Best Islands for Scuba Diving

Cocos Island, Costa Rica
To witness what lurks in the current just off this jungly island 300 miles west of Costa Rica, you'll need to go long and deep. Live-aboard dive boats make the rough, 36-hour crossing; then it's a 60- to 135-foot dive down to see hammerheads, white-tipped sharks, and manta rays. Book a trip on the Okeanos Aggressor (800-348-2628; www.aggressor.com).

Little Cayman Island
Still home to some of the deepest walls and clearest water, and still scarcely inhabited, this Frisbee-flat isle 80 miles northeast of Grand Cayman belongs on every diver's life list. Kick through tunnels, chimneys, and canyons; sail over 1,000-foot drop-offs; and come face-to-face with sea turtles. Book a diving package at quirky Pirates Point Resort (345-948-1010).


Wakatobi, Southeast Sulawesi, Indonesia
Waka-who-bi? Largely unexplored, the Wakatobi National Marine Park in the Sea of Banda teems with everything from pilot whales to pygmy sea horses. Stay at the Wakatobi Dive Resort on Tomia Island (011-62-361-284-227; www.wakatobi.com), which has lodging for 22 guests.

Roatán, Honduras
Visit 33-mile-long Roatán and you'll be faced with tough decisions: Reef-, wall-, or wreck-diving? Full-service dive resort or primitive beachfront cabana? Elephant-ear sponges and black coral or black groupers and whale sharks? Roatán Charter (800-282-8932; www.roatan.com) offers tank dives or weeklong packages.

Gizo, Solomon Islands
Diving near Gizo, in the western Solomons, means exploring coral-encrusted World War II wrecks and 100-foot walls surrounded by slow-cruising manta rays, tuna, barracuda, and a parade of confetti-colored reef fish. Topside, Gizo is a lush fantasy island smothered in orchids and mangroves. Call Dive Gizo (011-677-60253; www.divegizo.com).

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