Research has found that exposure to nature and feeling connected to nature can offer a host of benefits mental, physical, and emotional, such as improving mood and reducing stress and anxiety. A study from 2019 analyzing nearly 20,000 participants found that spending at least two hours per week in green spaces was associated with improved overall health and well-being. Since being immersed in nature stands to do your body, mind, and soul a lot of good, it only makes sense to take advantage of the opportunity to spend your leisure time making the most of it.
Traveling can provide unique ways to commune with the Earth on a deeper level. While journeying to a beautiful new place is always great, actually interacting with the majesty that’s all around—getting your hands dirty, smelling the flowers, breathing in the fresh air, learning to live off the land—well, that’s the difference between visiting and experiencing. It’s especially motivating for us to find hotels in every corner of the globe that encourage guests to discover the great outdoors through immersive nature excursions that connect people to the natural world (and its wild residents) in unique and meaningful ways.
From foraging for mushrooms and forest bathing to beekeeping sessions and boat tours with resident marine biologists, the experiences ahead promise to strengthen your bond with Mother Nature and boost your well-being.
13 Resorts With Immersive Nature Excursions
Manta Ray Snorkel at Mauna Kea (Waimea, Hawaii)
For an immersive experience that gets you up close and personal with nature (safely, of course), dive in with the manta rays (which are barbless!) at Mauna Kea Beach Resort on the Big Island of Hawaii. Each night, these gentle giants cruise through the bays along the Kamuela coast, using their large, bucket mouths to swoop up plankton. At the Mauna Kea resort, a guide will lead you on a moonlit snorkel above these gorgeous creatures, where they seemingly dance feeding on zooplankton illuminated by the instructor’s spotlights. It’s magical to sit and watch these magnificent animals glide and dive inches away from you in crystal-clear water—truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience that will leave you feeling more connected to Mother Earth the moment you towel off.
Whale Song Immersion at Susurros del Corazón, Auberge Resorts Collection (Punta de Mita, Mexico)
Between December and March, over 700 humpback whales migrate from western Canada to give birth in Mexico’s Bahía de Banderas. During this period, guests staying at the luxurious Susurros del Corazón, Auberge Resorts Collection have the exclusive opportunity to board a 33-foot all-weather inflatable speed boat and embark on a private aquatic journey led by a marine conservationist to watch these gentle giants swim in the waters and hear the live songs of these “inveterate composers.” A special in-water recording device tap into these soothing, low-frequency melodies. The hotel’s sound engineers turn the recordings into an audio keepsake that just might replace your home sound machine.
Vortex Hikes at L’Auberge de Sedona (Sedona, Arizona)
Sedona is best known for its magnificent red rock formations. Tucked between caverns and cliffs in this divine Southwest destination are powerful energy vortexes with the capacity to reinvigorate and shift perspectives. It’s just a matter of actually finding these sacred spots to soak in the stillness and sagacity of the desert. L’Auberge de Sedona organizes guided hikes for spirituality seekers to these healing epicenters of earthly intuition. Due to the excursions being private, partakers are able to set the pace and take as much time as desired to meditate, do a grounding yoga pose, or just sit quietly with whatever thoughts come up.
Eco-Kayaking Tour at Salmon Falls Resort (Ketchikan, Alaska)
Going on a nature-driven adventure that’s also a great workout? Sign us up! The eco-kayaking tour at Salmon Falls Resort, an all-inclusive lodge at the southernmost entrance to Alaska’s famed Inside Passage, is one of the most exciting expeditions in a state that’s full of outdoor action. During the four-hour guided group activity, a maximum of six participants paddle on the protected ocean waterways of Clover Passage and circumnavigate Pup Island and Clover Island. Because of the remoteness of the area, wildlife encounters are quite common. With any luck, you might even glimpse Sitka deer, Pacific porpoises, or humpback whales.
Surfing at The Twin Fin Hotel (Honolulu, Hawaii)
Surfers, paddlers, and snorkelers can get their fill of watersports at The Twin Fin Hotel, which is mere steps from the famous Waikiki Beach. Guests can wake up and check the water conditions without even getting out of bed via the in-room Surfline channel, before heading downstairs and snagging a board for the day (guests have access to up to three rentals a day during their stay, including floats, SUPs, beach chairs, and more.) Those who want to hone their Hang Ten can take a lesson at the Jamie O’Brien School of Surf, while others who’d rather stay on land can watch from the comfort of the oceanfront rooms, or take in the *stunning* panoramic views over breakfast at the hotel’s Coconut Club. (Pro tip: get the macadamia nut pancakes—they’ll rock your world.)
Naturalist’s Beach Walk at Weekapaug Inn (Westerly, Rhode Island)
Proof that you don’t have to venture far to commune with nature. Sometimes it’s just a matter of leaving the comforts of your hotel room and strolling down to the shore. Such is the case at Weekapaug Inn, perched on a peninsula overlooking salty Quonochontaug Pond, where resident naturalist Teddy Beahm spotlights the beauty of the Atlantic coast (well, Mother Nature does the showing off; he facilitates the viewing and adds interesting factoids). On the hour-long walk down the barrier beach, expect to see a fascinating array of local flora and fauna as well as many migratory birds.
Mokoro Ride at Vumbura Plains (Okavango Delta, Botswana)
Folks staying at Vumbura Plains can relish a slow, almost meditative ride in a mokoro, a small type of canoe that gets steered by a seasoned poler who stands at the tail, along the shallow waters of Botswana’s Okavango Delta. Along the way, you’ll glide past tiny frogs and birds and pass through old-growth trees and tranquil gardens of water lilies. Mid-lagoon sundowner cocktails (or mocktails) and catch-and-release fishing are also part of the immersive activity.
Mushroom Foraging at VIK Chile (Millahue Valley, Chile)
VIK Chile aims to reestablish the connection between farm and table that has been so eroded by modern agriculture and food culture. Guests embarking on the newly launched mushroom foraging trek have the chance to reconnect with our hunter-gatherer ancestors and the earth by searching for volvariella, wood blewit, and horse mushrooms, while also gaining a deeper understanding of the region’s distinctive terroir and fascinating science of fungi. Chef Pablo Cáceres will then prepare delicious dishes using the harvested shrooms and other locally grown ingredients.
Dawn Chorus at Montage Palmetto Bluff (Bluffton, South Carolina)
Situated along the May River, Montage Palmetto Bluff is surrounded by Lowcountry coastal wooded habitats filled with over 300 different species of birds. The five-star property puts a lot of stock in conservation initiatives and the on-site activities reflect that. It’s definitely worth rising early in the morning to do a serene yet inspiriting dawn walk through the maritime forests, tidal creeks, marshes, and lagoon waterways. The resort’s resident naturalist, Cassie Beato, helps guests spot and identify different feathered friends—including egrets, herons, wood storks, osprey, red-tailed hawks, warblers, and cardinals—by sight and song. Binoculars and birding guides are also provided.
Beekeeping at Ojai Valley Inn (Ojai, California)
Bees are a crucial part of ecosystem function and agricultural production. Pollinator programming has become super buzzy lately. Ojai Valley Inn invites visitors to tag along for a behind-the-scene day in the life of the resident apiarist. After a brief overview of the importance of European honeybees and a scenic stroll to the bee yard in the heart of Mistletoe Meadows, it’s time to don a protective beekeeping suit. Next up, a peaceful sage smoke ritual. You’ll get to see the inside of a working hive, learn how to identify the queen bee, and witness the honey-making process firsthand. The sweet finale? A tasting of cold-pressed, raw SoCal honey.
Medicinal Walk at Amanera (Playa Grande, Dominican Republic)
The indigenous Taíno people of the Caribbean have been turning to the wisdom of the earth for therapeutic rituals for millennia. Iterations of many of those ancient treatments feel right at home on the luxurious spa menu at Amanera, a leafy hideaway perched on a cliff overlooking Playa Grande in the Dominican Republic. The three-hour medicinal walk through virgin forests and lush gardens allow guests to observe and interact with native flora and fauna, hand-pick their own herbal remedies, and learn how the moon influences the growth cycle of all living things. Tailor-made treatments using the bounty of foraged ingredients bring it full circle.
Forest Bathing at Hidden Pond (Kennebunkport, Maine)
Rooted in the ancient Japanese practice of Shinrin-yoku, forest bathing harnesses the restorative, therapeutic benefits of nature and beckons vacationers to slow down and soak it all in (literally) without the distractions of technology. Linked to immune and mood support, it’s become increasingly popular at hotels with a holistic mindset and access to greenery like Hidden Pond. At this hideaway in a leafy corner of Kennebunkport, a certified forest therapy guide leads guests on a leisurely three-hour walk through the wilderness that includes moments to wander independently and for silent introspection beside towering trees and leafy shrubs. A special tea ceremony concludes the sensorial experience.
White-Water Rafting at Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan (Bali, Indonesia)
The Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan is a quick, 10-minute drive from Ubud, the island’s bustling hub of arts and culture. But when you enter the gates to this five-star property, you feel transported to another world. Twenty-five years ago, architect John Heah designed the resort’s main building—the entrance of which is a suspension pedestrian bridge that leads to a “rice bowl” reflecting pool dappled by white lotus flowers (really!)—to blend into its natural surroundings. “You walk down the steps, and you don’t see the hotel, you just see this bridge over water,” Heah says in a video celebrating the resort’s silver anniversary. “When you come down the steps through the water…you have this amazing panorama of the forrest.”
The Four Seasons Sayan’s commitment to local materials and experiences carries through to the immersive nature activities offered by the resort. Guests can choose to explore neighboring rice paddies and waterways on foot or via a “biathlon” that includes a guided bike ride through nearby villages. Or, if you’re looking for a little more adventure, you could opt for a private rafting excursion on Bali’s longest river, which takes you on Class II and III rapids that run beneath a leafy green canopy. Guests that book a stay at both Sayan and the Four Seasons’ beachy Jimbaran Bay property have the opportunity to arrive at Sayan by raft.
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