occupy vacations Wildlife A top spot on many travelers' bucket lists, observing animals as they eat, play, and live brings us closer to their natural habitats, highlighting how we are all connected in an important way. Whether you track gorillas in Rwanda Uganda, or the polar bears pictured on beaches Hudson Bay in Canada, see the Big Five on safari in Kenya, or visit the Galapagos Islands, one of the most bio diverse places on the planet, your money will likely help support local communities, too
Enjoy the experience of swimming in Hawaii
However, you don't have to leave the United States to see wildlife and experience amazing animal encounters. Watch bison in Yellowstone National Park move the heavy mass of snow with their huge heads; hear herds of hornbill elk in Grand Teton National Park, Estes Park, and Rocky Mountain National Park; Watch the sand crane migrate along the Platte River in Nebraska.
After that, another adventure like no other is swimming with manta rays in the warm waters off the coast of Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii.
And there is the cartilaginous fish family. Along with other fish made of cartilage rather than bone like whale sharks, great white sharks, and stingrays, manta rays are the largest species of rays on the planet. Known as "ocean birds," feeders are drawn to this area to feast on plankton in the moonlight.
Tour operators will shine a bright light in the water, enticing a food source, and as the manta rays circle with their mouths open, smaller fish come to clean parasites from their bodies. When you enter the water for another nighttime snorkeling experience with these agile and gentle creatures that can weigh up to 3,000 pounds, you will undoubtedly feel the excitement paired with a bit of anxiety.
You'll want to be as still as possible, keeping splashing and kicking with your fins to a minimum because manta rays are sensitive to disturbance - let the manta ray come to you. And while manta rays may travel close to your body, sometimes within inches, don't touch them because you could inadvertently harm them by damaging the protective mucous layer that prevents bacterial infections.
Huge, ballistic, and intelligent, this species, up to 16 feet long with wingspan about 20 feet wide, neither stings nor bites, and is considered one of the safest large animal encounters to enjoy. When they get close, you'll marvel at their bony undersides, long spiky tail, and gigantic mouths as they wiggle, twirl, and move around you.