The experience of witnessing the parade of big marine life finning along the edge of a reef wall tends to be limited to certified scuba divers. Off the island of Little Cayman, the Bloody Bay Wall starts at a snorkeler-friendly depth of 18 feet, then plummets like the side of a skyscraper to 6,000 feet. Even at 18 feet, you’ll encounter eagle rays, sea turtles and Nassau grouper, a 17-inch species beloved by dive guides for its Labrador-Retriever-like personality.
What is it about the islands that make life better? Is it the tropical breeze coming in from the ocean? Is it the sound of the waves crashing on the shore? Maybe its the laid back vibe or the perfect sunset that you see no matter what island you are visiting.When I think of our times in the islands, nothing but perfection springs to mind. All the complications and stresses of life completely melt away in the tropical heat and are instantly replaced by the tranquility of a deserted beach or seaside cabana.
The Island of Jamaica in the West Indies is the ultimate vacation destination for the package tourist. But head out from behind the gates and you will discover a country filled with rich culture, fun activities and friendly and inviting people. And yes, the beaches are absolutely beautiful. Jamaica is so large, we captured many beautiful pictures of this tropical island. It was difficult to choose a favourite.
Hard to get to, but well worth the effort, the Bazaruto Archipelago of Mozambique keeps us visiting and dreaming. Barely 22 miles off the east coast of Africa, this group of six islands (Bazaruto, Benguerra, Magaruque, Bangue, Shell, and Santa Carolina) continue to top our "must-visit" list of places in the world. The entire area was declared a National Park in 1971 and hosts a plethora of snorkel and dive opportunities.
When snorkeling on or near coral reefs, care must be exercised to avoid contact with the delicate (and sometimes sharp or stinging) coral, and its poisonous inhabitants, usually by wearing protective gloves and being careful of one's environment. Coral scrapes and cuts often require specialized first aid treatment and potentially, emergency medical treatment to avoid infection. Booties and surf shoes are especially useful as they allow trekking over reefs exposed by low tide, to access drop-offs or deeper waters of the outer reef - this is, however, ecologically irresponsible.
While the marine life in Galapagos is dramatic, the aquatic conditions are fairly benign for us humans. Waters are relatively warm, although if you plan to be in the water for more than 20 minutes at a time then it’s worth wearing a short wet suit (these are provided on cruises). Flotation devices can also be provided, if necessary. Keep in mind that most of the marine life lives in areas that don’t have any strong currents or undertows.
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As the sun began to set, I suddenly realized that most of the light would go with it. Before my visit, I’d imagined T.I. would simulate the long days by the equator. Instead, because most of the dome is opaque, it’s darker inside T.I. on a sunny day than outside the dome, and when the sun goes down IRL, it also goes down inside the cavernous air hanger. But first, a faux sunset—courtesy of magenta and orange stage lights—that made the rock grotto lagoon pool look ripe for a Bachelorette taping.
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