By the time April rolls around, most travelers are already neck deep in vacation planning for a variety of occasions. Spring Break, Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, summer vacation, 4th of July, National Golf Month—the list goes on. There are plenty of reasons to celebrate and escape, and there are also undoubtedly deals galore for any holiday on the calendar. And since most of us only take one big, spectacular vacation per year, we choose our options wisely, so the last thing we need is an even more alluring opportunity.
Few occasions are as enticing and fulfilling as Earth Day—April 22—especially with so many resorts in tropical destinations redefining sustainability practices and environmentally responsible behavior. To make matters even more incredible, these properties are also developing phenomenal, year-round experiences, activities, and amenities for the sake of celebrating Mother Earth.
For anyone ready to give back as much as they love kicking back, here are some of the best Earth Day resort experiences on the planet.
Patina Maldives, Fari Islands
The Maldives is a destination so spectacular that it is a once in a lifetime vacation experience for most people, which presents a heck of a conundrum: which resort do you choose? Well, if you’re an eco-conscious traveler who wants to have the most incredible getaway imaginable—Earth Day or not—Patina Maldives, Fari Islands, is always an exceptional choice. The villas alone… wow.
But as much as this resort was designed to make guests feel like the most important people in the world, it also has a huge emphasis on sustainability and offers travelers a holistic conservation experience. For starters, people can adopt both coral and hawksbill sea turtles, although don’t get too excited—you’re not taking anything home. The resort’s coral conservation and propagation projects are ideal for guests who don’t mind getting a little dirty cleaning the beaches and aiding in the preservation of the region’s stunning reefs. And as for those turtles, the Oliver Ridley Project is dedicated to protecting and preserving the critically endangered species.
Kids will be happy to give back, too, even if they don’t know that they’re making a difference. The kids’ club, for example, is entirely solar-powered, but beyond the games and activities they can also attend the “Blue School” to learn about the importance of the ocean and why it is important to preserve it.
For travelers who would love to help the hawksbill sea turtles but can’t travel halfway around the world, Jamaica Inn is a fabulous alternative. Set on one of the best beaches in the Caribbean, this property’s mission has been conservation for 65 years and running. On track to be carbon neutral by 2025, new solar panels and a sustainable waste-water system are among the latest efforts, but guests will undoubtedly love the ways they’re able to give back, too.
Resident sea turtle expert Mel Tennant of The Oracabessa Turtle Bay Project and Sanctuary will lead visitors on the unbelievable experience watching (and helping, if necessary) baby sea turtles make it safely to the sea. And few resorts boast a turtle calendar for the sake of allowing people to book when those critters are expected to hatch.
Jamaica Inn is also partnered with The White River Fish Sanctuary for the effort to restore and preserve the island’s coral reefs, and guests can see and learn about the new coral growth in glass-bottom boat tours. Even more exciting, anyone who loves a great wellness visit can take part in the Ocean Spa’s unique Farm to Skin Foraging experience, which leads guests into the on-site tropical gardens to pick the ingredients used in making the natural spa products.
Hotel Belmar, Costa Rica
Hotels all over the world can learn a thing or two from Costa Rica’s Hotel Belmar, which not only became the first carbon neutral property in Monteverde in 2019 but just last year achieved climate positive status. Of course, that’s on top of the fact that it’s already widely considered one of the best in Central America, if not the entire world. For a Costa Rican vacation that delivers the most of this ecologically diverse destination, travelers cannot go wrong by staying at the place that asks them to “Offset Your Footprint.”
The toughest part is trying to fit every experience into one visit, as Hotel Belmar offers an astounding array of adventures, beginning with the trio of activities in the amazing 17-acre SAVIA Private Reserve. Experts are waiting to take no more than six guests at a time on a Bird Quest that will introduce them to as many of the region’s 400 species of birds as they can spot on this four-hour morning trek. They can also head into the forest’s canopies for the Morning View journey and then return later in the afternoon to explore once more and watch how the preserve changes for Nightfall.
Food always plays a crucial role in the guest experience at any resort, and visitors will likely rave about the farm-to-table dining experience, as well as the garden-to-glass cocktail class. And for anyone who simply must know where their ingredients are coming from, the hotel offers horseback tours of the family-owned Finca Madre Tierra, the country’s first carbon neutral farm.
Mount Cinnamon Resort, Grenada
At Mount Cinnamon Resort in Grenada, April is Earth Month. While travelers can learn about this property’s sustainability practices—that led to it receiving Gold Green Globe Certification—throughout the year, they should prioritize this month just for the myriad special activities.
For starters, the resort’s general manager hosts a weekly cocktail party, but in April the guest of honor is Jonnel Edwards, Marine Biologist and Environmental Sustainability Consultant for Mount Cinnamon, who speaks with guests about the team’s efforts. This month kicked off with a cocktail party for local farmers, who showcased their prize crops. Multiple beach cleanups offered guests the opportunity to see the staff’s commitment firsthand, and the resort’s gardens received extra special attention for replenishing the ingredients that are used in the two on-site restaurants.
Guests at Mount Cinnamon are also invited to take part in the Pack for a Purpose program, which isn’t an environmental endeavor but does contribute to the island’s community. By packing even a few of the supplies being collected for St. George’s Primary School, visitors can help improve the educational experience for more than 400 children.
Big Cedar Lodge, Missouri
When most of us hear the name Big Cedar Lodge, we think of the Midwest’s best golf experience and a fisherman’s paradise. But the collective Bass Pro Properties—Big Cedar Lodge, Dogwood Canyon Nature Park, Wonders of Wildlife, Finley Farms, and Big Cypress Lodge in Memphis—excels at offering travelers so many opportunities for education and environmental awareness that an entire year’s worth of vacations can be spent enjoying and appreciating each one.
For the big day, guests at Big Cedar can participate in the Earth Day 5K, while the Kids Adventure Club hosts nature-focused crafts, outdoor games, and a scavenger hunt. Nearby sister property Dogwood Canyon Nature Park is taking visitors on a casual hike before they can stop by the amphitheater to learn about and meet the resident turtles. And a little further up the road in Springfield, Wonders of Wildlife is home to the only sea turtle rehabilitation facility in the Midwest, and it also one of only seven participants in the Orinoco crocodile head start program, as guests can see the park’s pair of junior crocs that will spend two years growing up here.
It’s hard to pick just one of the adventures, but no family can go wrong with Big Cedar’s Top of the Rock Lost Canyon and Nature Trail. The 2.5-mile excursion is enjoyed by electric cart, so no one will break a sweat as they marvel at the beauty of the Ozarks’ caves. Kids will love the butterfly garden, which was created to repopulate the region’s species, and an exceptional education awaits at the Ancient Ozarks Natural History Museum.