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Four Must-Do Summer Beach Adventures for Families

Erin Gifford is a mother of four who shares family travel advice and ideas on her blog, Kidventurous, which was recently chosen as the Best Family Travel blog by Parents magazine.

It’s summer and that means it’s time to grab the swimsuits and snorkel gear and head to the beach. Sure, you and your kids can splash in the waves, build sand castles, and hunt for seashells, but why not kick it up a notch with learning-based activities and environmentally friendly adventures? Take a look at four incredible experiences that will have your kids yearning to learn more about the beaches around them.

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Ritz-Carlton, Naples: The environmentally focused Nature’s Wonders program is led by certified naturalists that teach guests ages 5 to 12 about nature in a colorful eco-sanctuary. Kids will find 11 aquariums filled with sharks, crabs, turtles, and eels, enabling them to see and learn more about the sea creatures that inhabit the South Florida waters.

As part of the Nature’s Wonders program, kids participate in a science-based curriculum that teaches them about marine environments and conservation. Programs change each morning and afternoon, and include “Beach, Birds & Binoculars,” which offers the opportunity to learn about bird watching along the coast; and “Marine Encounter,” where kids beach comb, net for fish, and dig for clams, all perfect activities for budding junior marine biologists.

Trump International Beach Resort: Just outside Miami in beautiful Sunny Isles Beach, Florida, kids ages 4 to 12 can participate in Planet Kids. The exclusive enviro-adventures curriculum teaches kids about the environment and was designed to “pair play with purpose.” More than playing in the sand, kids learn about ocean ecosystems, how sand is formed, and even have the opportunity to collect items found on the beach for arts and crafts.

Each day, a new eco-adventure awaits. During the “Wonders of the Ocean” program, kids learn about ways they can protect the ocean ecosystem and turn beach pollution into art. In “Beach Brigade,” kids build sand castles, but also conduct sandy experiments. It’s a great program that turns an ordinary trip to the beach into an extraordinary ocean adventure.

Ka’anapali Beach Hotel: Head to Hawaii for the Aloha Passport for Kids program where kids ages 3 to 12 receives a passport to "destinations" highlighting the hotel's beachfront setting. At each destination, children receive a passport stamp and a memento of their visit, like a backpack with toys. Rather than a traditional kids club where children are dropped off each morning, Aloha Passport for Kids was designed for the entire family to take part and learn about the Hawaiian islands.

Each day begins with fun hands-on activities, like hula classes, flower lei making, poi pounding, ukulele lessons, leaf printing, and cultural garden walks. Parents can join in the fun by attending demonstrations on how to cut pineapple into decorative treats and how to make hula dancer skirts. It’s a great way to learn more about the beauty of Hawaii as a family.

The Sanctuary: Kids will love this family friendly resort at Kiawah Island in South Carolina. At check-in, all young guests receive a backpack filled with a stuffed animal as well as toy binoculars or a disposable camera. Little ones will love Kamp Kiawah as well as regular walking and biking tours to explore wildlife specific to the South Carolina coastline. Parents also receive a list of the top 10 family activities on the island, like a trip to the Heron Park Nature Center.

Kids ages 8 to 13 can sign up for the Junior Naturalist program, which offers a fun, hands-on approach to exploring nature. Kids can take one or all five classes, and if they complete the series they’ll become an official Junior Naturalist and will receive a free T-shirt and certificate. Each class focuses on a different topic, like entomology, which includes a nature walk to collect insects; and wildlife tracking, which features a beach excursion to find animal tracks.

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