Cozumel, Mexico


You want another stamp in your passport. You want postcard beaches and swaying palm trees. You want spectacular diving — and you don’t want to pay through the nose for any of it. What you want is Cozumel, a quick (and direct) flight from plenty of U.S. cities. Though the island hosts multiple cruise ships daily, divers can avoid the crowds by heading to the reefs south of the main town, where the reward is lush hard corals and plentiful fish life. Dive operators along the west coast are within easy reach of dive sites, and an ever-flowing current — sometimes strong — makes for exciting drift dives, wherein you might see multiple turtles but will have time only to wave farewell as you fly past. Must-dos include Horseshoe on Palancar Reef, where you’ll drop in around 35 feet into a coral amphitheater filled with blue tangs, parrotfish, turtles and shy green moray eels. More-advanced divers can head farther south to Punta Sur, a deep wall dive featuring coral tunnels and swim-throughs, as well as turtles, eagle rays and reef tropicals. And those beaches? After you surface for the day, bury your toes in the sand with a well-earned cerveza in hand.