We’re always drawn to bodies of water. A sign of life and prosperity, it’s idyllic and dreamy when one gazes upon the sea on a relaxing holiday.
However, a usually forgotten alternative to the beauty of the ocean is the timeless and functional beauty of a bay. This loose body of calmer water should be a place one mustn’t miss while on vacation.
Bays are so important that when they are large and deep enough, they turn into an economic and strategic asset — harbours. This is why there are many great cities in the world along the shorelines of harbours.
Here, we list some famous and beautiful bays that are more than just tourist sites.
Ha Long Bay
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Ha Long literally translates to “Bay of Descending Dragons”. It’s one of the most popular tourist attractions in Vietnam because of its 1,969 islands and islets covered with thick vegetation, which make a scenic seascape with its rock formation of limestone pillars.
Some islands in this bay have caves unspoilt by human presence, while others have floating villages of fishermen.
Its fenglin tower karst, the most extreme form of limestone landscape development, makes this bay very important to geomorphology or the study of the formation of landscapes and other natural features of the earth’s surface.
Located in southeastern Brazil, Guanabara Bay is surrounded by tropical forests, strangely shaped rocks, beaches, the neighbourhoods of Rio de Janeiro and the mountains of Serra do Marl. It is this bay that gives Rio de Janeiro its unique look.
This bay holds relics dating back thousands of years. The archaeological sites discovered near its banks show that prehistoric people had used these waters.
Likewise, fossils of small marsupial mammals, birds, terrestrial mollusks and reptiles have been identified in this area together with the discovery of chipped stones and ceramics.
Research concluded that thousands of years ago when the sea level was around 130 metres below its current level, there used to be a sandy coastal vegetation, dunes and cliffs where mastodons, giant armadillos, saber-toothed tigers and six-metre-long-sloths lived. Then came the great flooding around 12,000 years ago, which had given rise to this current bay.
Guanabara Bay’s role in studying mankind’s history remains unparalleled.
San Francisco Bay
On the Californian coast is San Francisco Bay or the Bay Area. With 8 million residents, it’s the second-largest urban area in Western US.
This bay has many islands that includes the famous Alcatraz that served as a prison until 1963. The Bay Area is also known for its iconic Golden Gate Bridge.
Being a popular tourist destination isn’t what got this bay designated a Wetland of International Importance. It gained the honour for the flood protection, nutrient filtration and cycling, water quality maintenance and carbon sequestration the area gives. Also, the bay was given this honour for the key role it plays as the key habitat of a broad range of flora and fauna, and for its role in hosting wintering shorebirds.
The natural harbour of Sydney, Port Jackson has hundreds of bays, beaches, coves and waterways. The bay adds to Sydney’s credentials as one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
Many of Australia’s events seen around the world are based on or around this harbour. This harbour has two of Australia’s most famous landmarks: the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge. Who ever misses Sydney’s New Year’s Eve celebrations at that bridge and the Sydney to Hobart yacht race for sailing lovers conducted on the bay’s waters?