Daily Escape

sea lions sunning on a beach

Photo by Ecoventura

Swimming With the Sea Lions

Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

Whether you’re sunning or swimming in the Galapagos, you’ll never be far from a colony of sea lions.  Ecoventura operates amazing 7-day itineraries around the islands that allow you to come face-to-face with these energetic animals.  


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Whale watching, Cabrillo National Monument, San Diego
Cabrillo National Monument, San Diego

Cabrillo National Monument, San Diego

Gray whales make the longest migration of any mammal on the planet -- and the western overlooks of Cabrillo National Monument are one of their pit stops. The peak time to see these massive 44-foot-long, 33-ton creatures is mid-January; they’re also visible from mid- to late December through March. 960 1280

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Santa Barbara, California

Santa Barbara, California

See the migration of the gray whales, as well as spot other marine life -- in fact, more than 27 types of whales and dolphins inhabit these waters at various times of year. The best times to go are February to early April for California grey whales; May to September for blue whales (the largest known animals to have ever existed), minke, humpback and, occasionally, right whales and orcas. 960 1280

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Monterey Bay, California

Monterey Bay, California

Enjoy year-round whale-watching in Monterey Bay. Running alongside California’s central coast, the bay sees humpback and blue whales from April to December, and gray whales from December to April. The coast also attracts killer whales, who hunt gray whales during their migration north. 960 1280

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Kodiak Island, Alaska

Kodiak Island, Alaska

In addition to these cute sea otters, Alaska’s Kodiak Island sees gray whales, in April. In June, minke, sei, fin and humpback whales also visit these waters -- with fins and humpbacks a common sight from June to November. Another great time to visit is April: That’s when the annual Whale Fest Kodiak, a 10-day-long festival, celebrates the return of Eastern Pacific gray whales to Alaskan waters. 960 1280

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San Juan Islands, Washington

San Juan Islands, Washington

Orcas love the San Juan Islands, off Washington State. Three pods, known as the “Southern Residents,” usually make their appearance from mid-April to early October. Gray, minke and humpback whales also visit these waters, as do seals, porpoises, sea lions and otters. 960 1280

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Vancouver Island, British Columbia

Vancouver Island, British Columbia

See killer whales, as well as humpback and Pacific grey whales, on a whale-watching tour of Vancouver Island. An estimated 85 orcas live in the waters around southern Vancouver and the southern Gulf Islands. Meanwhile, some 20,000 Pacific grey whales make their annual migration route along Vancouver Island’s west coast. Whale-watching season runs from March to November. 960 1280

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Virginia Beach

Virginia Beach

December through March is a prime time to see humpback whales at Virginia Beach. Fin whales -- the second largest animals alive today (behind the blue whale) -- also migrate through the area during the winter. In warmer months, from June to early September, see bottlenose dolphins, which frequently travel through the Chesapeake Bay area. 960 1280

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Long Island, New York

Long Island, New York

July through Labor Day are prime times to go whale-watching off Long Island, NY. Fin, humpback, minke, sperm, North Atlantic right, blue and sei whales are drawn to these waters to feast on schools of herring, sand eels and marine crustaceans. Whale-watching trips often leave from the historic town of Montauk, on the tip of Long Island’s south shore. 960 1280

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Cape May, New Jersey

Cape May, New Jersey

Not to be outdone, New Jersey also sees whale action. Beginning in March, humpback and finback whales, mostly 4- and 5-year-old juveniles, circulate in the Cape May Peninsula, at the southern tip of New Jersey, and feast on the waters’ abundant baitfish. Whale sightings continue through December. 960 1280

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Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary

Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary

See one of the world’s most important whale habitats. The Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary spans 1,400 square miles of diverse marine ecosystems: Between 4,000 and 10,000 North Pacific humpback whales flock here each winter to bear and nurse their calves. 960 1280

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Coastal Waters off Florida

Coastal Waters off Florida

Sure, California and New England corner the market on whale-watching, but that doesn’t mean you’re out of luck in the Sunshine State. Your best bet is to take a dolphin cruise; you may just spot a North Atlantic right whale if you go between November and April. 960 1280

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission   

Bar Harbor, Maine

Bar Harbor, Maine

Enjoy a summer whale-watching expedition in Bar Harbor, ME. Beginning in mid-April, hungry finback, minke and right whales travel to the area’s cool waters -- just 20 miles off the Maine coast -- to feast on sand eels, plankton, copepods and fish. Come October, the whales head south for warmer waters. 960 1280

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Provincetown, Massachusetts

Provincetown, Massachusetts

Come spring, head to Provincetown, MA, where humpback, fin, minke and sei whales, as well as the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale, frequent the waters off this coastal town through October. Another great spot for whale-watching is Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, just 5 miles north of Provincetown. 960 1280

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Little St. Simons Island
Little St. Simons Island

Little St. Simons Island

Of Georgia’s 4 barrier islands, the Golden Isles comes closest to an unspoiled paradise. The island has been privately owned longer than the United States has been a country! Today, the descendants of the most recent owner oversee the maintenance of the island’s 100,000 acres.

Island attractions: Overnight accommodations for up to 32 guests.
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Little St. Simons Island  

Sanibel Island

Sanibel Island

A young visitor does the “Sanibel Stoop.” Sanibel Island on Florida’s Gulf Coast attracts travelers with its large number of seashells that wash up on the beach. The island is also home to more than 6,000 residents, but don’t expect any stoplights here. Locals are fiercely protective of the island; more than half the island is composed of wildlife refuges.

Island attractions: Shell collecting (peak season May to September).
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Visit Florida  

Kiawah Island

Kiawah Island

Welcome to the “happiest seaside town in America.” That’s the motto of South Carolina’s Kiawah Island -- its world-class golf courses are a big reason why. Kiawah is home to 5 award-winning golf courses, including Ocean Course designed by Pete Dye. The course, located on Kiawah’s easternmost end, hosted the 2012 PGA Championship.

Island attractions: In addition to golf, Beachwalker County Park.
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Galveston Island

Galveston Island

Look, Forrest, it’s Bubba Gump Shrimp! Load up the kids and head an hour’s drive from Houston to Galveston Island. The island is just 27 miles long and 3 miles wide, but big on family entertainment. At Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier, enjoy rollercoaster rides, carnival games and Bubba Gump Shrimp’s first-ever Texas location.

Island attractions: Also, Moody Gardens, Seawolf Park, Stewart Park, Schlitterbahn.
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Bald Head Island

Bald Head Island

Take a 20-minute ferry ride from the town of Southport to reach Bald Head Island. Located at the tip of North Carolina’s Cape Fear, the island unfolds at an easy pace: No cars are allowed here, just golf carts -- and your 2 feet -- to get around. Kick back in a vacation rental, enjoy wine and music festivals, and take part in an annual fishing rodeo.

Island attractions: Bald Head Island Marina, Bald Head Island Golf Course, Island Retreat Spa and Salon.
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Bald Head Island Limited  

St. George Island

St. George Island

Love oysters? Head to Apalachicola Bay on St. George Island. The estuary is one of several outdoor pleasures on St. George, located off the Florida Panhandle. Along with oysters, the island offers great fishing spots for grouper, scallops, flounder, redfish, snapper, mullet and trout.

Island attractions: Also bird-watching, St. George Island State Park.
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Richard Bickel  

Cedar Keys

Cedar Keys

The cluster of islands known as Cedar Keys near Florida’s mainland offer a laidback experience, and the city of Cedar Key is among the star attractions. The tranquil fishing village comes with a small-town Florida feel and wood-frame homes like this. Come lunchtime, swing by Tony’s Famous Cedar Key Clam Chowder, known for its signature dish.

Island attractions: Nature sites such as Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge.
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Hatteras Island

Hatteras Island

Enjoy kiteboarding on Hatteras Island, part of North Carolina’s Outer Banks. The barrier island off the state’s coast is known for windsurfing and sport fishing -- earning it the nickname, “the blue marlin capital of the world.”

Island attractions: Also Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge.
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Ship Island

Ship Island

Walk through the shimmering quartz sand of Ship Island, one of 2 barrier islands located off the coast of Mississippi; you’ll find Fort Massachusetts on the island’s western end. The fort was built following the War of 1812, and has stood the test of time and nature's fury; it faced Hurricane Katrina with minimal impact.

Island attractions: Fishing, swimming and tours of Fort Massachusetts.
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Grand Isle

Grand Isle

Louisiana’s only inhabited barrier island is home to 1,500 residents who make their living from the seafood and oil industries. While the effects of the BP oil spill will be studied for years to come, the dolphins have returned, the waters washing up on the shore are clear, and the annual Grand Isle Tarpon Rodeo (one of America’s largest saltwater fishing events) continues.

Island attractions: Fishing -- more than 280 species in surrounding waters.
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Marco Island

Marco Island

What do Shania Twain, Leighton Meester and Alan Jackson all have in common? They all have homes on Marco Island. Located on southwest Florida’s Gulf coast, Marco Island entices visitors with white-sugar sand beaches and amazing marine life like this bottlenose dolphin.

Island attractions: The largest of Florida’s 10,000 Islands, Marco offers miles of beautiful beach.
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Georgia's Cumberland Island

Georgia's Cumberland Island

Before you dismiss this as a boring woodshed shot -- look closer: JFK Jr.’s nuptials took place inside this structure, known as the First African-Baptist Church, in September 1996. The small, 1-room church was established in 1893, rebuilt in 1937, and is located on Cumberland Island’s northern end.

Island attractions: Also Greyfield Inn, Plum Orchard mansion.
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Florida Keys

Florida Keys

The expansive Seven Mile Bridge is your gateway to the Florida Keys. As you cross the bridge, linking the Middle and Lower Keys, get ready for a breathtaking sight: the Gulf of Mexico on one side, the Atlantic Ocean on the other. Keep going and you’ll reach the “southernmost city in the continental USA,” Key West.

Keys attractions: A lot. Including Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center, Mel Fisher Maritime Heritage Museum.
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Dauphin Island

Dauphin Island

We can’t forget Alabama. Of the dozens of islands off Alabama’s coast, Dauphin Island is among the star attractions. The barrier island, located 3 miles south of the mouth of Mobile Bay, is home to the Dauphin Island Sea Lab and 164-acre Audubon Bird Sanctuary, making it a great getaway for the whole family.

Island attractions: Also Shell Mound Park, Fort Gaines.
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Germany's First Walrus Calf
Germany's First Walrus Calf

Germany's First Walrus Calf

Walrus Dyna and her calf are unveiled to the public in Hamburg, Germany. The newborn calf was born in the Hagenbeck Zoo and it's the first and only walrus ever born in Germany. 960 1280

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Leopard Cubs in France

Leopard Cubs in France

Two female Sri Lankan baby leopards are seen in a zoo in Maubeuge, France. 960 1280

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White Lion Cub in Budapest

White Lion Cub in Budapest

A 7-week-old white lion cub plays at a private zoo in Abony, east of Budapest, Hungary. 960 1280

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Baby Flamingo at San Diego Zoo

Baby Flamingo at San Diego Zoo

A 10-day-old pink flamingo, born in captivity, is seen at the San Diego Zoo. 960 1280

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Cute Koala Joey in Sydney

Cute Koala Joey in Sydney

A koala joey named 'Boonda' clings to his mother 'Elle' as they sit in their enclosure at Wildlife World in Sydney. 960 1280

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It’s Twins!

It’s Twins!

Kit and Kitty are twin red pandas born at Tierpark Zoo in Berlin. The red panda is a rare mammal native to the eastern Himalayas and southwestern China. 960 1280

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Baby Squirrel Monkey

Baby Squirrel Monkey

A three-week-old baby squirrel monkey clings to its mother's back at Edogawa Natural Zoo in Tokyo. 960 1280

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Berlin Zoo’s Hippopotamus Calf

Berlin Zoo’s Hippopotamus Calf

Hippopotamus calf and mother Nicole are pictured at the Berlin Zoo. 960 1280

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Baby Meerkats at London Zoo

Baby Meerkats at London Zoo

Zoo keeper Suzi Hyde poses with a pair of hand-reared baby meerkats named Lia and Roo at the London Zoo. Suzi has been hand-rearing the meerkats since their mother abandoned them. 960 1280

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Baby Armadillo in Managua

Baby Armadillo in Managua

A zookeeper bottle-feeds a 4-day-old armadillo in Managua, Nicaragua. 960 1280

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Lion Cub in Jordan

Lion Cub in Jordan

A newborn African lion cub plays with its mother inside their cage at Jordan's zoo in the town of Yaduda, near the capital of Amman. 960 1280

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Prague Zoo's Baby Giraffe

Prague Zoo's Baby Giraffe

The Rothschild's giraffe is seen with her newborn foal at Prague Zoo, Czech Republic. 960 1280

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Elephant Calf in Vienna

Elephant Calf in Vienna

An African elephant calf walks next to its mother, Numbi, in their enclosure in Schönbrunn Zoo in Vienna. 960 1280

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Baby Sea Lion at Berlin Zoo

Baby Sea Lion at Berlin Zoo

California sea lion Doro (R) nuzzles her 2-month-old baby Gina in their enclosure at the Berlin Zoo. 960 1280

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Baby Parrot at Chester Zoo

Baby Parrot at Chester Zoo

A week-old Mount Apo Lorikeet is fed by a zookeeper at the Chester Zoo in northern England. 960 1280

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Tiger Cub in China

Tiger Cub in China

A Siberian tiger cub is seen with its mother at a zoo in Harbin, China. 960 1280

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Leopard Cub in Germany

Leopard Cub in Germany

A black Amur leopard cub receives its first taste of meat at the Serengeti Safari Park in Hodenhagen, Germany. 960 1280

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Aw … Chimpanzee Twins

Aw … Chimpanzee Twins

Eleven-day-old male chimpanzee twins at the Walter private zoo in Gossau, Switzerland. 960 1280

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Bush Dog Pup

Bush Dog Pup

A zookeeper holds a 6-week-old bush dog pup during a check-up at Chester Zoo in northern England. 960 1280

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