Ocean (dreamstime.com)

Ocean travel guide

Water covers over 70% of the earth’s surface – and almost all of that is oceanic. Oceans – a vast, mind-boggling playground for travellers

The oceans are places to sail, snorkel, swim, kayak, dive, fish and generally get lost on. Without oceans there would be no coast, no islands, no chilly depths nor coral reefs.

They share characteristics, but each is unique in character, with challenges and opportunities for ocean-loving wanderers.

The waters of the Atlantic, long the barrier separating the Old and New Worlds, still surround frontiers – remote islands such as Ascension and St Helena, the penguin paradises of the Falklands and South Georgia. Navigating from Europe to the Caribbean or North America is a long-haul sailor’s rite of passage, stopping off to watch whales among the Azores along the way.

The Caribbean itself is best explored by boat – take the mail service through St Vincent and the Grenadines, or tout yourself as crew for a yacht ride, perhaps. But don’t forget to delve beneath the surface – the planet’s second-longest coral reef skirts the coast of Belize, offering superb diving.

The Indian Ocean hosts more idyllic islands – the Seychelles, home to giant tortoises and coconut crabs; the Maldives, with more fantastic scuba opportunities; and lemur-rich Madagascar.

Up north, the Arctic Ocean is for adventurers – sail around chilly Spitsbergen to spot polar bear and walrus, or head to Greenland’s east coast for Inuit culture and icebergs.

The Java Sea, skirting the north of the Indonesian chain, is another hotspot for island-hopping: board a schooner and sail between the bays of Nusa Tenggara, visiting the beaches of Bali and Lombok, the vivid-coloured volcanoes on Flores, and the dinosaur-dragons of Komodo.

The mother of all oceans, though, is the Pacific – a vast blank canvas for ocean-crossing adventurers. From the wildlife wonderland of the Galápagos off Ecuador’s coast through the countless archipelagos and specks in this vast ocean, there are names and experiences to make the imagination swim. Surf Hawai’i, explore Gauguin’s Polynesia, discover Fiji’s traditions, see land-divers on Vanuatu, swim with stingless jellyfish in Palau – uniquely Pacific encounters, all.

So go on – step aboard, snorkel up, hoist the mainsail and dive in to an oceanic adventure.

Top 10 ocean experiences

  1. Swim with sea lions and penguins – Join a wildlife-watching cruise around the Galápagos Islands, Ecuador
  2. Island-hop in Indonesia – Skip around between Bali, Lombok, Flores and Komodo in Nusa Tenggara
  3. Join an expedition to the Great White Continent – Sail to Antarctica across the Drake Passage from Tierra del Fuego, Argentina
  4. Catch the mailboat through the Caribbean – Mosey through the turquoise waters of St Vincent and the Grenadines
  5. Learn to dive Down Under – It doesn't get better than learning to dive on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia
  6. Meet walrus and polar bear in the Arctic – Cruise the chilly waters around Spitsbergen
  7. Splash around the lagoons of the Seychelles – Watch out for giant tortoises and coconut crabs
  8. Swim with stingless jellyfish in Palau – Snorkelling with these harmless blobs in Micronesia is surprisingly
  9. Go whale watching in the Azores – Keep your binoculars handy to spot breaching cetaceasns
  10. Sail across the Pacific – Crew a classic tall ship for the marine adventure of a lifetime
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