8 of the Best Eco-Friendly Resorts

September 15, 2016

Going green has never been so glam. From a lush tropical retreat in Tulum, Mexico, to the wilderness in South Africa, we've found eight amazing eco resorts you should consider for your next trip - without the guilt trip.

It's sad but true, travel can have a negative impact on our little planet, but that doesn't mean you have to give up exploring the world completely. For some, roughing it in a jungle somewhere sounds like the most epic of trips, but for most the concept sounds pretty unnerving.

"Why can't we have comfort in eco surroundings?" we hear you cry. Don't fret, we have found eight innovative resorts that are committed to conservation and luxury with a conscience, from the jungles of Costa Rica to the wilds of New Zealand. We know many require a long flight, but luckily they are surrounded by lush, carbon-offsetting forests. We think that'll help sway you.

Cue the eco-resort round up. 

1. Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve, South Africa

Dinner overlooking theCape Floral Region at Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Retreat in South Africa

The UNESCO-protected Cape Floral Region bursts into living colour each September, producing some of the greatest concentrations of floral species in the world. The century-old lodging, Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve, has turned itself into a full-blown nature reserve, caring for over 19 acres of rare habitat - home to endangered Cape mountain zebras and archaeological sites like 10,000 year old San rock paintings. You can take your pick from the 16 gorgeous rooms or the private family villa to set up base camp for your daily adventures and just sit back fireside at dusk with the Cape's finest wines. We're sold.

2. Yangshuo Mountain Retreat, China

A view of the Yangshuo Mountains in China

Locally owned, Yangshuo Mountain Retreat is simple, sustainable and a totally stunning ecolodge setting. An hour's drive from Guilin, it's a world away from the hustle and bustle of the tourist city. Perfect for a digital detox, it's surrounded by limestone karst peaks so you won't find a phone that works or a TV for that matter. In this fairytale setting, you'll spot water buffalo bathing within the lush paddies while farmers tend to their fields. Inspiring Chinese poets and artists for centuries, the area is now a popular stomping ground for backpackers who are there to take advantage of the outdoorsy activities such as rock-climbing, mountain biking, river rafting and visiting traditional mountain villages.

3. Inkaterra Reserva Amazónica, Peru

Outdoor bath at the Inkaterra Reserva Amazónica resort, Peru

In the remote rainforest, Inkaterra Reserva Amazónica is supported by 20 years of scientific research into protecting Peru's diverse ecological environment. Sleep in one of the 35 airy wood and thatch cabanas or opt for a secluded canopy treehouse. Set within a network of trails, guests can cross the flooded Aguajales swamp and discover a range of amphibians (Inkaterra have idenitfied five new species) or head along the canopy on a hanging walkway to see colourful birds and more than 1266 species of plants.

4. Papaya Playa Project, Tulum, Mexico

View from a cabana at Papaya Playa Project resort in Tulum, Mexico

Nestled in the jungle and dotted along the white sandy beach, Papaya Playa Project is the place to stay if you want high concept design in the eco-friendly area of Tulum, Mexico. With their 85 thatched roof cabanas and casitas made from ecological and local materials, this retreat is a must for yoga, tai chi and meditation fans. Aside from the resort's amazing, rustic restaurant providing locally-sourced specialities, there's always a buzz with guests welcome to jam, perform, read and give inspiring lectures. Paradise found.

5. The Resurgence Eco Lodge, Nelson, New Zealand

View of a chalet at The Resurgence Eco Lodge, Nelson, New Zealand

Follow a winding road along the blue of Tasman Bay to get to this luxurious hideaway near the 'resurgence' (bubbling source) of the Riwaka River. In an abundance of flora, the Resurgence Eco Lodge's chalets sit amidst fluttering native birds, like the sweet-sounding Tui. Aside from all the other sustainable elements, in a sweet touch, the husband and wife team who own the ecolodge plant an indigenous tree for every couple who stays. Located right in the Nelson region's renowned wine estates and you can immerse yourself in the wilderness on guided treks in Kahurangi National Park.

6. Six Senses Con Dao, Vietnam

Villa view at Six Senses Con Dao in Vietnam

Constructed from reclaimed teak, including over a thousand recycled antique wooden panels, the stunning Six Senses Con Dao sits near a world-class beach in Con Dao National Park - a 45 minute flights from the bustling Ho Chi Minh City. It's all about sustainability here with initiatives such as local and organic meals, no plastic policy and the use of biodegradable cleaning products. If you're the outdoorsy type, you'll find windsurfing, body-boarding and sailing on the doorstep, but if you'd prefer to just relax, you're in the right spot; just chill out amongst the unspoiled nature in one of the many gorgeous private villas. 

7. Pacuare Lodge, Costa Rica

A canopy suite in the eco resort Pacuare Lodge in Costa Rica

Located on 25,000 protected acres of biodiversity rainforest in the Talamanca Mountains, Pacuare Lodge is where adventure and relaxation coincide. Home to jaguars, monkeys, ocelots, monkeys and ever-so-lovely sloths, your transfer is a white-water raft on the lodges's namesake river where you can take in your new wild surroundings. Once you arrive though, you'll find jungle luxury. Expect candlelit dinners, fine wines and amazing Costa Rican cuisine made by the foodie owners. After being wined and dined, let the surrounding nature sing you to sleep in a big canopy bed. Ah, lovely.

8. Jetwing Vil Uyana, Sri Lanka

Infinity pool view at Jetwing Vil Uyana Sri Lanka.

The luxurious Jetwing Vil Uyana is built on man-made wetlands and weaves culture and nature to utter perfection. The 25 natural-hued dwellings sit amid forest and marshland, where you'll discover over 100 wildlife species including the rare Gray Slender Loris. Set out to explore the amazing ancient city of Sigiriya, a UNESCO World Heritage site just minutes away but rising 1,214 feet high.

Have you stayed in an eco resort you think we should add to the list? Tweet us @travioor or post a comment on Travioor's Facebook page

TEN OF THE BEST NEW UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITES

TEN AMAZING PLACES YOU WON’T BELIEVE EXIST

GOING, GOING, GONE: TEN PLACES TO SEE BEFORE THEY DISAPPEAR

READ MORE ARTICLES ON TRAVIOOR BLOG

Jenny McFarlane Born in Belfast, Jenny’s lived in Albania and Washington DC. Now in London, she loves to plan trips away with friends and travels as often as she can. From joining a motley crew on a yacht in Croatia to walking on the wild side in Borneo, she's always up for new adventures.