It’s easy being green at these fabulous eco retreats
Whether it's offering luxurious yet sustainable accommodation or environmental conservation activities like coral gardening, beach clean ups and turtle hatchling releases, these eco resorts ensure your holidays are good for you and the planet.
- March 2020
Having a sustainable holiday is that much easier when you check in at one of these environmentally conscious resorts across Australia and Asia, where you can reconnect with nature (and yourself) while helping to preserve the places you love to visit.
Maqai Beach Eco Surf Resort, Fiji
Protecting the magnificent coral reefs that surround Qamea Island is a priority for this sustainable tourism award winner. The tiny eco resort has just nine beachfront bures (bungalows), all of which run on solar power, and its white-sand beach lures surfers, divers and snorkellers to its crystal-clear water. Guests can join the friendly Fijian team in conservation projects such as coral gardening in the marine park, and the resort’s close ties to the local village ensure visitors have an immersive and authentic Fijian experience.
Bambu Indah, Bali
Choose to stay in an exquisitely furnished, repurposed Javanese bridal home or in a bamboo tree house at this pioneering eco retreat on the outskirts of Ubud. Here, the natural swimming pool is spring-fed and many of the meals are served on banana-leaf plates in line with its no-plastics policy. Bambu Indah belongs to a group that includes Bamboo U, which offers courses in sustainable architecture, and the sustainability-focused Green School, which you can tour while staying here.
Elysian Retreat, Whitsundays
Will you start the day with a dip in the magnesium-enriched pool or with some waterfront yoga? At this, the first Great Barrier Reef resort powered entirely by solar energy, it is all about relaxation, whether it is watching dolphins gambolling from a hammock or indulging in an Ayurvedic spa treatment. The intimate resort – guests are limited to 20 at a time – focuses on sustainability measures including waste reduction, a ban on chemicals and advanced wastewater treatment.
Six Senses Con Dao, Vietnam
The Six Senses hotel group is renowned for its wide-ranging sustainability initiatives, and its first Vietnamese outpost, hugging a picturesque beach in the idyllic Con Dao islands, is no exception. All 50 luxurious villas have ocean views and natural ventilation to reduce the need for air-conditioning. Drinking water is bottled onsite, solar panels heat the resort’s water and recycling is a top priority, with kitchen bio-waste used to compost the premises’ organic garden that supplies fresh produce to its restaurants. The resort supports the local community with outreach programs and helps local wildlife through conservation initiatives – joining turtle hatchling releases is just one of the many guest activities on offer.
Daintree Ecolodge, Queensland
Getting back to nature takes on new meaning at this low-impact boutique retreat tucked within the world’s oldest tropical rainforest. Take a walk to a tranquil waterfall, spot musky rat-kangaroos from the private verandah of your bayan (rainforest room) or board a crocodile-spotting cruise on the nearby Daintree River. The lodge has done the legwork to ensure your stay is as sustainable as possible – right down to the nose-to-tail philosophy of the kitchen and the wild-harvested ingredients in the Li’Tya products used at the spa. Among its sustainable initiatives is a program that assists Indigenous Australians in finding stable careers, and projects that preserve the Great Barrier Reef.
Bangkok Tree House, Thailand
Nestled on a lush island on the Chao Phraya River, this quirky hotel offers the ultimate escape from the bustle of Bangkok. Easily reached by boat from the city, its rooms include an open-air platform raised seven metres above the mangrove palms. Solar power and homegrown vegetables add to Bangkok Tree House’s carbon-neutral status. Bicycles are available for exploring the jungle and the team removes one kilogram of rubbish from the river for every booking.
Phum Baitang, Cambodia
Its name means “green village”, which is apt for this elegant eco-conscious resort set within eight hectares of tropical gardens and rice paddies, just west of Siem Reap. Inspired by Khmer family homes, 45 beautifully furnished stilted wooden villas blend effortlessly into the rural setting. The onsite Spa Temple uses natural techniques and products and exploring the area – the gateway to Angkor Wat – by bicycle is strongly encouraged. Plus, they have a water treatment facility for purifying drinking water and growing rice.
Camp Glenorchy Eco Retreat, New Zealand
Encircled by the snow-capped peaks of New Zealand’s Southern Alps, the lakeside village of Glenorchy is a fitting setting for the nation’s most low-impact sleep. The camp uses only as much energy as it creates via its solar garden and you can take your pick of houses, cabins and cosy bunkrooms furnished with original artworks and eco-friendly amenities. You will sleep soundly knowing profits go to the Glenorchy Community Trust to support local livability initiatives.
Thala Beach Nature Reserve, Queensland
This tropical haven, near Port Douglas, celebrates nature with stylish, sustainably built wooden stilt houses, discreetly tucked between heritage rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. Its low-impact design, eco practices and extensive reforestation program earned it Ecotourism Australia’s Green Travel Leader status in 2017. Wildlife encounters are a highlight at this 145-acre beachfront reserve, with onsite rangers guiding nature tours to see wallabies, echidnas and sugar gliders. Other activities include walks through the organic coconut plantation, a birdwatching tour, stargazing at the observatory and snorkelling or diving the world’s largest coral reef.
Turtle Bay Resort, Hawaii
Located on an 800-acre property far from the crowds of Waikiki, beachfront Turtle Bay might look like your standard luxury high-rise resort but it has very green roots. A local leader in solar power and low energy usage, waste reduction, composting and biodiesel conversion, the hotel won the Hawaiian Green Business Award in 2015. Excess food (all locally sourced and organic) is donated to food banks, while the resort participates in the Waste to Waves trash-to-surfboard recycling program. On the second Saturday of each month, join their beach conservation group to help with clean-ups and restoring native flora. But there is plenty more to do – from snorkelling with turtles to hiking, biking and horseriding.
Check out these quirky eco attractions around Australia.