5 eco-adventure family vacations to spend with animals

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Why are animals important to humans? If you want to help your family answer this question, you might want to consider a family vacation volunteer vacation where your spend time with and help animals of all kinds from dolphins to dogs. On one level, animals are important to keep the whole ecosystem balanced. Plants, animals, and the environment, if you remove one component, the rest collapse. So why not think of helping the planet and find some good family time doing it.

Family Vacations for good fun plus animal enjoyment


Family Vacation: Atlantis, Paradise Island, Bahamas

This mega-resort on the Bahamas’ Paradise Island is loosely themed on Atlantis, the lost city under the sea. Water is everywhere, tying together the vast property with its many buildings housing over 3,400 guest accommodations. Along with multiple pools and man-made lagoons, Atlantis features one of the largest outdoor marine habitats in the world, one that showcases more than 50,000 aquatic animals representing 250 species.

Family Sea Adventures:

With a myriad family sea adventures you can enjoy such experiences as: a walk through a shark tunnel where you can watch the fierce critters zigzag above your head; you can ogle tanks of jelly fish, lobsters and piranhas and be mesmerized by colorful schools of parrot, butterfly and other tropical fish; or you can watch nurse sharks in the Reef Lagoon, sea turtles in the Hibiscus Lagoon, and Southern stingrays in the Stingray Lagoon.

Aquaventure features more water rides as well as the 14-acre Dolphin Cay where you learn about the dolphins while you touch and swim with them. During the seven-hour Trainer for a Day program, kids help train the curious critters and assist a laboratory technician at the Dolphin Cay veterinary hospital.


Family Vacation: South Seas Island Resort, Captiva Island, Florida

At South Seas Island Resort, Captiva Island families can discover Florida’s sea creatures. During your vacation take beach walks, especially along Sunset Beach and South Beach, known for the thousands of shells brought in with the waves. On Captiva Island, several easy eco-adventure outings bring you close to wildlife. For more shelling and bird watching, cruise to nearby Cayo Costa Beach, a part of Florida’s state park system. On a 90-minute boat cruise through Pine Island Sound, you’re likely to spot dolphins arcing through the water “riding” the boat’s waves.

Dedicated to marine conservation, the Sanibel Sea School, located at the South Seas Island Resort, offers a variety of hands-on workshops for children, teens, adults, and families. Most of the workshops time is spent in the field snorkeling, seining, canoeing, and examining finds. Families can also opt for a private session on a topic of their choice. The 330-acre resort, which includes a wildlife sanctuary, offers a variety of accommodations from hotels to two- and three-bedroom condominiums and homes.


Family Vacation: Catalina Island Conservancy, California


If you’re up for an adventure, join the Catalina Island Conservancy on a rugged volunteer vacation. Here, you’ll help preserve rare native plants and animals on Santa Catalina Island, located twenty-two miles off the coast of Southern California. You’ll stay at a private camp with beautiful views of the coastline by day and the starry skies by night.

Volunteer Package:
The Conservancy’s partnership with the Historic Hermosa Hotel has led to an innovative Volunteer Vacations package that allows visitors to spend three days and two nights on the Island starting at only $249 while they help protect and restore Catalina’s ecology.


Family Vacations in Utah: Best Friends Animal Sanctuary,Utah


BestFriends is the largest no-kill animal sanctuary in the United States, Best Friends is located in Kanab, Utah, at the heart of the famous Golden Circle of national parks: Zion, the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, and Lake Powell.


Over 1,500 dogs, cats, horses, donkeys, rabbits, birds, ­ goats, and other animals receive shelter and care. The special for each animal includes: getting a name, getting food, and housing in clean and comfortable surroundings. Best of all, a lucky 75 percent of them are adopted into happy homes.

Volunteer Opportunities:

Visitors are welcome year-round, and free, guided tours are offered daily. After the tour, visitors can volunteer to help out with the canine residents of Dogtown or play with the felines in Cat World. There are pigs aplenty and an abundance of bunnies just waiting to be petted.

 BestFriendsSleepovers let Guests who want to spend the night can reserve a cottage overlooking the horse pastures, and they are encouraged to take a dog home for a sleepover in their cabins. It’s a good way for the sanctuary to determine the dog’s socialization skills, and many visitors fall in love with their animal guests and make arrangements to adopt them.


Family Vacation: Return to Freedom, California


 ReturnToFreedom: American Wild Horse Sanctuary is a California organization dedicated to protecting wild horses in the United States. The group welcomes vacationing volunteers from May through October at the ranch in Lompoc, located in Santa Barbara County, 125 miles from Los Angeles. In addition to horses, the group rescues abandoned burros, cats, and dogs. The agency also lobbies politicians to halt the wild mustang roundups in the American West.

Volunteer Options:

ReturnToFreedomVolunteer gives volunteer the option of working directly with animals at this agency, in addition to helping with clinics, tours and education programs at the sanctuary.


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Judy Kundert

Judy Kundert, a recipient of the Marquis Who’s Who Excellence in Authorship award, loves storytelling, from folk and fairy tales to classics for elementary school children. She authors award-winning middle-grade novels designed to inspire and intrigue children. After she left her career as a United Airlines stewardess, she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Loyola University, Chicago and a Master of Arts from DePaul University, Chicago. Most recently, she completed a master’s Certificate in Public Relations and Marketing from the University of Denver. For fun, she likes reading (usually three or four books at a time), watching movies from the oldies to the current films, traveling, biking, and hiking in vast Colorado outdoors with her husband. Learn more at www.judykundert.com.You can find me at the foot of the Colorado Rocky Mountains hiking, biking

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