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The Caribbean’s Best Eco-Lodges

They’re often rustic, with the luxury usually in the details. That’s because they focus on one thing: getting in touch with the natural environment in the Caribbean. They’re not hotels — they’re the Caribbean’s eco-lodges, the tiny properties surrounded by lush landscapes or empty beaches, the ones that impact your vacation far more than they ever impact the environment. Here are our favourites for 2014.

Tendacayou Eco-Lodge and Spa — Guadeloupe

This property on the northwestern corner of the lush island of Basse-Terre in Deshaies redefines the eco-lodge. With its eclectic fashion and inspired design, it isn’t just an eco-lodge — it’s eco-chic.

Blancaneaux Lodge — Belize

This property in the jungle of Belize is the brainchild of famed movie director Francis Ford Coppola; there are few better places anywhere in the region for tapping into nature.

Jungle Bay — Dominica

Dominica didn’t get the moniker “The Nature Island” for nothing. The Caribbean’s adventure capital is home to a number of small eco-lodges nestled in the trees, and none combines luxury, wellness and nature quite like Jungle Bay.

Natura Cabana — Dominican Republic

This small group of bungalows in the Cabarete area has been around for almost two decades, and remains one of the best-known eco-lodges in the region. And, unique for many such properties, it actually has two restaurants (both open-air and emphasizing the organic, of course).

Tiamo — Bahamas

This resort on the island of South Andros in the Bahamas is the epitome of the beachfront eco-lodge, with minimalist but luxurious accommodations and a totally solar energy array.

Chaa Creek — Belize

There’s a reason you’ll find a lot of resorts from Belize on this list: the country practically invented the eco-lodge. Chaa Creek is so comfortable and hospitable that you’ll forget you’re in an eco-lodge. Until, that is, you look outside your treetop window.

Concordia Eco-Villas — St John, US Virgin Islands

The US Caribbean island of St John is around 60 percent covered by a national park, meaning you’ll interact with raw Caribbean beauty at nearly every turn. And the Concordia Eco-Resort is the shining light of the island’s eco-tourism product, with well-outfitted “eco-tents” and larger cabana-style units.

Hix Island House — Vieques, Puerto Rico

Yes, this is an eco-lodge. Or is it? The futuristic Hix Island House in Vieques puts an ultra-modern spin on the traditional eco-lodge, without any compromise — and with an overarching theme of sustainability.

Castara Retreats — Tobago

This largely unheralded eco-boutique on the island of Tobago is all about sustainable tourism — meaning it doesn’t just bring harmony with the natural environment, but with the local community in Castara Village, too.

Surama Eco Lodge — Guyana

Guyana: it’s the great unknown of Caribbean tourism. But it shouldn’t be. It’s a natural wonder, a jarring voyage through landscapes you never see in the islands of the Caribbean. And at Surama, you immerse yourself in the heart of an Amerindian village in a traditional “benab,” or cottage.

Camp Cabarita Eco Lodge — Jamaica

Set near Jamaica’s Cabarita River in Westmoreland, Camp Cabarita bills itself as offering the “hidden Jamaica.” Its simple but beautiful “Irie Cottages” deliver a Jamaica you’ve never imagined.

Small Hope Bay Lodge — Bahamas

It’s clear now that the largely uninhabited Andros island is the Bahamas’ eco-capital. The all-inclusive Small Hope Bay Lodge, which has been around for more than half a century, brings the eco experience right to the sand.

Tubagua — Dominican Republic

You might not realize, but there is a whole world of eco-tourism in the Dominican Republic. Tubagua, set about halfway in the greater Puerto Plata area, has gorgeous thatched-roof accommodations and is a superb way to experience the DR’s natural wonders in a decidedly green environment — in nearly every way.

Almonds and Corals — Costa Rica

Yes, Costa Rica is in the Caribbean. Its Caribbean coast is full of green and eco-centric hotels but none in the style of Almonds and Corals, which is comprised of so-called “safari tents” that are smack in the middle of the jungle in the Limon area.

Chan Chich Lodge — Belize

This self-described (and aptly described) “jungle lodge” is set within a private nature reserve in an ancient Mayan city. The 12-unit property is also right in the middle of some serious wildlife, including the occasional jaguar.

Danpaati River Lodge – Suriname

Like neighbouring Guyana, Suriname is one of the Caribbean’s undiscovered places. The simple Danpaati River Lodge, which is comprised of 14 cabanas, really emphasizes the sights and sounds of the outdoors and a camping-like experience.

Cunucu Arubiano — Aruba

No, it isn’t an eco-lodge in the middle of the jungle. Cunucu is the word for “farm” in Papiamento, and this tiny property offers a vastly different experience than you’re used to in Aruba.

Upachaya — Honduras

This single-structure eco-lodge has a wide focus on wellness, with everything from reiki treatments to house-made skincare products, perfect after a long day snorkeling around the nearby mangroves.

Camarona Caribbean Lodge — Costa Rica

The green-focused Camarona is set in the Gandoca Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge is designed with a “rustic-exotic” aesthetic, as the hotel describes it; and a serious emphasis on nature — meaning no TVs, no phone, just Caribbean flora and fauna in all of their splendour.

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