Donkeys in ArubaOut of all the experiences Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino has to offer on the island, one of the most beloved is Aruba’s Donkey Sanctuary. Having been replaced by cars after being brought to the island hundreds of years ago, the donkeys nearly became extinct. Today, over 130 donkeys have a safe haven at the Donkey Sanctuary, where dedicated volunteers and visitors look after them. Through the resort’s partnership with the Donkey Sanctuary, travelers can participate in the Support the Donkeys program by donating $10 towards maintaining sanctuary in exchange for a commemorative purse or backpack that makes for a great trip souvenir. Travelers can also adopt a donkey for $200 per year, which goes towards ensuring the donkeys receive food and water, shelter, quality medical care, and of course…lots of love.
Sea Turtles, Whales and Sunsets in Puerto Vallarta, MexicoLocated between Banderas Bay and the Sierra Madre Mountains, CasaMagna Marriott Puerto Vallarta has beautiful beachfront sunsets, an infinity pool with swim-up bar and access to once-in-a-lifetime animal encounters. From December to March, humpback whales sing their harmonious whale song along Banderas Bay as part of their courtship ritual, and CasaMagna Marriott guests have a front row seat – whales can often be spotted right from the resort’s balconies! Adventure-seekers can get even closer to the action with Vallarta Adventures’ whale watching tours that can be arranged through the hotel concierge. Additionally, from June to December, guests at CasaMagna Marriott can participate in the resort’s turtle protection program and have the opportunity to release newly hatched turtles into the ocean. For more information, visit www.puertovallartamarriott.com.
Swim with Pigs in The ExumasWith sapphire-blue water everywhere, The Exumas are a tropical collection of footprint-free beaches and exclusive islands within The Islands of The Bahamas. Here, nature outnumbers man, including the domesticated pigs on the inhabited island of Major’s Spot Cay, known as “Pig Beach.” The pigs and piglets live freely on the sandy beaches, and after basking in the sun for hours, visitors can find them swimming in the surf amongst the tropical fish and sea turtles. Friendly and harmless, visitors can book a swim with the swine and feed them too through a variety of excursion vendors.
Truffle Hunter with Pups, Il Salviatino
At Il Salviatino, an enchanting 15th century villa overlooking Florence, the game of fetch is taken to a whole new level when a licensed truffle hunter and an adorable shaggy dog lead hotel guests on a truffle hunt through the property’s park. Lagotto Romagnolos — a breed known to be skilled hunters, excellent swimmers and loyal companions — work alongside their masters since puppyhood, learning to dig up one of Italy’s most coveted ingredients. Keep an eye on the pups, though, as they’ll swallow the tasty truffles whole if given the opportunity! The experience ends with a tasting meal at Il Salviatino’s restaurant made with the day’s finds.
Mingle with Monkeys in Panama
A tropical beachfront oasis just outside bustling Panama City, The Westin Playa Bonita is an ideal escape for adventurous families looking to experience local wildlife. The resort partners with Gamboa Tours to offer a Gatun Lake boat expedition that brings travelers face-to-face with howler and spider monkeys, cayman and various species of tropical birds. If you’re lucky, your Gamboa guide just might bring a bunch of bananas, which causes the monkeys to leap right into the boat for an unforgettable family photo opp.!
Snorkel with Whale Sharks in Cancun
Fulfill your family’s ultimate once-in-a-lifetime bucket list adventure by taking a dip with whale sharks – the biggest (and most friendly) fish in the world! From May to September, families staying at sister properties CasaMagna Marriott Cancun ResortandJW Marriott Cancun Resort & Spacan embark by boat to snorkel alongside these magnificent 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. Added perk: guests at the Cancun Marriott Resorts can check out a GoPro HER04 for the day to capture unbelievable underwater family photo opps.
Explore the Costa Rican Rainforest
For an unforgettable nature-filled vacation, families should head to Tabacón Grand Spa Thermal Resort, a tropical paradise spread across 900 acres of lush natural reserve in Costa Rica’s northern region — an area responsible for 6% of the entire world’s biodiversity. With more than 500 species of local plant and wildlife on property, families just might spot a coatimundis, toucans and howler monkeys. Nearby adventure activities such as horseback riding, ziplining through the rainforest canopy, and hiking to the La Fortuna waterfall give families another chance to catch Costa’s native critters in action. 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.
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. This is one of the best ways to Volunteer in Peru 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.
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. In a destination as pristine and protected as the Galapagos, wildlife wanders freely and fearlessly in the islands, meaning parents and kids are in for the trip of a lifetime.