Our Blue Earth

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Our nation has more than one grand canyon. One of the reasons why the Monterey Bay Peninsula has such stellar wines is the ocean. Near the shore of Monterey is an underwater canyon that is twice as deep as the Grand Canyon. Basically, it funnels the perfect climate to the rows upon rows of grapes. To see what we mean, take your drinking lips to Carmel Valley’s Boekenoogen Winery, one of the benefactors of this undersea wonder, and learn all about it.

Fish as teachers. An aquarium is a good tool for learning about the ocean, but diving right into the tanks and natural pools there might be even better. No problem. The dive staff at Monterey Bay Aquarium introduces children to anemones and starfish up close with a little surface scuba diving. The Underwater Explorers program is taught daily.

Children participating in the Underwater Explorers program.Photo and title photo by Randy Wilder, courtesy of the Monterey Bay Aquarium

The ocean bottled and drinkable. Please dismiss the idea that the briny Pacific Ocean should never be imbibed intentionally. In fact, the water is so pure at 3,000 feet below the Kona Coast of the Big Island that drinking vodka made from this water may even be good for you, according to a couple distillers. The Hawaiian Salt cocktail at Duke’s Waikiki mixes Ocean Vodka and passion fruit juice with a rim of Li Hing powder.

Ocean Vodka Bottles Credit Jessica Pearl

Marine biologists as tour leaders. Got an itch to celebrate the biggish wonders of the sea, like great whites and blue whales? Take your interest 27 miles offshore from San Francisco to the Farallone Islands within the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. So many diverse creatures swim and fly there that it’s called California’s Galapagos. Naturalists on board will show you what’s what. If you’re not up for the commitment of a full-day excursion, keep dry at the Visitor Center in Crissy Field in the Presidio.

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Farallones-bluewhalesPhotos courtesy of the NOAA Photo Library

A mausoleum underwater. An odd tourist site—but one nonetheless—is Florida’s Memorial Reef by the Neptune Society. The 16-acre ocean-floor memorial, modeled after the Lost City of Atlantis, has been built for those wanting to be cremated at sea. Expect statues, memorial placards, primitive roads, flowers, and definitely fish. A couple dive outfitters leave from Miami Beach.

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Miami_Neptune_Reef-gatesPhoto by Elkman via Wikimedia Commons

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