Pelagic Magic

While there's plenty to ex­plore on land, these world- class sites, fea­tur­ing epic wrecks, shark en­coun­ters and gor­geous reefs, will keep you un­der­wa­ter

Sport Diver - - Front Page -

Make a to­tally rad night dive in Kona

USS Gen­eral Hoyt S. Van­den­berg Key West, Florida

So big it has five sur­face buoys, this 522-foot Air Force mis­sile-track­ing ship is a choose-your-ow­nad­ven­ture ar­ti­fi­cial reef thanks to am­ple on­line re­sources map­ping its six pen­e­tra­ble decks that rest on the sand at 150 feet. It’s com­mon for guided tours to wind through the el­e­va­tor shafts, cargo holds and stair tow­ers to pos­si­bly see res­i­dent grouper and bar­racuda.

Soufriere Pin­na­cles Do­minica

Found in­side the SoufriereS­cotts Head Ma­rine Re­serve, these cur­rent-swept pin­na­cles — cov­ered in en­crust­ing and star corals — sup­port stone­fish, anemones, Ped­er­son clean­ing shrimp, sharp­tail eels and a host of other ma­rine life, and de­scend to depths ex­ceed­ing recre­ational lim­its.

Pelagic Magic Kona, Hawaii

Along with the famed manta night dive, this one-tank trip 3 miles off­shore, teth­ered to the dive boat and drift­ing 30 feet below the sur­face in wa­ter that is more than a mile deep — in the dead of night — is one of Kona’s sig­na­ture dives. You may see flu­o­res­cent squid and tiny mar­lin.

M/V Lulu Or­ange Beach, Alabama

This 271-foot freighter, sunk in 2013, starts in 60 feet of wa­ter, mak­ing it an ideal mul­ti­level wreck. Its perime­ter and three decks — the cargo holds are at 95 feet — have be­come an oa­sis for 80-pound am­ber­jacks as well as go­liath grouper.

Steve’s Bom­mie Great Bar­rier Reef, Australia

Only pho­tog­ra­phers find this ma­rine-life hot spot frus­trat­ing, be­cause it’s hard to choose be­tween a wide-an­gle or macro lens when swim­ming around a pin­na­cle cov­ered in macro life, from nudi­branchs to anemone­fish, that’s also fre­quently vis­ited by 26-foot dwarf minke whales.

SS Thistle­gorm Ras Mo­hammed, Egypt

Sure, the soft-co­ral-cov­ered ex­te­rior is lovely, but the in­te­rior cargo holds — stuffed nearly to the ceil­ing with Bed­ford trucks, a fleet of Nor­ton 16H mo­tor­cy­cles, crates of am­mu­ni­tion, Welling­ton boots and two steam trains — are the real draw of this 419-foot Bri­tish Mer­chant Navy ship that was tor­pe­doed by Ger­man forces in 1941.

Su­per­man’s Flight St. Lu­cia

Wickedly strong cur­rents give vis­i­tors to this drift dive on the south­ern end of St. Lu­cia’s west coast the feel­ing that they’re fly­ing over reef cities alive with pil­lar corals, sea fans, green sea tur­tles and south­ern stingrays.

Sea Tiger Oahu, Hawaii

Ea­gle rays, green sea tur­tles and whitetip reef sharks all cruise by this 165-foot wreck at a depth of 110 feet off the beach of Waikiki. Be­cause it was well-cleaned be­fore its 1999 sink­ing and re­mains so well in­tact, it’s easy to ex­plore the re­frig­er­a­tion cargo holds as well as the bridge.

Light­house Point Grand Cay­man

Rare is the shore dive that’s a 10-minute swim from the beach and con­tains a drop-off deeper than 4,000 feet. The depth makes it a tec diver’s dream, but the healthy reefs — eas­ily nav­i­ga­ble, even for begin­ners, thanks to fat ropes run­ning par­al­lel to shore — make it a must-see for any­one hop­ing for en­coun­ters with green sea tur­tles, green mo­ray eels and pos­si­bly a ham­mer­head or Caribbean reef shark.

Santa Maria Caves Malta

Each of these 10 caves has its own ap­peal, be it tun­nels, an air-filled room or a 40-foot en­trance al­low­ing light to spill ev­ery­where. What they have in com­mon is Mediter­ranean Sea ma­rine life, in­clud­ing com­mon oc­to­puses, banded sea bream, morays, crabs and nudi­branchs.

A diver fins over tube sponges at Light­house Point. Op­po­site: Mo­tor­bikes can be found in the Thistle­gorm.

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