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5 for Finning - Best Caribbean Snorkel Destinations

5 for Finning - Best Caribbean Snorkel Destinations

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http://www.caribbeantravelmag.com/articles/top-5-caribbean-snorkeling-destinations-st-john-usvi - From Champagne Beach’s mystic fizz to Trunk Bay’s famous undersea wall, we present the Caribbean’s best spots for snorkeling. See if your favorite snorkel destination or island made our list!
http://www.caribbeantravelmag.com/articles/top-5-caribbean-snorkeling-destinations-st-john-usvi - From Champagne Beach’s mystic fizz to Trunk Bay’s famous undersea wall, we present the Caribbean’s best spots for snorkeling. See if your favorite snorkel destination or island made our list!

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Published by: Caribbean Travel + Life on Jun 14, 2010
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06/14/2010

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masked miraclesby bob friel
3839
With stripes thatevoke their militarynamesake’s insignia,sergeant major share a familiar sight toCaribbean snorkelers.
our favoritecaribbeansnorkeldestinations
 
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masked miracles
you still grab your snorkel and heador the water. At Leinster Bay, you’llhit belly-scrapingly shallow water justyards away rom the path to Water-lemon Cay, where the skinny water ispacked with millions o sardine-sizesilverside. The baitish ebb and lowaround you as you move, so don’t besurprised to nd yoursel dive-bombedby a pelican looking to ill its bill.
In deeper water, vast schools o French grunts
and goatsh move amid elds o Venus sea
ans. On a recent our-hour masked marathon
in Leinster Bay, Simonsen tailed a sea turtleas it grazed on grass and then tried to crack open a small conch, and he spied healthyyoung stands o endangered elkhorn corals
ve to eight eet in diameter.
Leinster Bay and Waterlemon Cay lieinside the boundaries o the Virgin IslandsNational Park — which isn’t surprising, sinceabout 60 percent o St. John lies inside thepark’s boundaries. Other avorite spotsinclude the island’s number-one snor-kel destination, Trunk Bay, with itsamed underwater nature trail. Trunk,o course, shouts out rom every visitormap and package-tour brochure, but
early in the morning beore the crowds
begin to arrive, it is a magical place.Stingrays orage in the sand, turtlesin the grass, and in the summer, an
explosion o baitsh attracts schools o huge
tarpon. Once the maddening crowds arrive,head o the beaten path to Haulover Bay,on the northeast coast, to visit its healthy
corals. Or or a combo day o great beach and
great snorkeling, head to Hawksnest Beach,with its beautiul backdrops o elkhorn or-est populated by schools o grunts and blue
tangs. For a proessional underwater photog-
rapher like Simonsen, snorkeling on a day of 
may seem like a busman’s holiday, but when
you live on St. John, it’s a magic bus.
When you spend the bulk of your professional life snorkeling the reefs of St. John,aiming your underwater camera at a succession of bikini-clad babes and creatingimages for clients such as Kodak,
National Geographic
and
Playboy 
, a day offseems like a wasted opportunity. But if you’re
CT 
+
L
contributor Steve Simonsen,
 
     s     t  .     j     o     h     n  ,     u     s     v     i
The Virgin IslandsCoral Reef NationalMonument, created in2001, includes 12,708acres of submergedland within a three-mile belt off St. John.
 
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masked miracles
one that’s actively working the seawardside o the ree crest — the start o thedrop-o that’s a short swim acrosscalm water rom any westside shore-line or resort dock. As you n over theree, you may not see any trumpetshat irst, but they’re there, using both
color and motion as camoufage. As you
stare at a sot coral’s long, vertical lines, younotice that one o the branches sways just abit slower than the rest. That’s the trumpet-sh, close relative o the seahorse, waiting inambush or an unsuspecting sh. I nothingcomes along, the trumpet glides out romamong the rilly stems and changes rom thecoral-like shade to a cruising color, a brownor orange. When it spots a herbivorous sh
— oten an algae-crunching parrotsh — the
trumpet drats along, molding its body to theshape o the parrot and changing its colorto a similar hue. Small ish don’t shy awaywhen a parrot approaches to graze on living
rock, so it must be a shock to them when sud-
denly it splits in two and opens a large,trumpetlike mouth to vacuum up oneo their schoolmates.With a trumpetsh as your guide toBonaire’s rees, you’ll learn the manystrategies creatures use to survive inthat vibrant world. Once it has taughtyou to look or camoulage, mimicryand ambush, you’ll begin to pick out theother exotics that amously food Bonaire’swarm seas: the rogsh, scorpionsh, foun-der, octopi and seahorses. Bonaire’s reputa-tion was made on such encounters. Its lushrees, lying within easy swims rom the leecoast, make it the world’s top shore-divingdestination. What’s sometimes overlookedabout this scuba-crazy island is that, romthe moment you step into the water all theway to when you reach the ar end o thatree crest — the most lie-packed environ-ment on earth — you’re in some o theworld’s best snorkeling territory. And it’seven better i you pick the right guide.
As guides go, you can’t do much better than a trumpetfish. It’s not a sharkor a grouper or a ’cuda, not a tiptop predator, but this slender hunterhas evolved into one of the reef’s wiliest. Trumpets live throughout Bonaire’swaters, but the most fascinating show comes from observing
 
     b     o     n     a     i     r     e
Bonaire Marine Parkencircles the island toa depth of 200 feet,with a dazzling arrayof sites accessible tosnorkelers — someright off the beach.

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