If you’re an ocean lover or water sports enthusiast, surely, you want to help the ocean — either in your home country or when you travel abroad. As climate change and pollution reshape the future of our waters from the North Sea to the Southern Ocean and everywhere in between, all the flora and fauna beneath the surface are at high risk for total and utter destruction.
With cheap tourism growing in popularity in the tropical paradises scattered about Southeast Asia, we’re facing an epidemic in which travelers from every corner of the globe come to exploit some of the most incredible natural resources and wonders this part of the earth has to offer — resources and wonders that exist nowhere else on the planet.
It’s not all bad, though. Going green — ditching the straw, cutting out meat, saying ‘no’ to a plastic bag, walking instead of turning the car on — and becoming ecologically conscious is a rising trend, especially among the younger generations who genuinely fear for the future of our planet.
If you want to give back to the ocean all the gifts it bestows upon you, we’ve rounded up some of the best places in Southeast Asia to help the ocean while you’re traveling and living your very best life, so Mother Earth and all the fish and corals can continue to live theirs.
It’s no secret that Indonesia is home to some of the most biodiverse waters on the planet, so if you’re planning an eco-conscious, ocean-focused vacation, you’ll want to seriously consider adding Indonesia to your itinerary. The unique and gorgeous land and seascapes of this remarkable country deserve protection.
Nomads Diving with Indo Ocean Project
Based on Nusa Penida, the Indo Ocean Project’s associated dive center, Nomads Diving, is passionate about research and conservation. The entire team, from management down to their interns and trainees, is focused on building a general global awareness of the need for aggressive conservation efforts.
Beyond Nusa Penida, the Indo Ocean Project has several other expeditions, internships, and training programs in other locations around Indonesia like Pulau Bunaken, Manado, and Tanjung Bira, Southern Sulawesi. To get involved with the Indo Ocean Project, you can apply online.
Raja Ampat Biodiversity Eco Resort
Sustainability is the aim of the game at the Raja Ampat Biodiversity Eco Resort. It’s located on Gam, one of the many islands that make up the Raja Ampat archipelago. The stunning scenery, dramatic cliffs, and colorful marine life make for an ideal destination for any nature lover, even those who don’t scuba.
Visiting this resort is responsible tourism in action. By employing a staff of locals, implementing traditional construction methods and materials, abstaining from the consumption of reef fish, and sourcing locally grown, fresh produce, just being a guest here is giving back to the economy and the environment.
North Bali Reef Conservation
This NGO isn’t all about diving like some of the other organizations and centers on this list. Without even getting into the water, volunteers at North Bali Reef Conservation can help build artificial reef structures on land. This organization is proud to have installed over 3,000 artificial reef structures around Bali, which help provide new homes for coral and marine life, particularly in areas where the reef has been destroyed.
Their weekly cleanups on Tianyar Beach get the young local school students involved, which is crucial for teaching the future generation the importance of protecting their environment and the destructive nature of plastic pollution.
Known for some of the very best diving on Earth, the 7,000-plus islands that make up the Philippines are home to stunning reefs and marine life, but also some rather destructive fishing practices.
Marine Conservation Philippines
Marine Conservation Philippines (MCP) is serious about preserving and protecting the stunning coastal land and seascapes throughout the Philippines. Through a vast number of projects, this NGO involves both the local community and the global community to keep their operation running smoothly. Whether you’re a diver, an academic, or just want to donate some of your time to a beach clean-up, Marine Conservation Philippines is a great organization to get involved with.
Becoming a certified scuba diver or advancing your diving qualifications and training through MCP (and, of course, PADI), you’re guaranteed to have an unforgettable and certainly unique experience. Of course, strictly diving isn’t all that MCP has to offer in terms of helping our oceans. A volunteer will typically get involved in research, community outreach, and education as well.
Ah, Thailand, the backpacker’s dream. From Chiang Mai to Phuket and everywhere in between, Thailand has so much to offer the eco-traveler — it’s not just cheap noodles and tuk-tuks. With seemingly endless stretches of coastline on both the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand, there’s no shortage of work to be done to protect the health of these pristine waters.
Eco Koh Tao
The Eco Koh Tao dive center is primarily focused on conservation efforts in Koh Tao. In addition to training all their dive students to become as eco-friendly as possible, they also organize and host regular cleanups at various dive sites around Koh Tao, manage coral reef and clam nurseries, as well as promote new coral growth on specially designed underwater structures implemented by their research team.
Eco Koh Tao’s dive professionals focus heavily on education and research, and their unique Junkyard dive site is the perfect playground in which to both have fun and learn.
This team is also responsible for the safe mooring and upkeep of buoys around Koh Tao, which actively prevent the dropping of anchors. Without proper buoys and moorings in place, diving and fishing boats may hurl heavy and dangerous anchors into the sea, which can kill sections of the reef on contact.
With their Adopt A Coral project, you can even contribute to the ocean’s health from the comfort of your own living room by, quite literally, adopting a coral transplant. In turn, the staff and volunteers at Eco Koh Tao will send regular updates on the status of your coral transplant, including photographs and measurements.
Traveling, diving, and contributing to a healthier ocean can go hand in hand, as these places and initiatives prove. Not only will your next trip be a plus for the planet, but you’ll also have a lot of fun in the process.