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10 earth-friendly spring flings

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  • Volunteer to rescue turtle eggs at Playa Las Tortugas in Mexico
  • Sleep by the sea in Big Sur in one of Treebones Resort's spacious yurts
  • Eat locally at Leaping Lamb Farm in Oregon's Coast Range
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(Sunset) -- Luxurious or rustic. Remote island or classic coastal hike. Whatever your style, you can make it green.


Protect baby turtles at Playa Las Tortugas in Mexico.


Go wine tasting

You thought the movie "Sideways" told you all you need to know about Santa Barbara? You thought wrong. There is, for instance, the Sustainable Vine Wine Tour that we're guessing you haven't tried. The six-hour, behind-the-scenes look at organic winemaking might include a visit to Demetria Winery, lunch with the owners of Ampelos Cellars and a grand finale at Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards, run by eco-minded wine pioneer Richard Sanford.

Why it's green: You learn about water-saving vineyard techniques and biodynamic practices. And the tour vans run on biodiesel, of course.

Details: $125, including tastings, lunch and transportation to and from the Santa Barbara area; reservations required; 805/698-3911. --Matt Kettman


Be a beach bum

The villas at Playa Las Tortugas, 70 miles north of Puerto Vallarta, share 5 miles of creamy beach with nothing but a coconut plantation. When beach-bum fatigue sets in, volunteer to rescue turtle eggs on the beach or to place baby turtles on wet sand, and watch as moonlight sparkling off the waves guides them to the sea. Top 10 beach strolls

Why it's green: Your help -- and tourist dollars -- protects turtles at their most vulnerable time.

Details: Nightly turtle releases July-January; villas from $149; 877/287-8905. --Laurel Delp

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Go spring skiing

Next time you're planning a ski trip with your ski-hating spouse, consider this: In Salt Lake City, you get sublime skiing plus the fun of a big-city stay. With the Ski Salt Lake Super Pass, you can enjoy all-day access to lifts at the area's top four ski resorts and base yourself right in town, taking advantage of the best hotels, restaurants, nightlife, shopping and culture. Top 10 mountaintop restaurants

Why it's green: The pass includes shuttle transportation from downtown -- no car required.

Details: Buy the pass at most hotels. From $52 per day; 800/541-4955. --Amy Wolf


Ground yourself at a spa

At Osmosis Day Spa Sanctuary in Sonoma County, bury yourself under a huge mound of fragrant, fermenting mulch made of ground cedar, rice bran and plant enzymes. The mixture, which heats naturally, sends you into a warm dream state that's oddly exhilarating. To prolong the sensation, follow an attendant up a wooded trail to an outdoor pagoda for a massage.

Why it's green: Can it get much more green than a mulch bath? Plus, all paper goods are composted by red worms ("global worming"), which turn waste into garden fertilizer that's used on-site.

Details: From $80 for a standard 1 1/2-hour treatment; from $95 for a 75-minute massage; reservations required; 209 Bohemian Hwy., Freestone; 707/823-8231. --A.W.


Raft a river

Make like an early explorer: Discover southern Utah's Cataract Canyon from the vantage point of a raft. The canyon's red-rock cliffs are every bit as beautiful as the much more crowded Grand Canyon's. Top 10 hotels for nature lovers

Why it's green: River outfitter O.A.R.S. has an extensive carbon-offset policy.

Details: All-inclusive six-day trip from $1,506; 800/346-6277. --Susan Crandell


Cross-country ski in pure wilderness

Glacier National Park in winter is something every Westerner should see. And the ultimate place to stay when you see it is the historic Izaak Walton Inn in Essex. The inn hunkers down in a snowy valley bordering the park and the Great Bear Wilderness Area; its groomed trails loop through more than 20 miles of forested alpine terrain.

Why it's green: You can take the train. Hop Amtrak's Empire Builder from Seattle or Portland and disembark at the inn.

Details: Travel light and hit the inn's shop to rent skis. Rooms from $137; rentals from $20; 406/888-5700. Amtrak's Empire Builder: from $168 round-trip; 800/872-7245. --Lynn Donaldson


Sleep by the sea

Tight land-use restrictions around Big Sur mean ocean-view accommodations are limited -- and pricey. But the sturdy, spacious yurts at Treebones Resort are a great deal. For a fraction of what lodging along this coastline normally costs, you get a skylight for stargazing and a deck for spotting whales migrating north in March and April. Check out Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park ($8 per vehicle; 11 miles south of Big Sur; 831/667-2315), where the 0.2-mile overlook trail is as close as you can get to the iconic 80-foot waterfall that tumbles to an off-limits white-sand beach -- a prime example of preservation at its best.

Why it's green: Treebones is off the grid -- a propane-fueled turbine powers everything from the reading lamps to the tiny hot tub, and drinking water comes from a well.

Details: Of the 16 yurts, numbers 15 and 16 have gas fireplaces and are most private; shared restrooms are by the lodge. Treebones has ocean-view campsites too; number 4 is our favorite. Yurts from $145, campsites $60 for two; 877/424-4787. --Rachel Levin


Escape to a very quiet island

To get a taste of wild Hawaii as it once was, take a prop plane or the ferry from Maui's Lahaina to Molokai, land of high cliffs and few people. The island is largely undeveloped, and the locals fight hard to keep it that way. For a true remote-island experience, tour the Halawa Valley with a Hawaiian guide, who'll show you the restored taro ponds. Picture stacked-rock house sites and shrines, streams to hop across and waterfalls inviting a clean plunge into the ancestral waters of life.

Why it's green: You'll be inspired by an ancient culture that lived off the land for generations.

Details: The Halawa Valley Cultural Tour ($75, $45 ages 7--11; reservations required; 808/553-5926 or any activity desk on the island) starts at 9:15 a.m. daily and lasts four to five hours. Stay the night before at the stunningly situated but pricey Lodge & Beach Village at Moloka'i Ranch (beach tentalows from $168, lodge rooms from $258, resort charge $15; 888/627-8082). --Paul Wood


Indulge your inner foodie

Hole up in a cozy cabin at Leaping Lamb Farm in the Coast Range. Make farm-fresh breakfasts in the kitchen, then venture out to fish or hike.

Why it's green: It's all about eating locally.

Details: The cabin sleeps six. $75 for one, $25 for each extra guest; 877/820-6132. --Lucy Burningham


Get into the wild in style

Every May, the floating luxury retreat that is King Pacific Lodge is towed in and moored off the coast of Princess Royal Island. From this remote oasis, you can adventure on land (bear-watching and hiking) and sea (whale-watching and kayaking), and follow up each day with feasts of fresh-caught salmon and foraged wild mushrooms. Cool fact: The local Gitga'at First Nation works with the lodge to protect the pristine swath of temperate rain forest that the resort calls home.

Why it's green: The lodge was the first in Canada to offset the carbon emissions of guest and employee travel. And it's adding hydro- and solar power to cut its carbon footprint in half over the next five years.

Details: May-September; all-inclusive three-night stay from $4,795 U.S.; 888/592-5464. --Bonnie Tsui E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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