The Best Caribbean Rainforest Resorts
By Bob Curley
Nearly every island in the Caribbean is ringed with beautiful beaches, but there’s more to a Caribbean vacation than sun and sand. Just inland from the coast on many islands you’ll find steep-sided mountains carpeted in lush rainforest, a less undeveloped and often unexplored side to what are, after all, tropical islands. In destinations like St. Lucia, Dominica, Puerto Rico, Belize and Panama, take the path less traveled to one of these beautiful resorts hidden among the palms and ferns:
Secret Bay, Dominica
Secret Bay promises a “six-star” rainforest resort experience, and this Relais & Chateaux boutique hotel delivers with all-suite accommodations featuring private plunge pools, dining on sustainably sourced food in your private villa or the open-air Zing Zing restaurant, dedicated hosts for each room, and a setting that blends the serenity of the rainforest with a secluded beachfront location — the best of both worlds. Of course, it’s not just the region’s best rainforest resort; it’s one of the best resorts in the hemisphere, period.
Fond Doux Eco Resort, St. Lucia
Sixteen cottages are scattered in lush tropical gardens on a working cacao plantation in the shadow of St. Lucia’s Piton Mountains. The Green Globe certified resort sources food for its two restaurants from plants and fruit trees growing on site, the Mama La Terre spa uses only organic materials in its treatments, and guest activities include chocolate-making, hikes to Petit Piton, swimming in a trio of pools, tree-planting programs, cooking classes, and a shuttle to the beach.
Rabot Hotel/Hotel Chocolat, St. Lucia
The Tree-to-Bar experience at the Rabot Hotel has nothing to do with drinks — it’s an immersive experience where guests learn about the process of turning cacao beans into Hotel Chocolat chocolate bars. Yum. And that’s just part of what’s delicious about a stay at this eco resort in the St. Lucia rainforest, which has 25 eco-lodges, cacao infused dining and spa treatments, and a private beach club.
Jungle Bay, Dominica
Cliffside villas set in a tropical forest overlook a marine sanctuary at this Dominica eco-resort, where wellness and yoga are woven into the resort culture along with a commitment to conservation and sustainability. Guests can combine spa treatments with guided rainforest hikes, dive to sea walls and go canyoning in rainforest gorges, and indulge in healthy dining at the Calabash restaurant, which puts a special emphasis on vegetarian and vegan dishes.
Rosalie Bay, Dominica
Powered by wind and solar, this 28-room eco-resort has a little bit of everything the “nature island” of Dominica has to offer: a black-sand beach that’s a favorite habitat for sea turtles, luxury villas with artwork and furniture made by local artists, dining and spa treatments alongside the Rosalie River, meditation and herbal medicine walks, and guided excursions through rainforests and to waterfalls, hot springs, lakes and beaches.
Rainforest Inn, Puerto Rico
Located at the doorstep of El Yunque National Forest, this boutique bed & breakfast inn has but three villa suites but offers an abundance of activities, from in-room spa treatments to hiking on the resort’s private Lost Machete Trail to a hidden waterfall and swimming hole. Fuel up for a day of outdoor activity — or just lounging in a hammock — with a vegetarian breakfast that doesn’t skimp on decadence: offset the chocolate waffles with a healthy smoothie, perhaps.
Blancaneaux Lodge, Belize
You’ll never run out of rainforest to explore at Blancaneaux Lodge, film director Francis Ford Coppola’s hideaway in Belize’s 107,000-acre Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve. With cabanas, cottages and villas set alongside the Privassion Creek, the boutique resort is the ideal base for hiking trips into the deep jungles and canyons of nearby Noj Kaax Meen Elijio Panti National Park, the 264,000-acre Chiquibul National Park, and the Caracol Archaeological Reserve. Miss the beach? Combine your stay with a few nights at sister resort the Turtle Inn, a beach hotel within walking distance of the fishing village of Placencia, or the Coral Caye private island resort.
Copal Tree, Belize
Surrounded by 22,000 acres of rainforest, the Copal Tree eco-lodge has 16 suites and a three-bedroom villa supported by a 3,000-acre sustainable farm. Activities include learning programs at the Farm Center, rum tastings at the new Copal Tree Distillery, fishing, bird-watching, and rainforest explorations that include river cruises, horseback riding, zip lining and river tubing.
Chaa Creek, Belize
A luxury eco-lodge in Belize’s Mayan heartland, Chaa Creek has dozens of accommodations headed by the Ix Chel Luxury Rainforest Villas, which has private plunge pools, outdoor showers, and butler service. But you don’t have to spend a fortune here — the resort also has eco-pod accommodations starting as low as $65 per night. The resort has the usual amenities — spa, pool, restaurant — but also a butterfly exhibit focused on the Belizian Blue Morpho, a natural history center, and its own 365-acre rainforest preserve.
Publishers Note: We are happy to partner with Alexander Britell, Founder and Editor in Chief of the Miami, Florida based Caribbean Journal and his staff contributing to the OTC and our Caribbean Connection Section. Check out the popular online magazine/website at caribjournal.com for valuable information on all fabulous travel options and things of interest in the Caribbean.