Rampant development on the Dutch side of the island has been cause for concern from environmentalists for some time. At press time, reports of shoddily built plumbing systems pouring wastewater runoff onto the beach at Cupecoy were met with dismay by local environmental group St. Maarten Pride Foundation, which also claims that authorities have no controls in place to prevent developers from demolishing natural landmarks, overrunning the natural environment, and destroying delicate ecosystems. Also active in conservation awareness is the Nature Foundation St. Maarten (www.naturefoundationsxm.org), established by the government in 1997.

General Resources for Responsible Travel

The following websites provide valuable wide-ranging information on sustainable travel.

  • Responsible Travel (www.responsibletravel.com) is a great source of sustainable travel ideas; the site is run by a spokesperson for ethical tourism in the travel industry. Sustainable Travel International (www.sustainabletravelinternational.org) promotes ethical tourism practices, and manages an extensive directory of sustainable properties and tour operators around the world.
  • Carbonfund (www.carbonfund.org), TerraPass (www.terrapass.org), and Cool Climate (http://coolclimate.berkeley.edu) provide info on "carbon offsetting," or offsetting the greenhouse gas emitted during flights.
  • Greenhotels (www.greenhotels.com) recommends green-rated member hotels around the world that fulfill the company's stringent environmental requirements. Environmentally Friendly Hotels (www.environmentallyfriendlyhotels.com) offers more green accommodation ratings.
  • Volunteer International (www.volunteerinternational.org) has a list of questions to help you determine the intentions and the nature of a volunteer program. For general info on volunteer travel, visit www.volunteerabroad.org and www.idealist.org.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.