual wildlife migration. Mahali Mzuri is located in the Motorogi Conservancy, just north of the Maasai Mara National Reserve and about 240 km west of Nairobi. Year-round, guests can go on twice daily game drives to observe wildlife.

Things get particularly exciting during the annual migration. Resident guides tell visitors about animal behavior as they accompany them on the daily game drives.The luxury camp accommodates a maximum of 24 guests at any one time. Rates at the property start from USD $590 per person per night (based on double occupancy) and are fully inclusive of all meals, drinks & daily game drives as well as unlimited access to the Olare Orok and Motorogi Conservancies.

Cedar Creek Treehouse, Washington

Cedar Creek Treehouse in Washington is a perfect hideaway for nature lovers, offering spectacular views of the surrounding nature. The treehouse harvests solar power to create electicity used to light the guest areas.

The treehouse has a living room, bedroom, kitchen, loft and a sunroom, all built high in the tree. There is a beautiful living tree trunk growing through the rooms of this amazing getaway (cedarcreektreehouse.com).

The Colony Hotel, Maine

The Colony Hotel in Kennebunkport, Maine has a dedicated team which meets regularly to improve the eco-friendliness of the hotel. The Colony Hotel composts organic waste, uses saltwater in the pool, and serves dishes made from locally farmed ingredients. You won't find any aerosol products or styrofoam food containers at this green hotel (thecolonyhotel.com).

The Woodstock Inn, Vermont

Plan a green getaway at The Woodstock Inn & Resort in Vermont. This 142-room resort offers a choice of outdoor activities, including golf and fly fishing in the summer, and skiing in the winter. The health club has an indoor swimming pool and whirlpool, letting vacationers exercise and relax. Green practices includes recycling of plastics, newspaper, white paper, glass and retired technology parts. Fryer grease from the kitchen is used to make bio-diesel. The resort uses green cleaning products, 80% organic fertilizers on the golf greens, and organic soaps in the guestrooms (woodstockinn.com).

Windstar Cruises

Set sail aboard one of the three Windstar Cruises ships which use wind power to get around, green cleaning products and other sustainable practices.

During a recent refurbishment project, Windstar worked with select vendors who helped the cruise line minimize the environmental impact (windstarcruises.com).

Fregate Island, Seychelles

Fregate Island in the Seychelles is a romantic getaway with a beautiful coral reef where you can spend your days snorkeling and scuba diving. Only 40 lucky guests can stay on the island at a time. The two resort restaurants use fruits and vegetables grown by a team of gardeners. Many of the herbs from the private gardens are incorporated in relaxing spa treatments, so book a couples massage on your romantic vacation (fregate.com).

Jean-Michel Cousteau Fiji Islands Resort

Located on the second largest island in Fiji, the Jean-Michel Cousteau Fiji Islands is set on a former coconut plantation, lush with palm trees and other tropical greenery.

The resort offers an array of activities, including glass bottom boat tours, reef walks, snorkeling, eco tours, volleyball, fishing, kayaking, tennis, medicine walks and others.

Couples can book a massage on the beach or in the privacy of their bure. The spa utilizes pure virgin coconut oil harvested locally by the people of the Wailevu Village in its treatments. Rates start from US $455 per night (fijiresort.com).

Heron Island Resort, Australia

When you are a resort on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, you have to take extra care not to disturb the beautiful coral reef that surrounds you. Heron Island resort generates its own power, produces drinkable water and offers hands-on workshops that let you learn about the environment (heronisland.com).

Movenpick Resort Bangtao Beach, Phuket

Movenpick Resort Bangtao Beach has been awarded the Green Globe Certification for its environmental conservation and support of community-related activities. The property uses of water from their own treatment plant, and a high-efficiency air condition inverter compressor.

Milia Mountain Retreat, Greece

Milia Mountain Retreat in Greece offers charming cottages with wood burning stoves or fireplaces. If you are planning a romantic getaway, splurge on one of the suites with a large garden (website).

Wolwedans in NamibRand Nature Reserve

At Wolwedans in NamibRand Nature Reserve, guests get to immerse themselves in pristine nature and experience once in a lifetime wildlife encounters. Sustainable buildings offer large windows and outdoor decks which will make you feel connected to nature day and night. Wolwedans is a kid-friendly destination and a unique opportunity for children to learn about the environment (wolwedans.com).