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.
Manta Rays: Kona, Hawaii
The big island of Hawaii is famous for manta rays, and the Kona Coast offers the best place to see them. These gentle giants, with wingspans of up to 20 feet or more and no stingers, live here year-round and can be seen just snorkeling off the beach. For an especially memorable encounter, book a night boat tour. Lights on the ocean floor attract plankton, the manta's favorite food. Hover on the surface and watch as they glide and somersault beneath you, looking more like giant birds than marine creatures. Chances are you'll also see honu, or green sea turtles, off the beach. Snorkel nearby protected Kealakekua Bay for coral, tropical fish and spinner dolphins. Sea Quest Snorkeling Adventures provides full-day outings there.
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