Top 5 Island Destinations for a Wildlife Vacation

Islands make great habitats for a range of creatures from exotic birds, to fluffy indigenous mammals, to giant reptiles. If you’re a nature-lover like me and choose vacation spots based on which critters you might see, you’re in luck. You’re about to discover five island destinations for a wildlife vacation where you’re sure to see some rare and beautiful creatures!

A couple looks at a rocky island on a wildlife vacation in Komodo National Park
Wildlife Vacation at Komodo National Park | Indonesia

Contents: In this article, you will discover the top 5 island Destinations for a wildlife vacation, including:

  1. Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
  2. Vancouver Island, Canada
  3. Komodo Island, Indonesia
  4. Molokai, Hawaii
  5. Kangaroo Island, Australia

1. Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

A brown seal on sand and volcanic rock
Image by sebastian_photos from Pixabay 

The Galapagos Islands are a real “bucket list” destination. Many excited nature lovers plan Galapagos safe vacations every year, although tourism is limited to preserve the ancient species. The most famous inhabitant is the iconic giant tortoise. 

The islands also boast a variety of birds species and aquatic animals including penguins, crabs, sharks, and sea lions. One of the most amazing things about Galapagos Islands wildlife is that you can get a really good closeup view, especially if you dive or snorkel.

Visits are limited so as not to disturb the wildlife, which means the animals run the islands. This makes for a great wildlife vacation.

More About The Galapagos Islands

  • The Galapagos Islands are six hundred miles off the coast of Ecuador; This archipelago is a string of 13 volcanic islands.
  • You’ll find unique plants and animals found nowhere else in the world. In fact, Charles Darwin developed his Theory of Evolution (1858) based on wildlife from the Galapagos 
  • The Galápagos Marine Reserve was created to preserve one of the world’s most unusual ecosystems and its rich biodiversity.

2. Vancouver Island, Canada

Wildlife vacation: A right whale breaches on Vancouver Island, Canada
Image by ArtTower from Pixabay 

Another excellent destination for a wildlife vacation is Vancouver Island. You’ll find it to be the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of the city, yet it’s just 11.5 miles from the mainland.

You can take a guided Vancouver Island wildlife tour which will introduce you to both grizzly and black bears, elk, and wild birds. Alternatively, you could opt for whale watching. 

The coast of Canada is famously home to a large community of orcas and humpback whales. In fact, thousands of whales migrate through these waters from March to October, making it one of the best places in the world for whale watching. You’ll be surprised how close they come to your boat! 

Fun Facts about Vancouver Island

  • Vancouver Island is the largest island on the West Coast of the Americas, at 286 miles long by 62 miles wide at it’s widest point.
  • Long before the British and Spanish naval expeditions, indigenous peoples inhabited the island for thousands of years. 
  • You’ll find totem poles at Brockton Point and Stanley Park in the capital city of Victoria, as well as one of the world’s largest totems in Alert Park. It stands 173 feet tall. 
  • The Vancouver Island Mountain Range, an ideal destination for hiking, runs the length of the entire island.

Related: If you’re looking for more beautiful island tours in North America, check out the islands in Maine on the northeast coast.

3. Komodo Island, Indonesia

A large, green Komodo Dragon sticks its tongue out
Image by skeeze from Pixabay 

There are several reasons to visit Komodo National Park. Located on its very own island in Indonesia, Komodo National Park is famously known for the Komodo dragon, the largest reptile in the world.

You might marvel at this dinosaur-like creature before your very eyes. They’re actually very interesting creatures. Their mouth is full of poison so they bite their prey then wait for it to meet its fate…

The nearby islands are also swimming with spectacular species of fish, sea turtle, sharks, and many species of natural wildlife. Snorkeling is a must.

Komodo Island Facts | Wildlife Vacation

  • Komodo Island is one of the Republic of Indonesia’s 17,508 islands.
  • Thought to be as old as one million years, the island is home to undisturbed rainforests and bamboo forests. 
  • You’ll find one of the seven pink beaches in the world on Komodo Island. It’s appropriately named “Pink Beach.”
  • The best time to visit Komodo Island is from the end of May to the end of October. The dry season runs from April to December and the rainy season is January to March–but it’s not as torrential as greater Indonesia. 

4. Molokai, Hawaii

An aerial view of the mountain range on Molokai Island and the surrounding water [Hawaii]
Image by aishahillbilly from Pixabay 

The wildlife of Hawaii is very extensive. Molokai is the fifth-largest island in Hawaii and boasts the world’s highest sea cliffs, preserved flora and fauna, and stunning white sandy beaches.

Some of the inhabitants include bats, Polynesian rats, seals, deer, and wild boar. 

These features make Molokai an excellent island wildlife vacation.

Interesting Facts for a Wildlife Vacation on Molokai

  • Molokai is home to some of the highest sea cliffs in the world, which rise to three thousand feet above sea level.
  • It is also home to the longest continuous fringing reef in the U.S. and its holdings. It’s 25 miles along the south shore.
  • Molokai is said to be the Birthplace of Hula, a Polynesian dance.
  • You’ll find a large Phallic Rock in Pala’au State Park, which is said to have fertility powers.
  • For sparkling night scenes, check out the lights of Honolulu from the west end of Molokaʻi. Alternatively, you can see the lights of Lānaʻi and Maui from any point along the south shore of the island.

5. Kangaroo Island, Australia

Wildlife vacation: A brown Kangaroo on Kangaroo Island, Australia
Image by Martin Str from Pixabay 

Kangaroo Island is the famous home of, you guessed it, the kangaroo.

The island also offers many opportunities for you to interact with these animals. There are three main wildlife parks that are a must-see:

  • Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park
  • Raptor Domain
  • Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary.  

Kangaroo Island | Nature & Wildlife

  • Kangaroo Island is the third largest island in Australia, after Tasmania and Melville Island.
  • The Kangaroos here have longer, darker fur than those on the mainland.
  • The entire island is one of the oldest bee sanctuaries in the world, and one of the few places Ligurian bees haven’t cross-bred with other bee species.
  • Many animals on Kangaroo Island roam free, so you’ll likely see wildlife outside the national parks.
  • The island’s powerful winds and sea spray have naturally sculpted enormous granite rocks into dramatic, natural works of art.

Have a look at the official tourism website for more information.

Final Thoughts on an Island-Based Wildlife Vacation

In summary, if you’re looking to get back in touch with your wild side on your next vacation, then any one of these islands is ideal. Whether you decide on a Galapagos Island wildlife vacation or are looking for the best island in Hawaii for vacation, each will get you up close and personal with some amazing species.

Which of these islands for a wildlife vacation most interests you? Have you been to any? Tell us in the comments below!

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This article is a collaborative post and may contain affiliate links. As always, all opinions expressed are my own. For more information, please see the following Disclosure.

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Jackie Gately

Jackie Gately is a seasoned travel writer, photographer, and marketing consultant who is passionate about travel. She loves casual-luxury experiences, coastal getaways, cultural attractions, and local, wholesome food and wine pairings. A perfect day ends with her toes in the sand or by chasing the sunset with her camera--ideally both.

18 thoughts on “Top 5 Island Destinations for a Wildlife Vacation

  • August 2, 2020 at 12:38 am
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    This is awesome! Would love to check these out. My favorite wildlife destination is the Amazon Rainforest because of all the pink river dolphins, monkeys, snakes, parrots, sloths, and ocelots I got to meet!

    Reply
    • August 2, 2020 at 8:21 am
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      You’re right, that is an amazing place! I would love to see such incredible wildlife in the Amazon Rainforest.

      Reply
  • August 1, 2020 at 1:10 pm
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    I’ve been to Galapagos and Komodo. Instead of Kangaroo Island I went to Rottsnest to see the quokkas. For the giant tortoises, I liked Seychelles better: they were roaming freely on the island of Curiuse.

    Reply
    • August 1, 2020 at 2:31 pm
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      I would give Rottsnest a try! Also, it sounds incredible to see the giant tortoises roaming free on Curiuse! Great places. 🙂

      Reply
  • August 1, 2020 at 9:05 am
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    Really helpful guide. I will keep in mind for our next trip 🙂

    Reply
    • August 1, 2020 at 11:02 am
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      Thank you! I’m glad to hear you’ll consider some of these destinations.

      Reply
  • August 1, 2020 at 7:16 am
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    Galapagos Island is so SO high on my bucket list! Would love to visit Komodo Island too but I think I’d be a little bit afraid of the Komodo dragons 😀

    Reply
  • August 1, 2020 at 12:43 am
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    These all sound amazing! I am hoping to get to Kangaroo Island this year if possible since I am stuck in Australia!

    Reply
  • August 1, 2020 at 12:38 am
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    I love this. Wildlife is always the number one thing I’m looking out for on trips. I’m lucky enough to live in Vancouver so go to Vancouver island often, and it really is the best place for wildlife viewing. I really need to get to some of these others too though.

    Reply
    • August 1, 2020 at 11:13 am
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      What a treat to live so close to Vancouver and visit often. I bet you see some amazing wildlife! Hope you get to check out the others on this list at some point, too.

      Reply
  • August 1, 2020 at 12:10 am
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    Loved visiting Komodo National Park and Kangaroo Island is so high in my list! Great post

    Reply
    • August 1, 2020 at 11:15 am
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      Thanks! Komodo National Park is such a great take. Hope you have an opportunity to visit Kangaroo Island in the near future!

      Reply
  • July 31, 2020 at 11:44 pm
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    These all seem like the perfect wilderness escape. Scuba diving in the Galápagos Islands with schools of hammerheads has been a dream of mine! I’ve been to all of the Hawaiian Islands many times but haven’t visited Molokai yet. Adding all these destinations to my bucket list!

    Reply
    • August 1, 2020 at 11:17 am
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      That’s a wonderful dream, Vanessa! Hope it becomes a reality, soon. Sounds like you have a great bucket list, as well as many destinations checked off!

      Reply

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