Best Hotels for Bare Feet
The Moorings Village Islamorada, Fla.; 305/664-4708; www.themooringsvillage.com; doubles from $185, two-night minimum. Halfway between Miami and Key West, Old Florida is alive and well on this former coconut plantation, where 18 cottages with tin roofs are shaded by palms. The 1,100-foot private white-sand beach is one of the finest in the Keys.
Kona Village Resort Big Island, Hawaii; 800/367-5290 or 808/ 325-5555; www.konavillage.com; doubles from $495, including all meals. Go native in the grass shack of your dreams (some come with whirlpools) at this legendary resort. Set on 82 jungly acres by the sea, the 125-room Polynesian-style Kona Village is surrounded by pools and lagoons.
Compass Point Beach Club Nassau, Bahamas; 800/688-7678 or 242/327-4500; www.islandoutpost.com; doubles from $245. This funky little compound of 19 pastel bungalows caters to a hip crowd. The food at the indoor/outdoor restaurant—conch chowder with dark rum, Thai-spiced Bahamian lobster tail—is so good that Miamians have been known to hop over just for lunch.
Maho Bay Camps St. John, U.S.V.I.; 800/392-9004 or 340/776-6226; doubles from $75. One of the world's first eco-resorts, Maho Bay opened in 1976 on the (still) unspoiled island of St. John. The 114 simple open-air tent-cottages are built on stilts above the beach and connected by wooden walkways so as not to harm the natural landscape.
Hotelito Desconocido Cruz de Loreto, Mexico; 800/851-1143 or 52-322/222-2526; doubles from $430, including all meals. About 90 minutes south of Puerto Vallarta on Mexico's rugged Pacific coast, beach-lovers will find a small hotel so ecologically correct that it relies almost exclusively on solar power and candlelight. The latter makes your palafito, as the thatched bungalows are called, especially romantic at night.
Maho Bay Camps
Thirty-five years ago, before “green” became a de rigueur byword in hotel design, Maho Bay Camps was established when a clutch of permanent platform tents went up on a jungle hillside overlooking St. John’s secluded Maho Bay. The emphasis was on the area’s staggering beauty, not on resort frills, and the outpost quickly developed a cult following. Today the hippie-chic ethos still prevails, and additional tents have brought the total up to 114. As has been true from the beginning, all the property’s structures are connected by elevated wooden walkways to protect the natural fauna and impact the environment as little as possible. Each tent is furnished with a twin or queen bed, plus a sitting area and primitive “kitchen” complete with ice chest, propane stove, and basic kit of pots and pans. Staples can be purchased at the well-stocked camp store, or grab a table on the open-air main deck and opt instead for the café’s just-caught grilled mahimahi as you watch the ocean gently lap the shore below.