If you love to go scuba diving, but don't want to spend hours on a dive boat (especially in rough water) to reach the best coral check out these islands which all offer spectacular scuba dives right off the shore. Bonaire, for example, has more than 80 markers indicating places where you can walk off the shore and be in a coral garden within a few hundred feet. Scuba divers on Lady Elliot Island, actually part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park in Australia, can swim into coral canyons just off the shore.
At most resorts, the shore dives cost less than a boat dive.
Bonaire is actually the peak of a submerged mountain, so deep sloping reefs surround much of the island. There are 86 markers along the shoreline that indicate where divers can just walk off the shore and find spectacular coral within a few hundred yards. Image just walking off the shore swimming for three or four minutes and being in the middle of an underwater art museum. It's easy to do in Bonaire
Photo Credit: Bonaire Tourism/Suzi Swygert
Humans wearing scuba gear are in the minority during shore dives, when they join the parade of sea life cruising in the multi-hued coral canyons off Lady Elliot Island
. This fragile coral cay is the southernmost in a line of interconnecting reefs that form Australias Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.
The Cayman Islands
are famous for spectacular dive sites that are easily reachable by boat, but some terrific shore dives are available 24 hours a day. You can do night dives around the pier in George Town, or visit 'Babylon,' an East End shore dive on the North Shore that is a locals' favorite.
Another member of the ABC islands in the southwestern Caribbean, Curacao
, is also surrounded by reefs, walls and even some sunken ships. You can walk off the beach of some resorts or into the water on some secluded beaches and see multi-hued corals, both ship and airplane wrecks, barracuda and other fish.
Shorediving.com is an online scuba diving community whose members love shore dives. The site lists dozens of dives primarily off shores around the U.S. and the Caribbean.