Unexpected animal adventures
Travel and philotherianism (love of animals) often go hand in hand. Folks venture to Alaska to see whales, to Africa for lions, to the Galapagos for blue-footed boobies. I once edited an article on Australia and New Zealand that mentioned so many four-footed natives that the piece turned into an animal glossary.
But other popular destinations, best known for their views or ruins, their beaches or cuisine, offer a bonus of animal encounters. So keep your eyes peeled for these following species in unlikely places.
Oahu’s dolphin swim teams
You pretty much have to turn in your human card if you don’t love dolphins. I’ve held onto them while they swam in Mexico, and fed them at a Hawaiian resort that had impeccable stewardship credentials, but those were captive situations. And while sightings are not at all uncommon off Hawaii or Southern California, the only place I've ever been able to swim with these sleek, graceful creatures in the wild has been off Oahu. Dive from the bow of an excursion boat, courtesy of Wild Side Specialty Tours or Ko Olina Ocean Adventures, to perfect your flutter kick beside spinner dolphins.
Stay: The legendary Kahala Hotel & Resort, just outside Waikiki’s hustle and bustle, offers some of the state’s most luxurious accommodations, a top-rated spa, and a 26,000-square-foot dolphin lagoon.
Monkeys of the Caribbean
I've been to more than 25 Caribbean islands, but I’ve seen monkeys only on Nevis. Of course, the species is hardly indigenous to the West Indies; the black-faced vervet monkeys were brought to this volcanic, 36-square-mile island from Africa 300 years ago, and they’ve flourished. And while it’s unlikely that you’ll see them cavorting on the beach, just drive up into the heavily forested interior to spy the rambunctious 2-foot-tall primates swinging from the trees and devouring mangoes by the side of the road.
Stay: The Four Seasons Nevis reopened two years ago after a $120 million reconstruction and renovation. Golfers will love the 18-hole par 71 golf oceanfront course designed by no less than Robert Trent Jones Jr.
Albino donkeys in Sardinia