Sustainable travel in the Caribbean: How to holiday consciously

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Recently, in reaction to the Caribbean’s increasing vulnerability to climate change – stronger and more frequent tropical storms, coastal areas at risk from rising sea levels – and a mass-tourism model that benefits few locals, a sustainable-travel scene has been emerging. From farm visits and dance lessons to community tours and hiking in protected areas, these experiences show a different side of the islands, where your holiday money directly and positively impacts communities, aiding preservation and conservation efforts.

THE FARM-TO-FORK FEAST

Peg Farm, Barbados

A half-hour drive north-east of the nightlife hub of St Lawrence Gap, this 108-acre estate is part of a growing movement on the island to reduce its dependency on imported food and embrace a healthier diet. Deep dive into the farm’s innovative work based on biodynamic principles, free-range animal husbandry and permaculture to regenerate the soil after centuries of sugar-cane planting, and learn about native Bajan varieties on a stroll through the medicinal-plant garden. Lunches of plantain bowls and pulled-pork and cassava pancakes are dished up the café, all served against the backdrop of Barbados’s green interior.

Address: Peg Farm, Easy Hall Plantation, Easy Hall, Barbados
Website: pegbarbados.com

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THE TRADITIONAL DANCE CLASS

Corporación Piñones Se Integra, Puerto Rico

Just outside of San Juan, the bustling coastal town of Loíza is where the first enslaved Africans were brought to Puerto Rico. It’s their cultural legacy this organisation protects and shares with visitors in its half-day traditional bomba dance workshop with live drumming. Arrive early to rent a bike or a kayak and explore the mangrove lagoon or beachfront, stopping for seafood fritters at one of the roadside kiosks.

Address: Corporación Piñones Se Integra, Sector Boca de Cangrejos, Campamento Piñones, Puerto Rico
Website: copipr.com

Wallings Nature Reserve hike

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Jordan Browne

Wallings Nature Reserve, Antigua

Part of the island’s only remaining forest tract, on the hilly, south-western side, this place is managed by women from the nearby village of John Hughes. There’s a range of solo and guided hiking tours taking in marked local flora and endemic tree species, such as the huge mystical silk cottons. Look out too for indigenous birds, from black whiskered vireos to West Indian euphonias, as well as views over Antigua’s harbours and neighbouring isles Montserrat and Guadeloupe. All entrance and tour fees support the reserve, and provide reliable income for this unique corner.

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Sonido del Yaque

Lebawit Lily Girma

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THE DEEPLY CONNECTED STAY

Sonido del Yaque, Dominican Republic

Locally owned guesthouses are not only essential for ensuring travel bucks stay in the region – rather than go to foreign-owned companies – but also make for a more in-depth experience. In the foothills of the Cordillera Central mountain range, a two-hour-and-a-half drive south of Puerto Plata’s golden beaches, this simple 10-cabin, hydro-powered riverfront property is run by a women’s cooperative in Los Calabazos. Days here are filled with nature hikes, river swims and tucking into delicious cooked meals, fuelling up to climb nearby Pico Duarte, the tallest peak in the Caribbean.

Address: Sonido del Yaque, Jarabacoa, La Vega Province, Dominican Republic
Website: airbnb.com

To read about more impact-driven projects, visit Girma’s website seethecaribbean.org

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