Image: Superior Trails
When you think of breathtaking green island escapes, does tropical spring to mind? Unfortunately, too many visitors to the planet's wondrous tropical island vacation spots return frustrated at the overcrowding. And the devastation of treasured destinations caused by over-developing to draw tourists is anything but green. Not to mention that the farther a vacation takes you from home, the larger the carbon footprint left behind. From the relatively unknown, to the destinations that represent good practices in sustainable tourism, to the trips that simply have to be on the list, these seven options cover the globe, so that everyone can find an escape that minimizes their CO2 emissions.
1. The Apostle Islands, Wisconsin
The 21 Islands of the Apostle Islands National Park are closed to cars, which is the first hint that this is a great, green getaway. The fact that these gems of nature on Lake Superior are a short distance for so many inhabitants and visitors to America's Upper Midwest is another environmental advantage over a holiday in the Caribbean. So plan a trip by canoe or kayak to best experience the incredible sandstone formations (photo at top), or hike into a secluded campsite (permit required). Go in late July or early August to enjoy ripe blueberries you can pick yourself.
Image: Padaste Manor Hotel
2. Muhu Island, Estonia
For Europeans, the island a hop, skip, or jump from home is Muhu Island in the Baltic Sea off the coast of Estonia. Once closed to tourists due to its use for a military base by the USSR, the islands of the Muhu archipelago are still a bit of a secret. The place to stay is the Pädaste Manor Hotel. The restaurant at this restored mansion prides itself on locally sourced ingredients, including salad from the kitchen greenhouse and walnut bread baked fresh on site. Of course, locally sourced in this case means moose, eel, beets, and ostrich. (Ostrich? Yep, farmed on the island.) Even the usual luxuries are of a natural bent: enjoy a yogurt oatmeal scrub, a goat milk facials and, of course, the wood burning sauna.
Image: Tour Kangaroo Island
3. Kangaroo Island, Australia
For our readers down under, and everyone else who happens to get there, a trip to Kangaroo Island should not be missed. Kangaroo Island houses the types of quirky wildlife--penguins, sea lions, kangaroos, koalas--for which Australia is famous. And to ensure it stays that way, keepers of the island use a Tourism Optimization Management Model (TOOM) to track visitor impacts and guarantee sustainable tourism.