The Question: We want to snorkel with teens and with sea life in the Caribbean -- and I don't mean captive dolphins. Can you suggest a spot?
Teenagers will walk to the edge of the ocean, attention glued to their phones even as they're slipping their fins on, says veteran snorkeller and diver John Hessburg. But once they're suspended in the tropical water with the sounds of the world muffled, the allure of this vivid panorama takes over.
"They get down there and after the first day, they're just absolutely intoxicated with the beauty. They leave their dang cellphone on the dresser for the rest of the trip. They do," Hessburg says.
So, just where, where, you parents of such mood-driven offspring cry out, is this family holiday idyll? Hessburg, founder and general manager of U.S. Dive Travel ( usdivetravel.com, 952-953-4124), has explored far-flung waters for almost 40 years, and three destinations in the Caribbean make his Top 10 list: the Netherlands Antilles island of Bonaire, Guanaja Island in Honduras and the Turneffe Atoll in Belize. Bonaire ( tourismbonaire.com) offers beautiful corals a stone's throw from the shore, as well as plenty of choices for resorts.
But Hessburg's favourite stretch for mask-and-fin fans runs along the southern Belize Barrier Reef ( travelbelize.org) and into the eastern Honduran islands. The waters here are gentle, the visibility excellent and the view of giant tubes, sponges and schools of neon-coloured fish "an endless visual delight." And on Guanaja Island in Honduras, where Hessburg sends clients to the Villa at Dunbar Rock and Nautilus Dive Resort (click on "snorkelling vacations" at usdivetravel.com), a family may encounter more than excellent swimming with fish.
The six-bedroom, three-star resort is perched on a rock in the ocean pretty much guaranteeing some quality family time. In the evenings you can watch movies together or contemplate the day from the balcony. And if the Wi-Fi doesn't work (access is intermittent), for once maybe no one will mind.
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