Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
The 61 islands of the Galapagos are a dream destination for nature-loving paddlers. Most visitors travel through this UNESCO World Heritage Site on yachts or cruise ships; by taking to a kayak, you’ll get a very intimate look at the wonders of its islands (note: not every island can be visited). Kayaking the Galapagos is like “snorkeling from a boat,” according to one longtime guide. Here are just some of the many creatures that you might see: Dolphins (shown here), white-tip and hammerhead sharks, blue- and red-footed boobies, giant eagle rays, Galapagos penguins, finches, sea lions, sea turtles, fur seals, sea lions, and iguanas. Or, stay closer to home with these 12 island vacations in the US.
Ambergris Caye, Belize
This Central American country is known for its beautiful beaches and reefs. This caye, or island, contains both, and it’s also full of intriguing channels, lagoons, and mangrove marshes to explore. Bring a fishing rod as the area is famous for its saltwater flat fishing (for bonefish, permit, or tarpon). And don’t forget your binoculars so you can gaze at roseate spoonbills, great horned owls, and, occasionally, saltwater crocodiles.