written by: Sandi Johnson•edited by: Amy Carson•updated: 5/24/2011
Green travel is the latest in luxury living for the eco-conscious. Kick off your shoes, grab a frosty hurricane glass, and find out where you can leave low carbon footprints in the sand with this guide to environmentally friendly island resorts.
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Getting There in Green Style
Travel for the eco-conscious has historically meant striking a delicate balance between environmental responsibility and enjoyable leisure activities. With the growing awareness and popularity of eco-tourism, however, that balancing act has gotten a little easier. Numerous choices now exist that allow even the most conscientious environmentalist to take a leisurely, low carbon footprint vacation. Whether you want simply to relax and commune with nature in a tropical paradise, or combine your vacation with environmental causes and projects, there is sure to be something to suit your tastes and budget.
If you’re concerned about the environmental impact of getting to these luxurious, yet responsible resorts, have no fear. The transportation industry is also making strides to become more environmentally friendly. Not only is the airline industry going green, but other forms of transportation as well. If the consumption of fossil fuels and other carbon damage caused by travel gives you nightmares, consider carbon offsetting as part of your vacation budget.
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Hawaii and Dominica
The islands in beautiful Hawaii offer much in the way of environmentally friendly resorts and vacation destinations. From avoiding the use of harsh chemicals in controlling pests to using solar power, these Hawaiian resorts are just a few examples of what is available. To increase your efforts for a green vacation, be sure to employ the many walking and biking options available for island visitors.
The Rosalie Forest in Dominica is another option for environmentally friendly island resorts. Stay in a tree house, visit the organic herb farm, or stay with a family in the village. The Commonwealth of Dominica (not to be confused with the Dominican Republic) was one of the first countries designated by Green Globe 21 as a full-fledged eco-tourism destination. For Dominica, going green isn't just for the tourists. Here, the environment and its preservation is a way of life for all residents.
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Fiji and Indonesia
Fiji brings to mind enchanting island scenery and the quaint hospitality of the island’s indigenous peoples. Continuing a love of all things natural and oceanic, Jean-Michel Cousteau, son of the famed Jacques Cousteau, owns and operates the Jean-Michel Cousteau Fiji Island Resort. It is one of many resorts in Fiji that strive to preserve the natural beauty of the island and its inhabitants. With an on-site Marine Biologist, edible landscape, and the first recycling program in the area, this resort offers luxury and comfort without compromising the delicate environment in which it exists. In fact, the Fiji Island Resort received an Eco-award from Trip Advisor in 2007 for their commitment to environmentally responsible practices.
Asia now offers eco-travelers a beautiful option for environmentally friendly island resorts. Just 85km from Singapore and a short 8km off the eastern coast of Indonesia is a tiny private island called Nikoi. This tiny private island boasts white granite boulders all along the coast, a tropical rain forest, and beautiful coral reefs. Local Indonesians built the beach houses from driftwood and indigenous grass for the roofs, while local farmers provide produce and other organic foods. Solar panels for hot water, designs that do not require air conditioning to cool, and waste recycling are just a few of the low carbon efforts employed on Nikoi Island.
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Australia's Paradise Bay and Phillip Island
Australia is famous for its Outback, a wild and untamed refuge where nature rules. If your vacation dreams include an adventure Down Under, then there are eco-friendly options available for you here, as well. Smack dab in the middle of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park lies a beautiful and environmentally friendly island resort. This resort uses their own solar power plant, and employs a seven principled approach to eco operations, including water use, waste collection, construction practices, design concepts, and carbon offsetting, to name a few. Exclusivity, small size, and heavy involvement with the indigenous maritime culture are the hallmarks of Paradise Bay.
Melbourne, Australia is considered the epicenter of Australian art and culture, but it is also home to many environmentally friendly and green living initiatives. Likewise, close neighbor and fellow environmental protector, Victoria is home to Phillip Island, just off the coast and 150km from Melbourne Airport. Phillip Island features an environmentally responsible and family friendly resort community. With private villas made from recycled materials and fitted with energy-saving appliances and amenities, the resorts owner, Accor took great care to restore much of the natural flora and fauna of Phillip Island through reforestation. From conserving a woodland area full of mature gum trees to establishing wetlands for storm drainage, All Seasons Eco Resort made a valuable neighbor for Phillip Island’s famous “Happy Feet" penguins.
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G.A.P. Adventures and Seacology
Green travel agencies also offer options for individuals and families in search of environmental friendly island resorts and green travel packages. G.A.P. Adventures travel agency helps families and single travelers find the perfect green vacation destination. More than just booking travel packages, G.A.P. works with local communities and organizations earmarked as destinations to provide only green travel options that contribute to the local culture, economy, and environment. They also help the world’s tree population by donating a tree for every traveler they book.
For travelers who want green vacation options with truly positive environmental impact, nonprofit organizations like Seacology organize true eco-tourism vacation options. This agency organizes vacation destinations where environmentally conscious travelers can help save endangered islands through service-oriented adventures. Help rebuild schools or municipal buildings, save sea turtles and establish nature preserves while living with island residents. During your off time you can snorkel, hike, or simply enjoy the local culture. Each Seacology trip is a unique, one of a kind experience.
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Make Your Next Vacation Green
Before booking that dream island resort vacation, consider the environmental impact of your choices. Whether you choose one of these beautiful environmentally friendly island resorts or find a green island destination of your own, make sure the resort addresses its impact on the local environment. Ask questions such as:
How does the resort manage solid waste and waste water?
What impact does construction or site design have on the local environment?
Do they provide economic benefits to the community by contributing to local farming, purchasing reclaimed or recycled building materials, or employing indigenious peoples to limit communiting?
What efforts does the resort employ to conserve water, energy, and other natural resources?
What does the resort do to reduce carbon emmissions from resort operations and tourist activities?
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The International EcoTourism Society http://www.ecotourism.org/site/c.orLQKXPCLmF/b.4835303/k.BEB9/What_is_Ecotourism__The_International_Ecotourism_Society.htm
Sustainable Travel International http://www.sustainabletravelinternational.org/documents/carbonoffsetprojects.html