The Lazy, Crazy Guide to Sand Land

Best Dive Destinations

Into the Caribbean's clear blue wonders     Photo: Corel

Best Plunge Pool with a View

Ladera Resort, St. Lucia
Refreshing cold-water plunge pools are the perfect treat after a sweat-in-the-sun activity, and they've become a trend at boutique resorts. Ladera's set the gold standard—each room has its own private plunge pool, with spectacular views from the resort's primo perch on a ridge overlooking the ocean and St. Lucia's famed Pitons. (doubles from $290; 758-459-7323, www.ladera-stlucia.com)

DRIFT DIVING LITTLE CAYMAN'S BLOODY BAY WALL MARINE PARK: Bloody Bay is a notch every diver wants to carve into his or her weight belt, with good reason—gliding over the edge of a mile-deep vertical drop as the wall disappears into the depths of the Caribbean Sea is an unbeatable thrill. Orange and brown sponges jut from all directions, and sea turtles, spotted eagle rays, and groupers swim about. Three-night packages, including lodging, meals, and diving, start at $645 at the clubby Little Cayman Beach Resort (800-327-3835, www.littlecayman.com).

VIEWING WHALE SHARKS OFF UTILA, HONDURAS: Your best bet for encountering 25- to 40-foot whale sharks, the largest fish in the sea (don't worry, they eat plankton, not humans), is to sign up with Princeton, N.J.-based Shark Research Institute. During a weeklong visit at their field station at Utila Lodge, on one of the Bay Islands off Honduras in the Caribbean Sea, you'll learn how to find the mammoth spotted creatures, dive with them, and help researchers with population studies. Seven-night packages, including lodging, meals, and diving, cost $1,150 per person (609-921-3522, www.sharks.org).

DIVING THE SHORES OF BONAIRE: The shore-diving capital of the world has outstanding dive sites just duck walks from the beach. (Salt and Old Town piers are favorite spots.) The strictly regulated Bonaire Marine Park surrounds the island—a 111-square-mile Dutch outpost off the Venezuelan coast—and protects its coral, sea turtles, and fish. Buddy Dive Resort (866-462-8339, www.buddydive.com) offers eight-day, seven-night packages, including rental car and six days of unlimited air fills, starting at $965 per person.

DIVING PINNACLES IN SABA MARINE PARK: Saba—a five-square-mile mountainous outcrop in the Netherlands Antilles—is legendary for its underwater pinnacles and seamounts, including Third Encounter and Twilight Zone. Covered in red and orange fans and sponges, they rise from the floor of the Caribbean Sea to within 85 feet of the surface, and are frequented by six varieties of shark. Sea Saba Advanced Dive Center (800-883-7222, www.seasaba.com) offers three-day, six-dive packages starting at $399 per person at the eco-funky El Momo Cottages.

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