MANTA RAYSThrilling drift dives and healthy reefs are top lures of their own, but when you add manta-ray encounters to the equation, the Caribbean isle of Tobago holds its own among the world’s top dive destinations. The nutrient-rich waters here, constantly fed by currents sweeping the coast, draw enormous manta rays to sites like manta city. The spring and early-summer months bring the animals in the largest concentrations. Another Caribbean locale where you just might find yourself witnessing the manta dance is Turks and Caicos, where the species can be encountered off Grand Turk and Providenciales during summer months. MAKE IT HAPPEN: AquaMarine Dive (aquamarinedive.com) at the Blue Waters Inn in Speyside runs daily two-tank dive trips for $90, as well as multidive packages.
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.