Rustic eco-camping in the Virgin Islands

May 5, 2004
Outside Magazine
Week of January 22-28, 1998
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Rustic eco-camping in the Virgin Islands

Rustic eco-camping in the Virgin Islands
Question: Hi, Stephanie. I was lucky enough to see the blurb about you in the back of this month's issue. I've just gotten engaged and am planning to honeymoon this October.

We've talked about going to Mexico, around Cancun, but something a bit more remote and less touristy would be nice. Unfortunately, money is also an issue. We've also talked about the Caribbean. St. John has some eco-tents by a national park. Have you heard of these? Let me know what you think.

Kris Hyttinen
Dallas, TX

Rustic camps on St. John are a short walk from its white-sand beaches
Adventure Adviser: You must be thinking of Maho Bay Camps in the Virgin Islands National Park on St. John.

Though rustic and very popular, the 114 tent cottages that comprise Maho Bay Camp are the best thing for eco-tourism since the advent of the compost pile.

Constructed by hand, elevated off the ground, and connected by walkways, the three-room tent cottages have left the soil and fragile coral of St. John virtually undisturbed.

Each cottage is built on a 16-square-foot platform, nearly hidden by foliage. Light fabric on the wooden frames provides privacy, but screens allow the soothing trade winds to blow through as well.

Inside, each cottage has a sleeping area with two twin beds and an extra mattress behind the couch in the living room. Bed linens, blankets, towels, cooking and eating utensils are provided, and each cottage has its own private deck and access to barbecue areas and fresh water.

The one downfall is no one has a private bathroom. Centrally located bathhouses are equipped with low-flush toilets and showers. The best thing: the chalky white sand beach is about 100 steps from your door.

Off-season prices for these uber-eco-camps are approximately $60 per night. Winter season prices escalate to approximately $100 per night. October, I believe, is in the off-season. For more information call 800-392-9004.

Nearby is Harmony Resort, owned by the same company, still ecologically friendly but a step above in luxury. It also costs a bit more.

If you scuba dive, another option to consider is Anthony's Key Resort on Roatán in the Bay Islands of Honduras. The beauty of Anthony's Key is the price includes three boat dives per day and unlimited shore diving among coral- and sponge-encrusted walls and reefs.

You'll stay in a seaside bungalow, eat family-style meals in an open-air dining room and also kayak and horseback ride on the beach or hike the jungle trails.

The price is approximately $1,000 per person per week, which sounds somewhat high compared to Maho Bay Camps, but if you're active, sometimes all-inclusives are the best way to go so little incidentals don't keep nibbling away at your pocketbook. For more information on Anthony's Key call 800-227-3483.

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