Offering temperate seas, pristine coral reefs and diverse marine life, the Caribbean is a natural choice for outdoor enthusiasts. For those who prefer their adventures below the waterline, taking the plunge in a glassy realm of constant motion, vivid color and profound silence is thrilling, fun for all ages, and a fantastic way to experience the undersea world.
Curacao’s underwater park, whose trails contain markers identifying the various marine species, is an ideal snorkeling spot. This enticing site, accessible only by boat, offers fantastic visibility for spying the scuttling squid, sea worms and big-eyed fish living among the teeming corals. If you're lucky, you'll even see the occasional moray eel!
Snorkeling enthusiasts will find Bonaire's acclaimed Marine Park an excellent choice, highlighted by splendid coral gardens, vast swarms of shining multi-hued fish, and amazing specimens of sea fans and gorgonians—a type of living coral distinguished by its purple frills. At Fish Bowl Reef off St. John, you’ll find excellent examples of preserved elkhorn and staghorn coral.
In Tobago, snorkel in waist deep water at Buccoo Reef, populated with fields of soft corals and species of turtle swimming in and about their tendrils. The fish here are spectacular: Blue and yellow Queen Angels, red groupers, orange filefish, green parrotfish, blue tangs with iridescent stripes, and more. One important snorkeling tip: Always wear a shirt to protect your back from sunburn.
If you like the idea of undersea explorations without getting wet, a glass bottom boat cruise is ideal. At Stingray City on Grand Cayman Island, enjoy optimal viewing of hundreds of tame stingrays, which crowd the observation window in search of tidbits. And be sure and look for the mounds of brain coral, yellow tube sponges, and gray barrel sponges that resemble giant clams.
On St. Thomas, steep yourselves in the underwater experience with a voyage aboard a semi-submarine. Descend six feet below the waterline and then cruise to several viewing points for close-up looks at the coral gardens surrounding Coki Point. You'll also see a diver conduct a fish feeding in front of the viewing ports.
For more adventurous types, Scuba diving affords dramatic undersea explorations at sites that include shark caves, underwater volcanic peaks, sheer dropoffs and immense rock formations. Some of these dive sites require considerable experience. Others are accessible by all levels of certified divers, even the novice.
Whatever your choices, you'll be mesmerized as the warm Caribbean sun shines through aquamarine waters to a glistening sea floor--with you in its midst!
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