Manta Ray, Snorkelling

Ocean holidays making a difference

Close your eyes and think about the last time you were beside the sea. Chances are, it was fun, relaxing, exhilarating or therapeutic. That’s why so many of the holidays we put together include at least a few days by the ocean. Whether simply feeling the sand between your toes on an island retreat or swimming alongside hammerhead sharks in the Galapagos, the ocean is a playground that enriches our travel experiences.

Moon jelly fish, tropical fish and corals in Costa Rica
Costa Rica

Marine Protected Areas & Hope Spots

As a traveller, your choices can make a difference. We’ve compiled a list of destinations that have been either designated Marine Protected Areas or have been given Hope Spot status by marine conservationist Sylvia Earle’s Mission Blue project. These destinations rely on the revenue from tourism to help fund their protected status. Our collection of holiday ideas and experiences below not only deliver outstanding marine-based experiences, they also contribute to the protection of habitat, communities and wildlife in sea-side environments.

Marine Experiences

Explore remote beaches and the big blue, discovering biodiversity hotspots where marine life thrives.

Whale Shark
St Helena

Swim with whale sharks

Limited human pressure on the waters around St Helena means the marine biodiversity is in outstanding condition. The island has a narrow continental shelf which encourages whale sharks to swim close to the shore. This allows for exceptional snorkelling encounters, operated by our partners who are accredited by the St Helena government. Swim with whale sharks in the crystal clear waters of St Helena Bay.

Read about Giles' experience in St Helena

Bahia Bustamante Lodge, Argentina
Argentina

Blue Patagonia

Explore Patagonia by the sea, where the coast is a National Park and part of ‘Blue Patagonia’ UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Swim in one of the many natural rock pools formed along the coastline or jump aboard a small vessel and sail around Malaspina Cove to find sea lions or to visit Penguin Island to see its colonies of Magellans. Stay at the renowned Bahia Bustamante before moving onto the Valdes peninsula, assigned by UNESCO as a site of global significance for the conservation of marine mammals. Valdes was made famous by the BBC’s natural history footage of Orcas predating seals from nurseries on the beach.

Discover Bahia Bustamante Lodge

Misool Eco Resort, Misool, Raja Ampat, Indonesia
Raja Ampat

Misool Eco Lodge

Misool is a private island resort located in southern Raja Ampat. Every stay here helps fund the management and protection of a 1,220-square-kilometre protected area, created by the founders of the resort. It comprises two no-take zones – the first in the region – which provide a precious sanctuary for fish and other marine species. Drift snorkel through the Gorgonian Passage spotting pygmy seahorses among huge sea fans, work with the Misool rangers for a day to protect turtle hatchlings ready for their night-time release or explore nearby coral fringed lagoons by stand up paddle board.

Discover Misool

Sea Lions, Galapagos Islands
Galapagos Islands

Galapagos Marine Reserve

Comprising almost 200,000 km² the Galapagos Marine Reserve provides a sanctuary to almost 3,000 marine species. While Galapagos is a byword for biodiversity, in spite of its protected status, the islands still face threats from over-fishing, poaching and plastic pollution. Tourism is part of the solution, but only if numbers are regulated and park fees are made fully accountable. Join whale shark researcher and expert Jonathan Green on our exclusive Galapagos charter.

Join our exclusive Galapagos charter

Andaman Islands, India
India

The uninhabited islands of Ritchie’s Archipelago

The Andaman Islands is made up of around 325 volcanic islands and islets. Home to more than 250 species of bird and over 200 species of coral, these reefs are the most bio-diverse in India. Local groups are developing effective conservation strategies for each island’s socio-ecological system and has been recognised as a Hope Spot by Mission Blue. Take a boat trip around the uninhabited islands of Ritchie’s Archipelago and the Rani Jhansi marine nature reserve.

Explore the Andaman Islands

GweGwe Beach Lodge, Dolphin experience, Mkambati Nature Reserve, South Africa
South Africa

Gwe Gwe Beach Lodge

Located on the undeveloped shores of South Africa’s wild Eastern Cape, within the Pondoland Marine Protected Area, amidst the grasslands and gorges of the Mkambati Nature Reserve, GweGwe Beach Lodge offers a unique setting in a marine biodiversity hotspot. It is one of the few places on earth where you can watch zebras grazing and dolphins surfing simultaneously. Witness the sardine run from shore, boat or in the water. Between mid-June to mid-July this incredible natural spectacle attracts dolphins, sharks and whales.

Stay at Gwe Gwe Beach Lodge

Seventy Islands, Palau, Micronesia
Micronesia

Palau

We love the pioneering spirit of Palau – this island country may be small, but what it lacks in size, it makes up for in vision. Located in the heart of Micronesia, it is the first nation to introduce immigration laws requiring all visitors to sign a passport pledge, committing to exploring the archipelago responsibly. Local businesses are encouraged to become Palau Pledge certified, serving as stewards for the island’s protection and inspiring both residents and visitors to ensure the preservation of its nature and culture for generations to come. Palau is a diver’s paradise; explore caves, walls, canyons WWII wrecks and channels to experience some of the most breath-taking marine life in the world.

The Palau Pledge

Sperm Whales, Dominica, Caribbean
Dominica

Swim with Sperm Whales

Surrounding this Caribbean island, lies a thriving underwater world where resident sperm whales are present all year, making Dominica one of the best places on the planet to see and swim with sperm whales. With an expert guide, spend five days dedicated to swimming with and observing these gentle giants as they grace the waters around Dominica – soon to become the world’s first sperm whale reserve.

Swim with the whales in 2025

Ocean, Landscape, Haida Gwaii, Canada
Canada

Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve

Of the three Marine Protected Areas found off the coast of British Columbia, Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve is unique for its dual focus of preserving cultural heritage and biodiversity. The reserve covers an archipelago of 138 islands with 3,400 km² of the humpback whale’s primary feeding habitat falling under its influence. On land, the protected status has put a stop to logging and has helped preserve several First Nation villages, where the Haida Gwaii Watchmen programme enables guardians to live on site to oversee the natural and cultural heritage of these sites. Explore an ancient Haida village site with a guide from the Haida Gwaii Watchmen project.

Discover Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve

Close up of grey whale eye, Baja California, Mexico
Mexico

The whales of Baja, California

Jacques Cousteau famously called the Sea of Cortez “the world’s aquarium”. This 60,000 square mile gulf hosts whale sharks and 32 types of marine mammal including orcas, blue, sperm and humpback whales. Every winter, eastern Pacific grey whales migrate to lagoons on the peninsula’s Pacific coast to mate, calve and nurse their offspring. San Ignacio Lagoon is visited by 5,000 – 6,000 grey whales between December and May each year. Join a small group trip that combines swimming with whale sharks off La Paz, whale watching from a live-aboard in the Sea of Cortez and close encounters with grey whales in San Ignacio Lagoon.

Discover the whales of Baja, California

Pod of Dophins, Azores
Portugal

Marine life of the Azores

Located on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, 1500 km off the coast of Portugal, the Azores archipelago consists of nine main islands, four of which are UNESCO Biosphere Reserves. In the waters surrounding the islands, volcanic seamounts and coral gardens carpet the ocean floor, creating a magnet for marine life, including resident sperm whales and dolphins, as well as migrating rays and blue whales between April and August. Recognised as a Hope Spot and Marine Protected Area by the Blue Azores Programme, 30% of the Azores Sea is protected, with 15% designated as a no-take marine reserve zone, allowing for outstanding diving and whale watching experiences year-round.

Explore the reefs of the Azores

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