Best of the Caribbean: Perfect Nature

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For an eco-conscious way to visit the Caribbean, consider one of these destinations. A quiet green on waves of blue. That is the promise of the Caribbean as you fly in by air -- untouched island paradises. And while man has crept in and sometimes even crowded the fringes, the interiors of many islands are still a wild celebration of nature. As part of the "Perfect Caribbean" guide that appears in the November 2009 issue of ISLANDS magazine, readers and editors point to these Caribbean eco sites as their favorites. Click on the best one for you and plan your next island trip.

Barbados: Wildlife Reserve One such eco party is at the Barbados Wildlife Reserve, where green monkeys happily hang out in the forest. "Snow White doesn't know what she's missing," says Kathryn Maria Noll of Pennsylvania. "This magical, mahogany canopied sanctuary with its cobblestone paths, lily ponds & friendly, wandering creatures is something right out of a rustic fairy tale. You must see the afternoon feeding to believe it. Cavies, monkeys, deer, turtles and birds all gather in a circle to share a peaceful community meal. And baby monkeys gobbling snacks on a bench with you is definitely delightful. But watching a turtle stroll by with a monkey sitting on its shell while savoring an orange will charm the flip-flops off you."

Cozumel: Chankanaab Park Even on more traveled islands, a taste of nature is part of the itinerary. "On Cozumel, we discovered Chankanaab Park," says Mary Dean of Michigan. "Beautiful in its own right, it sits upon the warm ocean waters, not far from the spectacular Palancar Reef. On land, the park teems with tropical foliage and boasts quiet pathways and a pristine beach."

Dominica: Morne Trois Piton National Park The 200-foot-wide Boiling Lake in Morne Trois Piton National Park on Dominica is the earth at its geothermal best, and one of many highlights on this exceptionally beautiful and natural Caribbean island.

Martinique: Natural Parks Nature explodes seemingly everywhere in the parks of Martinique, which make up about two-thirds of the island, including around Mount Pelée volcano. "The absolutely invigorating aromas and experience of wandering the dappled sunlight paths of the lush, sultry rainforest surrounding the volcano is something I will never forget," says George Graf of Virginia.

Puerto Rico: El Yunque National Forest A night hike and traditional Taino ceremony are highlights of Puerto Rico's must-see El Yunque National Forest, which feels so remote yet is surprisingly accessible from San Juan.

St. John: Virgin Islands National Park Many readers cited the Virgin Islands National Park on St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands as the place they love for an eco retreat, both in the protected 7,000-plus acres on land and the 5,650 on the sea. "From the park that protects the fragile underwater ecosystem to the many hiking trails throughout the island, St. John has its own unique story to tell," says Laura Markovitch of Ohio. "Anyone can feel like this is their own private oasis."

Contest: Win a Caribbean Trip! Don't see your favorite Caribbean spot listed here? Let us know what we missed -- and you could win a free resort stay. Enter our new "Caribbean Favorites" contest.