3 Great Beach Vacation Alternatives

3 Great Beach Vacation Alternatives

By Jen O'Brien

3 Great Beach Vacation Alternatives

Celebrate World Oceans Day with these conservation-themed trip ideas.

Spending some time away from it all near the ocean doesn’t necessarily have to equate to days on end spent lazing on a beach. In fact, there are so many better ways to make the most of a seaside vacation.

In honor of World Oceans Day, an annual event dedicated to celebrating the sea and raising awareness for conservation efforts, we set out in search of eco-conscious travel ideas that both delight and inspire.

With an emphasis on education and helping to foster a deeper connection to the sea, these luxurious journeys, which include stays at some of the world’s top eco-resorts, range from coastal explorations to exhilarating marine safaris.

A new crab fossil discovered by the team at Punta Galeta.

Learn about the Caribbean’s tropical ecosystems at a Smithsonian-affiliated marine lab in Panama

Located on the outskirts of Panama City, Punta Galeta research facility became the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute’s first Caribbean marine lab in 1964. Surrounded by mangrove forests, seagrass meadows and coral reefs, the protected island near the entrance of the Panama Canal is especially well-situated for the investigation of urban and industrial encroachment on coastal ecosystems in the tropics.

Embark on a private tour of this fascinating research facility during a tour of Panama before continuing on to an idyllic beachfront casita on Isla Palenque – your home base for a few days of snorkelling, scuba diving and whale watching.

Watch the sun set over the South Atlantic from Grootbos, a 5-star private nature reserve.

Stay at a leading eco-lodge and embark on a marine safari in South Africa

Less than two hours drive from Cape Town on South Africa’s Western Cape you’ll find Grootbos, one of National Geographic’s Unique Lodges of the World. Home to luxurious lodging tucked between the mountain, forest and sea, Grootbos offers a range of curated experiences. One of the most exciting offerings is the property’s marine safari aboard an eco-friendly tour vessel. This experience, a highlight of any tour of South Africa, offers the opportunity to see the Marine Big 5 in their natural habitat. Enjoy close encounters with whales, sharks, dolphins, seals and penguins as they feed, frolic and play.

Hang out with lounging sea lions in the Galapagos.

Connect with locals on a luxury cruise through the Galapagos

Board a boutique hotel at sea to explore the best of the Galapagos Islands. This UNESCO World Heritage Site, which includes 19 islands and the surrounding marine reserve, has been called a living museum and a melting pot of marine species. Enjoy penguin-spotting at Sullivan Bay, a visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station, a visit to the sea lion and marine iguana colonies of Isla Santa Fé, and a stop at quirky Post Office Bay, where tourists become mail carriers.

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