Puerto Rico Vacations: Eco-Tourism Takes To The Trees

by Stacey Irwin on May 3, 2010 · 4 comments

in Bamboo & Sustainability,Bamboo Trends

Bamboo Master Bedroom HoochNamed the “World’s Greatest Treehouse” by the Travel Channel, these bamboo tree-houses (or “hooches”) stand among the beautiful rainforests of Rincon, Puerto Rico just miles from exotic beaches and are a perfect example of the booming eco-tourism trend.

According to its website, the hooch is “an evolutionary, revolutionary building system that turns architectural conventions on its head.”  Indeed, the hooch holds the record for the smallest foundation of any land based building.  And that’s not just a ploy to get into the Guinness book of records; this small base allows for minimal disruption of the environment at the build site.

The hooch stands on a single point and maintains its balance by a redundant cable system with cables attached to surrounding trees.  Much like the bamboo itself, the tree house is able to retain both its rigidity and its flexibility.  It moves about on the foundation, flexing as a unit, but will self-correct with any stress or distortion.

Because the components can be assembled off-site with an accurate pre-fabrication plan in place, the construction itself also causes minimal disruption to the environment and is raised into the trees by a pulley system.

These hooches are easy to construct and dismantle, are economically efficient and ideal for homes in environmentally-sensitive areas.  In fact, the owner, Jo, offers plans, kits and complete construction services for homeowners.  But if you’re not quite ready to assemble one in your backyard, treat yourself to a stay at these tropical tree houses.

Sunset hoochReferred to as “glamping” or glamorous camping, these bamboo tree houses are surprisingly luxurious.  The Sunset Hooch offers a queen-sized with a gorgeous view of the Caribbean, a fully equipped kitchenette, separate bathroom hooch with flush toilet and 12 volts of solar electricity to keep everything running.

And while you’re just minutes away from beautiful beaches, you can also opt to take a walk through the 12 acres of bamboo and tropical forest that surrounds the tree houses.

Or if you’re more interested in a learning vacation, attend the Tropical Tree houses’ yearly workshop on bamboo.  Focusing on sustainability and bamboo, the attendees learn more about how to effectively shrink their environmental footprint and work to build their own bamboo creations.  The most recent workshop held just last month was named “Camino Verde,” and focused on showing participants the simple, small steps they could take to get on the path to sustainability.

But the hooch isn’t relegated to just Puerto Rico.  One recently popped up at the Burning Man Festival.  There are plans to possibly  include a concentration of hooches at the Reserva Del Rio Bigal, on the Eastern slope of the Andes in Ecuador.  Hooches are being used to preserve the delicate biosphere that includes an astounding amount of bird species.

Another hooch was completed in May 2008 on the island of St. John, and it also features roof water collection, a gravity feed kitchenette sink with solar hot water and used local bamboo in much of the construction.  Bamboo hooch also constructed on the grounds of the Firestone Restorative Ecology Center in Costa Rica.  And Do-It-Yourselfer’s  have also constructed hooches of their own in Sonoma and Santa Barbara.

bamboo viewThe concept of the bamboo tree houses came about from a life-long passion for the environment and bamboo.  The owners were originally sea-farers on the Caribbean but soon the need for land became clear.  Not only was there a second baby on the way, but they had also started a business of their own that focused on building with bamboo.  Jo made everything from lamps to bars to store interiors and the idea for a bamboo tree house that was eco-friendly and highly sustainable intrigued him.

This need to grow and build them led the family to Rincon, a small surfing town on the west coast of Puerto Rico.  It took a year to find the perfect location and another seven to get it cleared and landscaped and to perfect their first bamboo hooch design.  Since then, they have opened up their hooches to guests from around the world and recently even dismantled one to take with them as they took a sabbatical up north to enjoy some cold weather for a bit.

For anyone worried about the sturdiness of these bamboo tree houses, since being constructed in Rincon, they have weathered 3 hurricanes and emerged from all unscathed.  In fact, in April of 2006, a feasibility study was initiated to determine if the hooch could be used as a possible safe dwelling for residents in areas susceptible to tsunamis.  The destruction in Indonesia and likelihood of future tsunamis spurred research among aid organizations to figure out safe and effective housing options.  Since bamboo has already been used for highly effective earthquake shelters, it only makes sense to look at it for tsunami shelters as well.

Researchers determined that a “Tsunami Ark” of sorts using local bamboo to build tsunami resilient hooches high above the potential waves would be an effective way to go.  The ability for the bamboo hooch to flow with the movement of the wave while maintaining its structural integrity make it a perfect fit for this disaster relief initiative.

Bamboo tree house is the ultimate for eco-tourism – not only does it draw on the natural resources of the surrounding area, but it is designed to be built with the most minimal of disruption.

Bamboo Clothing

Bamboo Clothing

And when you book your Tropical Tree house get-away, be sure to pack for your vacation in Bamboo StyleGreen Earth Bamboo offers versatile leggings, skirts, bamboo underwear, bamboo socks and organic tees that are easy to pack and comfortable to wear on your adventure!

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 jo scheer May 3, 2010 at 1:09 pm

thanks for the write-up, covered it all. Rainy season just got started, transplanting bamboo everywhere.

2 Max White May 10, 2010 at 5:48 pm

Bamboo is the fastest growing plant on this planet. It grows one third faster than the fastest growing tree. Some species grow as much as four feet a day.Bamboo is harvested and replenished with no impact to the environment. It can be selectively harvested annually and is capable of complete regeneration without need to replant.Bamboo is versatile with a short growth cycle. It can be harvested in 3-5 years versus 10-100 years for most softwoods and hardwoods.Bamboo is a viable replacement for wood. It is one of the strongest building materials, with a tensile strength that rivals steel. Withstands up to 52,000 pounds of pressure {psi}.Bamboo is an enduring natural resource. Provides income, food, and housing to over 2.2 billion people worldwide. Uses include everything from skyscraper scaffolding to medicine.Bamboo is a critical element in the balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Bamboo helps reduce the carbon dioxide gases blamed for global warming.Bamboo is a renewable resource for agroforestry production. It is used to produce flooring, wall paneling, pulp for paper, fencing, briquettes for fuel, raw material for housing, and more. Bamboo helps mitigate water pollution due to its high nitrogen consumption. Bamboo instantly imparts a natural & tropical look of beauty.
Thats why the use of Bamboo is essential in man day to day life.
Thanks for such a valuable post.

3 puerto rico vacations May 27, 2010 at 1:09 am

That’s Nice Information on beautiful rainforests of Rincon, Puerto Rico just miles from exotic beaches and are a perfect example of the booming eco-tourism trend. And Such A Amazing Grateful Tree-house his looking very nice..Thanks For Sharing…so Keep Sharing a valuable post.

Leave a Comment

{ 1 trackback }

Previous post:

Next post: