When I decided to start a blog titled The Ocean and Me, I worried that people would judge me unworthy of the name. I’m not a surfer, a diver or a sailor. To be frank, I questioned it myself and got a little worked up with the inner dialogue I’d started in my mind. Then I realised that the ocean doesn’t belong to any one group of people. It is a magical, mysterious, awe-inspiring ecosystem that would be thriving without anyone laying claim to it or abusing it like many humans do.
The premise of this blog is to inspire humans to live in harmony with the ocean, and all of nature, as much as possible and to have a reverence for all elements of our beautiful planet. And no one owns that concept. I dream of a world where every human being embraces that intention.
With that in mind, I’d love to share with you 5 unforgettable moments I’ve shared with the ocean.
Watching the sunrise on Isla Mujeres, Mexico
Isla Mujeres is the eastern-most point in Mexico, and you can catch a ferry to this tiny island from Cancún. From Puerto Juarez it takes just 15 mins. Only locals have cars on the island – so you either get around on a golf buggy or by bike. It was my first time driving a golf buggy when I visited and I had so much fun! The south end of the island is technically the most eastern point, and is home to a small collection of Mayan ruins that were constructed to the fertility goddess, Ixchel. The devotion to Ixchel seems apt as the translation of the island’s name pretty much translates to ‘Island of Women’.
I had visited Isla Mujeres twice before I mustered up the energy to get out of bed before daybreak to go and see the sunrise. But oh, I’m so glad I did. Mum, Dad and I dragged ourselves into our buggy and headed out there (from the town centre it takes about 20 minutes), I was yelling “tope” throughout the trip – warning Dad about the frequent, and often far too subtle, speed bumps on the island’s roads!
When we arrived we were surprised at how few people were there. It was a little cloudy but the sun still put on a good show for us! The sense of calm and peace that flooded me as I watched the sun edge over the horizon was absolute. I only need to think back to a moment like that to remind me why treading lightly on this planet is so important – I know it sounds uber hippy – but, for my soul. Not to mention our future generations.
A day of snorkelling off Caye Caulker, Belize
Caye Caulker is renowned for its diving but as I don’t have any experience diving had to forgo the venerated and much talked about Blue Hole. Most of the tour group I was with however, opted for the day of snorkelling and sailing. And wow – what a day to remember.
We saw gorgeous colourful fish, a nurse shark and a lobster at the first snorkel site, but the highlight was a seeing a dugong (also known as manatees)!! Really really really cool to be swimming so close to him! At the second site there were more nurse sharks, southern stingrays and some pretty big fish. At the final site we saw and eel and sea turtles! Throughout the day, being in the water with such a variety of marine life was just, wow – I know I’m not conveying it well right now, but it was one of the favourite days of my life.
Whale watching off Húsavík, Iceland
Despite the ridiculously cold weather in July, this was such a special day. They kitted us out well (as you can see in the photo!) – the overalls were warm, waterproof and oh so cozy. The first whale we saw was a humpback – and we got to see him twice. Then it lulled for a bit, but we always had eyes peeled on the horizon, looking about for the water spurting from a whale’s blowhole. When we saw one the boat headed in that direction and it was a blue whale! Felt so blessed to see a blue whale – did you know a blue whale can weigh up to 200 tonnes and its tongue along weighs 5 tonnes – about the same weight as an elephant! Crazy!
Planet Earth is such an incredible mixture of living beings. I think for us it’s so important to see the marvels of other life forms as a reminder that we are just one of many species calling this planet home. Living with a sense of kinship with other species and our environment must become a priority in the years ahead if we’re all going to continue to call Earth home. And yes, many of these beliefs sprung from a 3-hour whale watching tour in Iceland – that’s the beauty of travel and new experiences.
Snorkelling with sea turtles in Akumal, Mexico
Akumal is such an amazing place – I’ve been there several times now. When I was living in Mexico and friends or family would come to visit – this was a must-do! I first discovered it just a couple of days before snorkelling in Caye Caulker. We caught a collectivo from Playa Del Carmen and 40 minutes later we were walking down to the beach. It is pretty touristy with loads of guides there to offer (sell) tours and if that’s what you’re into – go right ahead. I’ve only ever done it myself though – I just rent out the snorkelling gear, stake out a spot on the beach and start swimming!
My first time there, I was so surprised how easy it was to spot the sea turtles and so many too! We got to see them diving down to eat the seaweed and they are surprisingly fast underwater. Saw a cute smaller one too that I assume was still quite young. Other fish and even a manta ray have been spotted on my other excursions to this precious part of the world. If you ever visit Cancun, Playa Del Carmen or Tulum, I’d put it on your to-do list. I know I’ll be heading back there next time I’m luckily enough to find myself in that part of the world.
Whale watching and hot springs off Tofino, Canada
Another favourite day of my life. I went on this tour only weeks after the Iceland experience and so wasn’t as excited. That was a mistake – this day was even better! Got dressed up again in one of those magnificent overalls. We saw so much wildlife – California sea lions, stella sea lions, seals, sea otters, grey whales, a blue shark and a puffin! All in a couple of hours!
We then got dropped off at Hot Springs Cove and ambled along a gorgeous boardwalk walk to arrive at the hot springs. It was incredibly rocky and it’s quite a workout just traversing the area. There are various little “baths” amongst the rocks and a mini-waterfall of hot water that felt like you were having a shower! The water was ridiculously hot in some spots so it was best to venture closer to the outlet to the ocean but was much narrower down there.
Had I not been on a tour with G Adventures here, I would never have thought to visit this part of the world. But by god, I’m glad I did.
What have been your favourite moments with the ocean? Are there any must-sees I need to add to the list? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.