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Outdoors + Adventure

Stay at an Ecolodge (You’ll Feel Good About it)

Eco resort, ecolodge, eco retreat…the nomenclature varies but the underlying concept remains the same: a green getaway where conservation, sustainability and preservation are paramount. Charlotte Steinway rounds up our 9 favorite eco-chic escapes, from Costa Rica to Egypt.

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Jicaro Island Ecolodge, Granada, Nicaragua

If there were a place to unplug, unwind, and get off the grid entirely, it’d be Jicaro Island Ecolodge, the sustainable retreat located on a private island in the middle of Lake Nicaragua. Not only does the lake itself provide much of the water for the hotel, but the surrounding natural habitat contributes to the food sources: the resort has its own onsite chicken coop, pig farm, edible garden, and bio-digester. Ask the front desk about arranging a "sustainability tour" of the hotel grounds—it comes standard with a hearty visual cocktail of the island's natural flora and fauna.

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Las Lagunas Boutique Hotel,Tikal, Guatemala

Originally opened by an ecologist who came to explore Guatemala's surrounding Péten rainforest, Las Lagunas’ biggest asset is its location: the 17-room eco-retreat is set on stilts smack in the middle of a sprawling, 200-acre reserve. Nature lovers from far and wide flock to the tropical hideaway for its proximity to the endangered rainforest (home to more than 250 bird species), jungle and lagoons. Bonus: through October, guests can enjoy a complimentary tour of Monkey Island--the resort's own isle—dedicated to the care of native howler monkeys.

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Adrere Amellal Oasis, Siwa, Egypt

The only desert ecolodge of our list, Siwa’s Adrere Amellal Oasis takes sustainability measures to the next level: the entire hotel is candlelit. Each of the hotel's 40 guestrooms are unique, but all blend into the surrounding landscape with their sand hues and stone-lined walls. Upon arrival, you'll be assigned a staff member who will hand-deliver your organic, locally-sourced breakfast, lunch and dinner at whatever time you prefer.

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The Lodge at Chaa Creek, San Ignacio, Belize

The Lodge at Chaa Creek put ecotourism on the map back in 1981, well before all the cool kids were doing it. Set amid a private nature reserve, the resort offers unparalleled access to peccaries, jaguars and monkeys (plus 308 recorded species of tropical birds) within the surrounding Belizean jungle. The pool is freshwater, the food is largely organic, and 10 percent of the room revenue goes to community causes through the hotel's own "Chaa Creek Cares" program.

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Gayana Eco Resort, Malohom Bay, Malaysia

Aquaphiles everywhere will appreciate Gayana Eco Resort, a Malaysian getaway comprised of 52 overwater villas on a coral-reef island overlooking Mount Kinabalu. In addition to a number of water-based adventures (think kayaking through the mangroves that border the island's shoreline, snorkeling along the reef or SCUBA diving at the onsite PADI Dive Center), there's also a Marine Ecology Research Center, where guests can dip into a touch-tank filled with local marine species and even adopt a section of local coral.

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Bay of Fires Lodge, Mt William National Park, Australia

Tasmania’s northeastern edge is home to the stunning Bay of Fires Coastline, where visitors come to embark on a four-day long trek across 22 miles of beaches and coves. Toward the end of the journey lies the Bay of Fires Lodge, a no-phone, no-TV, solar-powered escape nestled atop a hill 130 feet above sea level. The lodge is the only man-made structure in the area, with nearly 22 miles of private beach only accessible by foot.

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Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge, Puntarenas, Costa Rica

At Playa Nicuesa, guestrooms are housed in treehouse-like structures dotted throughout the 165-some acres of rainforest on Costa Rica's Southwestern coast. Open-air dining and outdoor hammock lounging allow guests to take full advantage of the views and sounds of nearby waterfalls, surrounding jungle, and Golfo Dulce. In addition to meals, the daily rate includes unlimited self-guided hikes, kayaking, snorkeling and fishing equipment to play with. Guaranteed you won't miss your phone or the internet.

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Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve, Clanwilliam, South Africa

Bushmans Kloof is only 167 miles from Cape Town, but its setting in the northern Cederberg Mountains feels worlds away. The South African National Heritage Site is home to more than 750 plant species, 150 bird types and 35 varieties of mammals, and only 34 hotel guests can stay at one time. Plan your visit between July and October, when the spring flower season is at its prime, showcasing the region's nearly 9,000 varieties of native fynbos.

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Papaya Playa Project, Tulum, Mexico

For being located in one of the world's most scene-heavy vacation towns, Papaya Playa Project is also one of the most budget-friendly options. Nearly all the Tulum stays, by default, are eco-friendly (think low to zero electricity, limited running water, and the only point of car access being a one-lane road), but Papaya Playa sets itself apart by being a member of the Rain Forest Alliance, a community of local businesses committed to preserving the beachside getaway's natural livelihood through sustainable measures. This Design Hotels outpost is all about bringing the outside in: think palapa-topped cabanas, a bi-level, thatched-roof beach club and expansive terraces meant for soaking in views of the palm tree-flanked beachfront.

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