For most people, spring break conjures up memories (or expectations) of beaches, beer, and--if MTV is your source--lots of bikinis. And while there’s nothing wrong with collecting your best friends and heading out for a week of partying, greener alternatives abound. No matter what kind of break you had in mind (A beach-side bacchanalia? A week of sunning yourself on the sand?), or where your academic interests lie (Love science? Can’t get enough nature?), or what you like to do in your spare time (Cook? Hike?), we’ve found the perfect eco-friendly trip. Read on for everything from hotels with minimal carbon footprints to volunteer organizations that let you make a hands-on environmental impact--and don't worry: We included some bikini-friendly locations, too.
1. For the Study-Abroad Student: Ard Nahoo Eco Cabins, Dromahair, Ireland
If you’ve already made your way across the pond for a semester in London, Rome, Paris, or Madrid, gather some friends and celebrate your spring break at the Ard Nahoo Eco Cabins in Dromahair, Ireland. Each sustainable-ceder cabin sleeps four to seven people in a space kept warm with hemp insulation and pellet stoves, where the electricity comes from wind power and even the paint is natural. Keep yourself occupied with massages and yoga classes, or sign up for one of the multi-day ecological, detox, or yoga retreats. (Via National Geographic)
2. For the Outdoorsy Type: EcoCamp in Patagonia, Chile
Photo via EcoCamp
Maybe you’re the kind who just doesn’t think it’s a vacation unless you have plenty of time to get in touch with nature--and if that’s the case, then book a stay at EcoCamp in Patagonia, Chile. You’ll stay in domes inspired by the nomadic Kawesqar people; the accommodations are big on gorgeous views of the surroundings and the starry skies, but not so into modern amenities (think running water, but no television). From there, you’ll spend your days hiking, horseback riding, kayaking, or just strolling through the Torres del Paine national park’s glaciers, lakes, and mountains. (Via Forbes Traveler)
3. For the Beach Bum: Guludo Beach Resort, Mozambique
Photo via Guludo Beach Resort
Skip the generic oceanfront condo in Cabo and instead spend your days off on the pristine beaches of Mozambique at the Guludo Beach Lodge. The eco-friendly beachfront accommodations--known as bandas--were built by locals as part of the Lodge’s effort to bring the surrounding community out of poverty; of course, when you’re watching the sunrise from the comfort of your king-sized bed, you may not be thinking about them that carefully. Elsewhere on the property, take advantage of scuba diving spots, get your PADI Dive certification, enjoy a sunset sail, or go whale watching.
4. For the Party Kid: Miami, Florida
Photo via joiseyshowaa @ flickr
No city says party like Miami, Florida, so if all you want from your spring break is cocktails, warm weather, and skimpy bathing suits, it’s the perfect destination. Of course, you can still travel green while you’re there: Take advantage of the city’s public transportation instead of shelling out for taxis; stay at an eco-friendly hotel--like Comfort Suites Miami--that minimizes water use with low-flow showerheads; and fuel up for nights on the town with local, organic food from neighborhood restaurants like Michael’s Genuine Food and Drink or Gourmet Carrot.
5. For the Science Junkie: The Earthwatch Expedition, Canada
Photo via Earthwatch
Get out of the lab for the week without giving up your passion for science with an Earthwatch expedition that lets you study climate change in the Arctic’s tundra and forests. At the Churchill Northern Studies Center in the Hudson Bay Lowlands in Canada, guests study growth rings in trees, permafrost, ice crystals, and snowpack thickness--and while you’ll sleep in dorm-style rooms at the Center, you’ll also learn how to build an igloo that stays warm at temps as low as -40 Celsius.
6. For the Foodie: Organic Farming Through World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms
Photo via Ron1478 @ flickr
Get in touch with the land--and your food--by volunteering through World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF), which pairs aspiring foodies or farmers with organic growers all over the world; think Belize, Canada, France, Germany, Brazil, Turkey, Sierra Leone, Nepal, Australia, and many others. In most cases you’ll live with the family that runs the farm, trading long days and hard work for an intimate look at the culture and organic food processes of the country you’re visiting.
7. For the Volunteer: VolunteerAbroad.com
Photo via indigoprime @ flickr
Spending your spring break giving back to your community (or to a larger organization) may not be as relaxing as swimming and sunning yourself in Miami, but it looks better on a resume. Love animals? Work with Biosphere Expeditions to protect snow leopards in Asia. Are you an experienced scuba diver? Help Coral Cay Conservation track the effect of global warming on Caribbean reefs. Love nature? Sign up for a Colorado Trail Volunteer Crew, where you’ll help keep the 500-mile-long path in pristine condition. All of these organizations--and many others found at VolunteerAbroad.com--help you leave the environment better than you found it, which trumps even the biggest spring break party.
More Green Travel Ideas
Green City Guides
Happy Trails: Green Travel Blogs Pick Their Top Eco Destinations
How to Go Green: Skiing and Snowboarding
The Top 7 Greenest Ski Destinations in the U.S.
How to Go Green: Spring Break
Found on www.treehugger.com