Stories From the Coral Triangle

The Coral Triangle’s Ecotourism Destinations

From popular tourism hotspots such as Bali and El Nido to far-flung outposts that can only be reached through a combination of resignation and patience, the Coral Triangle offers a bewildering array of environment-friendly resorts. These are often labours of love, built from the ground up in often challenging situations by dreamers with clear visions of a sustainable future. Here are three such places.

Nihiwatu Resort, Sumba, Indonesia

A mere 1 hour away from Bali, Nihiwatu is an exclusive, isolated resort on Sumba Island that is nestled on the edge of the forest, looking out to the Indian Ocean. Nihiwatu has made itself a name not only because of the resort’s attention to detail, but also because of the significant contribution it has made to local people’s wellbeing.

Nihiwatu has gained international recognition globally as an environment-friendly and socially responsible tourism business. The resort was built using recycled materials while power is provided by biodiesel fuel. All food provided is organic and locally grown. Down at the beach, a turtle hatchery provides a safe haven for endangered leatherback turtles.

Co-founded by Nihiwatu, the local Sumba Foundation continues to assist tens of thousands of local people, easing the burden of poverty by improving health, education and community through life-changing programmes. Thanks to the Foundation, there are now more than 20,000 people living in 400 villages within a 120 km2 area that have clean water from wells, medical clinics, schools, economic opportunities and much more thanks. Notably, the prevalence of malaria in the area has been greatly reduced through the intervention of the Sumba Foundation.

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Lagen Island Resort, El Nido, the Philippines

Set in a cove fringed by primary forest, Lagen Island Resort is a showcase of El Nido’s flora and fauna, providing a wealth of opportunities for wildlife sightings. Cottages built on stilts line the cove, some of which have a direct view to spectacular sunsets. All cottages, rooms and suites have floors made of antique wood, and furnishings made with timber from old Filipino houses. The resort has a marine sports center with a complete line of diving and snorkeling equipment as well as kayaks, windsurfs, and hobbie cat.

From preventing illegal fishing to rehabilitating watersheds, and from separating waste to spearheading environmental education, El Nido Resorts (which includes Lagen Island) has burnished its credentials in terms of committed environmental stewardship. In 2011, El Nido Resorts was selected to take part in the European Union-sponsored Zero Carbon Resorts programme, which aims to reduce the tourism industry’s carbon footprint. El Nido is the recipient of the WildAsia Responsible Tourism Award 2009 and was a finalist for the Tourism for Tomorrow Awards 2007.

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Misool Eco Resort, Papua, Indonesia

Located on a private island off West Papua, Misool Eco Resort is a collection of 9 luxury cottages sitting on powder-white beaches, right across from stunning clear lagoons and abundant reefs. To stay at Misool Eco Resort is more than just an opportunity for a comfortable escape; it is also a direct contribution to local marine conservation activities.

The proximity to Raja Ampat, the world’s epicentre of coral diversity, offers unrivalled diving opportunities. Thanks to Misool’s remote location, guests benefit from the advantages of live aboard diving combined with all the comforts of a land-based holiday resort.

Not only has Misool Eco Resort gone to great lengths to reduce the impact of its operations, it has also extended its environmental responsibility to the area surrounding the resort.
Most of the resort was built using salvaged hardwood that washed on the shores, was bought from locals and milled by hand. The buildings have been engineered for a balance between energy efficiency and the use of natural, environmentally-appropriate materials, such as thatch roofing and coconut fibres. Thanks to a solar panel and a wind turbine, the resort has been able to reduce its dependence on coal-generated electricity.

With the with the full cooperation of the local community, Misool established a 465 km2 No-Take Zone, with local staff regularly patrolling the area to prevent fishing and shark-finning.

For its environmental efforts, Misool was ‘Highly Commended’ by the Virgin Responsible Tourism Awards in 2009, while it also received an Ocean Award in 2011.

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