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Unlocking the power of underwater worlds
Ours is truly a blue planet, with approximately two-thirds of the globe’s surface covered in water.
A meeting of
A meeting of
When a manta ray emerges from the blue depths, the first thing to marvel at is their vast size – an adult’s wingspan can stretch up to 29 feet. Then there are those mesmerising, undulating movements. Few know more about the rays’ behaviour than The Manta Trust team at InterContinental Maldives Maamunagau Resort.
In biweekly evening talks, resident marine biologists share research into this endangered species and the underwater ecosystem. After cluing up on conservation efforts, it’s time to grab a snorkel and head into the most compelling classroom of all: the Indian Ocean.
Mantas may seem shrouded in mystery – their name, after all, means ‘cloak’ in Spanish – but these experiences are a rare chance to peek behind the veil and feel humbled in the rays’ enigmatic presence.
Mangroves exist in that liminal zone between land and sea – as is the case of Jubail Island Mangrove Park, where Emirati capital Abu Dhabi meets the Persian Gulf. Trees and shrubs with the rare ability to grow in salty coastal waters form a refuge for all manner of wildlife.
Meander along the boardwalk trails that weave through the foliage or navigate the waterways by kayak at night. While you do, watch for turtles paddling through the shallows, the darting shapes of juvenile fish or the pink plumage of visiting flamingos.
But this ecosystem is equally crucial for humans. Learn how it’s the first line of defence against coastal erosion and storm surges, as well as its use as a carbon capture powerhouse, sequestering more CO₂ than terrestrial forests.
Mosi-oa-Tunya – that’s what Victoria Falls is called by locals, meaning ‘The Smoke that Thunders’. The name evokes the Zambezi River’s mighty roar as it plunges off 100m high precipices, sending billowing clouds of spray high into the sky.
Watching the world’s largest waterfall in action is thoroughly invigorating – and research tells us so. The rapid collision of water charges the air and when it hits our bloodstream, the resulting reactions can relieve stress, boost energy and improve mood.
Anyone staying at Matetsi Victoria Falls, benefits from an aerial perspective too, aboard the ‘Flight of the Angels’. As the helicopter swoops over the falls, remember the words of explorer David Livingstone on first seeing this place: “A sight so wonderful that Angels must have gazed down on it in flight”.
Making waves in
Making waves in
Ibiza may conjure visions of all-night clubbing, but dip into the sea encircling the White Isle and a different dance is underway. Scuba divers float weightlessly in the Mediterranean, surveying coral reefs, shipwrecks and sea caves that pulse with marine life.
Catch glimpses of a neon-green moray eel and the silver shimmer of barracuda shoals, alongside starfish and urchins. The island’s surprising biodiversity is supported, in large part, by underwater prairies of seagrass. Do more than simply observe this aquatic world; help conserve it by attending a Marine Conservation Citizen Science Workshop. With studies linking volunteering to improved wellbeing levels, there’s even more reason to turn that new-found passion into positive action.
Water’s shifting states stimulate the senses in varied ways, and Grenada’s waterborne attractions run the gamut of emotions. A tubing excursion on the Caribbean island’s Balthazar River sets adrenaline levels pumping, testing participants’ mettle and promoting mental clarity.
Feel-good endorphins flood the body when hiking up Turfton Waterfall, buoyed by a spirit-lifting soundtrack of cascading water and verdant jungle backdrop.
The tempo switches to a more restful pace at Grand Etang Lake, formed from a volcanic crater and set within a national park. Meditating on its tranquil, tree-fringed shores, contemplate the fathomless depths of the ‘bottomless lake’ – so-called because Sonar has been unable to locate its deepest point.
For a lesson in the art of living together harmoniously, look to coral reefs. Clownfish (aka Nemo) provide nutrients to sea anemones in exchange for a safe home, while Napoleon fish eat the crown-of-thorn starfish to keep populations in check.
Seeing these relationships first-hand is a poignant experience to share with loved ones. The St Regis Bora Bora private Lagoonarium makes for a safe, sheltered spot where families can learn about coral health and meet charismatic reef residents.
With the distractions and responsibilities of everyday life all too often intruding into quality time together, a full-day snorkelling boat tour around this tiny Pacific island provides the perfect opportunity to reconnect.
Water and spirituality are deeply intertwined – think of baptisms, pilgrimages to sacred rivers, or ablutions before worship. The Ancient Mayans were no different.
For this civilization, cenotes weren’t only vital sources of drinking water, but also portals to the underworld, symbols of re-birth and transformation. Venturing into these otherworldly chambers needn’t require an odyssey, though.
There are 10,000 cenotes dotted across the Yucatán Peninsula alone and Rosewood Mayakoba runs excursions to its favourite three. Hear about both the mythology and geology of these subterranean sites, naturally formed millions of years ago by collapsing bedrock. To the metronomic drip of water and flutter of bat wings, meditate on the marvels of Mother Nature and after a cooling dip, just maybe, emerge transformed.