The Great Barrier Reef
Why: The world's largest continuous reef system is a top bucket list destination. You imagine you'll get there eventually, only now it's not so certain what you'll find if you wait to visit until that some day. The Great Barrier Reef, host to a $5.1 billion tourism industry, is being walloped by climate change. Warmer temperatures have led to widespread coral bleaching and "in the coastal catchments along the Great Barrier Reef, up to 80 percent of coastal wetlands linked to the Reef have been modified or lost," says Donna-marie Audas, coastal ecosystems manager at the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority. Over 1600 species of fish, 550 corals, sea turtles, dolphins, and whales make this UNESCO World Heritage Site home. But this pristine seascape is facing a loss of biodiversity and outbreaks of coral predators due to more frequent extreme weather events, like flooding rains and intense cyclones, as part of a changing climate.
What to do: The best way to experience the Great Barrier Reef as a responsible traveler is to hook up with Great Adventures, an advanced ecotourism-certified tour operator that leads dives and snorkel expeditions in partnership with Green Island Resort. A stay at the resort includes a Great Barrier Reef tour, daily breakfast, free catamaran rides, a glass bottom boat trip, nature walks, and windsurfing.
More info: greatbarrierreef.org