A bay is loosely defined as a body of water partly covered by land. They generally have calmer waters than the surrounding sea and are good places for boats to take shelter from the weather.
If large and deep enough, the bay becomes a natural harbor which often has great economic and strategic importance.
Many of the world’s major cities are located on natural harbors. These top 10 features some of the most beautiful bays and stretches of world-famous coastlines.
1. Paradise Bay
Paradise Bay is one of only two places used by cruise ships to stop on Antarctica (the other is Neko Harbour). Consequently it is one of Antarctica’s most visited areas.
The bay is surrounded by heavily glaciated mountains and ice cliffs. Activities include cruising between iceberg with inflatable zodiac boats, visiting a Chilean research station and photographing penguin habitats.
2. Bay of Fundy
The Bay of Fundy, located on the Atlantic coast of Canada, is famous for its high tidal range. Because of the unique shape of the bay, the difference in water level between high tide and low tide can be as much as 16 meters (52 feet).
One of the best places to watch the tides are the Hopewell Rocks, a number of sandstone towers topped by trees. The base of the rock formations are covered in water twice a day and can be seen from the ground level at low tide.
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3. Bay of Kotor
The Bay of Kotor is located in south-western Montenegro on the Adriatic Sea. It is one of Europe’s most beautiful bays and often mistaken for a fjord, but is in fact a submerged river canyon.
The idyllic shore of the Bay of Kotor is lined with numerous beaches, several tourist resorts and the picturesque towns of Risan, Perast and Kotor.
4. Bay of Islands
The Bay of Islands is one of the most popular tourist attractions in New Zealand. The picturesque area contains 144 islands, many secluded bays and some great sandy beaches.
This beautiful bay has an abundance of marine life including whales, penguins, dolphins and the big marlin. Not surprisingly, it is a popular gathering place for sailing yachts on world cruises and international sport fishermen.
The bay is also historically significant as it was the first part of New Zealand settled by Europeans.
5. Victoria Harbour
Victoria Harbour is a major tourist attraction in Hong Kong and one of the deepest container ports in the world. The bay offers stunning views of the skyscrapers of Hong Kong island on one side, and the Tsim Sha Tsui shoreline on the other.
Victoria Harbour is also one of the busiest harbors in the world with hundreds of ferries, junks and speed boats darting up and down the shore. One of the best ways to see the harbor is a trip on the Star Ferry.
6. Phang Nga Bay
Phang Nga Bay is one of Thailand’s most scenic areas. It consists of beautiful caves, aquatic grottoes and limestone islands some of which reach 300 meter (984 feet) high.
The most famous island in the bay is a needle formed limestone rock called Ko Ping Kan (more commonly known as James Bond Island) which was featured in the James Bond movie “The Man with the Golden Gun”.
A popular way of visiting Phang Nga Bay is by sea kayak as they are the only way to get inside the grottoes and sea caves. Located just over 95 km (60 miles) from the island of Phuket.
7. Ha Long Bay
Ha Long Bay is situated in north Vietnam round a 120 kilometer long coast line and is literally translated as “Bay of Descending Dragons”.
The bay is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Vietnam and features thousands of islands, each topped with thick jungle vegetation, forming a spectacular seascape of limestone pillars.
Several of the islands are hollow, with enormous caves, others islands include lakes and some support floating villages of fishermen.
8. Port Jackson
Port Jackson is the natural harbor of Sydney, one of the world’s most livable and beautiful cities. With its hundreds of bays, coves, beaches and waterways, the harbor contributes to Sydney’s scenic beauty in a major way.
The harbor also contains two of Sydney’s most famous landmarks: the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge.
9. Guanabara Bay
Guanabara Bay is a beautiful bay located in southeastern Brazil. The bay is surrounded by tropical forests, beaches, strangely-shaped rocks, the high mountains of Serra do Marl and the neighborhoods of Rio de Janeiro.
The bay was discovered in January 1, 1502 by Portuguese explorer Gaspar de Lemos, who named it Rio de Janeiro (January River) thinking it was a large river. The name Guanabara comes from the Tupi-Guarani language.
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10. San Francisco Bay
San Francisco Bay is situated on the Californian coast. The area around the bay, commonly known as the Bay Area, is the American West’s second-largest urban area with approximately 8 million residents.
San Francisco is the financial center of the Bay Area while San Jose is the most populous city. The bay contains many islands including the small island of Alcatraz which served as a prison until 1963.
The Golden Gate, which opens the bay to the Pacific Ocean, is spanned by the famous Golden Gate Bridge.