Coral reefs are spectacular underwater structures covered by tiny living sea animals. They are breathtaking when viewed while snorkeling. There are three main types of reefs, atoll, barrier and fringing. While some are attached to the shore and some are not, they all offer incredible sights and are perfect destinations for a snorkeling or scuba diving holiday;
1. The Belize Barrier Reef is the second largest in the world. The reefs corals come in a vast array of shapes and colors. Over 300 species of fish and 65 kinds of coral make their home here, along with seabirds, manatees and turtles. The reef helps keep the beaches from erosion, while giving the public a very colorful show.
2. The Komodo National Park in Indonesia has a wonderful coral reef. There are also more than 5,000 giant lizards that reside here, nicknamed komodo dragons because of their aggressive behavior. This is their only place of existence, and they are a strange and beautiful sight to see.
3. Southeast Asia is rich in marine diversity and Vietnam offers sustainable tourism trips in the National Parks of Con Dao, Cat Ba, and Ha Long Bay. In the surrounding waters you could well spot clown fish, scorpion fish, barracuda, blue spotted rays and if you’re lucky you might even see the captivating manta rays.
4. In Tanzania, the Aldabra Atoll is made up of four large coral islands. Surrounding by a coral reef, the islands enclose a shallow lagoon. Aldabra is the home to over 150,000 giant tortoises, the most anywhere in the world. It is isolated, and access to it is extremely hard, which has kept travelers away for the most part. It remains a very secluded but beautiful destination.
5. Manta Point in Indonesia is the place to go if you love manta rays. Aside from sweetlips and butterfly fish, you will encounter giant rays, and entire schools of smaller rays. It is popular with divers, so you may have to venture away from the group for the marine life. But it is well worth the venture!
6. Bangaram Atoll, in India, has an awe-inspiring coral reef. One of the 39 atolls which make up Lakshadweep, this is paradise at its best. Take a long drift dive into the reef and discover sharks and turtles like you have never seen before. Truly a must for any reef diver.
7. When exploring reefs, you cannot leave The Great Barrier Reef in Australia off your list. It is the largest coral reef mass in the world, housing over 400 types of coral and over 1,500 different species of fish. It is also home to the sea cow and the large green turtle, which are being threatened with extinction. It is one of the seven natural wonders of the world, and the only living thing that is visible from space. Here you will gaze at sponges, dolphins, rays and giant clams that are over 120 years old. It is truly every divers dream.
8. If you’re in Mexico, head to Cozumel where the coral reef is said to be the best in teh Caribbean. You can swim amongst the caves and canyons spotting various fish and marine life such as lobster, barracudas and rays.
These fantastic reefs will give viewing pleasure for many years if treated with respect.
By Julie Bowman