Family Eco-Adventures

Nature-oriented family vacations can provide the perfect combination of adventure, shared learning, and the thrill of being close to wildlife. What can be more thrilling than swimming with dolphins, snorkeling through an underwater wonderland, being eye to eye with a whale, or watching a young foal take its first steps? For families who love the outdoors, there are a wide variety of eco-adventure options available. An entire vacation can be planned around nature-oriented activities, or a simple day trip can be included as part of a family getaway.

Recently, our family had a fantastic experience snorkeling St. Croix's Buck Island National Monument with DIVA Tours. The sail out to the island and the time we spent there were some of the most memorable moments of our vacation. Getting out on the water gives one a new perspective, and our kids always enjoy doing active things together. Since our family was alone with the captain on a 6-person yacht, the sail was particularly relaxing and more intimate than a large tour boat experience. We spent an hour snorkeling in crystal clear water through some of the most beautiful coral reefs we've seen, and took turns pointing out schools of brilliant blue fish, shy lobsters, and even sea turtles. After we'd finished snorkeling, our crew was ferried over to the island for a chance to cavort around on Buck Island's fabulous white sand beach, splash in the water, and check out the nature trails. Looking through our vacation photo album recently, we all agreed that our Buck Island trip was the perfect addition to our resort-based holiday. It gave us a great change of scenery and pace, and allowed the family to do something fun together.

Other vacations can be entirely planned around experiencing nature and soft adventure. Our trip to Fraser Island in Australia allowed us to see dingos in the wild, bump along rutted trails in a rented Land Rover enjoying the rainforest scenery, and get close to migrating humpback whales. Years later, my daughters still rate that vacation as one of their favorite trips.

In this feature, we offer information on some of our favorite family-tested eco-adventures. More will be added in the near future. If you'd like to share some of your own family's experiences visit our Family Adventure Travel message board to swap ideas.

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Alaska: Cruising for Wildlife

Alaska: Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge

Australia: Fraser Island

Bahamas: Swim with Dolphins

Belize: Diving with Whale Sharks

Barbados: Swim With The Turtles

Florida: Dolphin Encounters in the Keys

Galapagos Islands: Voyage of Discovery

Georgia: Little St. Simons Island

Grand Cayman: Stingray City

Hawaii: Hulopoe Beach

Mexico: Baja Whale Watching

Montana: National Bison Range

New Mexico: Carlsbad Caverns National Park

North Carolina: Carova Beach

South Carolina: Dolphins of Calibogue Sound

Virginia: Assateague Island

Washington: Whale Watching

Wisconsin: See Cranes

Wyoming: Yellowstone National Park