Live your marine-biologist pipe dream as you search for bottlenose, spotted, and spinner dolphins in Drake Bay. This enclave on the Osa Peninsula boasts year-round warm Pacific waters and thousands of the creatures. The biologists at the Delfin Amor Eco Lodge marine-education and research station, who are working to establish a national maritime sanctuary, will introduce you to their flippered friends in the most sensitive way: via a 28-foot silent and fumeless motorboat. Youll help identify and monitor and, if they approach the boat, get a chance to swim with the animals. Come evening, home is a private cabinamong howler monkeys, toucans, and sloths. A three-night stay starts at $555 per person, including meals and flights from San José. The Divine Dolphin, 831-345-8484, www.divinedolphin.com
Let Wildlife Expeditions, a division of the Teton Science Schools, take you on a four-day safari through Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks. With biologist guides, watch black bears and bison from your safari-style vehicle, then hike to see wolves, grizzlies, and elk. Check out Native American art and artifacts during a trip to the Colter Bay Indian Arts Museum. Overnight at four different spots, each with its own flavorfrom the rustic Western Hatchet Resort in Buffalo Valley to downtown Jacksons 49er Inn and Suites. Trips run June through September. $1,695 per person, including meals, lodging, and transportation from Jackson. Wildlife Expeditions, 888-945-3567, www.wildlifeexpeditions.org
Greet 100-foot blue whales from aboard Baja Expeditions' 80-foot cruiser as they migrate into the Sea of Cortez. Then, after watching these creatures of the deep surface next to the vessel, give the kids hands-on experience: Go with a staff naturalist to an island to sea-kayak, snorkel with sea lions, or hike to a mangrove estuary to check out nesting egrets. Take advantage of the boat's natural-history library, and the DVD system for replaying scenes of the day's sightings. A six-night trip in March or April starts at $1,695 per person, including onboard lodging, meals, and transportation from La Paz. Baja Expeditions, 800-843-6967, www.bajaex.com
BY LAND AND SEA
A weeklong immersion with the Sierra Club in Kachemak Bay's temperate rainforest and world-class fishing waters will overwrite quotidian life in the lower 48. Cast a line for halibut, learn about seals, sea lions, and sea otters on a guided sea-kayaking excursion, or glimpse bald eagles and grizzlies while hiking. At the ends of the day, you'll retire to your canvas-wall tent overlooking the bay or head over to the main lodge for a family geology lesson or nature-photography workshop. The trip runs June 25-July 1. Adults, $1,395; children (must be ten or older), $,1295, including meals and travel from Homer. Sierra Club Outings, 415-977-5522, www.sierraclub.org/outings
You'll never forget cabin feverand cabins alltogetherwhen you paddle through Minnesota's Boundary Waters Canoe Are Wilderness. On a six-day canoe-camping trip with your own wildlife guide, you'll see timber wolves teach their pups the call of the wild, and observe black bears, red foxes, and, if you're lucky, bald eagles. Kick off the trip with a stop at the International Wolf Center, in Ely, to take a howling class. Trips runs late August and costs $895 per person, including meals and one night's lodging in Ely. River Point Outfitting Co., 800-456-5580 www.elyoutfitters.com
Watch Senior Editor Michael Roberts talk about the trips on The Early Show on CBS.