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Many honeymoons come in traditional packages, with guests jetting off to beachside resorts to lounge by the pool. An eco-resort, however, offers a slightly different take on the classic post-nuptial getaway, providing guests not only with a sustainable vacation that won't harm the environment, but also with a chance to connect better with nature, themselves, and their partner. From outdoor yoga, nature tours, healing ceremonies, and healthful food, these eco-resorts let honeymooners unwind with nature after the big celebration.
Best Beach: Palmaïa, The House of Aïa, Mexico
Palmaïa, on Mexico’s postcard-perfect Riviera Maya, a strip that's home to some of Mexico's best tourism, is a swanky beachfront retreat that introduces a new way of thinking. Guests’ rites of passages—aka marriage—are celebrated via ceremonies and rituals enhancing connection to nature and the human spirit, nestled between white sand and turquoise ocean, and jungle-fringed cool-water centoes. (Cacao ceremonies, yoga, sound healing and more are led by an in-house shaman.)
Sustainability was at the forefront of planning and the newly constructed resort was conceptualized without disturbing the original landscape. Unique oceanfront suites were designed sustainably without animal products; all have private Caribbean-view terraces and biodegradable amenities, with some allowing swim-out access to one of four infinity pools.
A Nomadic Guide assigned to each guest helps shape the experience, which could include curated experimental music, temezcal ceremonies, beach club sunbathing, custom cocktails based on their mood, and cuisine from four distinctive restaurants (plus a food truck) serving ethically sourced food, including gourmet plant-based menus.
Best Design: ORIGINS Lodge, Costa Rica
The first luxury lodge in Costa Rica’s northern jungles puts a new face on environmentally friendly. The property made up of six lodges with handcrafted canopy beds and hot plunges on their terraces, and the incomparable three-bedroom Villa Vertigo—named for the dizzying height of its treetop perch—is far more elegant than what’s expected of an eco lodge. Vegetation-covered living roofs were designed to blend in with the existing flora. There’s no plastic nor chemical pesticides used on the 45-hectare primary forest site, which they’re actively reforesting by planting new trees. Honeymooners can dive right in with medicinal plant tours, waterfall hikes, horseback rides, lagoon fishing, chocolate making and organic treatments in the open-air spa. Edible flowers and organic veggies from the onsite garden—a beneficiary of composting—make their way into fusion dishes that encompass vegan and vegetarian diets, as well as garden-to-glass cocktails at Skyview Lounge, where each sunset is best spent.
Best Luxury: The Brando, French Polynesia
It’s rare that extreme luxury is matched with true environmental sensitivity, but The Brando pulls it off beautifully. The all-inclusive Polynesian private island is a model for sustainable tourism, with LEED Platinum Certification, innovative Sea Water Air Conditioning, coconut biofuel and other technologies that are reducing its carbon footprint. Naturalist guides and environmental scientists are on hand for a closer look. For ultimate privacy on your honeymoon, snag a new 3,000-square-foot Brando Residence with private pool, otherwise one of 35 plush lagoon-edge villas will definitely do. There’s paddle boarding, canoeing, scuba diving, tennis, biking, and even arts and crafts sessions, not to mention inspired holistic treatments at the Varua Polynesian Spa. Most fish served comes from local waters, and many ingredients are grown organically on the island for three restaurants (plus a couple bars) as well as the sophisticated vegan menu.
Best Jungle: Copal Tree Lodge, Belize
The jungle of Belize is calling from this 16-suite (and one three-bedroom villa) eco-lodge hidden within 22,000 acres of intact rainforest preserve in the Maya Mountains of Punta Gorda, in southern Belize, a zone that's known for some of the best hikes in Central America. Even the spa-style bathrooms get in on the action, celebrating their surroundings with floor-to-ceiling tropical views. It’s a veritable playground for lovers of nature, who can hop aboard peaceful cruises on the Rio Grande or plunge into the Caribbean for snorkeling or fishing adventures. It’s not only a hotel and spa, it’s also a 3,000-acre sustainable, organic farm, allowing guests to get hands-on with learning about the production of coffee, chocolate and other culinary traditions. Of course, you can expect a lot out of the Garden Table Restaurant and Rum Bar, considering the lodge recently launched its own farm-to-flask rum distillery. Swim it off in the infinity pool that boasts views so killer you might stay all day.
Best Hidden Gem: Hotel Hangaroa Eco Village & Spa, Easter Island, Chile
This resort doesn’t just respect its natural environment, it strives to become invisible within it, with architecture inspired by the Rapa Nui ceremonial center incorporating curved walls, natural light, and grass roofs. Tiny volcanic Easter Island is 2,000 miles from Chile’s long coastline—about as off the beaten path as it gets for newlyweds with an adventurous spirit. Still, as sustainable as the 75 rooms are, they have all the hallmarks of luxury, too, think oversized handmade clay bathtubs, stone showers, wide picture windows, and Pacific Ocean–facing terraces.
Behind the scenes, operations focus on minimizing environmental impact. The natural connection is evident in expeditions as well—scuba diving, horseback riding, ATV-ing and enrapturing Rapa Nui (the island’s native name) history and culture. Enjoy downtime at the swimming pool, reading room or Manavai Spa when you’re not indulging in one of two restaurants.
Best Island Resort: Six Senses Laamu, Maldives
Sustainability and sumptuous luxury meet at this remote private island resort, which dolphins routinely spin around. There are 97 thatched-roof beach and overwater villas (crafted with local sustainable materials) that bring the extreme beauty of the environment in, with features such as sunken glass bathtubs and private overwater infinity pools.
Honeymooners can choose to spend their days indulging in those seductive digs or cruising, island hopping, diving, waterskiing, kite surfing, sunbathing at pools or on a deserted sandbank, cooking or watching turtles hatching.
The sustainability initiatives include conservation of the latter, including the rare olive ridley species, plus seagrass meadow protection and manta ray conservation.
In half a dozen dining and drinking outlets, chefs serve healthy, fresh and local fare, including seafood caught sustainably by local fishermen. There are plenty of places to get romantic, too, from destination dining (think lobster barbecue on the beach or dinner sunken into the sand) to stargazing to the cinema under the stars.
Most Exotic: Bambu Indah, Bali
If any resort truly fits the word magical, Bambu Indah is it. There’s nothing to compare to this eco-boutique hotel in Bali’s rainforest-coated valleys surrounding Ubud. The resort is made up of singular Javanese teak cottages, treetop tents and houses made entirely of seductively curving bamboo (a highly sustainable building material).
For newlyweds the romance of this location is off the charts, with a never-ending supply of intimate little nooks, hanging chairs, suspended nets and cushions on which to lounge and feel like Mowgli exploring natural pools and paths.
Two restaurants, which also designed by innovating local architect Elora Hardy, serve local Indonesian cuisine made with organic produce grown in the retreat’s permaculture gardens and sourced locally to slow food standards.
Book a treatment in the bamboo massage pods, have a Balinese blessing, take a yoga class and don’t miss the morning Trash Walk, in which you hike through jungle and villages while collecting rubbish—a beautiful and feel-good way to give back to the island.
Best Adventure: Kasiiya Papagayo, Costa Rica
Sexy jungle vibes with a Robinson Crusoe twist and contemporary design flair pervade this eco-retreat where zero environmental impact is the overarching theme. Intimacy is one of the property’s greatest strength, as each of the five uber-chic tented suites is private and secluded amongst the monkey-topped trees—three mere steps from the sandy beach, and two high up on a hill for primo whale watching and surreal panoramas. Every bit of the materiality and construction was considered to eradicate impact and celebrate the natural world.
There’s no need for a swimming pool when the Pacific Ocean is this clear and warm. Head out for kayaking, snorkeling, SUP, tree-climbing, yoga and hiking, and seek sea turtles, dolphins and more. There’s even a shaman who conducts mindful treatments in a treehouse-like spa cabin. The all-inclusive rates include mouthwatering multi-course menus three meals a day, ever-changing in response to what’s fresh and available locally (especially when it comes to just-caught seafood), served by the sand or up at the Chef’s Table after a world-class sunset. Gaze at the stars from a telescope before retiring each night to a dream-filled bed in your personal paradise.
Best Wildlife: Abu Camp, Botswana
It’s hard to imagine it getting more Earth-friendly than a safari camp that could literally pack up and disappear. The six sprawling tents at this Okavango Delta dream boast large bathtubs, their own pools overlooking the lagoon, and mini artist easels stocked with watercolors and pencils, and were built by Luxury Frontiers to no-trace-left-behind standards. There’s a solar farm and zero plastic on-site, too.
The designers of the intimate, immersive camp were so sensitive to nature they constructed the main dining area (serving bounteous courses) and lounge around lush trees and what’s maybe the world’s most massive termite mound. Animals stroll right up—or hop right up in the case of monkeys—they feel so at home.
The twice-daily safari drives are incredibly epic, but the most spectacular part of your stay might be sleeping in the moonlit Star Bed, an elevated mosquito-netted king within snoring distance of the elephant boma, and waking up at dawn with the rescue herd to take a sunrise walk.
Best Domestic: The Palms Hotel and Spa, Florida
An eco-resort in the middle of Miami? It’s true. Sustainability reigns at this hotel dotted with tropical gardens and palm trees that are truly transportive. The biggest new initiative: eliminating all single-use plastics from the property this year.
Honeymooners can feel good about the light footprint of their ocean-view stay, thanks to the Inspired-by-Nature program that includes reducing, reusing and recycling. That extends to the bright colonial-meets-tropical decor, with more than half of the furniture made from recycled or rapidly renewable materials, or locally produced. Room keys, even, are totally recyclable.
The breezy terrace restaurant, Essensia, dishes out fare using ingredients from sustainable farm purveyors, and even uses glassware made from repurposed bottles. For ultimate honeymoon vibes, don’t miss fruity cocktails at the poolside Tiki Bar followed by a trip to the AVEDA spa, for holistic massages and treatments featuring eco-friendly products.