For those who want to put some adventure into their Fall travels, here are some of my top selections from the Yucatan Peninsula to North Palm Beach, Fla.
Snorkel with Whale Sharks in Cancun
From May to September, families staying at sister properties CasaMagna Marriott Cancun Resort and JW Marriott Cancun Resort & Spa can embark by boat to snorkel alongside these gentle giants where the Caribbean Sea meets the Gulf of Mexico. Though they measure up to 40 feet long and weigh in at 15 tons, whale sharks feed exclusively on plankton and are totally harmless to humans.
Explore the Costa Rican rainforest
For an unforgettable nature-filled vacation, families should head to Tabacón Grand Spa Thermal Resort, spread across 900 acres of natural rainforest reserve in Costa Rica’s northern region — an area responsible for six percent of the entire world’s biodiversity. With more than 500 species of local plant and wildlife on property, guests might spot a coatimundis, toucans or howler monkeys. Families can have nearby animal encounters with activities such as horseback riding, zip-lining through the trees, rainforest tours and more. As an added bonus, the carbon neutral resort offers an eco-friendly environment that teaches kids about sustainability and how to protect the area’s natural resources.
Swim with sea turtles in Barbados
For an unforgettable animal encounter, try Colony Club’s stand-up paddle board (SUP) and turtle swim excursion. Starting out on the white sands of Barbados’ renowned beach, families will paddle out to The Lone Star Restaurant, one of the local, turtle hangouts, and dive into the crystal blue waters to get up-close-and-personal with the island’s friendliest marine animals – the once-endangered population of hawksbill and leatherback turtles.
Hangout with reptiles in Curacao
Situated on a 27 acre plantation of rare natural preserve, the Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort in Curacao offers an island-within-an-island feel with some of the most varied and exotic flora and fauna in the Caribbean. Through the resort’s eco-friendly, locally inspired Camp Arawak program, kids get the chance to feed the resort’s resident iguanas. Plus, in between watersport adventures such as snorkeling and paddleboarding, families can observe hawksbill turtles nesting along the resort’s private beach every through September.
Paddleboard with Dolphins in Jupiter, Fla.
Hotel guests staying at the oceanfront resort can head to the nearby Blueline Surf & Paddle Co., and work up a sweat navigating the mangroves of the Intracoastal Waterways on a 90-minute paddleboard eco tour, where they might see manatees, dolphins and sea turtles. Complimentary beach cruisers are also available for resort guests as they explore the charming, seaside town’s iconic landmarks, including the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse and the Loggerhead Marine Life Center.
Encounter sea lions, blue footed boobies and penguins galore in The Galapagos Islands
The Galapagos Islands are home to some of the most unique species in the world, and Ecoventura’s fleet of eco-friendly cruises brings families face to face with daily excursions through the archipelago’s diverse islands. From swimming alongside sea lions (and plenty of curious sea lion pups) to watching the Blue Footed Boobies shake their feet in a mating dance, snorkeling with penguins off the islands of Santa Cruz and Isabella.
Kayak through a bioluminescent bay in Puerto Rico
A kayaking tour through the mangrove forrest of the Laguna Grande takes families to a secret hideaway — Fajardo’s bioluminescent bay. A short drive from San Juan, the waters are filled with millions of prehistoric organisms that when touched, leave a breathtaking glow in the moonlight. The excursion, organized by the family friendly San Juan Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino, invites families to learn the history and science behind the twinkling trail in the bio bay while enjoying a ride under the stars.
Feed alpacas and llamas in Cusco
The colorful city of Cusco and the surrounding Sacred Valley of the Incas is the perfect destination for adventurous families looking for a rich dose of culture. A short drive from the city center, Awana Kancha – a llama, alpaca and vicuña farm — brings families face to face with the region’s most loved furry animals in all shapes and colors. Upon arrival, guests are greeted by the resident animals eagerly awaiting to be fed giant handfuls of grass. The interactive feedings are followed by textile weaving demonstrations by the local women keeping the tradition alive. After a day long day of adventure, families can relax in the historic JW Marriott El Convento Cusco, a 16th century convent turned hotel whose lobby is frequented by alpacas and llamas.