The best nature documentaries on Netflix and Disney Plus to watch on Earth Day 2022

Image via Disney Plus.

With Earth Day now upon us, you’d be advised to go on a long hike outside, visit a natural recreation area near you, or even go bird watching in your local forest. But after a long day of getting in touch with nature, you might also want to cozy up to the couch and unwind by watching a documentary film that celebrates our wild and wonderful world. 

Luckily, streaming services such as Netflix and Disney Plus have a bevy of offerings on the subject, and we’re here to break down the very best documentaries from the most popular streaming platforms. 

Best nature documentaries on Netflix

There’s a brand new five-part documentary series executive produced and hosted by former U.S. President Barack Obama called Our Great National Parks, which explores all that the wild has to offer, not only domestically, but across the world.

Another great Netflix limited docu-series you’ll want to check out is Night on Earth. The show utilizes special technology to reveal the wonders of the natural world that unfold after the sun goes down. The series, capturing some of the most reclusive creatures on the planet, takes you on a sweeping adventure from the jungle to the sea. 

Of course, you’ll definitely want to check out the Oscar-winning Netflix documentary My Octopus Teacher on Earth Day, as well. It’s about the filmmakers forging an unusual friendship with a cephalopod living in a South African kelp forest. Under the tutelage of the tentacled creature, they learn about the mysteries of the animal’s world. 

Other titles worth checking out on the streaming platform include Surviving Paradise: A Family Tale, Animal, Down to Earth with Zac Efron, and David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet. In case you need even more suggestions for titles related to Earth Day, including fictional narrative films with a message such as Don’t Look Up and Happy Feet, check out Netflix’s dedicated genre page called One World, Infinite Wonder

Best nature documentaries on Disney Plus

The climber adventure film Explorer: The Last Tepui, which debuted Friday, follows the exploits of elite climber Alex Honnold once again attempting a never-before-done feat: climbing a 1,000-foot sheer cliff, a massive “island in the sky” known as a tepui, in the Amazon jungle. Along the way, an accompanying biologist also sets out to discover never-before-recorded species. The pastoral-centered The Biggest Little Farm: The Return, which also premiered Friday, is also worth checking out.

A great documentary series worth checking out from Disney’s National Geographic brand is the Will Smith-hosted Welcome to Earth. In the show, Smith, alongside scientists and explorers helping to guide him, goes on adventures that include descending into the ocean’s depths, observing a wildebeest migration in the Serengeti, and confronting his own fears by engaging in some white-water rapids rafting in Iceland. 

Finally, Disneynature’s Polar Bear is a great documentary film you can enjoy with the whole family, narrated by two-time Oscar-nominee Catherine Keener. It tells the story of a new mother polar bear whose past experiences growing up prepare her to navigate motherhood in a rapidly changing world that presents many challenges. 

Similar to Netflix, Disney Plus also has a dedicated page for Earth Month, collecting all of their nature genre titles in one easy-to-find location. Some other titles worth checking out include Disneynature’s Growing Up Wild, The Phantom Cat, and The Kangaroo King.

Great nature documentaries on other platforms

It’s important to remember there is a huge selection of streaming platforms to watch content, and not everyone has the same subscriptions. Therefore, check out some of these other amazing nature documentaries from across the web. 

March of the Penguins (HBO Max) — The 2006 Oscar-winner narrated by Morgan Freeman captures a group of Emporer penguins on their journey to their ancestral breeding ground. It’s now available to stream on HBO Max. 

The Year Earth Changed (Apple TV Plus) — Narrated by David Attenborough, this eye-opening documentary explores never-before-seen footage that shows how humans living in coronavirus-inspired lockdowns opened up the door for nature to bounce back and thrive — across the skies, seas, and land.

Blackfish (Amazon Prime Video) — This jaw-dropping documentary about a notorious orca whale, Tilikum, arguably changed the landscape of keeping wild animals as performers in amusement parks after it uncovered how the killer whale claimed the lives of several people while in captivity. The film is equal parts murder mystery as it is a platform to advocate for freeing these majestic creatures from an often cruel imprisonment.

Paramount Plus also offers a wide selection of Earth Day content through their Smithsonian brand as well as their main moniker, such as America’s National Parks at 100, Bring Your Own Brigade, or Orangutan Jungle School

There’s also plenty to explore for Earth Day content on Hulu, a streaming service that is also owned by Disney.

Make this Earth Day count by taking some time out to appreciate nature and all its offerings, as well as doing something this Holiday to help preserve it.