To celebrate World Oceans Day, we take readers on a virtual journey through the coastal waters of the Asia-Pacific region.
Even if you aren’t into surfing, this article will offer some new perspective on Indonesia’s favorite holiday island. The development of tourism in Uluwatu, a resort-filled stretch of coastline on the Bukit Peninsula, has been shaped over the past four decades by adventure-seekers drawn to the waves rolling in from the Indian Ocean. Claire Knox charts the rise of Uluwatu’s world-famous surfing scene and talks to the local players from the tightly knit wave-riding community to see what their future might hold. Make sure you linger over the dreamy action shots and landscape photographs by longtime Bali resident Tommy Schultz.
Over in Australia, DestinAsian’s Sydney-based contributing editor Natasha Dragun travels to Queensland to meet the scientists and marine biologists who still have hope in the future of the world’s largest coral reef system despite the perils of human-induced climate change (warming ocean temperatures have caused mass coral bleaching events every few years) and other threats. Dragun also looks at the conservation-minded hotels across the islands of the Great Barrier Reef that are doing their bit to use tourism as a force for positive change.
Johnny Langenheim shows us two ways to cruise the Philippines’ westernmost archipelago, which has long been celebrated for its postcard-perfect tableau of jungled karst formations and turquoise waters. The first sees the writer sailing on a traditional paraw outrigger on an island-hopping expedition with ecotourism operator Tao Philippines, with nights spent in a network of bamboo-built beach camps. Afterward, Langenheim trades his rustic experience for a 10-cabin luxury dive yacht to Tubbataha, a marine sanctuary in the middle of the Sulu Sea that provides a haven for mantas, turtles, and whale sharks.
Far closer to the Indonesian islands of Java and Sumatra than mainland Australia, the far-flung Indian Ocean territory of the Cocos Keeling Islands is well worth the 2,900-kilometer schlep from Perth. Contributor Rachel Lees takes stock of its empty palm-fringed beaches, goes snorkeling in the main atoll’s crystal-clear lagoon with blacktip reef sharks (the Cocos are home to more than 500 species of fish and 100 kinds of hard coral), and explores the homegrown Cocos Malay culture, whose cuisine is an attraction in its own right.
Another piece by Johnny Langenheim, this story unfolds in Raja Ampat, a remote and sparsely populated archipelago in Indonesia’s West Papua province that hosts an astonishing diversity of marine life. He learns how international NGOs play a major role in protecting Raja Ampat’s undersea wonders, and meets eco-conscious tourism operators who are restoring their surroundings and promoting sustainable fishing practices among local residents. Naturally, Langenheim dives into the deep blue for a close-up look at the dazzling coral reefs throughout his trip, spotting moral eels, nudibranchs, and even elusive pygmy seahorses along the way.