There’s something universally captivating about the ocean – the golden glint of the setting sun on the waves; the sparkling kaleidoscope of blue hues in the morning, synonymous with fresh starts.
It’s easy to understand why some of the world’s most popular travel destinations are by the seaside. Unfortunately, it’s also common knowledge that the health of the planet’s oceans is under serious threat.
So how do we travel to these beautiful coastal spots without compromise? A great starting point is opting to stay at resorts that are not only conscious of their impact on their local waterways but are also actively protecting them.
The following three resorts promise marine-friendly holidays and a gorgeous, guilt free experience.
The Baa Atoll in the Maldives consists of three natural atolls: the southern Maalhosmadulu Atoll, the Fasdūtherē Atoll, and the smaller natural Goifulhafehendhu Atoll. Situated on the western side of the country it comprises 75 islands, 13 of which are inhabited by a population of over 11,000 people, 49 of which are uninhabited, and eight of which are home to resorts.
The Baa Atoll is part of the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, and is home to stunning, globally significant biodiversity. Covering approximately 139,700 hectares of coastal and marine areas, the site is an incredible example of the Maldives’ high diversity of reef animals, with stony and soft corals, reef-dwelling fish species, marine turtles, manta rays and whale sharks.
Some 350,000 tourists visit the Biosphere Reserve each year and Soneva Fushi – part of the world-leading sustainable luxury brand, Soneva – is one of the best places to experience the wondrous underwater world on offer.
The resort offers unparalleled diving experiences with their onsite Soleni Dive Centre’s multi-lingual PADI instructors; snorkels are available for guests to explore the house reef at their own leisure; and some of the activities available include a sunset dolphin cruise, swimming with mantas, and a guided tour with a marine biologist.
Soneva Fushi is not only passionate about educating guests about the importance of protecting the ocean, but also the locals, who despite growing up surrounded by water, do not know how to swim and consequently have low-level environmental awareness. Soneva’s learn to swim program teaches local children how to love and care for the ocean and coral reefs they call home.
Bawah Reserve is a barefoot, back-to-nature luxury resort, set in the previously uninhabited Anambas archipelago, which comprises six lush, forest-canopied islands, three sheltered lagoons and 13 beaches.
Located in the Coral Triangle, the Anambas is home to outstanding marine biodiversity (10 times more diverse than the Great Barrier Reef), and the Bawah Anambas Foundation is dedicated to preserving it.
The foundation was independently established in 2018 to rehabilitate and conserve the marine and terrestrial life across the six islands that make up Bawah Reserve, and the wider Anambas archipelago, which comprises more than 250 islands across seven sub-districts.
Not only does the foundation ensure the resort responsibly removes its waste, it oversees regular beach clean ups to keep harmful rubbish away from the ocean and educates the locals on the importance of keeping the ocean clean.
The origin story of Bawah is nothing short of a love story – an island paradise at risk of destruction by illegal dynamite fishing, rescued with a desire to protect it and see it flourish. The owners created Bawah with a passionate commitment to preserving it as an ecological utopia.
The six islands are now a designated marine conservation area, making it illegal to fish in its waters. The design and build of the resort was planned to avoid damage and erosion and prevent the destruction of the mature island flora. The result of all this hard work and conservation is a marine playground sadly found in few other parts of the world.
Toberua Island Resort
Toberua Island Resort – a unique, privately-owned island set on four sandy acres of lush, tropical gardens located in the middle of a private azure lagoon – is an inspirational Fijian resort committed to protecting its local reef ecosystem.
The resort recently adopted a dive site and registered it with Project AWARE – a non-profit organisation with 25 years’ experience making a difference for the underwater world, including initiatives such as establishing marine-protected areas, and dealing with overfishing, sustainable fishing practices, coral health, endangered species and the problem of marine debris.
The “Adopt-A-Dive-Site” program allows the Toberua team to focus on one area (although they are doing more) by sponsoring monthly cleanup dives of this site and educating staff and guests about the role they play in keeping the ocean in pristine condition.
The selected site is aptly named the “House Reef” and is easily accessible by both snorkelers and divers. It is home to some soft coral; however, the reef structure is covered with hard corals. Numerous fish species are prevalent, especially juvenile fish and divers can easily spot several different types of sea cucumbers and four different varieties of starfish.