Planning family vacations can be challenging. On top of that, looking for options that are eco-friendly and family destinations has been quite a difficult feat for me and my husband. However, after recommendations and much research from friends and family, I have put together this list of local and international Green destinations that are also great for the family!
USA and Canada
- Great Wolf Lodges (USA and Canada) – Being the first national chain to receive Green Seal certification in April, the Great Wolf Lodges have a lot to live up to when it comes to a eco-friendly family vacation — and they succeed.
- Sheraton Wild Horse Pass – The Sheraton Wild Horse Pass not only employs environmentally friendly initiatives in its operations, it also makes sure to educate guests about the culture of Native American tribes that occupy the area. Declared as a GeoGreen property, the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass boasts programs such as energy-efficient lighting, recycling, and other ecological programs.
- Schooner Isaac H. Evans – A schooner cruise that works around the environmentally friendly and utterly organic, “The Family Boat” schooner Ivan H. Evans is a unique and truly Green way to enjoy your family vacation. Running on wind power, the cruise offers organic food cooked on a wooden stove in a deserted island (their specialty is freshly caught lobster), scenic views and explorations of New England, and other activities for adults and children 6 years old and up. Book for mid-September and join in their annual commitment to the International Coastal Cleanup project.
In one year, the eco-friendly lodges saved 9 million gallons of water simply by converting to low-flow toilets and linen recycling. Aside from this, the chain also partners with National Geographic Kids. Via their play areas and in-room television programming, they teach children about the environment and how they can help to protect it. After a day of learning, kids can head to the mega-sized and varied indoor water parks!
Guests can enjoy the more than 1500 wild horses that roam the area, listen to performances by storytellers in the winter, or enjoy the Native American art displayed in public areas. There is also a year-round cultural concierge and a replica of the Gila River that tells of the story of water rights and cultural survival of local tribes.
US Virgin Islands
- Maho Bay Camps and Harmony Studios – In St. John are four Green resorts that have been eco-friendly since 1976: Maho Bay Camps; Harmony Studios; Concordia Eco-Tents; and Concordia Studios. Offering the usual Caribbean vacation fares (water sports and activities) and a recycled art crafts studio, each resort was built using techniques that minimized the removal of vegetation and employed the use of recycled materials. Maho Bay Camps, a compound of tent-cottages overlooking the sea, roughs it with fixed shower hours, electric fans, and camp stoves. A luxurious update is the Concordia Eco-Tents which features 25 eco-tents with the basic creature comforts. The Harmony Studios and Concordia studios are townhouses fitted with solar heated showers, kitchens, and private bedrooms.
Guests can stay for free in the resorts in exchange for one month of service to maintain the Maho Bay grounds. From May to December, families can also avail of the “Kids Stay Free” program for those under 16.
- The Galapagos Islands with Ecoventura – The Galapagos Islands is an archipelago west of continental Ecuador that is famed for its numerous endemic species that formed Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution by Natural Selection. With the many close encounters with wildlife, these islands offer the best naturalist trip you can ask for.
- World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) – Let your family experience the wonders of volunteer travel with WWOOF! This international network links families looking for Green and volunteer-oriented vacations with organic farms all over the world, where they can have free room and board in exchange for working at the farm! This is not only a great way to teach kids about the importance of farms and farming, it also serves as a great bonding activity for the family.
I recommend booking your tours to this beautiful archipelago with Ecoventura because of its commitment to forming an itinerary that suits your family. Choose from the General Family Sailings (for 7-12 year olds: special briefings and explorations that keep short attention spans in mind; kiddie food fares), Family Teen Departures (12-17 year olds: more adventurous and active; naturalist guided tours with longer excursions), or the Family Graduation Departures (17-21 years old: the most adventurous and active of all the packages).
Whatever eco-friendly vacation you choose, what’s important is that while learning about the environment and how to help it, the family should have a great time bonding and spending time together. Have a great trip!
Maxine is a mother and wife who is dedicated to going green. The more she has learned, the more important she has seen it is for her family’s health and well-being as well as that of the earth. When not with her family, she works for Treetopia, a seller of artificial Christmas trees. They sell a variety of unique and inspired Christmas trees for every style.