Calling a destination "a place you need to see before you die" sounds like a hyperbolic trope for travel listicles, but the phrase isn't far off when it comes to Australia's Great Barrier Reef. That's because this cluster of corals — the world's largest — is very much in danger, with a large swath of it already irrevocably destroyed.
As the breeding ground of a vast collective of exotic fish, birds, reptiles, and mollusks, the reef is an essential ecosystem to the world. However, its deteriorating state is reaching unprecedented levels: Environmentalists have reported that in just the last two years alone, mass bleaching has devastated about two-thirds of the coral reef.
With the Trump administration withdrawing from the Paris Climate Agreement, the survival of the coral reefs — which continues to be severely undermined by rising temperatures — seems to be more difficult than ever. With this natural wonder possibly going completely extinct by 2050, there's no time like to present to appreciate all the glorious views it has to offer.
Here's a highlight reel of all the best from the underwater kingdom — no scuba lessons required.
Spanning over 1,800 miles, the reef is larger than the size of Victoria and Tasmania combined. The area houses over 1,500 species of tropical fish and more than 400 types of coral, 27% of which has already perished in the last three decades.
This is what an underwater rainbow looks like. The majority of corals found at the reef are of the hard variety, providing a safe habitat for marine life.
As if the setting isn't romantic enough already, you'll also spot plenty of butterfly fish on your snorkeling expeditions, which travel alone until they find a mate for life.
You don't even need to dive deep to admire these magnificent creatures up close: On One Tree Island, you'll be able to walk along strips of sand surrounded by pristine coral reefs.