Underwater marvels: Exploring nature’s wonders with Coral Expeditions

By Helen Hayes 1 August 2023
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Dive deeper into what lies beneath in the underwater worlds explored on Coral Expeditions’ thoughtfully curated itineraries.

In this fast-paced day and age, we are all being reminded that time is a valuable commodity for our health, mindfulness and genuine wellbeing. It can be time spent garnering experience and wisdom over decades, time spent being in the moment, or time spent on a holiday to inspire, rejuvenate or give back. Time is a gift, and we all need to make the most of it.

Four decades is a long time, and during that period Coral Expeditions has been a quiet achiever, building a highly respected brand. Australian-owned and based in Cairns, this company set sail on a converted submarine chaser in 1983, with an innovative fisherman-entrepreneur at the helm. The Great Barrier Reef is embedded firmly in the company’s DNA, just as important today as it was on those first immersive trips 40 years ago. The sailing grounds have expanded, with the company pioneering small ship, expedition-style cruising from the Kimberley to the islands of the South Pacific, Papua New Guinea and beyond.

While the itineraries are impressive, the company’s raison d’etre has blossomed to entrench environmental awareness and sustainability into everything they do. Seeing the Great Barrier Reef with Coral Expeditions is sure to be unforgettable but going home with a heightened knowledge of and interest in what you saw and experienced, from details of the sea life and how you can help conserve it, is priceless.

Exploring the Bunaken Reef on a citizen science voyage. Image credit: Coral Expeditions

Expedition cruise pioneers

By venturing into remote areas untouched by more traditional ships and tourism operators, Coral Expeditions ensures their voyages operate in an environmentally sensitive way with minimal impact on often pristine and fragile ecosystems. Their voyages showcase the wonders of nature, with a keen focus on the vitality of both the ocean and land, which is crucial to the quality of their expeditions.

The company added to this by pioneering developments such as having interpretive guides onboard to educate and inspire. This is now standard on all expedition ships.

Going above and beyond, Coral Expeditions have immersive citizen science voyages that are now an annual occurrence in their sailing schedule, and an initiative very close to their hearts. These sailings give guests the opportunity to contribute to conservation programs including biodiversity databases, wildlife rehabilitation and coral science, including coral species collection for the world’s largest coral biobank. And all this amid the captivating settings of some of Earth’s most exquisite locations.

One of Coral’s stellar interpretive guides is Mike Sugden, who has been described as a ‘man of the underwater world’. A Master Scuba Diver, Mike has more than 7000 dives under his (weight)belt. He has worked worldwide on research projects that concentrate on sharks and rays, including a three-year stint on Ningaloo Reef, WA. He has also studied the marine life of French Polynesia, the Austral atolls, the Cook Islands, Tonga, the Galapagos and northern New Zealand, with extensive periods on the Great Barrier Reef. He possesses an unwavering passion for marine conservation and the establishment of Marine Protected Areas. At the time of writing, Mike is onboard a Coral Expeditions voyage in the Kimberley, sharing his vast knowledge with guests who will inevitably fall in love with this wild area just a little more because of his insights.

A green turtle cruises through Sudbury Reef. Image credit: Coral Expeditions

Sea journeys to warm heart and soul

The Great Barrier Reef holds a very dear place in Coral Expeditions’ heart but the company also offers other fascinating voyages to idyllic destinations that will reignite your love for travel. Venture into the realm of whale sharks on Coral’s 12-night Ningaloo & Bluewater Wonders of Australia’s West journey, or immerse yourself in the 18-night Raja Ampat and the Spice Islands expedition. The latter will introduce you to destinations you may never have known existed, steeping you in the rich history and diverse marine life as you sail, retracing the ancient trade routes of spice merchants. Venture further into the unknown on the 35-night New Guinea Circumnavigation, which showcases one of the world’s last frontiers, combining ethereal beauty with ancient cultures. History is also at the forefront on the 20-night Sulawesi Circle journey, which uncovers the ancient seafaring kingdom of the Makassans during a circumnavigation of Sulawesi and the eastern coastlines of Borneo.

Clockwise from left: Ningaloo Reef teems with life – whale sharks, corals, jellyfish. Image credits: Coral Expeditions

Walking the walk of sustainability

  • Coral Expeditions is proudly accredited as an ecotourism cruise operator with world-leading EcoTourism Australia, whose ECO certification program has achieved approval status by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC). This is the 20th year of accreditation.
  • Coral Expeditions participates in the Rapid Monitoring Survey Eye of the Reef, a reef monitoring and assessment program run by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA).
  • Coral Expeditions carries a permit to remove Crown of Thorns Starfish, a significant danger to coral on the GBR.
  • The company raises money through visitation to the Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre on Fitzroy Island and Lizard Island Research Station (LIRS) and donates to the Bare Sands Turtle Sanctuary in the Kimberley.
  • Coral Expeditions is continually looking for ways to reduce waste and partner with more organic and Fair Trade suppliers.
  • All guests are provided with marine-friendly SPF50+ broad spectrum sunscreen.

All Australian Geographic society members receive $500 savings on any Coral Expeditions cruise. T&Cs apply.

This article is brought to you by Coral Expeditions.

To book call 1800 079 545 or +61 7 4040 9999, or visit www.coralexpeditions.com.

All Australian Geographic Society members receive $500 savings on ANY Coral Expeditions cruise.