Eco-tourism is not only good for the planet; it’s also educational and a lot of fun too. So what are you waiting for?
Turtle watch, Barbados and Tobago
For a once-in-a-lifetime experience, join a conservation project in Tobago or Barbados and help ensure the survival of this endangered species. The Barbados Sea Turtle Project, founded over 25 years ago (barbadosseaturtles.org), recruits local and international volunteers between November and May to collect scientific data, and assist with sea turtle rescues. They have a 24-hour ‘sea turtle hotline’, and the training includes interacting with nesting females – there are around 500 in Barbados – without disturbing them, and safely relocating a nest.
Amerindian Eco-lodge, Guyana
Stay in a simple eco-lodge with village residents and experience, at first-hand, a way of life that has remained unchanged for centuries. Several Amerindian communities run their own eco-lodges, where you can enjoy food and tours prepared by villagers. The Surama Ecolodge (suramaecolodge.com), located in the heart of Guyana, takes guests on a dawn hike through the savannah and rainforest to the Burro-burro river. Jumping into a canoe, your guide will paddle you along the river in search of giant river otters, tapir and spider monkeys.
Rhythm & Spice, Belize
Learn Garifuna drumming, dancing and drum-making at the thatched Warasa Garifuna Drum school in Punta Gorda (warasadrumschool.com), in the company of parakeets and howler monkeys. The full-day and half-day courses are suitable for all ages, even those with no rhythm or two left feet. Traditional ‘hudut’ cooking lessons and lunch are also available, so you can sample the traditional delights of Fufu (mashed plantain) and coconut fish stew at first hand. There’s more drumming and cooking at the Belize Spice Farm (belizespicefarm.com).
Farm to table
Several islands offer a farm-to-table experience with an emphasis firmly on local and sustainably obtained produce. In St Kitts, the Kitchen at Belle Mont Farm (bellemontfarm.com) uses only the freshest and seasonal ingredients grown on its extensive farms – guests are encouraged to forage for their own dinner. On the same island, Ital Creations at Fari Organic Farm combines ‘clean eating’ vegetarianism and yoga. On Grenada, Mount Cinnamon’s cuisine features a mix of Indian and Caribbean traditions with freshly-grown vegetables from its own gardens and from nearby plantations.
Wynne Farm, Haiti
It’s all about environmental preservation and education at this nature reserve and agro-forest in the mountains of Kenscoff (wynnefarm.org). As well as talks on deforestation and soil erosion in Haiti, visitors are introduced to ecological farming, composting, flower production, water irrigation and bee keeping. They can also learn how to recycle plastics and make brackets from waste paper. The kids will love it too, as there is an animal sanctuary of rabbits, goats, horses, dogs and a donkey, which they can touch and interact with – plus horseback rides too.
Keeping it natural in Dominica
Dominica’s abundantly rich natural habitats and wildlife make the island an ideal destination for eco-conscious travellers and voluntourism projects are an option here, too, to help rebuilding efforts in the wake of Hurricane Maria. Vacationers can schedule guided tours, hiking excursions, and mountain-biking adventures in the National Parks. One of the island’s most accessible natural sites is Trafalgar Falls. You can view the twin falls from a platform or hike 200 feet under the cascading waters. Inactive volcanic mountain ranges are also located on the island and can provide many exciting excursions.