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8 Beach Hotels Where Guests Can Participate in Ocean Conservation

From gusts of sea breeze to the vastness of the sea’s horizon—our oceans stir an incomparable sense of wonder and awe, and beckon to travelers in every corner of the globe. Especially for those seeking solace or mindfulness, the spell cast by a day out on the water is strong—and with it we can fall into a spiritual and meditative state. Beach lovers and cruisers alike travel toward the ocean in search of this magic.

In fact, according to the blue mind theory, a visit to the ocean is proven to release dopamine and oxytocin, our feel-good hormones. The sea’s presence can also decrease our stress hormone, cortisol—and even trigger our “involuntary attention,” which intensifies problem-solving and creativity. Since—well—forever, the deep blue sea has been to thank for early exploration, intercultural exchange, and globalization; and even now we continue to fish its supply, trade across ports, all while pumping greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere.

Today, IUCN scientists predict that global ocean temperatures are predicted to increase by 1-4°C by 2100. To combat these consequences, key stakeholders in the ever-evolving travel industry are leading ocean conservation changes around the world. From Tanzania to Maui, top-notch beach hotels are recognizing their responsibility in the ocean conservation conversation, and offering travelers opportunities to engage in a symbiotic partnership with the ocean through a stay. Here are the grand and global getaways where travelers can learn about, safeguard, and help conserve the world’s oceans.

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Courtesy Thanda Island

Thanda Island, Tanzania

On a tiny island off the coast of Tanzania sits the white-sanded, other-worldly escape of Thanda Island. Its location makes it a base for Mafia Island’s Marine Park Rangers to patrol the region in the fight against illegal fishing. Partnering with Tanzania Marine Parks and Reserves Unit, the resort leads various educational and research initiatives including the Ropes of Hope restoration of the coral reef, where local conservation partners work in collaboration to restore the Shungi Mbili Island reef. And, given the majestic nature of the sea surrounding, hotel guests have the privilege to dive and snorkel alongside blacktip reef sharks, humpback whales, and whale sharks. Through the hotel’s Whale Shark Citizen Science Program, hotel guests can join marine guides to participate in underwater photography of the species and upload them to research organizations EcoOcean and Sharkbook. These photo identifications are utilized by conservation experts to track their little known feeding, migratory, and breeding habits.

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Quentin Bacon/Four Seasons

Four Seasons Resort Maui, at Wailea

Maui’s Four Seasons Resort at Wailea just launched a monthly reef clean-up initiative, BlueʻĀina (or, “blue land”). As an addition to the oceanfront resort’s Mālama Hawai’i initiative, a coastal debris monitoring and clean-up with Pacific Whale Foundation, guests now have the opportunity to help maintain Maui’s pristine reefs. The experience includes a brief, land clean-up at Ma’alaea Harbor, followed by an educational snorkel and reef clean-up excursion. The next day, guests can board a morning vessel to learn some more with conservation specialists (and, of course, enjoy a complimentary breakfast and lunch). Blue Āina costs $60 per guest, but participating Four Seasons guests will be rewarded for their efforts with $250 resort credit (per participating room).

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The Marker Waterfront Resort Key West

The Marker Key West Harbor Resort

In Key West, the modern waterfront resort has just partnered with local nonprofit Reef Relief and sustainable sun care brand Raw Elements to install two public reef-friendly sunscreen dispensers for the property, encouraging the use of mineral sunblock. As the first hotel in the state to offer sustainable public sunscreen dispensers, the initiative not only benefits skin health but also supports and protects coral reefs and ocean conservation. The Marker also throws an annual World Oceans Day party, to which proceeds go to Reef Relief and guests can sample and learn Raw Elements products and conservation benefits.

Six Senses Laamu

Six Senses Laamu

Six Senses Laamu

Six Senses Laamu has just announced their Sea Hub for Environmental Learning in Laamu, which sits on the resort’s sunset beach. Along with a gallery exhibition space, laboratory, and cinema and kids’ room, the site now houses six on-site marine biologists, the Maldives Underwater Initiative (MUI), and their partner NGOs of The Manta Trust, Blue Marine Foundation, and the Olive Ridley Project. Here, guests can meet alongside world-class experts who offer hands-on activities as well as presentations on their research. The cherry on top: the space also features diverse underwater scenes of the Laamu atoll for guests to see selected micro-topics on marine life through an immersive gallery.

The Racha, Phuket

For a deluxe island hideaway in Thailand, The Racha has coexisted with the sea since its inception. Innovatively designed so that rainwater run-off on the site is pumped back to the center of the island. From there, the water flows back freely into the ground, replenishing the earth’s water bank. This system drastically reduces rainwater runoff flow into the ocean, which would be detrimental to its coral life and biodiversity. With water mitigation in mind—the resort utilizes a floating pontoon for transport between Batok and Ter Bays in place of a concrete pier, which would damage the flourishing marine ecology beneath the surface.

For two decades, the Racha and The Racha Dive Center have also supported non-profit charity The Reef Ball Foundation, whose focus is on protecting and restoring the world’s ocean ecosystems. Daily, guests are invited to join the resort staff on their beach clean up (weather permitted). And through a self-guided back-of-grounds-tour at the perimeter of the resort gardens, the property’s forward-looking designers welcome guests to learn about technological conservation initiatives like a hydroponic farm, a drinking water bottling plant, and a bio-gas station.

Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman

Amidst the lush and sun-soaked Cayman Islands, the thoughtfully designed Ritz-Carlton property has partnered with Ocean Futures Society and the Jean-Michel Cousteau Ambassadors of the Environment program. Already a winner of the “Green Key Award,” the property now offers hands-on eco-adventures and activities led by expert guides and naturalists to their guests. Along and in Seven Mile Beach, the program includes an eco-chic package with reef discovery snorkels for guests as young as 8 years-old, educational eco-tours via sailing or kayak, and beach cleanups. When purchasing the package, guests are contributing to a carbon footprint offset donation, facilitated by the resort’s partnership with Island Offsets, a non-profit NGO dedicated to mitigate climate change by supporting projects that benefit Cayman Islands’ unmatched environment.

Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu, Maldives

Located in a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, Baa Atoll, home to rich marine life and reefs and Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu, was one of the first resorts in the Maldives to hire a full-time, resident marine biologist. Now the resort has an entire team of marine biologists, and partnerships with Olive Ridley Project, Manta Trust, and Shark Watch—and the resort’s conservation and protection program monitors reefs and conducts coral replanting. The experts now host guided snorkeling tours, as well as weekly presentations to educate and inspire a stay around caring for the surrounding ocean. The Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu is also a nesting site for the endangered green sea turtle species. Here, the biologists work to protect hatchlings, monitor the nests, and, if necessary, relocate the little ones. Given their hatching periods, guests are able to witness the hatchlings and learn more directly from the on-site experts.

Vomo Island, Fiji

When headed to Fiji, Vomo Island offers a prime and private South Pacific oceanfront stay. What tops it off, though, is their recent pairing of creativity and conservation with non-profit and pioneering force Counting Coral. The partnership showcases a meticulously designed underwater art installation to diversify the reefs. Each piece of the exhibit serves as coral gene bank which stores and preserves the coral’s genetic material; vulnerable reef sites are propagated with climate-resilient and rare strains of coral. All Vomo Island guests are offered a viewing of the underwater installation through diving expeditions. The property has also welcomed Fijian Marine Biologist Lai Rokoua on board, who is now leading these immersive experiences for guests that include coral planting, cleanups, and daily swims.

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