Every day should be Earth Day, yet acknowledging one dawn, April 22, each year to pause and honor this planet—as well as think about pro-active ways to sustain and savor it—is inspirational. In my travels, I am often enthralled by and grateful for the captivating beauty that abounds. As poet, novelist, farmer, and environmental activist Wendell Barry points out: “The earth is what we all have in common.” Amen.
Here, some of my favorite Earth-celebrating photos, places, and quotes. Please click the gallery launch button (at top right or below) for 16 images.
1. “Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet, and the winds long to play with your hair.” — Kahlil Gibran
Viceroy Resort on the Caribbean island of Anguilla is graced with a serene, sublime seascape. The forward-thinking management of this posh property is committed to water conservation, waste management, and green housekeeping.
2. “The proper use of science is not to conquer nature but to live in it.” — Barry Commoner
Aruba surprises with its astonishing Arikok National Park—an expansive mecca of giant boulders, statuesque cacti, sand-crested hills, crashing waves against cliffs, rock towers, flora, and wildlife—which encompasses nearly a fifth of this almost always sunny Caribbean island.
3. “One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.” — William Shakespeare
On trail rides, cookouts, and historic tours of fascinating Fort Robinson State Park in Crawford, Nebraska, you can explore vast stretches of rugged and peaceful landscape. Mountain sheep, American bison, and friendly burros roam the wide-open wilds. Breathe free...
4. “There are always flowers for those who want to see them.” — Henri Matisse
One of the best-kept travel secrets can be unearthed in Eastern Canada's Forillon National Park, tucked at the tippy-top edge of Gaspésie Peninsula. What a gorgeous getaway for you to discover—with its tall pine trees, hiking trails, sparkling streams, and purple wildflowers, which are almost intoxicating in their vivid color. They grow everywhere, as though Mother Nature, in an exuberantly happy dance, flung floral seeds with abandon as she twirled across green canvases! Conservation efforts have reaped a bounty of rewards here.
5. “The ultimate test of man’s conscience may be his willingness to sacrifice something for future generations whose words of thanks will not be heard.” — Gaylord Nelson
Costa Rica is a world leader in sustainability and conservation, having set aside a quarter of its land for national parks and other nature retreats. On the Pacific Coast, Manuel Antonio National Park, though small in area, is one of the most bio-diverse spots on earth—an oasis with four sandy beaches, quiet coves, a tropical rainforest, as well as 184 species of birds and 109 species of mammals. The cute, frisky monkeys especially wow visitors.
6. “Green is the prime color of the world, and that from which its loveliness arises.” — Pedro Calderon de la Barca
The picturesque Finger Lakes of Upstate New York are encircled by charming towns, thick woodlands, rolling hills, and colorful gardens. Rest and recharge at Geneva on the Lake Resort, an historic landmark, which overlooks the water and serves award-winning meals with locally grown products. An ideal way to play on a summer day.
7. “This most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes.” —e. e. cummings
Whoosh! Be prepared to be spellbound, as you sit and simply stare at the impressive, white-foam waves, rich in minerals, at Bathsheba Beach on Barbados in the Caribbean. This dramatic and inspirational horizon, dotted with mammoth boulders on a wide cashmere-soft sand beach, draws photographers, painters, poets, writers, and surfers galore—though the undercurrent at this Atlantic Ocean side of the island can be treacherous. It is an ever-changing reminder of nature's raw power and resounding beauty.
8. “To see a world in a grain of sand, and a heaven in a wild flower. Hold infinity in the palm of your hand, and eternity in an hour.” — William Blake
From miles away, as you drive through the desert of New Mexico's Tularosa Basin, you may wonder whether a mirage looms ahead. The horizon appears to be covered by a gargantuan blanket of snow—though you know that this Southwestern landscape, steeped in warm temperatures, must be playing tricks on your eyes. When you arrive at White Sands National Monument, its 275 square miles of white gypsum crystals kind of blows your mind! There is a well-done educational center, as well as a nature trail that highlights flora and fauna, with rangers on hand to explain this shimmering ecological wonder, but the most fun here is to climb to the top of one of many white mounds and then swoosh down on a disc sled (sold at local stores)—while wearing shorts and a T-shirt. Ever-shifting, this alluring dune-scape delights like no other place on earth.
9. “On Earth Day, we celebrate all the gifts the world and nature make available to us. We recognize our complete dependence on its bounty. And we acknowledge the need for good stewardship to preserve its fruits for future generations.” — John Hoeven
Peggy's Cove, in Nova Scotia, Canada's Bluenose Coast, on St. Margaret's Bay, exudes stellar sea-faring sumptuousness—with a picture-perfect lighthouse perched high on giant rocks. The Atlantic Ocean brims nearby, surging rivulets inland amid smooth rocks and bright wildflowers. Hike trails, kayak, whale- and bird-watch, and eat scrumptious same-day caught seafood.
10. “When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” — John Muir
In laid-back Florida Keys—about halfway down the necklace of isles that make up our 27th state's unique jewel—family-friendly Hawks Cay Resort & Villas in Duck Key is a haven for bird watchers and hosts an on-site bluenose dolphin research facility (the only one of its type in the continental United States), where you can swim with and learn about this mammal. Its restaurants use only sustainable seafood.
11. “There is pleasure in the pathless woods. There is rapture on the lovely shore. There is society, where none intrudes. By the deep sea, and music in its roar: I love not man the less, but Nature more.” — Lord Byron
In exotic, lush French Polynesia, Mount Otemanu, the highest point on Bora Bora at 2,385 feet, together with Mount Pahia, form the remnants of an extinct volcano, seen here from a flower-bedecked hilltop at Hilton Bora Bora Nui Resort & Spa. This luxe resort has installed more than 200 solar panels on the roofs of its over-the-water guest bungalows and public buildings to heat its bathing and cooking water. Its Biorock Initiative champions the growth of healthy coral.
12. “There would be very little point in my exhausting myself and other conservationist themselves in trying to protect animals and habitats if we weren’t at the same time raising young people to be better stewards.” — Jane Goodall
13. “Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you…” — John Muir
The magnificent, leafy Blue Mountains of Jamaica, resplendent in plant and animal life, look over a seascape that instills sweet reflection, especially when the sun sets. One of the best resorts anywhere, Half Moon, near Montego Bay, luxuriates on 400 carefully tended acres and is Green Globe certified. Its dedicated environmental manager and a team of eco-positive staffers spearhead planet-friendly programs in electrical power, housekeeping, organic gardening, and educating local students about ecological best practices.
14. “When the well’s dry, we know the worth of water.” — Benjamin Franklin
In front of Puerto Rico’s pet-friendly, boutique-style Water Beach Club Hotel in San Juan, inviting Isla Verde Beach opens up to a turquoise sea. This cool hotel is a hot spot for cuisine at Zest by executive chef Raul Correa, who whips up some of the most inventive dishes ever—stimulating all five senses—from locally sustained ingredients.
15. “There is hope if people will begin to awaken that spiritual part of themselves, that heartfelt knowledge that we are caretakers of this planet.” — Brooke Medicine Eagle
Morning mist ascends above the Shenandoah Valley and Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Trees are responsible for the distinctive blue hue—from natural isoprene released into the atmosphere. Relish many outdoor summertime sports—from kayaking to rock climbing—at green venues off the Blue Ridge Parkway. Hiking the awesome trails of the Shenandoah National Park is particularly exhilarating.
16. “Man must feel the earth to know himself and recognize his values…” — Charles A. Lindbergh
Designed as an authentic expression of the Gila River Indian Community's Pima and Maricopa heritages—through artwork, artifacts, architecture, pottery, cuisine, story-telling, and music—the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Phoenix Resort & Spa, in Chandler, Arizona, rejuvenates the spirit and is dedicated to cultural sustainability. Its Aji Spa (meaning "sanctuary" in the Pima language) focuses on traditional Native American treatments and indigenous ingredients. The vibrant sunset views stir residents and travelers alike to give thanks for the gift of another day.