Before, accommodation on a surftrip could be anything, it just had to be close enough to the beach to keep an eye on the surf. Things are changing. Statistics show that travelers will feel better staying at a place with a lower carbon footprint. In the past 10 years quite a few places have opened up to accommodate surfers in a more sustainable way. Let’s have a look at what makes them different!
Sustainability is not a trend
In almost every hotel you go now, there is a note in the bathroom saying how they care for the environment. Basically they ask you to do it, by saving water and reusing towels. This is not what I think about when it comes to Eco lodges.
Build it green
Ideal ecolodges are built with sustainability in mind. It all starts with a proper study of the area, the choice of the right architecture, and the right if possible local materials. In many cases, ecolodge developers try to merge the building in existing surrounding, as they did in the luxurious Fidji lodge of Matanivusi.
The plan is to make it part of the natural landscape. Sometimes renovating existing buildings is also a good option as it’s been done by Natural Surf Lodge in SW France. Inspiration can come from local technique. Traditional constructions are often well adapted to suit their climate. It’s good to re-discover native materials, such as woods or clay, and mix it up with a contemporary understanding of nature and technology.
Searching for efficiency
Eco buildings often take advantage of sun, rain and wind patterns for heating, cooling and water drainage. It’s all about getting self sufficient to minimize external energy use and optimize natural resources.
Many hotels located in tropical areas have their own well. Some are activated manually which naturally gets people more responsible about how much water they use! On daily basis there is many ways to save water. A good way is to re-use water several times, another is to reduce shower time. Pools are also water hungry and they often need a lot of treatment. Some lodges have chosen to create natural pools that take care of themselves. A very nice one is located in Portugal at Eco Sound resort.
Solar is a good alternative way to warm up water and to produce electricity. Some hotels only have cold showers, some have a special policy for electrical devices, and try to remind their guest not to keep any device plugged in- only when they need to be charged. In Australia, where backpacking is a way of life, the YHA (Youth Hostel Association) claims to be committed to reducing its carbon footprint. “All 4,000 hostels around the world must comply with the organisations environmental charter for conserving resources, recycling, caring for nature and educating its members about the environment.” In many places energy efficient bulbs are common. Air cond is replaced by natural cooling provided by a smart wind circulation.
Surf pioneers probably had a very low impact on the planet, sleeping in a tent, living of coconut and fresh fish. Most of them had only a couple boards they would use for years. Today with hundred thousand surfers chasing swells around the planet it’s a bit of a different story. Anybody who has been in Bali lately will probably tell you how it has changed for the worst. If there is one place on this planet where surfers brought major change that’s probably it. Chaotic development of touristic infrastructures can kill the magic of a place, as it did for dreamland, but it’s also damaging ecosystems, affecting water quality, disturbing wildlife, creating tons of waste… 10,000 cubic meter a day in Bali…
That’s why it’s important to choose a responsible guest house. All of them recycle their trash to ensure that all waste is sorted, some have compost toilets, effluents from managed sewage are used for irrigation.
Local and social responsibility
Wood is often the favorite material use by ecolodge builder,in BC Canada Tatchu resort is famous for its tree houses. It’s not suprising to find out that some of them are also involved in reforestation program. Cuts are minimized during construction. Regarding preservation, in Panama Eco Venao is working on a project over 170 hectares.
The Eco lodge concept includes a specific approach over social responsibility. It’s always better to stay as close as possible to the local community they live in and give back. In place like Nicaragua or Panama some resorts offer art classes to local villages, and guest can also volunteer to help out in specific programs. In Ecuador, Sam Baile, native of San Clemente founded Eco Surf Volunteers, his goal is to combine hands-on humanitarian, medical and environmental international volunteer projects with surf tourism. He is currently developing programs in Galapagos Islands. In France the Villa Tiki choose to work with green suppliers only, for surfboards, cleaning product, and energy.
Restore your body mind and soul
Eco lodges are run by people who think different to welcome people open for change. Consciousness doesn’t only affect the choice of material, it’s also important to work on mind and soul. As surfers love to spend their days in the water, they will also appreciate a good yoga session to connect with their inner self. Yoga, massages and healing are available in some place like the Harmony Hotel in Costa Rica. Such activities are sometimes advertised in a package, you can book a Surf and Yoga vacation and make sure you’ll get proper teaching. Some places like Los Cardones in Nicaragua offers yoga retreats and even teacher training.
here is a little list of the one we know about:
http://www.harmonynosara.com Costa Rica
http://www.tatchuadventures.com Nootka Island Canada
http://www.hihostels.com Apollo Bay Eco Australia
Have you been to one of these places? do you know other eco lodges worth visit? please let us know!