Inspiring conservation through environmental activism, public education, sustainable travel, and ocean play. 

Ecotourism

My inspiration for The Greenest Blue started with my work in ecotourism. If you’re curious what that entails, let me explain: it’s the part of the tourism industry that is centered around the natural environment and wildlife. For a seasonal guide like myself, that’s meant moving regularly to work in various marine environments depending on the time of year that tourists frequent that area. I love it because it provides a perfect opportunity to connect guests with some incredible parts of the natural world, while also building upon my own experiences and learning more about conservation efforts in other countries. By experiencing marine megafauna firsthand in their natural habitat, people can better develop a sense of purpose and connection with conservation. They want to protect these animals that they are encountering; they see them, they connect the animals’ well being with our own lifestyle decisions, and conservation suddenly becomes more personal. Emotions can spark change.

Marine megafauna have captivated humanity for centuries. There’s a reason for it - their world is so different, and yet we have so much in common with our oceanic friends. Our mutual survival as different species is dependent on the ocean’s health. I love being able to see the joy light up guests’ eyes when they swim with a dusky dolphin, or see a humpback whale breach, or watch a shark glide past the boat. Below, you’ll find the marine environments I have experienced and worked in around the world. I hope the list continues to grow.

 

Kaikoura, New Zealand

Best time of year for Wildlife Viewing: Year round

Kaikoura is a marine wonderland. This quiet fishing village is located a few hours north of Christchurch on the east coast of the South Island of New Zealand. With potentially one of the most magical backdrops you’ll ever find while embarking on an ecotour, going on a whale watch or dolphin tour here is a journey that should be added to everyone’s bucket list. The frequently snow-capped Kaikoura Coastal Range provides dramatic scenery as you cruise through the waters around the little peninsula, surrounded by hundred of dusky dolphins, migrating humpback whales, and semi-resident sperm whales. Kaikoura has long been considered the best place in the world to see sperm whales consistently, thanks to the unique underwater canyon system and various currents that bring nutrients here.

Photo courtesy of Allan Cronin

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Maui, Hawai’i

Best time of year for whale watching: November - April

Ah, Hawai’i…just saying the name aloud conjures images of swaying tropical plants, waterfalls cascading into deep, cool rock pools, lava tubes and lush jungles, waves lapping against the sand. But for many, the island of Maui is much more than a magical vacation getaway - it is a whale watching mecca from the months of November to April. The North Pacific humpback whales spend their winter here (can you blame them?) enjoying the warm, shallow, protected waters in one of their main breeding grounds. Females birth and nurse their calves here, and plenty of mating occurs. The waters are bright, clear, and blue. The whale song is loud. You hardly have to wait five minutes after leaving the harbor before you see your first group. And the weather is simply perfect in winter.

 
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San Juan Islands, USA

Best time of year for wildlife viewing: april - october

The San Juan Islands steal the hearts of many who visit this beautiful hidden gem in the Pacific Northwest of the U.S.A. A collection of islands is scattered through the Salish Sea, an extremely diverse marine ecosystem thanks to all of the up welling and nutrient cycling that occurs here. It is well known, along with the Vancouver area, of being one of the best places in the world to view orcas in the wild. Southern Resident and Transient Killer Whales can be seen here throughout the summer, with chances of sightings through the winter as well. There is also an increasing amount of humpback whales visiting this area and taking advantage of the calm, nutrient-rich waters. There’s are hundreds of thousands of harbor seals around (affectionately called “rock sausages”), Steller and California sea lions at certain times of the year, harbor and Dall’s porpoises, bald eagles, minke whales, and even fin, gray, and sperm whale sightings. The place is quiet, peaceful, and the ultimate oasis for those looking for a different type of whale watching experience. The trips here are generally around 3-4 hours and truly give you a bang for your buck.

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Hervey Bay, Australia

Best time of year for whale viewing: July - October

Ah, the Aussie life…Hervey Bay, Queensland is typically seen as a sleepy seaside town, a spot where many choose to retire to enjoy the fabulous warm weather year round. But come July, whale watching season arrives in full swing as the Eastern Australian population of humpback whales resume their southerly migration from the warmer breeding grounds up north to their feeding grounds in Antarctica. Hervey Bay is a unique place for these whales, as they use it as a stopover and resting place for up to 10 days before continuing their journey. The whale watches here are unlike any I’ve been on before - the whales are incredibly curious, cheeky, and interactive with the whale watch boats, often spending up to an hour “mugging” the boat and delighting passengers. Come September, the mom and calf pairs start to arrive. These humpback whales are remarkable and truly one of my favorite species to watch in the wild. Come and enjoy the company of these humble giants any time from July to October.

 
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Gansbaai, South Africa

Best Time of year for wildlife viewing: June - September

Gansbaai holds a special place in my heart, as it was my first experience in ecotourism. I worked as an intern for a cage-diving company here, taking visitors swimming with the fabulous Great White Sharks. The coastal fishing village is situated along some of the most beautiful, unspoilt coastline in the Overberg region. It’s quite easy to do a day trip from Cape Town, but I think most of the magic happens when you allow yourself more time to explore the town and the nearby areas, including Hermanus, a cute coastal village known as one of the best places for land-based whale watching in the world. Shark-diving and whale watching boats leave from the harbor in Kleinbaai, and the village of de Kelders also provides excellent land-based whale watching. South Africa offers some of the most incredible wildlife viewing opportunities - in what other countries can you go on a safari to see leopards, giraffes, lions, and elephants and also embark on a trip to see sharks, whales, dolphins, and seals? The best time of year here is the winter in terms of whale sightings and shark activity.

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