The 7 Best Vacations for Animal Lovers
Lions and tigers and sea turtles, oh my!
If you’re anything like us, your first instinct when passing a pet in public is to reach out for a hug and then promptly revert to your highest-pitched “I love you, I love you, I love you.” So why not take your furry-friend obsession on your next adventure? Here, seven vacations that are totally designed for animal lovers.
Ever wonder what it would be like to brunch with these lovable long-necked creatures? At Giraffe Manor’s sprawling 12-acre estate just outside Kenya’s capital, you can get up close and personal in a way no zoo affords. The gorgeous ten-room hotel serves both humans and giraffes, who often visit at morning and night to peep into the tearoom windows for a snack, before retreating to their forest home.
Where to stay: Giraffe Manor (from $550 a night/person)
If feline friends are more your scene, hit up a Japanese cat café, like Nyafe Melange, in the Shibuya ward of Tokyo, which allow patrons to enjoy food and drink in the company of dozens of cats. Want to bring Fluffy along for the trip? Stay in one of Tokyo’s many pet-friendly hotels, and your little princess need not miss out on the action.
Where to stay: Hotel Chinzanso (from $283 a night)
CRYSTAL RIVER, FLORIDA
The Sunshine State has more to offer than just theme parks. Swim with manatees in the gorgeous freshwater springs of secluded King’s Bay Wildlife Refuge, go scallop-diving in the Gulf of Mexico or take a glass-bottomed pontoon boat down the Homosassa River. Hey, you may even spot some gators (just don’t get too close).
Where to stay: King’s Bay Lodge (from $98 a night)
GALAPAGOS ISLANDS, ECUADOR
Darwin was on to something. This archipelago is home to thousands of rare species including iguanas, lizards, sea turtles, penguins, tortoises and sea lions. Take a World Wildlife Fund Tour for 11 days of uninterrupted nature exploration, or book an expedition through the Finch Bay Hotel for day trips to pristine beaches and volcanic islands.
Where to stay: Finch Bay Eco Hotel (from around $300 a night)
GREAT BARRIER REEF, AUSTRALIA
When it comes to snorkeling, there’s no better place than Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Dive through the crystal blue sea to this underwater sanctuary teeming with animal life. Prefer not to get your feet wet? Thousands of unique species, including ospreys, butterflies, kangaroos, lizards, flying foxes and tree frogs reside in this Queensland utopia.
Where to stay: Thala Beach Nature Reserve (from $138 a night)
BAFFIN ISLAND, CANADA
Ever fantasize about dogsledding with 20 adorable huskies? Then book a trip immediately to Baffin Island, Nunavut, the native home of polar bears, arctic wolves, caribou, whales and more. Reserve a custom five-to-eight day dogsledding and fishing tour with an Inuit guide, or rent a snowmobile to explore on your own.
Where to stay: The Discovery (from $92 a night)
CHIANG MAI, THAILAND
Elephant Nature Park, a nonprofit that aids in the rescue and shelter of abused elephants, is one of the many wonderful southeast-Asian attractions. Here, visitors can feed, bathe and, of course, take pictures with the sanctuary’s majestic beasts. Added bonus: Dogs, cats and buffalo also roam the park. (Be careful, however, when choosing an animal reserve to visit. ENP has gotten ethical approval from wildlife organizations in Asia, while others are coming under fire for controversial practices that can be exploitative to the herds.)
Where to stay: 137 Pillars House (from $250 a night)