Most Beautiful Bays in the World
Bai Tu Long Bay
They say Halong Bay in Vietnam is stunning. Wait till you see Bai Tu Long, its eastern neighbor; every bit as beautiful as Halong Bay or maybe more. Bai Lu Tong Bay has what Halong doesn’t have – less people. The reason, of course, is its accessibility, which is only by a ferry or a ‘junk-boat’ cruise. You should visit this rare gem if you are fond of swimming without encountering carelessly strewn garbage in the sea. Thanks to almost no commercialization, the bay leaves you feeling relaxed amidst undisturbed, pristine surrounding featuring sandy beaches abutting emerald waters. The local flavor of the floating fishing community living their happy lives also gets highlighted when touts jutting trinkets at you are absent. If at all I have managed to convince you to book a cruise or ferry to Bai Tu Long Bay, or any of its islands – Co To Island, Tra Ban and Ngoc Vung Islands, Van Don Island, and Quan Lan Island (although finding accommodations may not be that simple), definitely carry swimsuits and choose a kayaking trip across the waters. The beauty of those towering karst formations and their mysterious caves can only be appreciated when you get real close to them.
Bay of Fundy
If you assumed bays were still ocean waters encapsulated partly by land, the Bay of Fundy will crash your assumptions the way its waves do at the coasts of the provinces – New Brunswick and Nova Scotia in Canada. Of course, the bay and its 170-mile long coast are beautiful and blessed with nature’s goodness, but until you see and experience the massive tides of Fundy, you’ve not seen anything. The lofty cliffs at Hopewell Cape, while giving you a pleasant hike, also brings to you the best vantage point to see the difference in the high and low tides with your own eyes. If you like biking, then let the entire bay open up for you. Need to get closer? Hire a kayak across the blue waters and discover the rich marine life and isolated beaches. The marine life comes alive when you cruise towards the bay’s mouth and witness species such as Atlantic Right Whale, Baleen Whale, and five of their cousins. The Bay of Fundy does not have “fun” in its name without a reason. Rafting against the tidal bores near Maitland is exhilarating beyond comparison. In addition to these adventures, those looking for a quiet visit to the bay can stay at the inns and hotels overlooking the bay; do wake up early to witness the wondrous sunrise with the stunning bay as its backdrop. Other not-to-miss attractions include Fundy Geological Museum in Parrsboro, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick Museum in Saint John, New Brunswick. These have beautifully preserved the rich heritage of the respective area by the bay.
When you sail into the Bay of Kotor in Montenegro, or Boka Kotorska (as the local Montenegrin say), you are assaulted with a heavenly view of tiny settlements by the coast, of the church in the island Our Lady of the Rock in the middle of the waters, and of the clean fresh air emanating from the mountains towering over the towns. Not that the bay is inaccessible, Herceg Novi, Tivat, and Kotor are just three of the many towns by the Boka-coast. What you can expect is the panorama filling your days and nights you spend here. Kotor, for example, situated at the eastern corner of the bay, is sandwiched between the intimidating mountains and the blue waters. The old part of the city is fortified and if you are fit enough to climb up the walls, you will be awarded with some of the more appreciative views of the bay. Walking through the city is another pleasure you must indulge in. It will take you back into the Middle Ages with its Romanesque buildings and churches lining the narrow streets and alleyways.
A strange choice one will say, but Mosquito Bay gives what others cannot, the best natural night views of bioluminescent waters. Anyone who visits Puerto Rico cannot miss this little stretch in the southern part of Isla de Vieques, about eight miles east of the mainland. Yes, reaching the destination and returning to the mainland can be a hassle, but if you don’t swim with the glowing dinoflagellates on a moonless night and see the sparkles on your skin, you will not know what beauty truly is. Mosquito Bay’s swimming-with-the-glowing-algae experience is probably one of a kind in the world. These tiny marine creatures thrive on the nutrient rich waters that are fed by the mangroves surrounding the bay. Despite being microscopic, the light they emit spreads hundred times their sizes. Scientists say the reason for their magnificent luminescence is to defend themselves from being eaten by small fishes by highlighting the area for predatory fishes. As astonishing as it sounds, you can do a little experiment of your own, right at the spot – dip a bucket into the water and when it becomes still, stir it and watch it getting magically lit. Another wonderful way to experience this bioluminescence is by hiring a kayak with a glass bottom and paddling through the waters watching the bottom of the kayak glow.
Back to the traditional sunny bays, one of the most beautiful experiences is the one you get at Costa Brava. The golden sands, blue Mediterranean waters, perfectly warm temperatures, and rocky cliffs and coves are the biggest draws of the region. Tossa de Mar, Lloret de Mar, Blanes, Roses, and Calella de Palafrugell are few of those textbook resort towns that are thronged with tourists during the holiday seasons. The fact that makes the region more attractive than many other bays in the world is the history that paints each town and village you enter. Begur, for instance, is a medieval village where ruins of a 16th century castle stand bearing testimony to pirate attacks in the Middle Ages. The ruins of Empúries are another historical site that conjures 2,500-year-old specters of Greeks and Romans and their architectural creations on this part of the Mediterranean shores. Moving on, the bay’s Medes archipelago of seven islets has the best setting to experience remarkable underwater scenery. The destination however that everyone associates Costa Brava with is the historic city of Barcelona. The modernistic architecture of Sagrada Família, run-down yet impressive Gothic churches in the Barri Gotic, awe-inspiring Museu Picasso, grandeur of the Fundació Joan Miró Museum, quirky tapas bars and cafes along cobbled streets, lively beaches, and all with the backdrop of the fantastical Pyrenees Mountains are reason enough for Barcelona to be a dream vacation spot for every tourist. In case you wish to stay with nature, the Natural Reserve of Cap de Creus and the marshlands of Aiguamolls de l’Empordà have some of the most scenic trails, wildlife watching areas, and bay viewpoints.
There is a life like no other in Western Australia’s Shark Bay; meaning miles and miles of undisturbed seagrass beds and million-of-year-old stromatolite domes accompanying the schools of dugongs and bottlenose whales frolicking in the Indian Ocean. This World Heritage Site is a true natural beauty. If you have very little time to see the area, the one thing you must do is charter a yacht and cruise the blue ocean. The beautiful coastline with mangrove patches, rocky shores, and white sandy beaches complement the vast ocean and its marine life, which includes dolphins, turtles, manta rays, whales, and dugongs (of course). Some operators also offer a visit to a pearl farm, which is well worth your time. Flying across the bay area is another wonderful way to see the wondrous topography of Shark Bay. In case time is not an issue, camping out in the wilderness and luxuriating on a beach are the best experiences you can take away from the bay. Francois Peron National Park with its dramatic red cliffs dotted with acacia shrubs and furthering the white sands and turquoise waters are a sight to behold. In addition, hundreds of birds and amphibians showing themselves off during wee hours of the morning are a camper’s paradise. You can choose from the various campsites within the park to get your holiday wheels running; namely, Big Lagoon, South Gregories, Bottle Bay, Herald Bight, and Cape Peron.
There is no way that you visit the west and not move to the east. Sydney Harbour in Eastern Australia is probably the most picturesque harbor in the world. Spreading across 188 miles of shoreline, the harbor is not just where large ships and ferries dock although that too is worth looking at. The entire shoreline is decorated with so many varied structures that your visit will never be monotonous. Every time you come to Sydney, you will see something that you didn’t see earlier. Then again, if there is one thing that must be done is to cruise across the bay waters. The city’s skyline opens up and you get the best vantage point to appreciate the celebrated Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge. A ferry to Manly from Circular Quay and the walkway to Spit Scenic is another way to enjoy the harbor’s beauty. Islands Rodd, Shark, Goat, Cockatoo, and Fort Denison have cultural and natural flavors of their own. Cockatoo Island, in fact, is registered as a World Heritage Site. Camping out on the harbor’s edge will give you magnificent views of the surrounding water, nearby islands, and mainland. The beaches – Bondi, Coogee, Cobblers, Reef, Narrabeen, and Collins Flat satiate a beach lover’s appetite for sun, sand, and swim in the sea. Lounging in the beaches watching the friendly folk of Sydney is no less pleasurable as the surrounding themselves.