There’s nothing quite like a holiday by the sea, with the sound of lapping waves, the roar of crashing surf or the reflection of the sun as it sets over a watery blue canvas. As World Oceans Day is marked annually by the UN on June 8, it’s a time to celebrate what is perhaps Earth’s greatest treasure.
Responsible for producing at least 50 per cent of the planet’s oxygen and absorbing about 30 per cent of the carbon dioxide that people produce, the deep blue is more than worthy of celebration.
This is why many hotels and resorts are marking the day with special activities, but even more of them are offering ocean conservation events year-round, allowing guests to spend some of their holiday taking part in sessions that help to preserve, protect and rewild the waters surrounding them.
Here are six ocean-centric experiences that you can try at resorts around the world if you want to go deeper into the blue.
1. Go on an ocean treasure hunt at Gili Lankanfushi in the Maldives
Located in the picturesque archipelago of the Maldives, Gili Lankanfushi is an ultra-luxury eco-resort that’s celebrating World Oceans Day.
There’s a whole host of activities for guests to get involved in over the next few days, from taking part in marine treasure hunts to heading out on eco-guided tours and getting involved in coral transplanting.
On June 8, the conservation team will be giving presentations to guests about climate change, marine life and ocean ecosystems, and in the evening, a candlelit Jungle Cinema session will see Sir David Attenborough impart his earthly wisdom to guests via a big screen surrounded by palm trees.
Year-round, there's plenty that visitors can get involved in from visiting Gili Veshi, the resort’s dedicated marine biology shack that's a central hub for all conservation issues, to taking part in reef-clean dives to help remove ocean waste.
2. Meet sea turtles at One&Only Cape Town in South Africa
South Africa’s east coast is a popular nesting ground for loggerhead and leatherback turtles, but every year, countless hatchlings perish in their journey from the shore to the ocean. At One&Only Cape Town, guests can get involved in a conservation experience that helps to rescue and rehabilitate these sea creatures, getting them strong enough to be rereleased into the wild.
Taking place at the Two Oceans Aquarium, a non-profit education centre, guests will get a behind-the-scenes look at the turtles currently in the sanctuary. There’s also the chance to get involved with tasks such as cleaning, feeding and enrichment exercises, as well as being able to spend time with the Aquarium Foundation’s turtle specialists who can tell you all you need to know about the conservation, education and research work carried out here.
Afterwards, check out the touch pool, shark and penguin exhibitions, and kelp forest to delve even deeper into Cape Town’s rugged waters.
3. Go whale watching on Islas Secas in Panama
Islas Secas is a private island resort located in the Gulf of Chiriqui, 32 kilometres from mainland Panama. It's home to some of the largest coral reef communities in the eastern Pacific Ocean and on the doorstep of a virtually untapped marine playground.
An environmentally preserved protected area under Panamanian law, the resort’s pristine location means it’s the ultimate destination for marine-focused trips. Conservation is key here as the surrounding ecosystem is crucial to preserving all guest experiences available to those checking in.
For World Oceans Day, guests can head out on snorkelling or diving trips to explore the aquatic wonders of Coiba National Park, a Unesco World Heritage Site. Year round, the resort also offers guests the chance to head out with conservation experts on a whale-watching tour with the aim of helping to spot the majestic creatures in the wild, capturing photographs of whale flukes to help identify each individual and understand the population’s dynamics.
All of the trips follow strict guidelines so guests can get close to the captivating creatures without interfering in the wonder of nature.
4. Keep the beaches clean at Arenas Del Mar in Costa Rica
Arenas Del Mar Beachfront and Rainforest Resort is a private reserve that offers guests the chance to experience Costa Rica’s pura vida right on the beachfront. Located in Manuel Antonio, the resort sits between rainforest and the Pacific Ocean in an 4.4-hectare habitat. It’s the region’s only resort with in-house naturalist guides, and guests can join them on a trek along the coastline to find out more about the flora and fauna in this little slice of paradise.
A member of Beyond Green, a collection of luxury resorts that are committed to sustainability, the hotel offers the chance to help keep local beaches clean by taking part in clean-ups to remove litter and microplastic waste that gets washed up on Playitas and Espadilla Beaches, both of which surround the hotel.
5. Plant mangrove trees at Turtle Inn, Belize
A Caribbean hideaway in Placencia, Turtle Inn is a family-friendly beachfront retreat that’s committed to preserving its pristine environment. With direct access to the largest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere, it offers unlimited snorkelling and diving opportunities to get up close and personal with whale sharks, turtles and perhaps even rare manatees.
There’s plenty of ocean conservation going on, too, with beach clean-ups in the nearby village and lionfish extraction dives to help remove the invasive species from coral gardens in an effort to preserve indigenous wildlife. Guests can also join local Mayan guides to help plant mangrove trees at the resort’s private island of Coral Caye, something that helps to shelter several marine species.
6. Become an ocean researcher at Misool Eco Resort in Indonesia
Located in Indonesia’s remote Raja Ampat, Misool Eco Resort is a tropical hideaway that lies just south of the equator. Surrounded by an archipelago of uninhabited islands and with a maximum capacity of just 40 guests, the luxury resort is a secluded hideaway that's popular with divers and has a strong reputation as a protector of the region’s pristine marine life.
An on-site conservation centre makes sure guests get first-hand details about the creatures that call these waters home, while a ranger patrol service ensures that locals and tourists respect bans on fishing, shark finning and harvesting turtle eggs.
Guests who want to delve deeper into the nitty-gritty details can join the resort's manta research initiative and get involved in compiling and tracking data about migration patterns, breeding habits and other elements of the mantas. There's also the chance to explore the deep blue with the resort's experienced guides who will be in the water restoring surrounding coral reefs.