Buck Island, St. Croix, USVI
Visits to national parks tend to conjure up visions of majestic mountains and roaming buffalo, but on Buck Island in the U.S. Virgin Island you’re more likely to run into a friendly octopus than a picnic-basket-stealing bear. Snorkel between the elkhorn coral barrier reefs under Buck Island’s brilliant blue waters as you follow a colorful parrot fish along an underwater trail through this sunken national treasure. Three species of sea turtles nest at the park, brain coral abound, and both endangered brown pelicans and threatened least terns call home The shallow, gentle waters are ideal for beginning snorkelers.
Komodo Island, Indonesia
While the giant lizards that call this island home get most of the attention from visitors, Komodo has some fascinating inhabitants under the water, too. Head to Pink Beach to swim with rays, schools of groupers, and hawksbill turtles in the undersea garden that grows there. Alternatively, visit the sea surrounding the Komodo National Park, which offers unmatched underwater exploration with over 1000 species of fish 260 types of coral, and 14 types of endangered whales, dolphins, and giant turtles. If that’s not enough to strap on a snorkel, there are also rays, sharks, and a flourishing coral reef to make for a memorizing journey.