Here are the best places to explore under water, near and far.
under water vacation snorkling
Credit: Ken Kochey

1. Bonaire


Coral has been protected around this Dutch Caribbean island since 1979, which explains why it's one of the region's best spots for scuba diving. There are 86 (yes, 86!) public sites -- many of which you can swim to right from the shore -- and top-notch outfitters like Dive Friends Bonaire. And its calm, crystal-clear waters are ideal for beginners.

2. Kona, Hawaii


With white-sand beaches, waterfalls, and three active volcanoes, the island of Hawaii is mainly known for what's above the shore. But Kona, on the western coast, stands out for what swims beneath: vibrant reef fish and marine life like moray eels and manta rays, gliding among other-worldly lava formations. See it all on an excursion with Jack's Diving Locker.

3. The Maldives


Time is of the essence if you've dreamed of diving in this set of 26 atolls in the Indian Ocean. Sadly, warming temperatures and rising sea levels are slowly damaging the low-lying coral. Many resorts have protected house reefs to explore -- including the new Soneva Jani (from $1,870 per night,, where you'll spot banded grouper, eagle rays, and parrot fish right off the beach -- plus instructors to take you to nearby dive sites.

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