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Need some inspiration for 2021? Consider planning your trip around a cool, new animal experience! Skip the zoos and observe animals in their natural habitats. Read on for suggestions from travel bloggers on some animal adventures to add to your travel list!
Sea Turtles in Mexico
Conservation is not something that automatically comes to mind when you think about a family vacation to Mexico. But for families visiting the oceanside town of Puerto Escondido, the opportunity to take part in important conservation activities, like releasing baby sea turtles, is a must-do.
Like many spots along the Pacific coast of Mexico, Puerto Escondido is a popular nesting spot for sea turtles. Every year from October to May, hundreds of thousands of baby sea turtles hatch and begin their perilous journey to the ocean and adulthood. And in Puerto Escondido, organizations exist to help ensure these baby sea turtles are protected during this process.
For families visiting Puerto Escondido, tours like ones offered by Eco Adventures Puerto Escondido allow families to learn about baby sea turtles and participate in releasing them into the ocean. During a typical tour, families visit a beach side turtle hatchery, where nests of eggs have been carefully placed by volunteers to be monitored and protected from predators and the elements. Families can also help bring the baby sea turtles to the shore.
An experience like this can have lasting and profound effects on kids, as they learn about the importance of conservation and the impact humans can have on sea life. More importantly, it’s a way for families to give back as they travel.
Find a place to stay in Puerto Escondido so you can check out sea turtles for yourself!
Read more from Astrid on her blog, The Wandering Daughter.
Manatees in Florida
Manatees are amazing creatures and such a delight to see in the wild. They are herbivore mammals who migrate to warm, fresh water, with plentiful plant life. For this reason, the canals of Naples, Florida are the perfect place to see manatees in the wild. The winter is the best time to spot them, as in the summer they can move further north, but on our recent tour with SEE MANATEES, the captain assured us he has spotted manatees on all but a handful of tours in his long tenure taking guests out.
You could probably spot manatees if you stand and watch the water long enough, but I would recommend taking a manatee tour because they are experienced in knowing where to find the manatees, but also because they will provide special glasses for you that make seeing the manatees in the water so much easier. Plus, a knowledgeable guide will teach you so much about these incredible creatures and about the wildlife of the Southwest Florida area!
On the pontoon boat, we were able to get very close to the manatees – my daughter, dad and I loved this experience! The manatees are huge and just such an incredible feat of nature to see. I definitely recommend trying to do some manatee spotting on your next Florida adventure!
Find more from Harmony on her blog, Mommatogo.
Seeing Wild Dolphins in Kenya
One of the most unique animal experiences you can have is swimming with dolphins and the most ethical way to do this is in the wild. Diving in Kenya is one of the easiest ways to see the wild dolphins in the Kisite Mpunguti Marine Park which is a protected part of the Indian ocean widely known for the pods of wild dolphins that live there.
You don’t need to be a certified scuba diver to visit the park and swim with the dolphins, you can also swim with them whilst snorkeling or see them swimming from a boat tour around the islands in the park. The dolphins are very friendly and used to boats and humans and will swim right up to the boat and jump out of the water alongside you.
There is of course no guarantee to see the wild dolphins in the marine park and no optimum time to visit however as they are seen most days of the year by the people who live and work there. A dolphin safari is highly recommended as an ethical animal experience and is the best way to see dolphins in the wild.
Steph and Lewis of Book It Let’s Go are an expat couple originally from the UK currently residing in St Kitts. Now they have made the leap to move abroad, they have no plans to return anytime soon. They are currently enjoying being based in the Caribbean and doing some island hopping while planning their next big adventure. You can follow their adventures on Instagram
Seals & Seal Lions in California
La Jolla Cove is a beautiful beach located a few minutes outside of San Diego in La Jolla, California. It boasts seven miles of coastline with jagged rocks, whitesand beaches, and crashing waves. You can participate in typical beach activities, like surfing, snorkeling, and kayaking. There are also coves to explore and no shortage of hiking opportunities.
All of the nice things the beach has to offer pale in comparison to La Jolla Cove’s real draw, the massive number of sea lions and wild seals who have claimed the area as their own. You are no longer allowed to swim in the “Children’s Pool” area of the beach, because seals and sea lions could clearly spot the weakest link during their takeover.
Although you can’t swim with the animals, you can stand within feet of them on the bluffs. These animals are familiar with people, so they do not flee when they approach. Occasionally, one will puff out his chest and warn someone to back up, but it is a great place to get up close and personal with the animals when you respect their boundaries. In addition to the seals and sea lions who are there year round, you can often see whales during their migration seasonally.
Looking for more to do in La Jolla? Check out tours, sightseeing and other activities here.
Read more from Adriane on her blog, Put on Your Party Pants (and Keep Them On Until 8pm).
Cage Diving with Great White Sharks in South Africa
Gansbaii, South Africa is the Great White Shark capital of the world, and one of the most popular spots to find Great White Sharks. Cage diving with sharks is an adrenaline thrill you will never forget. The thrill of being face-to-face with nature’s fiercest, and perhaps most misunderstood, predators creates incredible memories to last a lifetime.
You descend into the water in a cage, wearing scuba gear to breathe under water. Bait or chum is dropped into the water to attract the sharks. The bait gives a front row seat to observe these magnificent creatures swimming around the waters in front of you. If a shark is able to capture the fish heads, it has earned it. The last thing shark experts want is for the sharks to depend on these viewings as a source of food, or alter their natural behavioral patterns.
It is quite the experience to see a Great White Shark up that close! The size, strength and overall ferocity of Great White Sharks is intense as you watch them from the safety of the cage. We walked away feeling that these marvelous creatures should be more respected than feared. Prepare for some rough waters on the boat. Even if you do not usually get boat sick, do yourself a favour and take a Gravol beforehand.
Debbie is the voice behind WorldAdventurists.com
Spotting Lemurs in Madagascar
With just one place in the world being their natural habitat, Madagascar is truly worth a visit to see lemurs in the wild. These playful creatures can be found in many spots but, one in particular, brings some unique geological features, too. The Great Tsingy is part of a national park in Northwest Madagascar. This park has jagged limestone rocks that you can spend hours exploring but, be careful, they are quite sharp (in fact “tsingy” in Malagasy means “walk on tiptoe”). Be sure to wear sturdy shoes and bring plenty of water as it can get quite hot during the day.
When it comes to lemur spotting, they are often in the tree canopies as you’re walking towards The Great Tsingy – pay close attention as they can be hard to spot! Occasionally, you can also find them on the rocks, to.
While in Madagascar, be sure to also check out the gorgeous island of Nosy Be – with turquoise blue water and stunning beaches, it is the perfect retreat after trekking, hiking and lemur spotting! And the accommodation are quite affordable – there are many beachside options for less than $100 USD per night.
Kristina is the founder of Million Miler Mom – read more about her animal adventures here!