Either above or under water surface, here’s what to expect from an alternative sea experience, full of surprises and adventures.
Thinking of safari, generally images of sandy stretches in semi-desert landscapes come to mind, or maybe savannah dotted with tropical vegetation, jeeps, caps, bottles and binoculars for fauna sighting. But, especially during summer, there’re countless possibilities of discovering also marine life. Here are the 10 best sea safari in the world, at the four corners of the Planet, with activities both on the water surface and underwater. Unmissable if you’re planning an alternative sea holiday.
Classic destinations for timeless sea safari: Caribbean, Cuba, Dominica, Belize
Let’s start with a destination among the most requested for tropical marine tourism: The Caribbean Sea. In Cuba, among the many small bays that open on the southeast coast, below the Grand Parque National Sierra Maestra, we find Marea del Portillo, with coral reefs and white beaches. In addition to real diving – also guided, thanks to the presence of a dedicated International Center – there’s a wide range of boat sunset tours for sea safaris and fishing. But the most “watched for” activity, because of the particular clearness of the sea bottom, is definitely snorkelling. Here you’ll be able to slip and float on the water surface near the coral reef, spotting the rich colourful fish fauna.
On Dominica Island, diving becomes a real adventure due to the wild landscape of the island reflected beneath the water. Be prepared for peak walls, volcanoes and caves.
In the waters of Belize, then, the backdrops are of a particular beauty: not only coral and small colourful fish, but also placid races and fearsome sharks.
Marine safari with Arab echoes: the Gulf of Oman
Between the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, the Peninsula of Musandam stretches itself into the sea, an exclave in the territory of the Arab Emirates. Departing from Dubai by boat (the most commonly used is the “elder” type), you can reach deep blue waters, jagged shores and the caves of North Oman, dominated by Hajar Mountains. Here you’ll admire suggestive coral habitats, colourful fishes, turtles and invertebrates; in addition, your short cruise will probably be accompanied by dolphin jumps. For those more energetic, a dive with snorkelling equipment is also recommended. For a closer contact with corals and several species of tropical fish.
Safari with an African rhythm: Kenya
The African continent is renown among worldwide tourists for the charming land safaris in the savannah; yet it offers also exciting sea safari. For example, in the Watamu Marine National Park & Reserve, 120 kilometres north of Mombasa, on the Indian Ocean, lays a complex of marine and tidal habitats rich in biodiversity such us bird life, fish, coral gardens, green turtles and dugongs, the big mammals known also as “sea cows”. Enjoy the tours available while entering the Park on a typical glass bottomed boat. To admire the diverse underwater life and then just relax on the sandy beaches.
Between France and Italy: whale watching in the Ligurian Sea
Italians don’t need to pack for an exotic, far away destination to enjoy an exciting sea safari. They can stay more or less “at home”. Surprisingly, the Mediterranean area between Liguria, Corsica and Provence hosts a real “Sanctuary of Cetaceans“. A unique protected marine oasis, inhabited by eight species of these mammals including common whales, sperm whales and dolphins. They can be admired during sea safaris onboard rubber boats departing from the ports of Loano and Finale Ligure, and from the tourist quays of Alassio and Laigueglia, all in Savona province.
A whole Italian sea safari: onboard on the River Po delta
The mouth of the largest Italian river – where its sweet waters meet the brackish one of the Adriatic Sea – is a natural park among the few Biosphere Reserves recognised by UNESCO. The delta is an area extended from Emilia to Veneto, from the Ferrara coast to Porto Tolle (Rovigo). This borderland between land and seaside – where the main fishing activity is based on deep black clams – is a paradise especially for birdwatching by boat in the shallow and calm waters. Here live over 370 species of birds among nesting, migrators and regular winterers.
Whale watching yet again, but far northbound: sea safari in Canada
Here we are in Quebec, on the eastern coast of Canada. From the capital Quebec City, it’s really easy to reach Baie-Sainte-Catherine – where the immense San Lorenzo river begins to widen, confusing itself with the Ocean in the homonymous bay and the Chaleur Bay. Equally, it’s really simple to board a three-level observation boat or a small open zodiac boat for an exciting adventure looking for whales, beluga (popular white cetaceans in Alaska, Greenland, Canada and Russia, similar to dolphins), seals, sea lions, orchards and other forms of aquatic life.
In the inhabited lands at the far North of the Planet: sea safari in the Arctic Ocean
Here we are, extremely close to the North Pole, in the Svalbard archipelago (Norway). These remote lands are to be circumnavigated by boats used for Arctic shipments, surfing the indigo blue Ocean, between icebergs that sail lenses and lonely and pristine ice. The passerby to say hello to? Huge and white polar bears, wolves, seals, whales, arctic and marine birds of hundreds of species. Several tour operators organise sea activities in these lands, providing also the necessary thermal equipment. Although being very remote, these islands can be reached by plane, via Oslo, landing in the small capital city Longyearbyen.
From extreme North to extreme South: sea safari in the Land of Fire
This is the southernmost point of Argentina, the world at the end of the world. Here the sea safari is face to face with penguins, the residents of Isla Martillo, a tiny land emerging in the Beagle Channel. You can arrive there by boat and visit it from the shore to the inner area, where the penguins’ nests are located. It’s fascinating to see the little ones trying their first approaches to the water in winter, walking literally amidst the cute and singular birds. These are penguins of the Magellan species, white and black, 70 centimetres tall, smaller than the Antarctic emperor penguins (but you can catch sight also of some specimens of royal penguin). Do not make noise, touch them or disturb them, even if they are not intimidated by humans at all
Austral route: sea elephants in New Zealand
A country bordered by breathtaking coastal landscapes, including Catlins, in the southeastern part of the less populated island in New Zealand. Here are two unbeatable points for a sea life discovery. Let’s start from Kaka Point and its white tower, where you can see the Hooker lions and the sea elephants lying on the rocks to bask in the sun; stopping until the dusk, you will be able to admire the rocks emerging from the water get a gold color. Proceed then to Surat Bay, where you can still admire the gigantic sea elephants often resting on the hot sand. The suggestion is, however, not to walk too close to the animals and the sea!
Diving in the Asiatic seas: among Thai coral, in the “Tha-le Thai”
The Thai Sea includes 402,000 square km of marine environments and includes over 500 islands in the Indo-Pacific region. This is subs paradise, where you can dive choosing from various ways and lengths, from half a day to a whole week; within diving areas of any type, from the low coral reefs for beginners to the reefs and underwater caves for the most adventurous visitors. You can choose between being carried by water stream, diving among sea wrecks, rocky walls, caves and doing a night tour.
Here, in the shallow waters near the coast, following the sandy bottom, you can meet sea horses, sea moth, Indian Walkman and crocodile fish. But the most varied aquatic fauna is located in the islands far away from the coast: hard corals, gorgones and some species of octocorals, as well as a greater variety of fish (such as clown fish and angel fish), in addition to the great ocean specimens as barracuda, thistles or even sharks.
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