Wakatobi National Park, Indonesia
© Fabio Lamanna/Alam
Diving into the 'underwater nirvana'
Indonesia's Wakatobi National Park protects one of the most diverse underwater environments in the world. Around 400 species of coral are found in these pristine waters, and they're home to a staggering variety of marine life, including dolphins, whales, turtles, and hundreds of species of fish. The park was established in 2002, preserving more than 5,000 square miles, most of which is covered by coral reefs. In fact, the barrier reef here is second in size only to the Great Barrier Reef and is so full of life that famed oceanographer and explorer Jacques Cousteau is said to have called it an 'underwater nirvana.' Many others have followed in Cousteau's wake, and Wakatobi has become a preeminent destination for diving and snorkeling.