Top 10 Blue Planet-inspired vacations

Watery, wondrous Blue Planet is back. 13 years since the BBC’s landmark series was first broadcast, Blue Planet II dives even deeper to reveal the diverse, sometimes bizarre creatures living beneath the waves. Through ingenious photography, including 6,000 hours of underwater footage, the series celebrates oceans, and inspires us all to respect and protect them. It’s something responsible tourism has long sought to do, through the kind of firsthand ocean adventures found in our Top 10 Blue Planet-inspired vacations.

1. Researching whale sharks, Mexico

Whale sharks exist in large numbers off the Caribbean coast of Mexico and snorkelling with these beasts of the ocean is an unforgettable experience. Join an expert research team, photographing them and recording behaviour in the clear blue waters that are also home to giant manta rays and dolphins.

When to go: July
Our top selling trip: Whale shark research in Mexico
See all our trips: Marine conservation vacations
Read more: Marine conservation travel guide and Mexico travel guide

2. Volunteer diving project, Indonesia

Raja Ampat, lying between East Indonesia and West Papua, is a marine paradise with exceptional biodiversity. Volunteers on this project work alongside scientists to protect coral reefs and improve the lives of the communities that rely on them. Take part in research dives and help educate local people on this unique ecosystem, while having an unforgettable vacation, too.

When to go: Throughout the year
Our top selling trip: Raja Ampat diving project, Indonesia
See all our trips: Scuba diving conservation vacations
Read more: Marine conservation travel guide and Indonesia travel guide

3. Blue whale tour, Azores

Take to the seas off the Azores to spot the world’s largest animal: the blue whale. In spring, a phytoplankton bloom attracts huge gatherings of hungry blue whales on their way to feeding grounds further north in the Atlantic. These giants of the ocean are joined by fin and sei whales, and often sperm whales, too, along with orcas, seven dolphin species, manta rays and sea turtles.

When to go: April and May
Our top selling trip: Blue whale tour in the Azores
See all our trips: Whale watching vacations
Read more: Whale watching travel guide and Azores travel guide

4. Turtle conservation, Seychelles

Endangered green and hawksbill turtles lay their eggs in the soft sands of North Island, where not only will you be assisting with beach patrols to monitor nest sites but also have the chance to live and work on an award-winning re-wildling project. North Island is a conservation success story – a paradise island rescued from the brink of indigenous ecosystem collapse.

When to go: All year round
Our top selling trip: Seychelles Island conservation vacation
See all our trips: Turtle conservation vacations
Read more: Turtle conservation travel guide

5. Family scuba diving, Red Sea

Colourful coral, abundant fish and safe diving make the Red Sea ideal for a family vacation. Learn to dive here (children from 10 can do their PADI Junior Open Water Diver Course), continue your dive education or just enjoy guided dives. Other activities such as quad biking, camel rides and dinner with Bedouins round out the experience.

When to go: Throughout the year
Our top selling trip: Family scuba diving vacations in the Red Sea
See all our trips: Diving in the Red Sea vacations
Read more: Scuba diving vacation guide
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Wildlife or need help finding a vacation to suit you we're very happy to help.

6. Lionfish spearing, Belize

A fishing vacation with a conservation twist; head to Belize to hunt and help eradicate lionfish, an invasive species that threatens the healthy reef ecosystem. Volunteer to spear the lionfish and get stuck into other conservation initiatives, too, such as monitoring lobster and queen conch, swimming with whale sharks and surveying the reef and its fish.

When to go: Throughout the year
Our top selling trip: Lionfish spearing marine conservation in Belize
See all our trips: Marine conservation vacations
Read more: Marine conservation travel guide and Belize travel guide

7. Great Barrier Reef & Outback adventure, Australia

Explore the Great Barrier Reef and Outback on an epic month-long Australian adventure. Your days at the Great Barrier Reef will be a highlight: marine biologists and wildlife guides will help you discover and appreciate the wildlife and evolution of the reef. Snorkel and scuba dive to see corals, giant clams and tropical fish around Pumpkin Island in the Keppel Group, and take time to relax on the beach.

When to go: Throughout the year
Our top selling trip: Australia tour: Outback and reef
See all our trips: Australia vacations
Read more: Great Barrier Reef travel guide and Australia travel guide

8. Polynesia cruise, South Pacific

Explore French Polynesia on a vessel that’s part cruise ship, part freighter, bringing vital supplies to the remote Marquesas Islands. Regular stops give you time to explore and the scarcity of visitors guarantees a warm welcome from islanders. Meet local artists, hike through the jungle to ancient religious sites and retrace writer Herman Melville’s steps on a spectacular jeep safari over mountains and valleys.

When to go: Throughout the year
Our top selling trip: French Polynesia cruise in the South Pacific
See all our trips: Small ship cruising vacations
Read more: South Pacific cruising travel guide and Small ship cruising travel guide

9. Diving and sailing, Greece

A liveaboard diving and sailing vacation is about total immersion in the marine world, with a journey through the Cyclades Islands a chance to explore remote islands, dive around shipwrecks and spot barracuda, octopus and parrot fish darting between the sponges and sea anemones. Relax on deck when sailing, keeping an eye out for dolphins, turtles and even the odd sperm whale.

When to go: April to October
Our top selling trip: Liveaboard diving and sailing vacation in Greece
See all our trips: Scuba diving vacations
Read more: Cyclades travel guide and Scuba diving vacation guide

10. Family volunteering with turtles, Costa Rica

Get the whole family involved in turtle conservation on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. Kids love the hands-on nature of night patrols to monitor nests and protect hatchlings and return home knowing they’ve helped hundreds of turtles survive to adulthood. This is a chance to enjoy undeveloped Costa Rica, too, with horse riding, surfing lessons and hammocks by the beach appealing to all ages.

When to go: July to mid December
Our top selling trip: Family volunteering with turtles in Costa Rica
See all our trips: Turtle conservation vacations
Read more: Turtle conservation travel guide and Costa Rica wildlife travel guide

And one suggestion a little closer to home…

Responsible Travel’s Chris Kearney volunteers with Surfers Against Sewage, an environmental charity tackling plastic pollution and protecting the UK’s coastline. He’s a beach clean organiser, and runs volunteer clean up session on the pebbly shores of Brighton and Hove, raising awareness of the marine plastic pollution crisis, too. Visit Surfers Against Sewage's website to join a beach clean near you, or learn about other ways to support this superb cause.
Written by Joanna Simmons
Photo credits: [Page banner: Ethan Daniels] [Intro: Alexandra Rose] [Whaleshark: Brian Lauer] [Turtle : Tony Hisgett] [Great barrier reef: Richard Ling] [Turtle volunteer: Oyster Worldwide]