Maho Bay now has 114 screened-in tent cabins grouped in clusters and connected by a network of stairs and boardwalks along a hillside overlooking the bay. The accommodations are definitely reminiscent of camping—there's no hot water or air-conditioning, wild critters may reside right outside your room, and you have to walk a distance to get between cabins—but that's all part of the wilderness experience for Maho Bay's many loyal return guests.
"The accommodations are so cozy," says Donna DeCost of Lakeville, Massachusetts, who's been making regular trips to the camps for 16 years. "It feels as if you are living in a tree house. You get to be as close to outdoors as possible without the discomfort of bugs or having to sleep on hard ground. I love eating breakfast and dinners on the private deck (all cabins have one) accompanied by the sugar-eating banana quit birds on the railing and iguanas sunning themselves at eye level."
Besides becoming acquainted with the local wildlife, there's a lot to do at Maho Bay. Its ocean views, easy access to a pristine beach, and the bay's 80-degree turquoise waters are among its top attractions. "Maho offers a complete watersports shop including kayaks, sailing boats, scuba diving and snorkel gear rentals," says Melody Smith, Maho Bay's marketing manager. "For guests who bring their own snorkel gear, they need only swim to coral reefs bordering the beach to see a wide assortment of fish, coral, and turtles."
The camp, which runs St. John's only recycling program, also operates the Trash to Treasures Art Center, where guests can take classes in everything from making hand-blown glass objects from used bottles and to papermaking with shredded office paper. "Every night there are scheduled activities that are free to guests—like movies, slide presentations on marine life, stargazing presentations, and performances by local bands," says DeCost.
Trip planning:Rates cover cabin accommodations, which includes two beds, a couch and a rollaway, and basic cooking facilities, and can fit four people. An on-site restaurant serves breakfast and dinner for an extra charge, and lunch can be purchased at a beach cafe. You must arrange your own ground transportation and airfare. Maho also has a newer, more upscale sister eco-resort on St. John, the Concordia Eco-Tents. Rates start at $105 per night. Early-December round-trip fares from Miami to St. Thomas (where the nearest airport is located) start at $222, including taxes, on American. From St. Thomas, you can take a ferry ($10 round-trip) to Cruz Bay, St. John, and then catch a cab ($7 to $11 one-way) to the resort.
South American superlatives in the Brazilian Pantanal
Lodge:Araras Eco Lodge Price:from $870 per person for four nights