DOLPHINSDive long enough in most parts of the Caribbean, and you’ll eventually come across a pod of dolphins on the boat ride back to shore. There’s nothing quite like hearing the chattering all around you and then watching a dolphin (or 20) materialize from the blue and cruise past for a curious look. The warm, clear waters of the Bahamas are one of the best places in the world to observe wild dolphins underwater. Snorkeling trips to observe spotted dolphins leave from Florida and Grand Bahama to nearby shallow sandbanks where the animals are often seen socializing. That they actually seem to seek out human interaction is icing on the cake. No controlled “experience” could ever compare. MAKE IT HAPPEN: Bimini Big Game Club (biggameclubbimini.com) offers a Dolphin Encounter with wild Atlantic spotted dolphins in the shallow waters surrounding Bimini for $120 per adult and $100 per child.
There’s a common misconception among divers that the Caribbean is all about sunny reefs and their jewel-colored (and -size) denizens — that for the large, dynamic predators and pelagics you have to head to the Pacific. Not so, we say. From Tobago and the Bahamas to the Mayan Riviera, the Caribbean’s cast of big animals stars mantas, sperm whales, whale sharks and more.