We all know or have heard about Australia’s famous Great Barrier Reef. This natural wonder has awed generations of aborigines as well as settlers in the island continent. To cut it down to a micro level, the Great Barrier Reef is nothing but a natural formation out of what is popularly known to us as corals. To give a more scientific explanation, corals are marine invertebrates mostly living in the tropical oceans in compact colonies that are made of individual “polyps”. Such corals are the major contributors to the formation of the physical structure what is called the coral reefs. Coral reefs can mostly be sighted in tropical and subtropical waters, like the Great Barrier Reef that lies off the coast of Queensland, Australia. Depending upon the type of corals they can be found in both deep and shallow water conditions. Stoic and boring as this information may sound; these corals or the coral reefs have become one of the most sought after natural tourist destinations of the world. Apart from Australia and the sun drenched waters of the South Pacific, corals are also found on the Darwin Mounds, North West of Cape Wrath, Scotland, as also off the coast of the United States in Washington State and the Aleutian Islands in Alaska. Coral reefs are usually referred to as part of a larger ecosystem and is therefore many a times called the coral communities. They are some of the most diverse ecosystems in the world. It is because of this that coral reefs are also sometimes called the “rainforests of the oceans”. More than the natural beauty that they provide, the coral reefs are home to a diversity of marine lives and also play a crucial role in protecting the beaches from various natural erosion and attrition.
Jamaica provides the perfect location for you to land on your island of happy days, vivid nights and a dream-come-true experience. It is your, THE destination for the perfect beach experience – from the long sandy stretches to the crystal clear water and the secret coves. The clear water and the warm temperatures make it just perfect for exploring the coral reefs just off the coast. Scuba diving and underwater diving is one of the biggest attractions in Jamaica.
Special attraction: The Discovery Bay is considered one of the most picture perfect natural harbors of Jamaica where Columbus was believed to have landed. It was renamed only in 1947 to commemorate that history of the island. The beach is well developed, sporting a small jetty that sits pretty on the brilliant turquoise water. It is shallow; say about 20 ft out into the sea, but one must not forget to carry their snorkeling equipments to catch a glimpse of another side of Jamaica, the picturesque corals.
The small island of Cay is tucked away just 15 minutes from Port Royal. It is the perfect Sunday beach getaway. It is uninhabitable as sometimes the tide comes in and submerges the whole island. However, it has some of the best snorkeling spots on the south-east coast of Jamaica.
The Rio Nuevo is one of the best Scuba-diving spots that lie just off the coast of Jamaica along the north coast highway. It has a coral reef, called the Rio Nueva Wall, which is a 25 foot dive that supports a plethora of tropical marine life like Barracudas, turtles, and parrotfish.
Runaway Bay is one of the most scenic areas in Jamaica with its caves, underground lakes and interconnected passageways underwater. Apart from this, some of the best beaches in the Caribbean are found along the Runaway Bay, which are protected by the large tropical coral reef that is found there. The Runaway Bay area has over the years developed itself as an elegant and yet lively getaway.
The only state in the United States that boasts of an extensive shallow coral reef formation near its coast is the state of Florida. The reef starts near Miami and extends southwest all the way down to the Dry Tortugas, which is about sixty-seven miles west of Key West.
Special attraction: Florida’s coral reef contains over fifty species of corals that comprise over eighty percent of all the coral reef species in the Tropical Western Atlantic. The shallow waters make it perfect for scuba diving and snorkeling to take a closer look at these colorful reefs.
Lakshadweep and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands of India too boast of coral beaches.
Coral beaches in Lakshadweep:
Stunning, spectacular, charming, astounding are some of the words that are used to describe the coral beaches of Lakshadweep. The Lakshadweep or “one hundred thousand islands” are India’s true blue tropical getaway in the Arabian Sea with its picturesque coral beach islands. Located just off the coast of the state of Kerala, the Lakshadweep flaunts a collection of 36 islands, 10 of which are inhabited at present. Its turquoise waters are mesmerizing and fun-filled, making it a dream destination. Lakshadweep is an archipelago and not all of its coral beached islands are open to tourists. However, those which are – and which tourists have visited over the years – have been endorsed by tourists for its spectacular beauty that reign supreme. The swaying coconut canopies overshadowing the silvery sand beaches, the clear turquoise waters with its astounding coral reef that house an opulent marine life, especially, the cornucopia of Tuna fish, and best of all, the blue lagoon – put together they make one stunning combination for a beach destination. Not all the islands are however fully equipped with lodgings and food provisions to accommodate tourists, except for the Bangaram beach. Short one-day tours can be arranged to the other islands of Agatti, Androt, Kavaratti, Minicoy and Kalpeni. Even if you cannot visit these other islands, Bangaram’s central attraction – the blue light that is given out by the coral reef is worth the whole effort of visiting Lakshadweep. Do not wonder about this blue light; they are nothing but caused due to bioluminescent plankton deposition that takes place during high tide.
There is no doubt that all the beaches of Lakshadweep offer umpteen opportunities for an array of adventure and extreme water sports like windsurfing, snorkeling, yachting, kayaking, scuba diving, snorkeling as well as deep sea fishing. For the less daring or the adventurous there is always the option of sunbathing in the fantastic gold and white sanded pristine beaches of the Lakshadweep Islands or go for a pleasant sail on the glass-bottomed boats for a wonderful visual treat of the coral reefs. Located in the Arabian Sea resembling a cluster, the Lakshadweep Island and its beaches are gems in the truest sense of the word. It is the ultimate paradise for those who have always wished to dive into the depths of the ocean and be one with the mystical and vibrant marine life that abounds underwater.
Before thinking of all of this, if you are planning at all to go visit Lakshadweep then first thing first, go get yourself a permit from the Lakshadweep administration. Transportation facilities to and from Lakshadweep is quite poor. This is because of the constantly changing weather and sea conditions, which play havoc on boat and ship schedules. You can always go for the alternative, that is, book a more expensive but assured helicopter ride to the islands. Thus, if you are sticking to the sea transportations, then also be ready to rework your schedule according to the whims of the weather Gods.
Andaman and Nicobar Islands:
These golden beaches with clear turquoise and tranquil waters with a treasure trove of coral reefs protect the islands as well as provide the required tourist attraction that eventually sustains their economy. Andaman Islands have developed its tourism opportunities by providing facilities for water sports like underwater walking, snorkeling, scuba diving and glass-bottomed boat ride. Andaman and Nicobar Islands is also home to one of the most primitive tribes of the subcontinent. They are however kept under extreme protection as unchecked contact with civilization has brought them under the category of the endangered. Expect fairly rainy weather as that is quite a common weather condition in the Andamans. You are however, not going to be allowed to visit the Nicobar Islands, which remain closed to visitors. Andaman Islands were once the exile for political prisoners in pre-independent India. The world famous cellular jail with its hexagonal architecture and cells lining the corridors one after the other along with the open gallows can still send a chill through your heart.
The Skye region of Scotland is noted for many things but great beaches. However, the Claigan Coral Beach is the only one that makes the list. Despite its name and all the ancillary tales of the Gulf Stream, the beach is not actually made of coral at all. The beach is composed of pieces of sun-bleached and desiccated algae. If you look around hard enough you might succeed in finding a few bigger bits and pieces, away from the crowd. Just offshore is situated the tidal island of Lampay. Check the tide times and then go ahead and explore it yourself. You can also hike up to a very short flat-topped hill by the beach called Cnoc Mor a Ghrobain and be rewarded with a wonderful expansive view right from Stein in Waternish till right around to Dunvegan Head. You can be rewarded the same if you continue to walk down the beach around and into Lovaig Bay. Besides that Claigan’s easy accessibility and the stretches of white sand make it an attractive spot for a warm sunny day.
Take the road north from Dunvegan, past the castle till the end of the road at Claigan. You will find a car park. A short walk of hardly 20 meters from there is located the Claigan Souterrain. Souterrains are these underground structures that are usually associated with the Atlantic Iron Age. The term comes from French, in which it means “underground passageway”. Souterrains are underground galleries that were dug out and then lined with stone slabs or wood. Studies have suggested that they were used as food stores or hiding places during times of strife.
The Claigan Coral Beach region is noted as a popular short walk route that leads you to the spectacular coral beaches. The Claigan Coral Beach is considered one of the most beautiful coastal locations of Skye. The terrain is otherwise good for walking, apart from a boggy section – which can be tackled by stepping stones, that is followed by a spectacular path across grassy pastures. Do not expect public transport. The nearest bus stop is at Dunvegan, which is located 5 kilometers away. The view is lovely across Loch Dunvegan to Borreraig. Once in a while an inquisitive seal might pop out up to the surface to greet you.
It is a remote beach paradise that can be found on the edge of the West Australian outback. A holiday in Coral Bay Western Australia promises days full of blissful laziness combined with relaxing on the beach and some action-packed adventure sports as well as awe-inspiring wildlife encounters.
Why visit Coral Bay Western Australia? Simply to experience some of the best fishing, diving and snorkeling opportunities to be found anywhere in Australia. Do not expect a grand, highly developed tourist location. Coral Bay is a tiny coastal settlement that has a few shops, a couple or more streets of houses, some caravan parks and a “resort” (read motel). However, the location on the Ningaloo Reefs itself is nothing less than magical. So what are you waiting for? Grab your snorkeling gear, dive into the pristine blue waters and immerse yourself in the natural beauty of Ningaloo’s coral garden. This is the best place for game fishing in Western Australia, or the thrilling experience of swimming with the whale sharks between March and June, or with the majestic mantra rays all round the year. You can also take a scenic flight and see the coast and the reef in all its glory from the air.
Coral beaches under threat and the laws brought in to curb the process:
Coral reefs are under great stress around the world. Coral mining, agricultural and urban runoff, pollution, overfishing, blast fishing, disease, and digging of canals in order to gain easy access into the islands and bays are some of the localized threats that are ruining their ecosystems. Some of the broader threats are being posed by rise in sea temperature which killed about 16 percent of the world’s coral reefs in 1998, sea level rise and changes in the pH level of the ocean waters due to ocean acidification. The colorful corals are used for making jewelry, which has become quite an attraction to many of the tourist spots that have developed around these coral reefs. However, in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands of India, precautions are being taken to check the depletion of corals. As a result, tourists are requested to appreciate these nature’s beauties and not pick them up as souvenirs, for they believe that if every tourist picks up a piece to display it on his shelf, then a day will come when the already endangered coral reefs will no longer be available on the face of this earth.
In the USA, the Coral Reef Conservation Act (CRCA) was put in place in 2000 to preserve the coral reef ecosystems and gain better information on the current condition of the coral reefs. In order to achieve these purposes, the CRCA established four special programs – National Coral Reef Action Strategy, Coral Reef Conservation Program, Coral Reef Conservation Fund and the National Program. The Coral Reef Protection Act is a new Florida state law that came into effect in July, 2009, to improve the health of the Florida Reef Tract. In India, sadly, such laws and policies addressing the problems of the coral reefs are non-existent. They all come to be addressed under the larger banner of the Environment Protection Act, or the Wildlife Protection Act, or the Indian Forest Act.
However, all these laws and regulations should not stop you from visiting these paradises on Earth; rather become aware and do your bit to contribute to the local economy, which is most of the time tourism and fishing. These laws are put in place to protect these highly vulnerable yet beautiful creations of nature. Explore these beaches, the abundance of marine life that gives more pleasure than pain and help those involved in governance and administration as well as environment awareness groups to protect these natural resources. Immerse yourself in the lap of nature like Wordsworth, respect it, be awed by it, love it and accept that mankind is not capable of creating something as beautiful as this. So let’s join hands to explore, enjoy as well as protect our world of wonders.
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