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Has last autumn’s series of Blue Planet II inspired you to explore the underwater world of Planet Earth? 

Based around Blue Planet II’s filming locations, here we highlight our favourite destinations and tours to experience the world’s marine life up close.

a fish swimming under water

See the Marine Big Five in South Africa

As well as providing exceptional opportunities to spot the Big Five, South Africa, is also home to the Marine Big Five: whales, sharks, dolphins, seals and penguins. Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins live in nearshore waters east of Cape Town, seals and African penguins can be found in Port Elizabeth, whilst the southern right whale is known to surface just off the Hermanus coastline. The more adventurous travellers can cage dive with the majestic great white shark for the ultimate marine thrill.

Whale Shark Swimming

Explore the coral reefs in the Maldives

Episode three, Coral Reefs, took viewers to various different coral reef locations across the world and looks at the life of the manta ray in the Maldives. Addu Atoll, the southernmost atoll of the Maldives, is an exceptional diving destination where travellers can swim with manta rays all year round. The region is also host to a wide number of other marine species and is a perfect destination to get close to the diverse marine wildlife, including eagle rays, whale sharks, turtles and other tropical fish. For the best water conditions, travel between December and May when the local seas are at their calmest.

a large white boat sitting next to a body of water

Cruise around the Galapagos Islands

Home to wildlife found nowhere else on Earth, it’s no wonder the Galapagos Islands featured across four episodes in the series: The Deep, Big Blue, Coasts and Our Blue Planet. Spot playful Galapagos sea lions frolic in the water and look out for the Galapagos penguin – one of the smallest penguins in the world. Head to Black Turtle Cay to see an abundance of marine life, including blacktip and whitetip reef sharks, sea turtles and, if you’re lucky, hammerhead shark. Visit the seabird colonies of Genovesa Island, snorkel in Gardner Bay, where you could be joined by sea lions, turtles and sharks, and see marine iguanas on Española Island.

Close up of a sea otter swimming on its back

Get close to California’s coastal wildlife

California is a perfect self drive destination with plenty of opportunities to spot various marine animals en route. In episode five, Green Seas, viewers were transported to North West America to see the wildlife that lives along the Pacific Coast Highway, including California sea lions, common dolphins and sea otters, all of which can be observed around the local bays. Travellers should also keep a lookout along the horizon as humpback whales, orcas, dolphins and grey whales also cruise along the California waters. Travel to Monterey Bay for some of the best whale sight-seeing opportunities.

a wooden pier next to a body of water

Uncover Borneo’s underwater world

Famous for its lush rainforests that are home to flame-haired residents, you may be mistaken into thinking that Borneo’s wildlife is limited to dry land. Head under the surface and spot turtles, hammerheads and saddleback clownfish amongst the colourful coral reefs, as seen on episode three, Coral Reefs. Stay on Gaya Island and enjoy snorkelling on the coral gardens just 20 metres off shore. Explore the underwater world and spot clownfish, butterfly fish and if you’re fortunate enough, even the odd turtle.

Discover Costa Rica’s rich coastal wildlife

Costa Rica, Spanish for ‘rich coast’, is known for its underwater wonders; from impressive landscapes and rock formations to its rich diversity of marine wildlife. The warm tropical waters make Costa Rica a fantastic destination for adventure seekers and families alike to witness a range of marine mammals including humpback whales and spinner dolphin. For the best sightseeing opportunities travel to the west coast between December and April.

diving in bahamas

Snorkel one of the largest coral reefs in the world

Spanning more than 170 square miles, Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park in the Bahamas boast one of the world’s largest coral reefs, home to turtles, spotted eagle rays and barracuda. Here, you can join a daily boat dive or snorkel the shallow reefs to discover the underwater scenery, regarded as the best in the Bahamas.

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