10 Best Beach Vacations for People Who Love Cats
Aoshima and Tashirojima, Japan
You might consider your own cat your lucky charm, but in Japan, all cats are revered as symbols of good fortune. Perhaps that’s why the very best real estate—Japan’s picturesque, remote islands—is crawling with kitties. On the islands of Aoshima and Tashirojima, among others, cats outnumber humans as much as six to one. Ferries run daily to these popular feline-filled islands, making trips for kitten snuggles fairly simple. Can’t pull yourself away from the cuteness? Tashirojima offers cat-shaped guest houses for overnight stays.
While not oceanside, Amsterdam is a cat lover’s paradise. The city is home to the world’s only floating cat sanctuary, The Poezenboot, or “Catboat,” which sits on the picturesque Singel Canal. The sanctuary started in the ‘60s, when a cat caretaker living alongside the canal pondered the question, “If people could live on houseboats…why not cats?” (Aversion to water aside, of course.) The non-profit is open to the public with free entry, though donations are encouraged. Outside of the Catboat, true feline fanatics will also want to pay a visit to the Katten Kabinet, a cat-themed art museum. And cat video enthusiasts (read: everyone) can plan their Netherlands visit around Cinemeow, Europe’s first cat-themed film festival which takes place in and around Amsterdam.
Key West, Florida
As legend has it, the tradition of Ernest Hemingway’s famous six-toed cats originated when a single six-toed feline, whom Hemingway named Snow White, was gifted to him by a ship’s captain. Today, 40-50 polydactyl (six-toed) cats live on his original Key West property—now a museum—many of whom are descended from Snow White. The charming 1850s-built home and gardens are a must-see for everyone when visiting this laid-back island paradise. Cat lovers will also not want to miss a sunset show by Dominique Lefort and his flying house cats. LeFort, a character himself to say the least, is a Mallory Square mainstay who trains cats (yes, it’s possible) to do tricks, including jumping through hoops of fire.
San Francisco, California
While cat cafes might seem ubiquitous today, just a few years ago you’d be hard-pressed to find a place outside of your home where you can sip lattes and cuddle kittens at the same time. In 2014, San Francisco became one of the first cities in the U.S. to lead the cat café charge, with the opening of Cat Town in Oakland and the Japanese-style KitTea Cat Café downtown. When you’re not snuggling adoptable fur babies, get educated at the Cat Museum, a non-profit center that explores the evolution of the relationship between cats and people.
Not all cats are made for cuddling (unfortunately), but that doesn’t mean you can’t admire them from afar. At Tampa’s Big Cat Rescue, a non-profit sanctuary for abused and abandoned big cats, you can get acquainted (as much as possible, anyway) with 80-plus lions, tigers, cougars, and bobcats. Ticket prices vary based on how much activity you’d like to see, with premium tours inviting guests to witness things like feeding and play times.
San Diego, California
If you need another reason to plan a trip to Southern California in January, here it is: The San Diego Food and Water Bowl. At this famous cat show—the largest in the Western U.S.—guests can witness two full days of cat-filled fun, from an agility course to a beauty contest featuring 450 exotic cats from around the country. Outside of the show, cat lovers can sip local coffee while petting adoptable cats at The Cat Café, or, just outside of San Diego, pay a visit to the Friends of Cats shelter, a no-kill sanctuary that takes in unwanted cats for the duration of their lives. The shelter encourages visitors to stop in and cuddle, groom, or sit with the resident cats six days a week.
While some might flock to this white-washed Greek island for the nightlife and beaches, others go for the feline fix. The Cyclades island chain is home to its own breed of domestic cats, which roam the cobblestoned streets as freely as the tourists. Like the scenery, the famous cats have become the subject of many photos over the years—and while you can certainly snap your own, you can also take home a cat photo book as a souvenir.
Old San Juan, Puerto Rico
In this picturesque historic city, cats are as much a part of the identity as the colorful buildings and charming cobblestoned streets. The felines were first brought to the island to rid the area of rats; now, the mostly feral population can be seen roaming the narrow streets or basking along the rocky waterfront. If you’re visiting for a week or a weekend, consider spending an afternoon (or two!) volunteering with Save a Gato, the non-profit organization that feeds and cares for the large feral cat population.
Maybe vacationing for you means bringing little Fluffy along. At the Kimpton Alexis Hotel—and all Kimpton Hotels—your pet is as much a guest as you are. Expect in-room amenities like beds, litter boxes, and scratching posts, and if your feline is social, they’re also welcome to join you at the hotel’s nightly wine hour. Of course, the nation’s coffee capital also has its share of cat cafes—check out Seattle Meowtropolitan for an artisanal “Catpuccino” and a restorative cat yoga class, or Neko, where you can pair your espresso with various cat-shaped sweets.
If you’ve struggled to find like-minded cat people near you, you might want to visit the island of Malta. Here, caring for the island nation’s feral cats is a group effort, undertaken by more than a thousand locals. While visitors can snap plenty of photos of felines roaming the picturesque island streets, many cats also congregate in the St. Julians Cat Village, a famous small corner lot outfitted with shelters, food, and plush toys for cats to lounge in and around.