By Chris West
Senior Travel Consultant at Travel Nation
Posts (32) See Chriss profile
Underwater paradise, natural wonder, rainforest of the ocean - just a few ways to describe the vivid, delicate, beautiful coral reefs that dot our planet hidden beneath the surface of the oceans.
Like rainforest, coral reefs host an amazing biodiversity and are now facing a serious threat to their very existence as tourism trips help people explore them. If you love to dive or snorkel, strap on your mask and fins and explore these magical ecosystems carefully and respectfully. Here are 5 incredible coral reefs to visit around the world…
Sometimes referred to as the soft coral capital of the world, the Namina Marine Reserve in Fiji is the ultimate underwater playground. Vertical reef walls plummet hundreds of metres below the surface and there are mangroves and grass sea beds to explore. Namena has an abundance of marine life and divers can share the warm tropical waters with bottle-nosed dolphins, sperm whales, pilot whales and turtles.
The largest coral reef ecosystem in the world, the Great Barrier Reef stretches for over 1,800 miles and comprises a staggering 2,900 or so individual reefs. It’s so immense, in fact, that it is the only living thing on earth which can be seen from space. Home to more than 1,500 species of tropical fish, it’s one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Snorkelers can enjoy the profusion of colourful marine life in the shallows of the inner reef, while divers might prefer the deeper water and dazzling reef formations of the outer reef.
Belize is home to the second largest barrier reef system in the world. Crystal clear waters shelter vivid, multicoloured coral reef stretching for 180 miles off the coast. Here you’ll find over 300 different species of fish and some incredible reef formations. The most famous of these is the incredible Blue Hole, a perfect dark circle in a sea of turquoise. Plunging to a depth of 125 metres, it’s a popular dive site where you’ll be sharing the depths with black tip sharks, nurse sharks and hammerheads – if you’re brave enough!
Remote and relatively unexplored, the reefs off Raja Ampats are in pristine condition and the riot of colour that unravels under the surface is dazzling. The diversity of marine life found here is one of the highest on the planet, with an incredible 600 species of hard coral and 1,200 species of fish.
Located off the coast of Cozumel, an island in Mexico’s Yucatan region, the spellbinding colours and easy access attract divers from all over the world. It’s part of the Arrecifes de Cozumel National Park and is home to all sorts of exotic marine life including barracuda, parrot fish, angel fish, nurse sharks and sea turtles.
The Coral Reef Alliance works to protect coral reefs and inform visitors, divers and snorkellers how to enjoy these precious habitats without harming the ecosystem. There are a few golden rules to follow whilst you're exploring any coral reef. Rememeber these, and you'll be helping to ensure these living corals remain intact for everyone to enjoy:
If the ocean is your playground and you’re interested in more diving or perhaps surfing – you might like these round the world itineraries. If you want to book a trip like any of these, just contact Chris.
at Travel Nation
at Travel Nation
Senior Travel Consultant
With his studies in Geography and Master’s degree in development behind him, Chris set off to leave pretty much no mountain unclimbed. His passion for adventure has driven him to climb both Kilimanjaro and Annapurna Base Camp in Nepal and he and his wife have also traversed Canada and all the way down through the Americas by bike! Even starting a family didn’t really slow down Team West, as they took their little daughter on a campervan road trip through the US National Parks. Chris joined Travel Nation as a round the world specialist in 2011 and is also one of our Business Class consultants. He really enjoys helping other families put together trips they’ll never forget.