To celebrate World Oceans Month this June, we are looking at some of the best places in the world you can experience the wonder and life of our oceans. From underwater museums to giant monster waves, discover these places we need to protect every day of the year.
Underwater Museum, Cancun
Photo by Andy Blackledge
Driven by a need to save the coral reefs around Cancun and Isla Mujeres, the director of this marine reserve came up with a unique solution. Sculptors created an underwater museum of more than 500 concrete pieces that would draw tourists away from delicate natural reefs and over time provide more habitat for wildlife. The sculptures show people interacting with their surroundings in positive and negative ways to highlight both optimistic or more depressing outcomes for our oceans' future..
Great Blue Hole, Belize
One of the best places to dive in the world, this giant marine sinkhole looks impressively intimidating from the surface. It lies in the center of a coral reef off the coast of Belize where the atoll suddenly drops into an underwater cave measuring 1000ft across and 400ft deep. People are drawn to the crystal clear waters and sightings of midnight Parrotfish, Caribbean reef sharks and the deep, dark blue abyss that seems as if it goes on forever.
Glass Beach, California
In a nature reserve on the northern Pacific coast of California you’ll find Fort Bragg where the beaches tell a story of a less ocean friendly time. In the early twentieth century glass, garbage, and vehicles were dumped over the cliffs and clean up efforts only began in the 1960s. Decades of pounding waves have turned what was left of the glass and pottery into beautiful, shimmery glass pebbles that now decorate the beaches. Amongst the trash turned treasure you’ll find the usual marine wildlife with rock pools full of crabs, sea anemones, and shells next to the reminders of a past we’ve hopefully learned from.
Shark Bay, Australia
Australia is a must for any ocean lover. On it's east coast you’ve got the famous barrier reef, endless stretches of pristine beaches, whales seen from the coast, and some of the best surfing in the world. But head to the north west for one of the most spectacular ocean reserves on earth. Here you’ll find stromatolites (living fossils) millions of years old, beaches made entirely of shells, and ancient hot springs to bathe in. There are very few places on earth where you can more easily see wild dolphins than here. The seagrass beds are also full of turtles, dugongs, rays, and snakes and can be observed from above at cliff lookout points. An amazing place to experience the wilderness our oceans provide.
Hidden Beach, Mexico
On an uninhabited island 22 miles off the coast of Mexico lies a beach totally invisible from the ocean. But on the surface of the island, you can find a gaping hole dropping down to a sandy beach lapped by the Pacific Ocean. Only accessible by kayak or swimming through a long tunnel this is the stuff of pirate novels and castaway fantasies. As ever, there are also reminders of how human activity can have a negative effect. The holes and caves are thought to be from military testing that destroyed a lot of the marine wildlife. Later tourists brought trash, pollution and damage to the delicate ecosystem. Luckily the local authorities stepped in, cleaned up and reopened the attraction under strict control.
Bay of Islands, New Zealand
On the north coast of New Zealand 144 small islands exist in a sub-tropical microclimate of rainforest, warm waters, secluded coves, and golden beaches. Hire a kayak or try snorkeling off the coast of Urupukapuka, the largest island in the bay, or hike the coastal paths to deserted beaches with clear waters. You can catch an ocean safari cruiser and view dolphins, whales, and gannets amongst other marine wildlife.
We bet you’ve already seen the picture of Nazaré’s famous lighthouse, dwarfed by a monster 100ft wave and a tiny Garrett Mcnamara surfing his way down it. This small town in Portugal is home to a natural phenomenon that creates some of the biggest waves ever surfed. A deep ocean canyon 5km offshore directs all the power of the Atlantic swell towards the coast, creating huge waves that are amazing to watch even without surf competitions. Nazaré is also a lovely traditional town still full of the resident fishermen and their boats, colorful little houses, and a charming church where you can imagine many have prayed before setting off on ocean voyages.
This famous archipelago in the middle of the Pacific Ocean is considered one of the best places in the world to view wildlife. It's isolated spot 1000km off the coast of Ecuador creates a perfect haven for diversity. You can see whales, dolphins, albatrosses, sharks, sea lions, penguins, sea turtles, and more. If you’re lucky you will catch sight of the native marine iguana, the only lizards on earth that spend time underwater.
At Solgaard we believe the privilege of travel comes with a responsibility to protect these amazing places for the future. That’s why our mantra is to give more than we take, and for every item sold we save 229 plastic bottles from entering the oceans. To learn more about World Ocean Day and how you can get involved visit https://worldoceanday.org/