Top 10 Eco Travel Destinations

Summer may be coming to a close but around here vacations are still top of mind. Winter trips, spring break, and even next summer's vacation aren't too far away. In fact, a lot of planning is required for that big trip, whether it's a family vacation, honeymoon, friend/couple retreat, or that "Eat, Pray, Love" type of solo self-discovery vacation, a lot of work is required to making it all come together. 
When considering that next big trip whomever you so desire to spend it with consider going to an eco destination. What makes a destination eco? Here are a few criteria that have to be met to earn the "eco" stamp:
  • It’s built using environmentally sound methods and/or operates with alternative energy sources
  • It minimizes human impact on natural habitats and promotes resource conservation
  • It sustains the well-being of local people and/or indigenous communities
  • It helps raise visitors’ environmental and cultural awareness

Personally I have visited only one of the eco destinations on the list, Lapa Rios, Costa Rica. It was truly a unique and unforgettable experience. The staff was largely made up of Amazon locals and they were the friendliest people I've met. The food was outstanding, the guides knowledgable and personable, and the view from our bungalow was breathtaking. There were no phones, no TVs, no hairdryers (any other place that would mean a ball cap for the week, but in the Amazon it was perfectly acceptable to have frizzy wild hair) although there is WIFI in the main lodge. No morning room service but the staff brings you a container of coffee in the morning which is hugely appreciated mainly because I'm not a morning person and functioning isn't possible without at least 8 oz of liquid gold and there isn't a whole lot of sleeping in when monkeys are on your balcony whooping it up. Early morning does present beautiful views from your private deck and you have an excuse for a late afternoon nap in your hammock after a day of hiking, surfing, kayaking, or touring with a real medicine man through the Amazon. It was an adventure of a lifetime and I felt good about spending my money at a resort that was built around giving back to the community and saving a bit of the Rainforest. 

There are a wide variety of locations I researched, all earning their kudos from international publications, environmental groups, and travel review websites. This list truly is in no particular order, I don't know that any one of these deserves to be first over another or for that matter last. I know that I have added them all to my ever growing travel bucket list. 

And if you've already got a special trip planned consider bringing Better Life along. Our popular Mini Sampler Pack is a great way to clean up road trip spills, hotels, or any other messes you encounter on your travels. 

So without further ado, here's our list of Top Eco Travel Destinations


  1. Lapa Rios

Where: Penisula de Osa, Costa Rica


Kudos: National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World, Conde Nast Traveler Gold List, National Geographic Top 50 Eco Lodges, Travel + Leisure World’s Best Hotels, Rainforest Alliance Sustainable Standard-Setters Award

  • John and Karen Lewis, the visionary founders of Lapa Rios, have signed a conservation easement that will result in the permanent protection of more than 900 acres of tropical rainforest
  • Private Nature Reserve at Parque Nacional Corcovado
  • 17 stunning open-air bungalows (with screens) with four-poster beds
  • Private outdoor deck with rain head shower, hammock, and lounge chairs
  • Pool and palm-thathed restaurant
  • Locally made, biodegradable, organic soaps, lotions, and shampoos
  • From your bungalow to the restaurant experience wild monkeys, toucans, macaws, sloths, and other creatures of the rainforest
  • The open-aired restaurant serves fresh local fruits and vegetables with responsibly caught seafood, organic chicken, and grass-fed beef


    1. Chole Mjini

    Where: Chole Island, Mafia Archipelago, Tanzania


    Kudos: Trip Advisor Highest Rating, Lonely Planet Top 10 Eco Destinations

    • 7 private imaginatively designed open aired tree houses (most with a second level for children) with views of the ocean (some close enough to be put to sleep by the sounds of the waves)
    • Set amongst vine covered 19th century ruins
    • Snorkeling and diving are specialties here
    • All profits are channeled into local eco-projects
    • The lodge has had a significant positive impact on marine life for 2 decades
    • Watched the sun set and moon rise from the rooftop bar
    • Gather around a candle-lit table for dinner under the stars, either within the 19th-century ruins or next to the murmuring ocean


    1. Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel

    Where: Aguas Calientes, Peru


    Kudos: National Geographic Traveler’s Best Practices Award for Sustainable Travel, PURE Award/Contribution to Experiential Travel, Travel+ Leisure World's Best Hotel for Families, The Gold List Condé Nast Traveler 

    • Four decades dedicated to authentic travel experiences, aiming to preserve biodiversity and local cultures. Its sustainability efforts have gained them membership with diverse alliances, such as Relais & Châteaux, Virtuoso and National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World
    • A select boutique nature hotel considered “The Garden of Eden” by Condé Nast Traveler, lets you experience life at an exclusive royal Inca retreat

    • Committed to scientific research and conservation
    • Rooms decorated in Peruvian fabrics, ceramics, and art
    • Inkaterra dining package will be served in a glass-walled restaurant, offering stunning views of the rushing Vilcanota River and the imposing green Andes Mountains
    • The hotel grounds include more than 3 miles of ecological trails, and several spots of observation and contemplation of flora (including 372 native orchid species in their natural habitat), birds (214 species), and butterflies (111 species), amongst a diversity of natural wonder


    1. Dana Guest House

    Where: King’s Highway, Jordan


    Kudos:  Green Apple Award, Best Ethical Travel Award (the Guardian), Trip Advisor Certificate for Excellence, Ford Award for Environmental Protection

    • Some of the middle east’s most amazing views
    • Blends into the sandstone cliff face sitting on the 1200m high tip of Dana Nature Reserve
    • Dead Sea basin sits below the reserve
    • Stone-clad rooms with show-stopping panoramas
    • Guesthouse is run by Jordan’s Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN)
    • Highly knowledgeable staff about the reserves natural wonders
    • Ongoing conservation efforts to preserve the reserve’s biodiversity (over 700 different plant species are found here)



    1. Bansura Resort

    Where: Wayana, Kerala, India


    Kudos: MSN Best Eco Resorts, BBC News, Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence

    • Set on a sprawling 35 acre farm in the middle of a lush tropical forest, with exotic flora and fauna, gushing mountain streams and magnificent waterfalls
    • Banasura Hill Resort has been named Asia's largest 'earth' resort and is considered one of the 'greenest' destination in the Nilgiris biosphere
    • Bio-gas plant recycles organic waste and fires the resort's kitchens
    • Completely lit by CFL lamps to minimize energy consumption. The resort itself has been built from mud and recycled wood and natural light is exploited to the fullest.
    • The resort is close to an indigenous tribal hamlet, waterfalls, rolling hills



    1. Jivaro Island Ecolodge

    Where: Jicaro Island, Nicaragua


    Kudos: 1000 Places to See Before You Die, Travel + Leisure, Conde´ Nast Traveler

    • Built entirely from timber reclaimed from trees blown down by hurricane Felix, the buildings and furniture are made of tropical hardwoods which provide a solid and beautiful environment in harmony with the natural setting
    • Water is heated with solar panels for guest and kitchen use
    • Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. While there is a strong recycling program installed, the focus due to the island location is on reducing. Bring as little trash to the island as possible.
    • Use of organic and biodegradable soaps, cleaning detergents and spa products
    • Underground electricity system that does not interfere with the surrounding wildlife.
    • Education of local communities in sustainable practices
    • Jicaro began constructing a small edible garden to grow herbs and vegetables. The herbs and produce generated by the garden are shared 50/50 by Jicaro and the families who care for the plants
    • Bird watching high in the forest canopy, kayaking around the many islands, zip lining through the tree tops and hiking up Mombacho volcano are all part of our active tours
    • The range of habitats is huge from the lowland dry forest and agriculture to the cloud forests perched on the edge of volcanoes. 
    • Luxury two story house, a 'casita', raised up above the ground like a treehouse
    • The nine casitas on the island all have lake views



    1. Shompole

    Where: Kenya, Africa


    Kudos: Travel + Leisure Best Eco Destinations

    •  Located in the southern Rift Valley of Kenya, bordering Lake Natron (in Tanzania) to the South, the Western wall of the Great Rift Valley to the West and Lake Magadi to the East
    • This area is surprisingly diverse in terms of bird life, large mammals, key predators, the presence of elephants and of course all living alongside the Maasai and their livestock
    • Accompanied by Sisco or Joel,  the local Maasai baboon experts, you will walk with the baboons and learn the how they live and interact with each other
    • 4 soaring luxury tent structures, nestled into the shade of the giant fig trees, overlooking the Ewaso Nyiro River, glamping at it’s finest
    • 180-degree big game views
    • Lighting in the tents is all solar
    • Natural fuel-heated showers and compositing toilets
    • Shompole’s partnered with Masai community – training more than 40 tribespeople to assume majority ownership within 15 years



    1. Misool Eco Resort

    Where: Raja Ampat, Indonesia


    Kudos: Green Pearls Unique Places, Pure Changing the Worlds Award, 

    • 13 breezy bungalows handcrafted out of reclaimed tropical hardwoods
    • Located at the center of Southeast Asia’s famed Coral Triangle, Misool provides front-row access to an underwater world teeming with marine life - there are more kinds of fish and coral here than bird species in the Amazon
    • Local village visits and paddling across the baby blue waters are also options, but for diving and snorkeling aficionados, this is a trip of a lifetime
    • The spa includes a range of natural products and scrubs hand-blended from local ingredients such as candlenut and our own coconuts, face toner derived from freshly pressed cucumber, body wraps using our home-grown aloe plants and freshly harvested banana leaves, aromatherapy using fragrant hand-pressed coconut oil, and scrubs using coffee from the highlands of Papua
    • Multiple conservation and community projects including: Misool Eco Resort Conservation Center, Ranger Patrol (No-Take Zone), Misool Manta Project, Raja Ampat Shark and Manta Sanctuary, and Reef Restoration Project.



    1. Resurgence Eco Lodge

    Where: Tasman Bay, New Zealand


    Kudos: National Geographic Best Eco Lodges, Trip Advior Certificate of Excellence, Enviro Gold Award Qualmark

    • Set in 50 acres of native bush and on the edge of 2 national parks, the Lodge‘s setting is pure New Zealand with 5km of hiking tracks to explore
    • Farm-to-table dining with fresh local produce from the garden and local area
    • 5km of tracks around the Lodge and meet the many friendly native birds; or, take the one hour return walk to the beautiful source of the Riwaka River - the resurgence - where a river emerges from the marble hillside and magical clear from the Middle Earth caves water bubbles deep beneath a crystal pool
    • The perfect location to explore Abel Tasman with easy day trips to Golden BayKahurangi National Park and the art, wine and cycling trails around the Nelson Region
    • Fan of Lord of The Rings? Resurgence has full day escorted tours exploring the filming sites of Chetwood Forest, Drimrill Dale, Rivendell and more
    • Sorry kiddos, this is an adult-only resort for honeymooners and couples



    1. Six Senses Con Dao

    Where: Con Dao National Park, Vietnam


    Kudos: National Geographic Best Eco Resorts, AW2 Top 10 Eco Award

    • Six Senses haven is constructed from reclaimed teak, including over a thousand recycled antique wooden panels
    • The resort dangles on a slice of world-class beach in Con Dao National Park—a 45-minute flight from frenetic Ho Chi Minh City
    • Sustainability takes center stage, with initiatives including local and organic meals, no plastic water bottles, and nontoxic biodegradable cleaning products and amenities
    • Windsurfing, body boarding, and sailing start right outside the door. But for many guests, the activity of choice is simply immersion in the unspoiled nature that surrounds the private villas
    • Con Dao is a breathtaking location, which has been protected for decades as a national and marine park.
    • Six Senses Con Dao, the first five-star resort in the archipelago islands, is contemporary in design and reflects the essence of a traditional fishing village. 



    Back to blog

    Leave a comment

    Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.