Explorations - (Page 60)
Caribbean The world beneath the I TIP BACKWARDS OUT OF THE BOAT INTO THE WELCOMING EMBRACE OF THE WARM CARIBBEAN AND MY EYES INSTINCTIVELY CLOSE AS I HIT THE WATER, EVEN WITH THE MASK SECURELY ON MY FACE. AS I RELAX INTO THE WEIGHTLESSNESS, THEY OPEN TO REVEAL HUNDREDS OF TINY BUBBLES RACING TO THE SURFACE AND A WORLD OF STARTLING CLARITY AND MAGIC. Colorful coral gardens, sea fans, sponges, Technicolor® fish . . . it’s like a cartoon world come to life. And with visibility up to 200 feet, it’s no wonder the waters of the Caribbean offer some of the finest diving in the world. Favorite spots for underwater sightseeing I learned to dive in Grand Cayman a dozen years ago, and it is still one of my favorite spots. The Caribbean’s deepest valley, the Cayman Trench, comes close to shore and is responsible for the great clarity and spectacular wall diving — where gently sloping shorelines turn vertical and plummet to the depths. The walls around Grand Cayman are home to rope and barrel sponges, fabulous corals and a myriad of fishes. Another great dive is in the shallow waters of Stingray City, home to 250 “tame” southern stingrays. In Grand Turk, there’s a spectacular vertical wall just northwest of the island that you can either boat to or swim to from shore. At a spot called the Amphitheatre, the top of the reef folds into a natural bowl with a sandy bottom and raised coral on the outward edge. You might see barracuda, black jacks and, further down, peaceful nurse sharks, as well as the Caribbean’s largest orange elephant’s ear sponge. There’s also a great wreck dive on nearby Salt Cay where the HMS Endymion — a man o’ war — sank in 1790. Plus a couple of great beginner reef dives on the western shore. 60 E xplorations
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