For some people, eco-tourism means simply pitching a tent in a national park or taking to the trails of the local nature preserve. For more intrepid travelers, eco-tourism means trekking through dense virgin rain forests or across wind-swept glaciers. And for people who make their living in the tourism trade, “eco-tourism” can be attached to any sort of nature-themed attraction that draws tourists (and their dollars). This is especially true when it comes to island destinations. Since they have comparable beaches and resort scenes, some islands promote natural attractions as a way to differentiate themselves from the competition.
When it comes to eco-tourism, some islands are ahead of the field. The best of these destinations might have eco-resorts, zip-lining and bridges that pass through the forest canopy, but they have something else that sets them apart: expansive spaces that are almost completely untouched and wonderfully natural (like Halawa Valley in Molokai, Hawaii, shown here.) For travelers who want to get completely off the beaten path and experience nature up close and unfiltered, these islands should be at the top of the list. (Text: Josh Lew)