10 sizzling journeys Under & Upon The Sea

Love the Ocean: Charter a Sailboat

If Jacques-Yves Cousteau were alive, he’d be 100 years old. Pay tribute to the French filmmaker, scientist, ecologist and co-inventor of the Aqua Lung with an undersea or oversea adventure.

If you truly wish to get in touch with the rhythm of the ocean, charter a sailboat with The Moorings. Tie up to a mooring buoy in Canouan, in the Grenadines, for example, leave the hatch open, and you’ll wake up to the tradewinds tickling your face. You can jump off the boat for snorkeling and instantly behold a school of Caribbean reef squid, sea turtles or starfish.  The Moorings offers skippered sailboat charters in the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, the Bahamas, coastal Mexico, the South Pacific and the Indian Ocean. No sailing experience is required. Skippered sailboat charters come with a professional captain, and sometimes a cook, too.

Love the Ocean: Cruise on a Small Ship

Small-ship cruises such as those offered by Zegrahm Expeditions take a different tack than the megaship cruises. Zegrahm aims to practice responsible tourism, using the cleanest-possible fuel on its ships, installing environmentally friendly engines in its Zodiacs, selecting sustainable seafood to serve in its dining rooms, and encouraging travelers to recycle. Small ships can get closer to nature, too, so you’re more likely to see those humpback whales in Alaska. Zegrahm offers small-ship expeditions to Antarctica, Europe, Indonesia, India, the Middle East, the Galapagos, South America, Africa, the Arctic and the South Pacific.

Love the Ocean: Sleep Over the South Pacific

Jean-Michel Cousteau, Jacques Cousteau’s son, created the Jean-Michel Cousteau Fiji Islands Resort, an environmentally friendly hotel on the island of Vanua Levu, Fiji. It was conceived as a model to prove to the business community the economic benefits of environmental concern and design. It boasts a full-time, on-site marine biologist, an organic garden, edible landscaping and a wastewater system that uses coconuts and recycled bottles to protect the lagoon waters.

Love the Ocean: Take the Plunge in the Caribbean

Guests at Necker Island, Richard Branson’s 74-acre private island in the British Virgin Islands, can book a ride on the Necker Nymph, a three-person submarine created by Hawkes Ocean Technologies. Two passengers sit on either side of a trained pilot who can submerge the submarine 100 feet. Scuba training, available on the island, is required for anyone going underwater on the sub. The Necker Nymph is available for $2,500 a day.

Love the Ocean: Paddle with the Nature Conservancy

The Nature Conservancy has customized nature travel tours, and some of them focus on loving the ocean. Consider a sea kayaking trip in the San Juan Islands of Washington state June 27–30. Participants camp one night on an island accessible only by boat and spend two other evenings at local bed-and-breakfasts. Paddlers in the San Juans can sometimes see resident orcas, harbor seals, Dall’s porpoises and bald eagles. The conservancy also has a trip in search of polar bears in Norway July 5–18. Nature lovers explore Norway’s coastline and the wildlife-rich island of Spitsbergen during a voyage aboard Zegrahm Expeditions’ Clipper Adventurer.

Love the Ocean: Travel With a Marine Biologist

National Geographic Expeditions offers nature cruises complete with onboard marine biologists. National Geographic photographer and marine biologist Flip Nicklin is renowned for his whale images; Greg Marshall is a marine biologist/filmmaker and an executive producer for National Geographic Television; Tierney Thys is a marine biologist, documentary filmmaker and authority on the giant ocean sunfish. Nicklin will be on board the weeklong Alaska Inside Passage trips that depart on Aug. 14 and 21, 2011 and the weeklong Baja and the Sea of Cortez trips that depart on March 10 and 17, 2012. Thys will be on board the 10-day Galapagos trip that departs Sept. 30, 2011. Marshall will be on the 16-day Island Odyssey trip to the Azores, Maderia and Channel Islands that departs on May 5, 2011.

Love the Ocean: Adopt a Whale

Visitors to the Whale Museum in Friday Harbor in the San Juan Islands of Washington state will learn that the orca population off the coasts of Washington, Oregon and Vancouver Island are endangered. Whale lovers can help by adopting an orca. Pick your favorite member of J, K or L pod and receive an adoption certificate, the whale’s personal biography, matrilineal genealogy charts of the southern resident orca population, stickers and more. (Actual whale not included.) If you head to Lime Kiln State Park’s designated whale-watching area on the west side of San Juan Island, however, you might actually catch a glimpse of your whale or, more likely, its pod members.

Love the Ocean: Sail or Swim with Aquarium Staff

The Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey, Calif., offers several programs that take you outside the aquarium and onto the ocean in summer. Climb aboard the Derek M. Baylis, a 65-foot sailboat designed for ocean research, and watch for sea lions, seals and sea otters in the company of aquarium naturalists. The trip is open to nature lovers 8 and above.

The Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta gives visitors the opportunity to swim or scuba dive with whale sharks, the largest fish in the world. They are indeed massive, averaging 18 to 32 feet long, but they are benign. Whale sharks feed on plankton and small fish that they strain through their gills. Swimmers and divers are always escorted by three dive masters.

Love the Ocean: Combine Sailing and Kayaking

The Maritime Museum of San Diego offers a variety of sailing adventures off the California coast. The Adventure Sail trip includes a four-hour sail aboard the schooner Californian along with admission to the museum. The four-day Catalina Kayaking trip includes a trip to Catalina Island aboard the same schooner, this time with the opportunity to paddle a kayak and look for sea stars, flying fish and orange garibaldi fish.

Love the Ocean: Sleep Underwater

Want to stay at Jules’ Undersea Lodge — the world’s only underwater hotel — in Key Largo, Fla.? You’ll need to take a scuba diving lesson. Guests must dive 21 feet below the sea and through a tropical mangrove habitat to get to their underwater rooms. Fortunately, the lodge itself offers scuba classes. Then, it’s off to your room to look through your porthole for grouper, nurse sharks, parrotfish and seahorses.

How do you make thrill out of the ocean ?