Who Loves to Make a Splash?

"I will find comfort in the rhythm of the sea.” “We are like islands in the sea, separate on the surface but connected on the deep.” “Dance with the waves, move with the sea, let the rhythm of the water set your soul free.” “The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.”

Read further for deep dive into the ocean’s influence on
 our mental, physical, and spiritual wellbeing.

Have you ever stared out at the ocean, totally in awe of its size and beauty, and felt a deep connection with it? This is not uncommon for most of us, as our emotional relationship with water and the ocean is largely unconscious and likely dates back to the origin of our species. In fact, many scientists believe the human species originated in the ocean and that humans were once semi-aquatic.

As humans in the 21st century, we still maintain this unconscious, biological connection with water because of how our bodies developed. We all began our lives immersed in the fluid-filled environment of the womb. When we were first born, our bodies contained around 70% water with concentrations within the brain reaching 80% water. As we age, this percentage drops, however, the density of the human body and water always remains very similar, which explains why we are often able to experience floating. Additionally, the mineral composition of the water found within our bodies is also very comparable to the water found within our oceans.

Exposure to Vitamin D while at the beach is a major benefit, including bone health, teeth, and muscles as well as improving the immune system, digestive health, and mental well-being. Negative ions, generated in nature when air molecules are broken apart by sunlight or the movement of air and water (1), are found at beaches and waterfalls. There’s a lot of talk that they can improve mood, relieve stress, and aid sleep. 

Being at the beach is also an extra special sensory experience. The sound of the waves, the smell of the seaweed, the touch of the sand between your toes, the taste of the salt in the water and in the air, the weightlessness that floating in the water brings…it’s immersive. There is nothing quite like it in the world.

baby's first ocean swim

We are often inspired by the spiritual, mental, and physical connection we have with water and the ocean, and we can use their healing powers to our advantage to help restore our bodies and minds. In this article, we discuss the some of the many physical and mental health benefits of the ocean.

Coral Reef Ecology & Biodiversity

Although they cover less than 0.1% of the earth’s surface, coral reefs are the most biodiverse marine ecosystem in the world.

Coral reefs are home to:

  • 4,000 species of reef fish

  • 840 species of corals

  • Over 1 million species of other animals

Why are coral reefs so important?

  • 275 million people live within 19 miles (30km) of coral reefs.

  • Over 100 countries benefit from the recreational value of coral reefs.

  • 350 million people travel to coral reefs each year.

Coral reefs are at the center of many coastal and island cultures around the world. For example, in the Kumulipo, the Hawaiian creation chant, the coral polyp was the first organism created, and from that all other life forms sprung forth.

Though coral reefs face numerous threats, we can save them by keeping them healthy.

Find Out How

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So what exactly is coral and the reef system? According to Maui Nui Marine Resource Council,

“Coral reefs are made up of millions of living, breathing animals known as coral polyps. Related to jellyfish and anemones, coral polyps have a single opening surrounded by tentacles that are use to capture food. There are two types of corals: hard corals and soft corals. Hard corals – known as reef building corals – excrete a hard, protective “cup” of calcium carbonate (limestone). This rigid skeleton forms the framework for coral reefs. Soft corals (for example seafans) do not build calcium carbonate skeletons and are not considered reef builders.”

But more than this, the reef ecosystem consists of not just the coral but the sea life that co-exists with it including fish, sea turtles, invertebrates and mammals.

And why are coral reef and the reef systems so important?
clown fish sea anemone

“Coral reefs are considered one of the most biologically diverse ecosystems on the planet. Dubbed the “rainforests” of the sea, reefs play a critical role in maintaining natural diversity and providing a home to thousands of species.
Corals also support healthy human communities, and are responsible for providing:
• Food
• Recreation
• Tourism (economics)
• Medicine
• Protection from large storm and wave events”

Coral reefs are considered one of the most biologically diverse ecosystems on the planet. Dubbed the “rainforests”
Embrace ‘Pono’

So let’s discuss what we can do as visitors to Maui when enjoying this amazing, fragile living organism. Here’s where the ‘pono’ comes in. In Hawai‘i, ‘pono’ is an overarching principle that essentially means to do what is right or proper.

While we know that three of the primary drivers behind Maui’s declining coral reefs are 1) Land-based pollutants, 2) Over-fishing and poor enforcement of fishing regulations and insufficient ‘resting’ (kapu) sites that protect marine life by providing time and space to recover from these stressors and 3) rising ocean temperatures, there are two lesser known extremely significant drivers, chemical sunscreens and recreational overuse. Hawai‘i’s tourism industry brings thousands of people into contact with its reefs. Uninformed and unsupervised divers and snorkelers who touch or accidentally trample living corals can have a cumulative and significant impact over time, especially when concentrated in small areas. Further, studies show that the use of chemical based sunscreen products are actually causing ‘coral bleaching’. To give you some insight, the film, ‘Reefs at Risk’, released earlier this year, raises awareness of the harm that certain chemicals, like Oxybenzone, do to Hawaiʻi’s reefs.

OutrageousOcean Sports to Try at Least Once 

Taking ourselves out of our comfort zone is how we grow as people and become more confident.

Water sports often seem daunting, but look amazing. We watch in awe from the beach on at our televisions and wish we could do it too.

But the crazy thing is, all those people, at one point, had no experience in that water sport. It was only by trying it, did they realize how much they enjoyed it.

There’s so much fun to be had with water sports. Whether you enjoy relaxing experiences, staying fit, or you’re looking for a thrill, there’s something for everyone on this list.

Next time, say ‘yes’ instead of ‘no’. These water sports will challenge you, excite you, and give you a unique experience.

And who knows, you may end up loving the water sport! You may discover a new hobby, or make some brand new friends.


Skimboarding is too much fun. It allows you to surf through very shallow water, and it is less technical than surfing.

Simply slide your skimboard through shallow waves and jump on. It’s a fun water sport for plenty of ages and abilities.


Want to experience the rush of riding a wave without having to stand up on a surfboard? Try bodyboarding.

Once you catch that perfect wave, hold on as you propel through the water toward the beach. It’s such a rush and so much fun.


A water sport with such a devoted following and epic history, surfing is a water sport rush like no other.

When you stand up, and you’re riding that wave for the first time, the feeling is euphoric. It’s a water sport you simply have to try.

Cliff Diving

There’s something awe-inspiring about conquering one of Mother Nature’s massive creations.

Cliff diving is a rush like no other. For a brief moment, you feel like you’re flying. It’s daring, thrilling, and an experience you’ll never forget.

Jet Skiing

Jet skis are stylish watercrafts, and they are so much fun to ride. On your own, or with someone else, twist the throttle and hit the waves.

You can travel at some breathtaking speeds. The feeling of roaring through the waves makes this a must-try water sport.

Kite Surfing

Kite surfing takes surfing to a whole new level. Once your kite catches the wind, you’ll be propelled across the top of the water.

It’ll take a few attempts to get used to it, but once you catch your first gust, the feeling is incredible. It’s a breathtaking water sport and has a large community all over the world.


As you can imagine, a sail attached to your surfboard takes things up a few notches. Windsurfing is a beloved water sport and one you should definitely try.

Combing the thrill of riding waves, while getting air time from the sail, is an adrenaline-fueled adventure. Even to watch, windsurfing is majestic.

Jet Skiing

Jet skis are stylish watercrafts, and they are so much fun to ride. On your own, or with someone else, twist the throttle and hit the waves.

You can travel at some breathtaking speeds. The feeling of roaring through the waves makes this a must-try water sport.


Parasailing is a fun, thrilling water activity that most people can do. Towed by a boat, once you pick up speed you’ll sail high into the sky.

Looking out over the land from above is breathtaking. Parasailing is definitely one of those water sports to add to your bucket list.


Snorkeling is very easy. With your snorkel and equipment, you can look down into crystal waters and see so many beautiful fish and sea life.

Fun to do alone, or with a group and professionals, you’ll see some truly beautiful things. Snorkeling is a must-try activity for water lovers.

Cage Diving

What could be more exhilarating than getting up-close and personal with some of the ocean’s most feared creatures?

Cage diving is an adrenaline rush like no other. Being so close to sharks, the predators of the ocean, is something you simply have to experience in your life.

Deep Diving

Snorkeling is great fun, but deep diving gives you access to a whole new underwater world. The sights and lights are magical to behold.

With your masks and oxygen tank, you can dive beyond depths of 20m and see things that will take your breath away.

Free Diving

How long can you hold your breath for? Free diving is an exhilarating experience in the company of a professional.

Holding your breath while seeing such beauty is a rush like no other. It’s a water sport you have to try at least once in your life.

Ice Diving

Ice diving is definitely for thrill-seekers. It involves diving into freezing water beneath ice, with equipment, from one entry point.

The sight of the vast ice sheets above your head is spine-tingling. For just telling people you have done it, it’s a truly worthwhile water experience.

Scuba Diving

Scuba diving allows you to see shipwrecks, coral, beautiful fish, and so much more. Scuba diving covers that perfect distance between snorkeling and deep diving.

There are so many beautiful places to scuba dive. You’ll experience such wonder and beauty. It’s definitely worth trying out this beloved water sport.


If you like competing, you should sign up to do an aquathlon. An aquathlon consists of two of the triathlon disciplines: swimming and running.

Aquathlons can be done over many distances. An open-water swim, followed by a run, is tough, but such a great achievement.


Spearfishing has been practiced for thousands of years. Many people in the world today still catch fish this way.

It’s an ocean activity that requires plenty of skill and practice. But if you do manage to catch a fish, the feeling would be incredible.


Sailing is one of the most well-loved water sports in the world. It’s a wonderful way to spend time out on the water.

Sailing is very technical, so you’ll need to try it with a professional. But once you get the hang of it, it’s so rewarding.

Sailing through blue waters, watching the sun on the horizon, is a sight you’ll never forget. Sailing is definitely worth trying at least once in your life.

Exploring the shoreline

The Beach Sand Maintains and Restores Skin Quality

Walking on fine sand at the beach is just like going for a pedicure. Except it’s free. The sediment will help exfoliate the dead skin off your feet and body, keeping your skin smooth and healthy.

Why The Beach Is Actually Great For Your Health

What The Beach Can Do To Your Brain.

Two Items That Make the Beach More Enjoyable

Inflatable Beach Bags

beach bags for the beach

I want to start by saying that these are fantastic but be warned, if you are an introverted bookworm like me, who hates drawing unwanted attention to yourself then you need to have a beach buddy with you.  Luckily for me, Paul is happy, or rather I should say whinged at until he inflates both beach bags whenever we use them and therefore, I simply stand back and let others watch as he swills the bags around filling them with air.

Trust me.  I know I have now painted an oh-so-not very glamorous picture, these beach bags take very little effort to inflate once you have figured them out and they have to be the most comfortable thing I have ever used. 

Just imagine, you no longer have to worry about sand-covered towels or hard sunbeds, these are like a bean-bag without the beans.  Plus, the added advantage of one of these is that once you are done you simply empty them of air and roll them back up, placing them back into the small carrying bags that they come in. 

This product really is a win-win in my opinion, being both sumptuous to relax on and compact.

Why not buy your very own Red Lazy Lounger so that you too can laze around in comfort next time you head to the beach.

inflatable beach bags that also float in the sea or on the lake. A great way to relax whilst at the seaside

The great thing about these bags…they also float!

Goggles and a Waterproof GoPro

Go Pro camera for all photography including water activities

I have a real dislike for the water and refuse point blank to put my head underneath the water.  I don’t care how beautiful a fish maybe I just can’t do it.  It is a phobia I have had since a child and now if the slightest wave knocks me over I am out of the water quicker than the Flash can run towards danger.

Paul, however, is a real water baby.  I often get so engrossed in a book I don’t even notice that he is back in the water either swimming miles out or looking at the life hidden beneath the waves. 

For this reason, we never head off to the beach without a set of swimming goggles in one of our rucksack along with his waterproof GoPro.  This way he can experience the glories of an underwater ecosystem up close and personal and then, thanks to the advances in modern technology, I get to see the striking images he has taken on his GoPro afterwards. 

Family Fun Stuff

If you live anywhere near the coast you can easily explore a shoreline, beach or tidal river, where you are bound to discover and find a wonderful array of fascinating sea life in the intertidal zone.
The intertidal zone is the area of land that in covered by water at high tide and is then exposed at low tide. It can be divided into 3 main areas high, middle and low. Sea life that exists in the high tidal area has to be able to withstand the impact of the waves, keep themselves moist and also be able to avoid predators so they tend to be hardy marine creatures with hard shells like crabs, barnacles and limpets.

You can find a handy guide for interesting things to look out for in the intertidal zone below as well as 17 fun, educational activity ideas for children of all ages to enjoy.

Safety note: please remember that children should be supervised at all times around open water. Please also be aware of the health and safety rules and restrictions of any area you visit.


The easiest and most obvious things to find in the intertidal zone are seashells. Seashells come from marine invertebrates like molluscs which are animals without a backbone. Instead of a backbone they have a shell which forms an exoskeleton to support their bodies and protect them from predators. They build the shells when they are young using sea minerals like calcium, carbonate and salt. When the animal dies it leaves behind its shell which can often get washed up into the intertidal zone.

When you stop to look closely for seashells you might be surprised by the variety of species that you can find. The Marine Biological Association have a brilliant free guide to identifying seashells that you can download here to print off and take with you on your adventures. Don’t forget to look closely at the patterns and textures of the shells as well. Often shells that look very similar in shape size and colour have very different patterns which is a good way to work out the species. You can find some fun activity ideas using seashells below.

* You can find some fun sea shell potato print ideas at the bottom of the page.


Sea snails can come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and you can normally find them clinging to rocks and other surfaces along the intertidal zone. You might be surprised to find that limpets are a type of sea snail along with periwinkles, whelks and top shells. How about going on a sea snail safari to see how many species you can spot. The Wildlife Trust have great photo guide to identifying sea snails here.

Limpets use their muscular foot (pictured below) to cling tightly to the rocks. They are mainly herbivores and they use a rasping tongue called a Radula (which is one of the worlds strongest biological structures) to scrape algae of the rocks to eat. Limpets sense vibrations if they sense danger they will suction themselves to the rock incredibly tightly in self defence.


Sea snails have a strong muscular foot which they use to crawl and climb around, they propel themselves forward using a combination of strong muscular wave like contractions and mucus. The mucus acts a lubricant reducing friction and also protecting them from rough and sharp terrain. This strong muscular foot also allows them to cling tightly to surfaces to protect themselves from predators and the elements.

You can observe a sea snails foot and the way it contacts and moves by making a simple snail observation box or window. All you need for this is a small recycled cardboard box and a firm sheet of recycled plastic. You can often use recycled food packaging for this,

First cut two windows into the back and front of the box. Then tape or glue the sheet of plastic packaging onto the front window. You need the plastic packaging to be firm and strong enough to safely hold a snails weight. It also needs to be clean and clear.

Finally find a sea snail and carefully and gently place it onto your observation box The children can then lie down and hold the box carefully up to look at the underside of the sea snail. If the slug seems to have securely attached itself to the plastic window you can also carefully tilt the box sideways to look at them from the side.


There are more than 4,500 species of crabs in the world, 62 of which live in or around the waters of the UK. However you are most likely to only find the 5-8 most common varieties by the shore. There is great guide to identifying any crabs you find here. *You can also find some fun crab potato print ideas at the bottom of the page.

Like many crustaceans crabs shells are made chitin which is a hard wearing and tough substance. But you might be surprised to know that a crabs blood is actually blue because of the copper it contains. They also have 10 legs not 8 as many people believe. Crabs belong to a group of animals called Decapods which means 10 legs. Lobsters, shrimps, and prawns are also Decapods.

Crabbing is a great activity for children of all ages, they are fascinating creatures to find and there is always a lot of excitement when they scuttle about. You can either hunt for crabs by simply looking in rock pools or under rocks as the tide is going out. Or you can catch crabs in deeper water using a net, a crabbing line (make sure it doesn’t have a hook attached) and some bait. Leftover bacon or bacon rind is the best bait to use as most of the crabs in the UK are omnivorous meaning they eat both animal and plant matter. The best places for crabbing are often well known local spots along shorelines and tidal rivers. You can often can crab off pontoons, bridges, harbour walls, slipways or a jetty.


Please always handle crabs with care and let them go after a short while so they didn’t become too distressed (they blow bubbles when they are stressed). Crabs are often feisty and will pinch you in self defence, so if you want to pick one up its best to gently hold it either side of its shell or carefully pinch the back of crab in between too fingers so it doesn’t get hurt and it can’t hurt you. You can keep any of the crabs you catch in a bucket (filled with water from the location you are crabbing from) for a short while to observe. But remember to change the water or let them go every 10 mins or so, otherwise they won’t have enough air to breath. It’s also best not to overcrowd them as they will fight or become distressed if there are too many crabs together in a small space. You could also add in some seaweed or rocks to give them a bit of shelter to hide in.

5. Identify The Local Seaweed

There are over 600 species of seaweed in the UK which provide food and shelter to a variety of other marine and shore creatures that even the littlest of leaners can discover and learn about. All you need to do is download the Big Seaweed Search Guide 


Rock pools are a fantastic place to find a wide array of underwater sea life like goby fish, jelly fish, sea urchins, starfish and sea anemones Any sea anemones you find above the waterline may resemble jelly like blobs. This is because they have folded themselves inwards under a protective layer to shelter from the elements and would be predators.

When they are under water they unfurl their tentacles to catch food, the tentacles have stinging cells which allow them to paralyse prey. Sea anemones are one of the world’s slowest moving creatures, they mostly attach themselves to a surface and remain there. However they are also one of the longest living marine animals and have the ability to clone themselves.

If you get lucky you may even spot some jelly fish. The most common jellyfish to find on UK shores is the Moon jelly fish which mostly drifts with the currants feeding on plankton. You can identify them by the four circles on the under side of the dome, these circles are actually the reproductive organs. Did you know that jellyfish don’t have brains, hearts or blood and they are 95% made of water?


A fossil is the preserved remains, imprints or impression of a once living thing like as animal or plant. Did you know the word fossil comes from the Latin word ‘fossilis’ which meant “obtained by diggin” A good place to find small sea fossils is in flint. Flint forms in layers of chalk and is easy to find in the South of England and Essex, you will often find that most of the pebbles on beaches and gardens in these areas are made of flint. Chalk itself is formed from layers of mud and tiny sea creatures that have died and fallen to the ocean floor.

Over millions of years these layers of mud and sea creatures are compacted into chalk. As the chalk compacts it squeezes seawater containing silica (dissolved quartz) into any cavities, gaps or spaces around it forming nodules and layers of flint. Sometimes the flint nodules forms around a small sea creature or shellfish like a sponge (above) or sea urchin below), preserving them in the flint as a fossil.


Nature art (also sometimes called land art) is a wonderful nature activity that encourages creativity and fine motor skills in children of all ages and abilities. All you need is some imagination and natural materials like pebbles from the shore to create pictures, shapes and patterns with.

Or if you are on a sandy beach you could simply draw and write in the sand, using your fingers or a stick to make patterns and pictures or practising writing skills. Or how about using a combination of materials and marks to make your art.


Rock balancing is also a great activity for developing fine motor skills, co-ordination and concentration. We find it really therapeutic and good for mindfulness. Simply find rocks of any shape or size and have fun balancing them on top of each other in towers pyramids or to make mini walls. It’s also great fun to knock them down again afterwards.


Shadow characters are so easy and fun to make on a sunny day. Just draw some simple funny faces or expressions in the sand and then line your shadows up over them. You can then move about in different positions to bring your shadow characters to life. You could also take photos of all the different characters and scenarios you create.


Sea glass is glass that has been weathered an worn down by the sea, a process that can take anything from 20-200 years for the glass to become fully smoothed and frosted by the ocean. The sea glass can come from anything like broken bottles and other rubbish dumped in the ocean to glass windows and tableware from ancient shipwrecks. Safety note: please supervise children when collecting sea glass and make sure they don’t accidently pick up any sharp or newly broken glass.

You can often tell where a piece of sea glass may have come by it’s colour. The most common colours green, brown, white and clear normally come from alcoholic and non alcoholic drinks bottles. Lime green can come from1960’s soda bottles and forest green and soft blues are most likely to be from 19th centaury medicine, ink or soda bottles.

Jade and amber coloured sea glass are more uncommon and are likely to come from old whiskey, spirit and medicine bottles. Other uncommon colours include purple, cobalt and cornflower blues from Milk of magnesia, vicks vapour rub and poison bottles and opaque white which comes from early milk bottles, The rarest colours to find are grey, pink, red, yellow, teal and black. Black sea glass is glass that had iron slag added to it to increases it’s strength and protect liquids sensitive to light damage such as wines. spirits and medicines.


Sandcastles are so simple to make for children of all ages. Simply fill a bucket or container with sand. Pat the sand down firmly and then turn the container over. Tap the bottoms and gently squeeze and tap until the sand comes away from the bucket or container to form a sand castle. Have fun decorating you sandcastles with any natural materials you can find like shells, stones, sticks and seaweed. Or simply enjoy knocking them down and building them back up again.

If you are feeling really adventurous you could try sculpting and shaping sand into different animals, figures, objects or patterns and shapes. You could also use found natural materials like shells, stones, sticks and seawards to give your sand sculptures extra details.


Making nature collages is a fun activity for children of all ages and abilities. It encourages creativity and helps develop fine motor skills. All you need is some paper or recycled cardboard, Firstly you need to draw or paint simple sea creature pictures onto the paper or cardboard. Next collect as many natural objects as you can find on the shore for your collage. You could use leaves, stones, seashells, driftwood, feathers or seaweed. Arrange the materials on top of your picture in any way you like. You could make a frame or a pattern on top of the picture or you could create a mini sea scape for your creatures to live in.


Nature art frames are really simple to make, fun to play with and create some wonderful images. You just need an old piece of cardboard a pen and some scissors. We hate to waste anything and recycling and reusing materials is one of many small things we can all do to help the environment. So instead of chucking used cardboard boxes we like to find ways to use them in crafts and activities.

All you need to make a nature frame is to draw a simple shape or picture like a fish onto cardboard. Your shape or picture should have at least 1- 2 easy to cut out sections that you can then look through. When you have cut out the see through sections of your frames, you can take them outside to hold them up against any of the interesting natural objects, textures, patterns and shapes you can see, like the water, shore, sky, trees, flowers and grass for example.

The picture you see or create with the frames changes as you move the paper around. Its fun to see all the beautiful patterns, shapes and colours of nature bring your pictures to life. You could even take photos of the nature frames as you go to capture the artwork and pictures they create.


Heart shaped stones are often quite easy to find on stone and pebble beaches. You can give them as little love tokens to friends or family or keep them as mementos of your adventures. You could even write kind messages on them and hide them for others to find.


We love finding painted pebbles and stones when we are out and about, it’s wonderful to see the creativity and love that people put into them. You can easily find pebbles to decorate yourself by looking in your garden, on a nature walk or along the shore. All you need then is some paint or permanent markers to paint or draw colourful designs onto the pebbles or turn them into animals like bees or food like strawberries.

Once you have finished painting your pebbles you could use them in pretend play, as games counters or hide them in your garden and have a treasure hunt. You could even join a local rock finding group where you show pictures of the rocks you have made and invite people to find them in a local park or a safe, easy to access place. Who knows how far your rocks may travel and the adventures they might have may have along the way. *Safety note please be aware of the choking hazard of pebbles with smaller children.


Stones and shells that have holes in them are great for making jewellery. You simply thread them onto string, ribbon or wool. (Which is another great activity for developing fine motor skills.) You could also tie a threaded string of shells and stones onto a forked branch/stick to make a stick rattle. This is great fun to play with as it makes a fantastic noise and you can use it in games or as a musical instrument.

Or how about tying strings of threaded shells and stones onto a stick to make a mobile. You could even make a Rainbow stick mobile by painting 6-7 sticks in the colours of the rainbow. When they are dry you then tie them together using a piece of string, ribbon or wool and then you hang your strings of seashells underneath to look like raindrops.

10 most incredible marine life experiences

Top photographers and experts reveal their most incredible underwater encounters

Whale shark feeding with its mouth open

Where to see whale sharks: Western Australia

The expert: Brad Norman is a marine biologist who has been studying whale sharks at Ningaloo Reef since 1994.

“Jumping off a boat into crystal-blue oceanic water 50m deep is thrilling enough, but knowing that you’re plunging into the path of the world’s biggest shark – up to perhaps 15m long – really sends your heart into overdrive.

At least 10,000 tourists do this every year at Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia, which is a World Heritage site.

There are more than 20 locations worldwide where you can swim with whale sharks, but Ningaloo is perhaps the best site of all; it’s certainly the most famous.

I often relive my first time: as I snorkel languidly at the surface, a creature as big as a bus powers towards me. The shark slides effortlessly past, seemingly unconcerned by my presence.

A giant shark, I say to myself, is within 5m of me – and there is no cage between us. Marine encounters truly don’t get much better.”

Top tip

When you enter the water and first see the shark, swim out to the side and stay at least 5m away. Try not to splash.

Where to see hammerhead sharks: Red Sea, Sudan

The expert: Jeremy Stafford-Deitsch is a photographer and the author of three books on sharks.

“Beyond the reef, out in the current, the hammerheads gather in schools. They are most likely to be seen on an early morning dive, but here, off Sanganeb Atoll in the Sudanese Red Sea, you must wait for them to come to you.

I plunge through the thermocline and down to the colder water that the hammerheads prefer. The current is strong, so I work against it with biting fin strokes while controlling my breathing.

I gaze into the crepuscular emptiness then clang my knife against my air tank a few times. The shimmer of a distant ghost appears through the haze; then several others materialise, followed by many more solidifying forms.

A school of scalloped hammerhead sharks populates the liquid half-light, their beautifully ugly, flattened heads jerking from side to side.

In a few thrilling seconds, their primitive curiosity is satisfied – I am inedible – and they turn as one to return to a gloom I cannot enter.”

Top tip

Wherever you go, expert local knowledge is vital, as are good diving skills.

Where to see sealions: Galápagos islands, Ecuador

The expert: Tui De Roy is a wildlife photographer and author who spent 40 years living in the Galápagos and still returns there frequently.

“From the moment I hit the water, I know the tables are turned. I thought I was going to be the observer – but I quickly realise that all eyes are on me, and the curious young sealions are eager to engage in rambunctious play.

These underwater aerialists put on quite a show, transforming this undersea realm into a veritable circus. They are full of confidence, reassured by their strength in numbers and bursting with energy, still nourished by their mothers’ milk.

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Book with shells. © Getty

Best books on marine and coastal wildlife

The sealions dart, spin, turn, loop and leap, while blowing bubbles and chasing each other in tight circles.

They egg each other on – some come closer and closer, heading straight for my mask, then veer away adroitly at the last moment, constantly watching my reactions.

Their greatest joy – and mine – comes when I try to imitate them by turning somersaults of my own. My clumsy antics drive them wild, and they circle me in ever-tighter loops.

Their agility makes me feel like a floundering cow, and I nearly drown in my own laughter as I fail miserably to keep up.”

Top tip

Engage the sealions’ curiosity by copying their movements or swimming in short bursts then stopping. Trying to get too close will only put them off.

Where to see orcas: Norway

Three orcas underwater.

Orcas underwater in Norway. © Mike Korostelev/Getty

The expert: Zoologist and BBC Wildlife columnist Mark Carwardine is never happier than when swimming with a top marine predator.

“Tysfjord is Norway at its deepest, narrowest and moodiest. Winter daylight is in short supply, and the air is very, very cold. We head out to sea in a small boat, and I’m ready for action, dressed in a drysuit, mask and snorkel.

I keep an eye out for the familiar dark dorsal fins of the world’s apex marine predators – orcas.

Once we’ve spotted a pod, we try to get ahead of it and then jump into the water so that the animals swim right past us. There’s no guarantee that it will work, but I plunge into the frigid fjord anyway and wait.

Staring into its cold, dark depths, I am suddenly engulfed by a huge school of herring. A moment later, I feel a swishing movement and turn to see an adult female orca disappearing into the murk in hot pursuit. For the brief moment she’s in my field of view, the killer whale appears much bigger than she did from the sanctuary of the boat.

Moments later the entire pod surrounds me, stunning fish with slaps of their powerful tails before picking off their prey, one by one. I am floating right in the middle of their meal.”

Top tip

Don’t try to chase after the orcas – just lie still on the surface and watch.

Where to see humpback whales: Tonga

The expert: Sue Flood is a wildlife photographer and film-maker who specialises in polar and marine environments and species.

“In the crystal-clear waters of the South Pacific, off the coast of the Vava’u Archipelago in the Kingdom of Tonga, we watch a female humpback whale apparently dozing near the surface. Her young calf, just a few weeks old, is nearby, and the mother lazily opens one eye to take a better look at us.

Satisfied that we pose no threat to her or her precious offspring, she drifts back to sleep, allowing us so close that we can see the wrinkled skin around their eyes and even the tiny whale lice clustered in folds in their bodies.

At this point my husband, wildlife cameraman Doug Allan, and I have been filming the humpbacks for nearly 10 weeks for the BBC series Planet Earth.

We have been swimming with this pair many times; perhaps that’s why mum is so relaxed in our presence. Then again, every year hundreds of people swim with the whales here, so they probably know by now that they have nothing to fear.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have enjoyed some amazing encounters with marine mammals in my 25-year career, but nothing beats this. At one point, mum swims close and looks me in the eye – a heart-stopping moment that will stay with me forever.”

Top tip

When swimming with humpback whales, move very slowly and gently, and let them come to you.

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Where to see green turtles: Barbados

The expert: Charlie Hamilton James is a wildlife photographer, cameraman and TV presenter.

“Tumbling over the side of the boat into the warm waters of the Caribbean, I look around. Immediately some dark shapes below start moving my way. As they get closer, they resolve into a group of green turtles.

They come right up to inspect me, and I fall in love with them on the spot. They’re so graceful in the water, a complete contrast to their lumbering movements on land.

Local operators have been feeding them strips of fish for years, and the turtles no doubt think I’ve got my own secret stash. I spend half an hour in the water with them, during which I’m even graced with the company of a couple of hawksbills as well. I return here almost daily for three weeks.

Research by the Barbados Sea Turtle Project (BSTP) suggests that the turtles are passing through these waters and suffer no ill effects from human contact. So you can enjoy a magical encounter with a clear conscience.”

Top tip

Never attempt to chase, grab or feed the turtles – they are easily stressed.

Where to see manta rays: Maldives

Giant oceanic manta ray swimming

Giant oceanic manta ray swimming in the Maldives, Indian Ocean. © Andrey Nekrasov/Barcroft Images/Getty

The expert: Reinhard Dirscherl is an experienced diver and specialises in marine and travel photography.

“As the cry of “Manta! Manta!” rings out over the vermilion blue waves of South Ari Atoll, I prepare to dive. Just 15m below the surface hundreds of cleaner wrasse surround a small coral block.

Three manta rays soon join them at their cleaning station. They circle around, each time approaching within a few metres of me.

It’s unnerving to see these massive creatures, their mouths wide open as they feed on the plankton-rich waters, coming towards you at speed. But I know that I have nothing to fear: they are truly gentle giants.”

Top tip

Manta rays congregate at cleaning stations – so wait at one, too

Where to see basking sharks: UK
A basking shark swimming with its mouth open

A basking shark sieves microscopic zooplankton through its cavernous mouth. © Corbis/VCG/Getty

The expert: TV presenter and BBC Wildlife columnist Nick Baker loves swimming with sharks, from great whites to dogfish.

“It’s strange meeting a basking shark. Even though I know that its immense bulk is fuelled entirely by tiny crustaceans, I’m still nervously chewing the little rubber blocks off my snorkel.

But it’s hard to stay cool as a vast, pale maw the size of an inglenook fireplace comes hurtling towards you, gills billowing like satin sheets in the wind, seemingly engulfing the entire ocean as it moves.

This is my first encounter with this mighty fish and what makes it so much sweeter is that I’m bobbing around in the water off the Lizard Peninsula in Cornwall. It’s amazing what you can find off our coasts.

Top tip

If you want to get close to basking sharks, position yourself ahead of them and hang in the water like a jellyfish.

Where to see stingrays: Cayman Islands

The expert: environmental journalist and former BBC Wildlife staff member James Fair visited the Cayman Islands in 2006.

“With a chunk of squid grasped in my right fist, I dive beneath the surface of North Sound and offer it to the creature on the sandbar at my feet.

The stingray locates the prize and then there’s a strange rasping sensation as it hoovers up the treat.

I look around: stingrays with 1m wingspans litter the seafloor, moving towards me like a group of alien life forms from Doctor Who. I’m going to need a lot more squid.”

Top tip

Whenever you feed a stingray, make sure you keep your thumb tucked in to avoid it being sucked into the fish’s mouth.

Where to see manatees: Florida, USA
Florida manatees head inland to Florida’s warm springs during the winter months.

Florida manatees head inland to Florida’s warm springs during the winter months. © Shutterstock

The expert: Alexander Mustard is a marine biologist who has worked as a professional underwater photographer since 2004.

“Mist hangs over the dark waters and I am pleased to see the first rays of sunlight stretching across Three Sisters Spring. It’s dawn, and I’m right on time. In Florida, the early snorkeller catches the manatee.

During winter, these animals seek out the warm waters here to keep them toasty while they sleep. On particularly cold nights, the springs fill up like dormitories and if you arrive early you can expect quite a reception.

There is no need to keep your distance – the manatees actively seek you out. Life for them is an itchy business, and there is nothing they like more than a good ol’ scratch. And they know just where to get one.

A manatee will swim right up to you, turn on its side or back and rub its flippers on its belly, leaving little doubt as to what it wants you to do. And if you perform a satisfactory service, one individual may bond with you all morning, returning to you again and again.”

Top tip

The less you move in the water, the more manatees will be attracted to you.

Going Wild in the Seawater

Cold Water Wakes Up Mind And Body

There are also benefits to swimming in colder water. The Wim Hof Theory states that swimming in colder temperatures turns you into a high-functioning zen ninja (not his words). When you are cold, adrenaline is released to keep your muscles active and your senses alert. Regular swims in cold water strengthens your muscles, sharpens your mind and is strongly linked to longer life expectancy.

Ten Reasons The Sea Makes You Feel Amazing

Unless you’ve spent the day gorging on ice creams, everyone feels good after a day at the beach. And who hasn’t been prescribed some ‘sea air’ by an old aunt at some point in their lives? Well, here are ten scientific (ish) reasons why Great Aunty Jean was right all along.

I’ve always loved how the ocean makes me feel, and so I spent some time looking at the science behind why this might be.

I’ve shared the highlights of what I found in the blog post below. Thanks for reading!

1. Infection-Fighting Minerals

Seawater is overflowing with minerals such as potassium, magnesium, chloride and sodium. Not only do these sneaky substances make our hair and skin look amazing; they also help fight infection and reduce inflammation. That’s why people with skin conditions such as eczema are often advised to swim in the sea as part of their treatment.

2. More Inclined To Exercise

Always putting off that run? Move to the seaside! Living around the ocean or seeing views of natural beauty increases your desire to be outside and take part in activities such as running, cycling or team sports. Of course, swimming is also much more common around beaches. Aerobic activities like these keep your respiratory system working well and are known to increase life expectancy.

3. A Bit Of UV Is Good For Us

When the sun’s UVB light rays shine on us, it stimulates the production of Vitamin D. Vitamin D is very important because it helps our bodies to produce calcium, which in turn prevents diabetes, MS, heart disease and reduces the chance of cancer. However, AS EVERYONE KNOWS, it can be dangerous to stay in the sun for too long without protection – so be sensible out there.

4. Thick Sea Air For Clearer Breathing

Get this. Because sea air has high salt content, it is quite thick. This means that as you breathe it in, it’s clearing your throat and respiratory system, allowing clearer breathing and better-quality sleep. Sea air is also known to keep you awake and energetic during the day because it is much cooler.

5. Seawater’s Salty Remedy

Due to the saltiness of seawater, it has many properties that are beneficial to us. Small cuts or grazes are healed by salt and minerals. The sea has also been proven to help muscle problems or joint pains by relaxing them and soothing the surrounding area.

6. Sand Maintains Skin Quality

Walking on fine sand at the beach is just like going for a pedicure. Except it’s free. The sediment will help exfoliate the dead skin off your feet and body, keeping your skin smooth and healthy.

7. The Ocean Is The “Right Place”

Brain imaging research has shown that proximity to water is strongly linked to your brain releasing feel-good hormones, including dopamine and oxytocin. This is likely why Hawaii has been ranked the happiest of all states for the last six years. Marine biologist and conservationist Wallace Nichols describes the sea as “a trigger telling your brain you’re in the right place” and says that “our response to water and the oceans are deep”.

8. Stress-Relieving Waves

The sound of waves has also been proven to relax the mind. As waves come in, crash, and then recede again, the parasympathetic nervous system is activated, which slows down the brain and helps promote relaxation. Shuster describes this as “de-stimulating our brains”. This process makes the part of the brain responsible for stress emotions shrink, while areas such as empathy and memory grow.

9. Cold Water Wakes Up Mind And Body

There are also benefits to swimming in colder water. The Wim Hof Theory states that swimming in colder temperatures turns you into a high-functioning zen ninja (not his words). When you are cold, adrenaline is released to keep your muscles active and your senses alert. Regular swims in cold water strengthens your muscles, sharpens your mind and is strongly linked to longer life expectancy.

10. Blue Seascapes Are Calming

Being near the ocean has mental health benefits as well as physical ones. Scientific research from Richard Shuster shows that just being near the colour blue has led to “an overwhelming amount of people to be associated with feelings of calm and peace”. Staring out at the ocean can also result in a relaxing, meditative state, and can even change the frequency of brain waves to match that of the sea, putting you really in touch with nature.

Further Reading:

Why The Beach Is Actually Great For Your Health

What The Beach Can Do To Your Brain.

mental physical health benefits of the ocean

I don’t know about your situation but for me going to the beach rejuvenates me completely.

It’s not all about fruity drinks and beach bodies, there are legitimate reasons why going to the beach is good for our minds, our bodies, and our souls.

The Ocean is Good for Your Mind

We are connected to water from the onset of life. Until we take our first breath of air we are immersed in placenta fluid. New-born babies are 75 percent water and as we age we become drier to the tune of only 60 percent. Our brains, however, are still 75% water and our bones are at 31%. Our brains react to water in a positive manner because our ancient ancestors came out of the water and evolved from swimming to crawling to walking.

Fetuses, in their early stages of development, have water breathing structures in their early stages of development and the water in our cells is comparable to that found in the sea, according to Wallace J. Nichols, a marine biologist and conservationist who lives near the central coast of California.

We’re connected to water from the onset of life. Babies’ bodies are 75 percent water. As we age, we become drier (only 60 percent) but our brains are still three-fourths water and even our bones are 31 percent water.
The brain, which rests in a kind of clear, colorless cerebrospinal fluid in our heads, reacts to water very fondly because, as Nichols writes, “our ancient ancestors came out of the water and evolved from swimming to crawling to walking. Human fetuses still have ‘gill-slit’ structures in their early stages of development,” and the water in our cells “is comparable to that found in the sea.”

This biological connection to water, Nichols told CBS News, triggers an immediate response in our brains. When you see or hear the ocean, he says, you know “you’re in the right place.”

The Ocean is Good for your Body

Saltwater is actually great for your hair and skin. Whenever I come back from the beach, my hair seems to have more volume, and it’s because of the salty water/air. I don’t wash my hair for about a week afterwards because it just looks great from the trip to the ocean.

According to Wellness Mama sea salt spray is the second most used hair product used in her business, second only to ‘Dry Shampoo’. You can make your own for almost nothing, buy a product for about $25 or just go to the beach. It adds great texture and volume to hair without the chemicals. It works well for hair that is difficult to tame or to get to hold a curl. I would prefer to visit the beach personally because of the many other benefits.

Soaking in salt water also heals joints and muscles. The ocean heals small nicks, cuts and scrapes. The sand will exfoliate your skin and has a lasting effect for days.

The Ocean is Good for the Soul

Most of us know that feeling of calm we get when we are on, in or just near the water.
“This is what you want if you’re in the midst of a stressful week,” said Nichols, “You just want to hit that big blue reset button and get out here.”

Brain imagining indicates that proximity to water floods the brain with feel-good hormones such as dopamine and oxytocin. Levels of the stress hormone cortisol actually drop. Scientists have also discovered that the brain prefers the color blue above all others and water increases our ability to focus.

“Our response to water is deep,” Nichols said. “It’s human, it’s about life and it’s about survival.”
In fact, our bodies consist of about 60 percent water and our brains, a whopping 75 percent.

“So when you see water, when you hear water, it triggers a response in your brain that you’re in the right place,” Nichols said.

From rafting to kayaking to surfing, water therapy is increasingly being used to treat a variety of ailments, including wounded veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress and depression.

Salt Water is Great for Your Skin

Our oceans contain high quantities of natural minerals such as magnesium, sodium, calcium, potassium chloride and sulphate, which are all healing agents for skin. The magnesium helps to reduce inflammation and acts as a moisturiser to keep the skin feeling hydrated. This also helps to improve our skin’s elasticity, while the sodium and potassium chloride work together to aid the healing process for skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.

Saltwater Swimming Has Tremendous Health Benefits

The intake of these nutrients paired with the physical exertion of swimming allow us to work out nearly every muscle in our bodies while improving blood circulation to restore micronutrients within our bodies. These nutrients are often depleted due to the complexities of modern-day living, such as poor diets, stress, and environmental pollution. Furthermore, saltwater swimming        boosts our immune systems, relieves cold and flu symptoms, helps muscles relax, and reduces muscle aches.

Cold Water Swimming, if You’re Brave Enough, is Better For Your Health

Regular swimming in cool or cold water has been proven to have a positive effect on the cardiovascular system, endocrine system, and the immune system. Exposing body to ocean water, especially if it is cold, helps to boost the body’s immune system by increasing white blood cell production as the body is forced to react to the changing conditions. Submerging in cold water initially causes our bodies to release the stress hormone cortisol, which results in higher breathing and heart rates. The idea is to continue this process until our bodies become stronger and better at activating its defense mechanisms so that we can reduce the body’s reaction to stress - both in and out of the water. 

Over time, the calming effect of the body regulating its stress response also helps the body to achieve lower cortisol levels which have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body and help to improve the immune system's defenses.

Surfing is Good for Mind & Body
Spending time near or in the ocean is about more than just improving your physical health. it can significantly improve your emotional well-being as well. Our friends at the International Surf Therapy Organisation operate one of a growing number of mental health organizations that teach surfing to help people struggling with anxiety, depression, trauma, and even PTSD. Surf therapy, as it is called, can also be thought of as a form of adventure, not just therapy, and an alternative healing method, which has no potentially dangerous side effects that can be associated with psychiatric medications.

READ THIS NEXT: 10 Ways To Improve Your Mental Health Without Medication

Ocean Air Helps Increase Serotonin Levels

Due to the ongoing motion of the water and the rich minerals present, the ocean air itself is full of negatively charged ions, which are odorless and invisible molecules that help to harmonize and increase serotonin levels through inhalation. This neurotransmitter activity plays an important role on positively soothing the mind and helping to alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Ocean Wave Sounds Calm the Mind

Utilizing all of our senses, including our hearing, around water is also incredibly healing as the sounds of the ocean waves can help the mind enter a relaxed and meditative state. The rhythmic sounds of the crashing swells help the body activate the parasympathetic nervous system, also known as the “rest and digest” state. During this stage the body relaxes and slows down. Due to the low pitches, soft volumes, and harmonic frequencies these naturalistic environmental sounds trigger the brain’s prefrontal cortex to be activated, which in turn, induces feelings of relaxation and positive mental wellbeing.

The Color Blue Is Calming

It’s not just the sound of the ocean that is healing; so is the color. You may have noticed that the color blue is often found within nature and has a strong association with feelings of peace and tranquillity. In fact, gazing out on the wide expanse of the blue horizon changes our brain wave frequency, helps to put us into a mild meditative state, while also boosting levels of creativity. The clear blue color and wide horizon allow us to clear our minds, and in a similar way to meditation, allow us to focus on the present moment and what is truly important. We call this practice mindfulness, or in this case, blue-mindfulness..

The Blue Ocean Life Experience Promotes Spiritual & Emotional Healing

We don't need scientists or psychologists to tell us that the ocean has real therapeutic powers. We know it through first-hand experience. If you've ever stared out into the ocean, particularly during a beautiful sunset, you feel a spiritual uplift & connection with life that science cannot explain. You just feel it for yourself. 

Research into ‘Blue Health”, the study of aquatic environments’ health benefits, provides another reason to protect the ocean and to responsibly use coastal spaces!

Australians are fond of taking off to the beach to spend some quality time in the surf, sun and sand and scientists have declared that it’s actually good for your health.

Studies from the United States and Britain have found beach-dwelling promotes improved happiness, general wellbeing and even brain function.

It’s perhaps why residents of the US state of Hawaii have been ranked the happiest in the whole country for six consecutive Gallop surveys.

Research by Kobe University in Japan found people who live in a house with a view of the ocean are calmer than those who don’t.

It mirrors the findings of data published in Health Place, which concluded that Brits who live by the coast report better physical and mental health.

According to Medical Daily, sea water contains minerals including magnesium, potassium and iodine that could help the body fight infection.

And breathing in the sea air has respiratory benefits that could result in a better night’s sleep, it said.

Clinical psychologist Richard Shuster told NBC that the ‘zen’ feeling induced by being at the beach comes down to a number of drives — and not just the benefit of vitamin D.

“The colour blue has been found by an overwhelming amount of people to be associated with feelings of calm and peace,” Dr Shuster said.

Staring out at the ocean also resulted in a kind of meditative state, he said, and actually changed the frequency of brain waves.

The sound of waves coming in, crashing and then receding again can help activate the parasympathetic nervous system, slowing us down and promoting relaxation.“It kind of de-stimulates our brains,” Shuster said.

And even the physical sensation of sand between your toes is good for your wellbeing.

A study published in Psychiatry Research examined the brains of people who regularly meditated over an eight-week period and found significant improvements.

It found the part of the brain responsible for stress emotions shrank, while the areas that produce empathy, reasoning and memory grew.

Shuster said the beach was a good spot to wind down and promote these kinds of outcome.

“Focus on how your body feels warm from the rays of the sun, focus on what it feels like to have your feet in the sand, breathe deep and smell the ocean air,” he said.If you needed an excuse to hit the beach, your health is a pretty good one.

Just don’t forget to slop or slap —  sunscreen on protect you from skin cancer, but an Aussie study found it keeps you looking youthful like no other product. 

The Most Magical Thing About The Ocean

There’s no way to overstate the serenity and excitement of snorkeling in the sea. Snorkeling with green sea turtles from shore. Tropical fish. Colorful reef. It’s truly amazing.

Snorkeling offers an authentic interaction with the seas natural beauty, no matter what age you are.

Facts about Seahorses

Snorkel Snapshot

This guide will help you get the hang of snorkeling in the water so you can become a confident snorkeler for a lifetime.

Here’s how it’s done:


  • A. Check the conditions

  • B. Find a buddy

  • C. Get the good stuff

THE 123’S

  • 1. Wade Into The Water Waist Deep (Carry Your Gear)

  • 2. Do A Front Float

  • 3. Make A Plan With Your Buddy

  • 4. Explore The Ocean

  • 5. Connect Often

  • 6. Return To Shore

Remember that 10 minutes of preparation will ensure you get to see turtles and fish on your adventure.


Comfortable, custom-fit gear makes all the different in the water. You don’t need the “top of the line” set, but make sure to get the good stuff.

  • Cheap snorkel sets often leak around the mask

  • Get snorkels with dry-mouth technology—they purges water away from your mouth automatically


The beauty of the underwater is meant to be shared. Snorkel with a friend to create unforgettable memories together and to ensure your safety.

  • Awe inspiring underwater experiences are best shared with a partner

  • Ocean safety requires snorkeling with a friend


The ocean conditions change from day to day. Register for regular ocean updates on your phone so you’ll know which beaches are best for snorkeling each morning.

  • Select at least 1 backup beach

  • Get your free beach map. We’ll circle the best snorkel spots near your lodging on a free beach map in the store

Let’s See Some Turtles!

Maui’s tropical underwater universe is 15 minutes away. But first let’s learn to breath through a snorkel underwater.

We’ve found that practicing your breathing in waist deep water for 15 minutes is the best way to become comfortable snorkeling for the rest of your life.

Facts about Seahorses

1. Wade in waist deep


Putting on fins is awkward enough. Walking in fins is completely unnecessary. Wrap your float belt around your waist (if you are using one), and carry your snorkel set into the ocean, waist deep.

Once you’re in the water, place your mask on your face, not too tight, with the strap high at the back of your head. Your buddy comes in handy now. Balance against your partner as you put on your fins.

2. Do A Front Float

Breathe Easy Snorkel Mask

The next 15 minutes you’ll learn to snorkel. If you can become comfortable breathing in shallow water you’ll do well at greater depths with the fish and turtles.

Place your face in the water and practice breathing through your snorkel. Breathe slowly and steadily—this should become relaxing after a while. If your breathing speeds up, continue to practice in shallow water.

There’s absolutely no rush.

Do a front float and begin to kick with your fins. Place your arms at your sides and use your legs for movement. Keep your legs straight like scissors and kick slowly and steadily from the hip (here’s a tutorial on kicking with fins).

3. Make a Plan

This mask may make you look like an alien, but makes snorkeling so much easier.

You’re about to become pioneers of the Pacific Ocean and it’s time to make a plan!  Scan the seascape, then select a landmark where you’d like to snorkel to with your buddy. Here are some common examples:

  • An outcropping of rocks

  • A certain section of beach

  • A spot where you can see another group of snorkelers gathering

Select a timeframe you intend to snorkel. Five minutes. Twenty minutes. It should be less than half an hour as you’ll need to rest after that much activity.

Return to shore for high-fives before heading back out.

4. Exploring the Ocean

This mask may make you look like an alien, but makes snorkeling so much easier.

It really is all about the turtles and sealife. No exaggeration, it’s an experience you’ll never forget.

You’ll also see schools of fish, beautiful coral reef and other sea creatures. But joining a group of 2 or 3 gentle sea turtles as they play in the waves and snack on algae is the holy grail of snorkeling.

Try to relax as you’re welcomed deep into the heart of the beautiful sea life. Find your own pace and explore an underwater universe on your own terms.

You can sometimes follow a turtle as it travels slowly from one section of the ocean to another. Keep a healthy distance of at least 6 ft. from the turtle as you snorkel.

The oceans coral reef is alive, so always wear reef-safe sunscreen and avoid standing on it or touching the coral when possible.

If you accidentally touch the reef, or if a turtle swims within 6 ft. of you it’s not a big deal. Simply do your best to be a polite steward of the sacred Pacific Ocean.

5. Connect with each other often

This mask may make you look like an alien, but makes snorkeling so much easier.

Snorkeling is generally very safe. The Valley Isle actually has the most snorkel spots in all of Hawaii. You can find turtles and fish at even the most accessible beaches.

It’s still very important to check in with your  partner while you’re enjoying the ocean.

  • Ask your partner how he or she is feeling

  • Share stories about what you’ve seen

  • Follow the plan you created initially

Ocean safety and epic snorkeling experiences go hand and hand in Maui.

6. Heading Back to Shore

This mask may make you look like an alien, but makes snorkeling so much easier.

When you’re doing something for the first time it’s important to create a simple success for yourself.

Even if you’re having the time of your life snorkeling (which you probably will be), return to shore at the time you set with your buddy. Here’s why:

  • You want to create a successful initial experience

  • 5 minutes rest will give you another 30 minutes of quality snorkeling

  • You’ll be able to share tips about the best spots to see turtles and fish, then return for even better snorkeling

A Lifetime Snorkeler

Snorkeling is like riding a bike. Once you get the hang of it you’ll know it forever.

The first 15 minutes of snorkeling is most important because you’ll learn to breath underwater while relaxed. Practice breathing through your snorkel and kicking with fins in shallow water.

This mask may make you look like an alien, but makes snorkeling so much easier.

Snorkeling among green sea turtles is one of the most rewarding activities on the planet. Create a positive first experience in the ocean, and you’ll become a confident snorkeler for the rest of your life.


Kids' Safety Tips for Snorkeling Around Coral Reefs

How To Choose a Snorkeling Trip - 

Interacting with Marine Life

If you like this you might like to try:

Diver underwater with fish
Diving and Snorkeling

Whether you want to immerse yourself in towering kelp forests, view unique coral reef ecosystems, or explore sunken relics of maritime history, the waters of national marine sanctuaries provide abundant opportunities for divers and snorkelers of all experience levels.

Find out more about the underwater adventures that await you and tips on how to responsibly enjoy these treasures here.

kids and an adult fishing over a pier

Recreational fishing is a favorite American pastime, providing opportunities for people of all ages to experience the aquatic environment. Fortunately, while national marine sanctuaries protect underwater ecosystems, they also allow a variety of recreational uses. In fact, recreational fishing is allowed in most of the waters within sanctuaries! So get out into a national marine sanctuary and enjoy top-notch fishing, while supporting the long-term protection of our nation's underwater treasures by finding out more about recreational fishing best practices.

Fishing at sanctuary sites: American SamoaChannel IslandsCordell BankFlorida KeysFlower Garden BanksGray’s ReefGreater FarallonesHawaiian Islands Humpback WhaleMallows Bay-Potomac RiverMonterey BayOlympic CoastStellwagen BankThunder Bay and Wisconsin Shipwreck Coast

photo of boats on the water


Visitors interested in staying above the waterline will enjoy the scenic surroundings, wildlife viewing opportunities and fishing spots accessible by boat. We welcome guests to venture out to sea while being conscious and respectful of other boaters and marine life. So, whether your final destination is the sanctuary or you are just transiting through, take care to avoid striking marine mammals, sensitive habitats, such as coral reefs or seagrass beds, and fishing gear. Plan ahead and take advantage of navigational maps and marine forecasts to make for a pleasant and safe experience on the water! Check out NOAA's collection of free resources for recreational boaters here.

Extra info about key spots: Monterey BayThunder BayStellwagen BankFlorida KeysHawaiian Islands

A diver swims near a sunken u-boat as fish swarm around
Experience Maritime Heritage

National marine sanctuaries are living museums of America’s rich maritime history - stories of exploration, immigration, and creation of coastal communities. Sanctuary waters protect and preserve countless shipwrecks and even naval battlefields!

Throughout the National Marine Sanctuary System you have the opportunity to explore, discover, and appreciate historic, cultural, and archeological sites and stories that represent the connection between humans and our Great Lakes and ocean areas.

photo of kayakers on the water

Paddle Sports

Canoeing, kayaking and paddleboarding provide participants with a unique, interactive avenue to experience all that national marine sanctuaries have to offer! Each site invites a new adventure, with paddling opportunities readily available and accessible from shore at most sanctuary locations.

Check out a couple of our paddling hotspots: Mallows BayMonterey BayThunder Bay

photo of person surfing


Mavericks. Waimea Bay. Pipeline. These places are some of the most revered surf spots on Earth, but there's another thing they have in common: They are all found within national marine sanctuaries!

Top sanctuary surf spots

For more, check out these other surfing features: Catching the Wave: Surfing in the National Marine Sanctuaries and Power of Place: Surfing Olympic Coast.

people on a boat watching a whale breaching

Whale Watching

Come view our planet’s largest mammals in their natural habitat! Tour operators throughout California, Hawaii and Massachusetts offer whale watching excursions into sanctuary waters for those wishing to view these magnificent creatures, and there are plenty of sites to spot them from shore too! Before you go, take a moment to educate yourself on the responsible way to whale watch.

Top Spots to whale watch: Monterey BayStellwagen BankHawaiian Islands Humpback WhaleOlympic Coast

picture of people watching dolphins

Wildlife Viewing

The vast biodiversity that lies within the thirteen national marine sanctuaries creates an extraordinary opportunity to observe dolphins, sea otters, birds and many other creatures that inhabit our shores and waters. As visitors to these special ocean environments, it is important that all guests promote responsible visitation. Being mindful of your actions during your visit will reduce potential harm to our marine life and resources.

View some wildlife in these sanctuaries: Olympic CoastMonterey BayCordell BankHawaiian Islands Humpback WhaleStellwagen BankFlorida Keys

picture of 2 children watching wildlife in a tidepool

Tide Pooling

The rocky shores of sanctuary waters create a unique and biologically rich environment where many of our ocean’s underwater inhabitants can be viewed in plain sight. Visitors of all ages enjoy exploring tide pools and learning about the plants and animals that make up this remarkable marine habitat. Learn about responsible wildlife viewing.

Tide pooling hot spots: Monterey BayOlympic Coast

people gather next to a fire pit on the beach. There is a tent in the foreground and the ocean in the background.
Shore Camping

Release the tent-sion with a camping trip on the shores of your national marine sanctuaries and in nearby national parks, national seashores, state parks, and more! Camping is an excellent way to visit some of America’s most treasured places on land and by the ocean or Great Lakes. No matter what type of camping you prefer—backcountry, primitive, car camping, RV, or “glamping”—there are great options for everyone! Remember to recreate responsibly and leave your campsite better than you found it.

picture of people looking over a cliff

Sightseeing and Heritage Trails

By land or sea, these trails will point the way to highlights of our vibrant marine ecosystems and hidden jewels of our country’s maritime history.

The Whale Trail
Looking to follow our finned marine friends, but don’t know where to start? Check out the Whale Trail to find the locations nearest you and learn about what you can do to protect them.

Outer Banks Maritime Heritage Trail
Discover the shipwrecks, historic lighthouses and marine environment that define the maritime history of coastal North Carolina.

The Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Trail
From breathtaking scenic views to historic relics, the Great Lakes Heritage Trail leaves visitors in awe of the profound maritime history and beauty of Northeast Michigan.

Florida Keys Shipwreck Trail
Below the tropical waters of the Florida Keys lies a trail of sunken vessels, with origins dating back over 140 years.

Seaweed and Sea Life

Seawater’s Salty Remedy

Due to the saltiness of seawater, it has many properties that are beneficial to us. Small cuts or grazes are healed by salt and minerals. The sea has also been proven to help muscle problems or joint pains by relaxing them and soothing the surrounding area.

I can't mention this without talking about the manatees in Florida. They endure huge scars from boaters that do not slow down for them. It is alarming to see a seacow with all that damage.

Generally speaking seaweed wraps and seawater heals them without stitches., just like with us humans.

Seaweed is a well-known superfood you can forage.
Here’s how.

The newest seaside trend is searching for seaweed—a fun and sustainable way to explore the world’s coastal areas.

The foragers strap on their helmets and head down to the intertidal zone in East Neuk along the coast of Fife, Scotland. At the water’s edge, their guide, Jayson Byles, owner of East Neuk Seaweed Foraging, points out a variety of seaweed growing on the rocks and floating in the pools: long, olive-colored strands of sea spaghetti and ruffles of grass-green sea lettuce—perfect for an afternoon feast.

seaweed washed ashore, beachside mountain range in the distance

Giant kelp grows along Maria Island National Park’s Fossil Bay, in Tasmania, Australia, where gathering and eating seaweed is a tradition for the palawa people.


A couple hours later, the foragers carry their bounty back to the beach, where Byles builds a fire and whips up a sauce for the sea spaghetti, whose mild flavor can take a vegan pesto, carbonara, or mushroom bacon cream sauce, depending on his guests’ preferences. The sea lettuce, with its slightly salty marine flavor, is wrapped around fresh fish and panfried. Each seaweed has a different flavor profile, Byles explains. One type of red seaweed, called dulse, can even taste like bacon, in certain preparations.

As a lifelong forager, Byles is passionate about introducing people to this kind of sustainable eating. The best part, he says, is sharing the experience. “It’s a really nice way to get a sort of community happening where we’re sharing food that we’ve gathered,” he says. “There’s something very ancient about that.”

New growth giant kelp set against the kelp canopy and sunlit waters of the Channel Islands National Park, CA, USA

Giant kelp, seen here growing in the waters of Channel Islands National Park, California, helps form a canopy that shelter...

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Around the world, people have long foraged for seaweed. In recent years, the activity has surged in popularity as more people discover the health benefits of this superfood. Flavoring soups, tossed with a dressing, or dried into sheets, it’s a staple in many Asian countries, including Japan, where the prefecture of Okinawa is a designated “blue zone” of longevity. What’s more, the experience of harvesting in nature can forge deep conservation connections with coastal areas, especially when the result is a tasty meal.

While many varieties of seaweed are edible, there are best practices to keep in mind while foraging by the sea. Besides taking safety precautions among the slippery rocks, especially near powerful and unpredictable ocean waves, Byles emphasizes the importance of being light on the land, harvesting only a small part of each plant, and always cutting above the holdfast—never pulling seaweed off the rocks. Here’s what else to know about foraging for seaweed.

Seaweed foraging basics

A lot goes into a safe and rewarding foraging trip, and an experienced and knowledgeable guide can make a big difference. They can educate people on factors big and small, from how the local coastal ecosystem works to what to wear for maximum safety while poking around slippery rocks.

Being able to decipher weather and tidal forecasts and knowing when the sun goes down for maximum visibility are essential. Any number of factors, like high surf advisories, poor weather, water quality, and recent rainfall—leading to runoff—can cancel or delay a trip. Guides also provide information about local rules and regulations—which can vary widely—as well as teach participants how to harvest, clean, and prepare seaweed responsibly.

A bird, Northern gannet, holds a bunch of seaweed in its beak

Seaweed is a superfood that’s rich in vitamins and antioxidants. It’s eaten all around the world in places like Okinawa, Jap...

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(How urban foraging became the new way to explore a city.)

Harvesting seaweed responsibly is key to Melissa Hanson, co-founder of Kelpful, which leads foraging adventures for adults and kids near San Luis Obispo, California. “We talk about [how] this beautiful, fragile, wild space is not a grocery store. You can’t just walk into it and take what you want,” she says. “We talk about having a relationship of reciprocity and having a lot of gratitude and respect for the abundance that is there and recognizing that it doesn’t just exist for us to take for our own uses.”

Part of that ethos is being mindful when collecting, Hanson explains. “We only harvest [seaweed] varieties that are in great abundance at that time and in that place, and we take a very small amount compared to the total that is there,” she says. “Our goal, when we’re done, is for [the area] to not look like we were there at all.”

Cultural connections

Foraging for seaweed is an important cultural practice in many communities around the world. In Wales, foragers collect seaweed to make laverbread, a centuries-old tradition. Along the coast of Tasmania, Australia, (known as lutruwita to the palawa, Tasmanian Aboriginal people, the original inhabitants of the island), the wukalina Walk takes visitors on a four-day, three-night journey involving hiking, cultural experiences, and traditional foods, like seaweed and shellfish.

A farmers standing in ocean water throws a bundle of seaweed into a collection boat after harvesting it near Beniamina Island, part of the Solomon Islands

Seaweed is farmed in many places, including on Benjamin Island, part of the Solomon Islands, pictured here.


women of fishing village Valasai dive for seaweed using goggles as hands navigate in shallow water

Women gather seaweed to sell, in the Gulf of Mannu, in Tamil Nadu, India.


Along the trip, palawa guides (whose language does not capitalize many words and place names) teach how to shape and dry kelp into a bowl inspired by traditional water carrying vessels. They forage for seaweed and enjoy sea asparagus, sea lettuce, and many other delicacies.

Melissa West, operations manager for wukalina Walk, explains that palawa women traditionally dive to collect seaweed, food, and shells from endemic kelp-dwelling mollusks called maireeners, which they then transform into jewelry. “I’ve got two daughters, so it’s really important for me to pass that knowledge down to them,” West adds.

Pernise, a seaweed farmer, with a string of seaweed that she will leave to grow.

A seaweed farmer in Tanga, Tanzania, prepares a string of seaweed to grow.


Kelp forager in scuba gear holds a seaweed plant on shore

: A diver holds up a variety of seaweed at Tjurpannan Nature Reserve, in Havstenssund, Sweden.


Byles, too, believes it is crucial to pass along his foraging knowledge, much of which comes from his Maori ancestry. Doing so, he believes, is especially beneficial for young people, to instill a sense of environmental responsibility. “I like working with the kids because it’s important the next generations get to know these areas and get to fall in love with the beach and coast,” he says.

Delicious dishes

When it comes to eating seaweed, one key aspect may be its versatility, which can help with even the pickiest eaters—children. Vincent Nattress, a chef, serves commercially harvested seaweed at Orchard Kitchen, the Langley, Washington-based restaurant he co-owns with his wife, Tyla.

(This seaweed is good for you—and for the environment.)

Nattress may make some types of seaweed into a seasoning blend, similar to Japanese furikake. Other types may be served as pickles or blended into a sauce. “It’s got this amazing ability to add the same kind of umami [flavor] characteristic you might get from mushrooms,” Nattress says.

At home, he prepares wild seaweed, gathered with a shellfish/seaweed fishing license, that his teenagers are happy to eat. Now, he says, they are always up for a culinary adventure even while traveling. “There’s nothing they won’t eat because they’ve been exposed to everything.”

No matter how you prepare seaweed, it all comes down to the experience. “Getting folk reconnected to our roots and into nature, for me, that’s a massive part of foraging,” says Byles.

“It’s not just about seaweed. It’s about the environment, it’s about reconnecting to the land, and the waters, and each other as well.”

Try A Sealife Safari


In honour of world oceans day, we set out on an walking adventure searching for sea life on the shore with friends.


The first thing we found was a giant jelly fish washed up on the shore. We turned it over carefully with our boots to get a better look (you must never touch them with your hands) and the cap was surprisingly heavy and solid.

There were also hundreds of winkles, limpets and barnacles and lots of seaweed and shells along the tidal area.

We spotted oysters, mussels, clams and whelks amongst the numerous shells on the shore. Most where empty but we did find a few living creatures still in some of them.

When we turned over large rocks by the waters edge we found lots of crabs in different sizes and colours. It was interesting watching how well they could rehide and camouflage themsleves amongst the stones.

We also found these little Goby fish in some rock pools. (We handled them very carefully and put them straight back in the water where we found them)

All in all it was a very successful sealife safari, the children had fun exploring and playing on the shore and there was a lot of excitement everytime they found or discovered anything.

On the way home we stopped by the duck pond near the shore to look at all the adorable, fluffy baby ducklings, goslings and cygnets.

Identifying shells and rock balancing on the shore 

Exploring the shore 

Anyone up for catching Crabs

Shore Crab

Crabbing is a great activity for children of all ages, they are fascinating creatures to find and there is always a lot of excitement when they scuttle about. You can either hunt for crabs by simply looking in rock pools or under rocks as the tide is going out.


Several species of crab can be found in saltwater and freshwater bodies throughout the United States.

Some of the most popular saltwater crabs to catch are the king and snow crab, which are common in Alaska, Dungeness on the West Coast, and the Atlantic blue crab, also commonly known as the Chesapeake blue crab. Saltwater crabs tend to like shallow, marshy areas so consider destinations like brackish rivers, bays and inlets. And while you can crab by boat, the great thing about crabbing is that you can have just as much success from land. Crab prefer to be near structures, so when planning your trip, look for spots like docks, piers, and jetties.

Freshwater crabs like fiddler and red crabs are best fished in shallow water near land. Common places you’ll find these species is along the shorelines with places to hide, such as beaches with logs, boulders or grass. Rocky reefs are another popular habitat.


What makes crabbing a great activity for beginners is that you don’t need a lot of special equipment. The simplest way to catch crabs is with a dip net. Another easy method is to drop a fishing line with bait at the end. Simply wait for a tug then pull the crab in, catching it in a net. The only downside with the line method is that you can only catch one crab at a time. For a greater take, you may want to use a crab trap.

Crab traps are wire cages attached to a long rope that are lowered to the bottom of a body of water. Depending on your preference – and budget – there are many different types that can be used effectively, including crab rings, pyramid traps, standard square style and more. With any of these, you’ll secure the bait inside with line, wire or a clip, which will attract the crab to walk into the trap. Once you set your trap, you just sit back and wait. A good rule of thumb is to check your trap every 15 to 30 minutes.

When you bring up the trap, you’ll want a net or bucket to contain the crab and keep them from scurrying away. You may also want to get a pair of crabbing gloves to avoid getting pinched.


Crabs are scavengers, which means you have a lot of possibilities for bait when crabbing. While there are many types, fresh bait tends to be best, and the smellier, the better, since crab will go after pungent options. Some good choices include raw chicken or turkey, fish carcass, and razor clams. You can even use hot dogs!

Exploring the shore – Activities and ideas

Seaweed Activities for Families

Did you know there are over 11,000 species of seaweed in the world, 600 of which can be found in the UK. Seaweed provides food and shelter to a variety of marine creatures as well as producing oxygen, capturing carbon, absorbing toxins and in some cases even reducing the acidity of sea water.

You might be surprised to find that seaweed isn’t a plant, it is actually a type of algae. Seaweed doesn’t use or have stems or roots to transport nutrients or water from the ground to its system. Instead it uses its cells to absorb or develop what it needs from the water as well as absorbing energy from the sun and convert it into food using a process called photosynthesis. A by product of photosynthesis is oxygen which gets re-released back into the atmosphere an amazing 40-50% of the oxygen in our atmosphere is believed to be produced by seaweed.

As seaweed doesn’t have roots it anchors itself to surfaces using a structure called a holdfast instead. Seaweed can come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colours. However they can generally be grouped into three main categories of red, green and brown. They can survive in a variety of marine habitats from rock pools and shore lines, on rock beds along coastal line and even sometimes free floating in the ocean.

Some varieties of seaweed are edible and are considered good sources of nutrients like fibre, protein, vitamins and minerals. Seaweed has been used throughout human history as a source of food and medicine as well as being utilised for industrial purposes. From paper coatings, adhesives and dental moulds to food additives, fertiliser and edible packaging.

You can find lots of fun seaweed activity ideas below to explore and learn more about this amazing algae.


All you need to do is download the Big Seaweed Search Guide here and then visit the seashore with boots, a set of salad tongs(or gloves ) and a bucket. It's amazing how interesting seaweeds can be when you you are not touching them while exploring the different colors, shapes, and funky textures. Drop some in your bucket to explore more, identify, or use in art or for for a side dish for dinner.


Collecting and drying seaweed to place in scrapbooks was a popular Victorian past time, especially for women who weren’t often allowed to take part in natural science activities. Even Queen Victoria enjoyed creating a seaweed scrap book as a young girl. All you need for this activity is a scrapbook and pliers or a stick to pick up the seaweed with and carefully arrange it on the pages. You can then leave the seaweed to dry as it is or place blotting paper on top and sandwich it between the pages of the book to dry flatter.


Nature art is a great outdoor activity that encourages creativity and fine motor skills. It is also a fun and engaging mindfulness activity. Simply collect as many natural objects as you can find around you. You could use seaweed, sand, stone, driftwood, seashells, leaves, grass, bark, fallen fruit and flowers. *But pretty please don’t pick any wild flowers, only collect ones you have grown yourself or fallen ones you find on the floor. Then arrange them into shapes, pictures or patterns.

If you take photos of the nature art you create you can then print them out later as artwork, learning resources or even turn them into cards to give to friends and family. You could also make nature art letters, numbers and words to use as learning prompts for English and maths games.


You could easily make a seaweed sensory bottle using a recycled bottle filled with seawater and seaweed. Just make sure the lid of the bottle you use is securely fastened or glued on so little hands can’t open it and make sure to chuck the contents of the bottle away after a week or so.


We love making suncatchers, they are so pretty and effective. To make a suncatcher you will need some clear flat plastic packaging. We hate to waste anything and recycling and reusing materials is one of many small things we can all do to help the environment. So instead of chucking used packaging we like to find ways to use them in crafts and activities.

Paint a thin layer of pva glue over the sheet of plastic and then arrange the seaweed on top in any shape, pattern or position you like. When you have finished arranging the seaweed simply leave it to dry. Hold it up to the light or a window and voila your sun catcher is finished, it really is that simple. You can also add ribbon, wool or string to them to turn them into hanging decorations to place in windows, walls or hang them from trees.


Making nature collages is a fun activity for children of all ages and abilities. It encourages creativity and helps develop fine motor skills. All you need is some paper or recycled cardboard, Firstly you need to draw or paint simple pictures or marine animals onto the paper or cardboard like fish. Next collect some seaweed and arrange it over the picture to create a seascape or scene.


To make a seaweed lantern all you need is a glass jar, pva glue and some seaweed. Simply paint a thin layer of pva glue over the outside of the jar and then arrange the seaweed on top in any shape, pattern or position you like. When you have finished arranging the seaweed simply leave it to dry.

When the glue has dried you should have a beautiful stained glass effect. You can then either use the jar as vase for flowers or a pencil pot . Or you can place a tealight candle in it, to turn it into a beautiful lantern. Be careful to supervise children as the glass can get hot and never leave the lantern unattended as its a potential fire hazard.

Potato printing is a simple activity for children of ages, all you need is a potato cut in half, a bit of inspiration and some paint to get started. You can find lots of easy sea life potato print ideas below for inspiration. From rainbow fish and crabs to jelly fish, seashells and seaweed.


Potatoes are a great environmentally friendly material to use as stamps for printing as you can compost them after use Seaweed potato prints are so simple to make, you just need to cut wavy lines into half of a potato and then dip it into paint to print with. How about using the potato prints to make patterns, pictures, cards and even recyclable wrapping paper. It is also fun to experiment printing on different types of surfaces and textures from paper to fabric, foil and wood. And as long as you use non toxic paint you can even print on outdoor surfaces like paths, trees and leaves.


Making stick people is a fun and easy activity for children of ages where you can use any sticks and branches you find to create fun and interesting characters. You can easily bring the sticks and branches you find on walks to life by giving them faces and different expressions using just marker pens or paint.

Older children and adults could also remove the bark at one end of the stick or branch using an old vegetable peeler (Adult supervision required) or sand paper to create a smoother surface to paint and draw the faces onto. You could also give the figures hair and clothes using found materials like seaweed and shells.


Ice play is a great activity for children of all ages. It is so quick and simple to make and you can easily add extra sensory elements using seaweed, scented herbs, flavoured oils, colouring and textured natural materials. Just be careful using seaweed in ice play with younger children as some seaweeds can be toxic and carry bacteria so they shouldn’t be ingested or go anywhere near mouths. This activity is only recommended for older children who should be supervised at all times.


It is so quick and simple to make your own fake seaweed for sensory, educational and creative activities. Simply cut crepe paper or fabric straps into wavy strands and fronds and layer them together to create a bed of seagrass.


The process of making botanical dyes is very simple, you can easily create some beautiful coloured botanical dyes yourself using just foraged seaweed, plants and vegetable scraps. You can then use it to colour fabrics like cotton, linen and wool or materials like paper, card and wood. Natural dyes are also a wonderful, environmentally friendly alternative to man-made synthetics. You can find a full guide to making botanical dyes here.