Taking a vacation shouldn't be tough on the planet. These spots offer a top-notch experience for guests―and the environment.
1. Inn by the Sea, Cape Elizabeth, Maine
The Inn by the Sea hasn't just hopped on the eco bandwagon. It's been living green for six years, offsetting its emissions through domestic reforestation. It recently joined with carbonfund.org to launch a model for responsible hotels, offering Carbonfree Vacations and Carbonfree Meetings. In addition, its grounds, landscaped with indigenous plantings (pesticide-free, of course) provide a habitat for wild life. (There are more than 40 nesting boxes on the property). And it's the only hotel in Maine to heat with biofuel. It even hosts a pumpkin-carving contest each fall as a fun way to educate guests about the benefits of this vegetable oil-derived energy source. For more information, call 800/888-4287 or visit innbythesea.com.
2. The Lodge on Little St. Simons Island, Georgia
Just off the coast of Georgia and accessible only by boat, Little St. Simons Island offers visitors a low-tech experience. Guests (no more than 30 at one time) comb seven miles of undeveloped shoreline, help themselves to complimentary bicycles to tour the island, hike more than 20 miles of forested trails, and enjoy delicious, local Lowcountry cuisine. Day trips to the island are also available (reservations required). For more information, call 888/733-5774 or visit littlestsimonsisland.com.
3. The Washington Hotel, Washington Island, Wisconsin
Just off the tip of the Door County peninsula lies a perfect retreat for food lovers and environmentalists alike. The Washington Hotel, Restaurant & Culinary School embraces sustainable living in its food preparation, its architecture, and even its selection of local handcrafts used in the hotel. Its mission rings true all the way down to the organic cotton bedsheets. In the restaurant, guests find only the finest locally and organically grown ingredients. For more information, call 920/847-2169, or visit thewashingtonhotel.com.
4. Post Ranch Inn, Big Sur, California
Morning yoga, guided nature walks, and stargazing with an astronomer are just a few of the activities offered at this 100-acre resort. Perched atop the bluffs of Big Sur, 30 ocean- and mountain-view suites offer an ideal escape. (Don't go looking for an alarm clock―there isn't one.) Guests dine on organic and seasonal cuisine at the award-winning Sierra Mar restaurant, overlooking the Pacific. For more information, call 800/527-2200 or visit postranchinn.com.
5. Ocean Haven, near Yachats, Oregon
Located near the Oregon Dunes and Siuslaw National Forest, Ocean Haven understands the importance of conservation. All rooms have ocean views. None have telephones or televisions. Private kitchens come with organic coffee and tea, and eco-friendly cleaning products. Guests will likely spot wildlife (even whales, which migrate past the area through the end of September). For more information, call 541/547-3583 or visit oceanhaven.com.
6. Hotel Eco Paraíso, Celestún, Mexico
Relaxing comes easy on this picture-perfect beach on Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula. Fifteen thatched-roof cabanas, each with Gulf of Mexico views, blend naturally into the surroundings. An interpretive trail along the coastal dunes introduces guests to areas of vast biodiversity; solar panels heat the swimming pool; and low-voltage lighting conserves energy and doesn't disrupt sea-turtle hatchlings as they find their way to the sea. For more information, call 877/561-6733 or visit ecoparaiso.com.
7. Hotelito Desconocido, Jalisco, Mexico
Hotelito Desconocido lacks electricity and telephones. Still, room service is never far away―just tug a red rope. Solar panels provide hot showers and water to the private 24 lagoon- or beach-view elevated bungalows. A rowboat is required to reach the most popular rooms. The resort's two restaurants serve fresh seafood and organic produce grown on site. For more information, call 800/851-1143 or visit hotelito.com.
8. Sadie Cove Wilderness Lodge, Homer, Alaska
Sadie Cove Wilderness Lodge lies completely off the grid. One of the few private properties within Kachemak Bay State Park, it features five private, water-view cabins that get electricity from an on-site hydroelectric system fueled by a mountain stream. Guests can hike the beach and park trails or test the waters by sea kayaking, clamming, and fishing. In the fall, there's even berry picking. For more information, call 888/283-7234 or visit sadiecove.com.
9. Tiamo, South Andros Island, Bahamas
This island resort's a literal powerhouse―its solar field can generate more than 130,000 watts of energy daily. It's also a great place to stay. Open-air bungalows (each with a wraparound porch) stand just steps from the beach. At night, guests enjoy conversation over a multicourse candlelit dinner before retiring to their beds. For more information, call 954/889-7076 or visit tiamoresorts.com.
10. Moccasin Trail Tours, Hudson Bay, Ontario, Canada
This company offers an unforgettable eco-adventure through the James and Hudson bays. The trip includes a night at the acclaimed Cree Village Ecolodge, a guided trip to Polar Bear Provincial Park, and two nights sleeping under the stars in a tepee. For more information, call 866/844-0497 or visit moccasintrailtours.com.