From the powdery beaches of Anguilla to the verdant jungles of Belize, the mere mention of the Caribbean evokes a relaxed mindset. This planning guide to ecotourism in the Caribbean inspires a guilt-free tropical getaway. And even better, our tips have layers of impact, while leaving a light footprint .
When to go
Escape to the Caribbean during April or May, a small pocket of time when crowds are sparse and hurricanes are rare. Shoulder season rates make it more affordable and give you more opportunities to hang with the locals.
Where to stay
Luxurious eco-retreats can be found in all corners of the Caribbean. St. Lucia’s Jade Mountain Resort is an architectural masterpiece and a pioneer of sustainability. Built with a palette of local materials, the dreamlike sanctuary blends seamlessly into the surrounding landscape.
Nestled on a hill where the Caribbean and the Atlantic meet, Belle Mont Farm is St. Kitts’ most beloved boutique resort. The upscale oasis is nestled within 400 acres of organic farmland and is deeply committed to empowering the local community.
For a more rustic Caribbean getaway, check in to Dominica’s Cocoa Cottages, a guesthouse inspired by its jungle setting. Rooted in the spirit of community, this serene escape is the perfect place to connect with nature as well as other travelers.
Where to eat and drink
While the Caribbean isn’t typically known for its vineyards, the Dominican Republic’s Ocoa Bay is well worth a visit for wine aficionados. Try their KiBay–a unique creation blending mango and passion fruit, a nod to the region’s indigineous flavors.
Ridge to Reef Farm offers community-based, six-course dining experiences in the jungle of St. Croix. Through educational outreach, the ecotourism project is dedicated to driving the organic food movement in the Virgin Islands.
What to do
Nature is your playground no matter where you go in the Caribbean. From Cozumel to the Belize Barrier Reef, the region has some of the world’s most coveted diving. Earn your umbrella-shaded cocktail by kiteboarding in The Grenadines, paddleboarding in Tobago or hiking a volcano in Martinique.
Six Senses Cayman Adventures offers an ecotourism experience where you can explore mangroves, swim with stingrays and relax on a private beach. For a different perspective, zipline through the treetops at Loterie Farm, an expansive nature sanctuary on Saint Martin. Afterwards, slip into one of their poolside cabañitas and relax in the lush gardens.
Look beyond cruise ship towns for a trove of authentic, ecotourism experiences that reveal a different side of the Caribbean. Spend a day with Dominica’s indigineous people in remote Kalinago Barana Autê, where traditional ways of life endure. Meet Rastafaris to learn how their spiritual beliefs, rhythmic music and “One Love” ethos shape Jamaica’s cultural heart.
In Cuba, join Ruta Bikes and embark on a cycling tour of Havana to visit neighborhoods often left out of the tourist route. You can also visit tobacco farms on horseback in Viñales Valley, a region that has remained largely unchanged for centuries.
-Shannon Valdes Leiderman