There is something special about animals and especially the ones that are friendly with humans, that makes any experience a little… ok, a lot better. If you are an animal lover and also a big fan of sunny beaches and exotic trips, you should check out these places and have the time of your life!
1. Dolphins – Azores, Portugal
This beautiful group of islands in the Atlantic Ocean are a source of endless fun and wonderful places to see and things to do. There are companies here that offer swim with dolphin tours, that usually last around 4 hours and let you interact and observe the beautiful creatures as close as possible, or at least as close as they want it. The tours offer “a natural experience”, as the dolphins are not tricked into coming closer, they are not fed and they are not trained. It is entirely their choice how they behave around the swimming humans.
You can also see other attractions in Azores, such as Lagoa das Sete Cidades, Lagoa das Furnas, Lagoa do Fogo (Fire Lake), Horta Harbour, the Capelinhos volcano, UNESCO’s Angra do Heroismo (a little city in Terceira Island). In certain locations, you can go inside a volcano (Algar do Carvão), a cave (Gruta do Natal) or walk throught any of the dozens Trilhos (official hicking trails).
2. Sea Turtles – Maui, Hawaii, USA
The island of Maui is a wonderful place to visit, due to a lot of things, but since this time we are talking about swimming and wildlife, we’ll say that one of the most exciting and beautiful things you can do here is snorkel and dive around the majestic sea turtles. Although they may look like some grumpy little creatures, the sea turtles will grow on you and an experience like this can be extremely fascinating. They will float, almost effortlessly, really close to you, casually coming to the surface to gulp some air before going back in the depths of the blue ocean. It is guaranteed that you will encounter sea turtles in Maui.
While in Maui, you can also visit Haleakala National Park, Wainapanapa State Park, Iao Valley State Monument, Ohe’o Gulch Kipahulu (the Seven Sacred Pools), The Hawaii Nature Center , the Maui Tropical Plantation, you can try hiking, surfing, windsurfing and many more water activities, and mountain biking.
3. Sharks – Isla Holbox, Mexico
This island is located in the “Mexican Caribbean”, a Mexico state that has grown considerably in the tourism sector in just a few decades. The actual name of the state is Quintana Roo and it is part of the Yucatan Peninsula, with a shoreline along the Caribbean. Isla Holbox is actually a pretty small place, and you can easily walk or go by bicycle anywhere you want. The exotic atmosphere is enchanting. You have good chance of spotting some flamingos there too. You can visit Refugio de Mapuches, a wonderful refugee for animals with free entrance.
Now, about swimming with the sharks: we’re not really talking about the great whites here. In fact, Isla Holbox is a wonderful place for spotting and swimming with the huge but harmless whale sharks. The whale shark is a slow-moving, docile fish and there is a chance one of them will even let you catch a ride, although the practice is discouraged by shark scientists, in order to limit any disturbance for the sharks.
4. Manatees – Florida, USA
Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge is the place to go if you want to swim with manatees. This is, in fact, the only place where you can do this in the United States. These wonderful, adorable creatures are really friendly, and they sometimes like to great humans with a gentle nuzzle. They swim in warm, shallow waters and are some of the best creatures to swim with.
Check out this article about free activities that you can try on Florida’s Gulf Coast, and go see more of Florida after you enjoy the swimming.
5. Pigs – Exuma, The Bahamas
Yes, you read it right. There is an island in the Bahamas that is also known as “Pig Beach”. The actual name of the island is Big Major Cay, and it is an uninhabited island. Or at least uninhabited by humans, because the kings of the lands here seem to be the (approximately 20) swimming feral pigs and piglets. These incredibly cute pigs swim around like true Olympians, being a delight for the tourists. They are also used to humans and very friendly.
While you’re in Exuma, you can also visit Saddleback Cay, a private island with seven wonderful beaches, shallow reefs and a meeting spot for nurse sharks, Thunderball Grotto, the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park and Mt. Thompson for a scenic overlook of the lands.
Choose your destinations and visit TripEconomy.com to check out our complete list of hotels deals that you can choose for your next trip and the available flights to your destination. Enjoy your adorable trip!