Eco Resorts: 13 Rustic Retreats for True Nature Lovers


When you travel to exotic destinations, do you like to stay in fancy, well-appointed hotel rooms or immerse yourself in the local landscape? These 13 rustic resorts are for the latter type of green-house-loving eco-tourist (though some offer luxurious amenities and services as well), putting guests right on the water, in the jungle or up in the trees in curious pod-hotels, huts on stilts or floating lodges but without the need for all that pesky extreme travel gear.

Semi-Aquatic Submersible SeaShelter


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The SeaShelter is a cabin on dry land or a partially submersed houseboat-like getaway, depending on the tide. A concept designed specifically for the coast of Denmark, SeaShelter is entered through a hatch in the roof and has port holes in the walls to provide views of semi-aquatic sea life like seals.

Whitepod Eco Resort, Swiss Alps


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Simple, sustainable and stylish, the 15 geodesic dome pods at the Whitepod Eco Resort in Les Cerniers, Switzerland are rustic on the outside but surprisingly beautiful and cozy on the inside. The only motorized systems at the entire resort are the ski lifts – otherwise, guests get around on snowboards, skis, snowshoes, dog sleds or on foot. Mountain chalets are also available as more traditional lodging.

Soneva Kiri Eco Resort, Thailand


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You’ll feel like a bird in a treetop nest at the Soneva Kiri Eco Resort in Thailand, where guests have the option of dining in a woven Tree Pod located 16 feet off the ground, with incredible views of the water. Guests get to and from the structure via an elevator, but how cool is this: waiters arrive with your food and drinks on a zip-line! The Tree Pod is attached using a cabling system. Located on 150 acres of tropical rainforest, Soneva Kiri has 42 resort villas packed with green features.

Lova Lava Land, Hawaii


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Experience the beauty of Hawaii’s beaches in a laid-back, budget-friendly and super-green resort called Lova Lava Land, which offers accommodation in a yurt or in one of several renovated Volkswagen camper buses. This eco-resort is 100% off-grid, powered with solar energy. In addition to the unique rustic sleeping quarters there are communal outdoor areas with a full kitchen, lava rock grill, outdoor shower and flushing composting toilet.

Reflective Tree Hotel, Sweden


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Barely visible between the trees, the mirrored Tree Hotel literally reflects its environment and sits as lightly on the land as possible. The inside is quite spacious for a 12-by-12-foot box, managing to contain not only a full-sized bed for two but a table with two chairs and a basic bathroom. This treehouse eco-retreat was designed to bring ecotourism to the beautiful and largely untouched Harads area in the northern part of the country, and certainly makes visitors feel as if they’re a part of the ecosystem.

Daintree Eco Lodge & Spa, Australia


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Rustic yet luxurious at the same time, the Daintree Eco Lodge is by far the coolest way to experience the world’s oldest living rainforest on the northwestern coast of Australia. 15 treehouse villas and a number of open-air common areas put guests right into the thick of the forest while also offering modern amenities like wi-fi, jacuzzis, an award-winning green spa and a restaurant.

Shergarh Tented Camp at Kanha Tiger Reserve, India


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Can you imagine camping in a 100-acre tiger reserve? Okay, so it’s not like you’re going to pitch a tent and hope it doesn’t get shredded to bits overnight. The Shergarh Tented Camp in India’s Kanha Tiger Reserve features ‘tents’ that are really more like cabins with canvas roofs – it’s not exactly roughing it, but when you stay here, you’re unquestionably immersed in the natural environment, enjoying the 25% of the reserve that’s accessible to tourists.

Mandina River Lodge, The Gambia, Africa


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Sleep in a solar-powered floating lodge in a hidden corner of the Makasutu Culture Forest in The Gambia, Africa. The Mandina River Lodge is an award-winning eco resort with four floating lodges accessed by elevated walkways or canoes, offering 180-degree views of the Mandina Bolong river. The lodges are handcrafted and feature large, comfy-looking four-poster beds.

Loola Adventure Resort, Bintan, Indonesia


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One of Indoneisa’s most rustic eco-retreats is the Loola Adventure Resort, a series of bungalows built on stilts over the sea. Located on the island of Bintan, Loola definitely isn’t one of those high-dollar, fancy-pants eco resorts with massage rooms and a full-service front desk. There’s no electricity during the day, but both the simple wooden structures themselves and the activities available at the resort more than make up for it.

Kapawi Ecolodge & Reserve, Ecuador


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Talk about isolated – the Kapawi Ecolodge and Reserve can only be reached by air; it takes ten days to walk to the nearest road. Located on the border between Peru and Ecuador, Kapawi is fully owned by the local Achuar people, who have lived in the Amazon Basin for thousands of years. The resort itself is twenty thatched-roof huts on stilts at the edge of a lagoon, open to the air. A raised boardwalk connects the guest cabins, which were built by Achuar craftsmen and feature private balconies equipped with hammocks.

Ultima Thule Lodge, Alaska


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Want to experience the deepest reaches of Alaska? Hopping on an airplane is the only way you can reach the Ultima Thule Lodge, a series of rustic cabins located “100 miles from nowhere” in the 13-million-acre Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. Perched on the edge of the Chitina River with views of the 16,000-foot-tall Wrangell Mountains, the Ultima Thule Lodge is definitely for adventurous outdoorsmen eager to spend Alaska’s 20-hour-long summer days hiking, climbing, kayaking or fishing.

Primitive Grassy Huts at Kolarbyn, Sweden


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Unless you’re just unrolling a sleeping bag in the woods, eco-tourism doesn’t get much more rustic than this. Sweden’s most primitive hotel, Kolarbyn, offers grass-covered huts with the most basic of amenities – a wood stove and cots. There’s no electricity, but there are outhouses and a nearby sauna for bathing. If you’re lucky (or not), you’ll get up close and personal with Swedish wildlife, including brown bears and wolves.

Footprint-Free Treehouse Resort Idea


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They’re super green, with biomass heating, harvested rainwater for the showers, solar power and dry toilets – and they’re also about as immersed in nature as you can be within an enclosed structure. EcoCocoons, a concept by Mathier Collos, clamp onto trees without damaging them and contain multiple stories with many angled roof surfaces to disperse load requirements.