Gulf Islands(© Radius Images, Getty Images)

See orca pods while taking a boat ride through this northern archipelago beloved by nature lovers.

Gulf Islands, British Columbia
The New York Times recently listed San Juan Island among the top five of its world travel bucket list, for good reason: Riding a ferry through this archipelago during a summer sunset is one of the best boat trips anywhere, especially if a resident orca pod comes out to play. But visitors should also consider the foreign section of the archipelago: B.C.'s Gulf Islands. The Canadian vibe distills a little essence of Scotland's Shetland group, with fishing villages, traditional pubs and plenty of tea. The summer weather, however, is hardly akin to that in the North Sea; think Mediterranean Sea instead. Similar to its San Juan Island cousin in the States, Salt Spring Island is a sure bet, especially if you plan early enough to book a room or dinner at Hastings House, one of Canada's finest inns and restaurants. Studios, including that of Robert Bateman, arguably the world's best wildlife artist, are sprinkled throughout the inhabited islands. Many islands prohibit development, providing wildlife habitat and models for Bateman and his peers.

_________________________________
More from MSN Local Edition:
Romantic North American escapades
Have fun under the boardwalk
Native American cultural centers
Sit back and enjoy a lovely ferry ride
_________________________________

Isle Royale(© Jim Brandenburg, Getty Images)

Set on Lake Superior, Isle Royale is home to wolves and moose.

Isle Royale, Michigan
Growing up, I'm not sure when I first heard about the wolves of Isle Royale. To a young boy living near Lake Ontario, the idea that an island within one of the Great Lakes remained wild enough to support the mighty wolf astounded me. Clearly someone at the National Park Service felt the same way, as the island, its six lakes and 450 surrounding islands was made a national park in 1931. Home to the longest predator-prey (wolf-moose) study in the world, Isle Royale is also, according to the National Park Service, the source of one of Earth's liveliest geographical trivia factoids: "Ryan Island on Isle Royale's Siskiwit Lake is the largest island on the largest lake on the largest island on the largest (freshwater) lake in the world. Say that a few times fast and you just might end up baying at the moon.

Kauai, Hawaii(© Jeffrey A. Cable, Getty Images)

Do so much more than vegetate on Hawaii's Garden Island, Kauai.

Kauai, Hawaii
It is said that once you visit Kauai, you'll only visit Kauai. Long known as the "Garden Island," Kauai benefits from historically strict development protocols and resilient self-determination. More than 1.5 million visitors come to Kauai each year to explore the unspoiled environment and observe pure Hawaii's native culture. The volcanic geography includes the rugged North Shore's Na Pali Coast State Park and the white sand beaches of the South Shore. Artist studios line the street in the West Side's Hanapepe Town, though pristine nature, like Waimea Canyon's Grand Gorge, is never far away. The East Side of Kauai reveals lush coconut groves beneath a majestic series of cataracts including the mystical Wailua Falls and Opaekaa Falls. Step onto Kauai and you've literally disappeared into the Fern Grotto, though you can always choose to play upon more than 50 miles of public beach.