SCUBA diving isn't the only way to get up close and personal with marine life. You may not get to go as deep without a tank, but if you know where to dive, a snorkel, mask, and fins are all you need to see the underwater world of coral, fish, and even whales and sharks. The best part: snorkeling requires minimal effort, time, equipment, and no certification. Here are thirteen of the best places in the world to mingle with sea creatures — no training necessary.
Things haven't changed much in the past 60 years on this far-west tip of Cuba, a five-hour trip from Havana but only 100 miles from Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. Cuba enjoys a unique physical location at the juncture of the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico, and an even more unique position in time – thanks to politically enforced isolation, the island's marine environment looks less like the pristine environs of the 1950s. So do cabanas at the Villa Maria la Gorda Hotel, where the on-site International Diving Center offer three daily trips to more than 30 snorkel and dive sites just minutes from shore. You can also just walk off the beach and plant your face in the water. Travel to Cuba legally on People-to-People or other licensed trips.