PALM BEACH COUNTY, FLORIDA
There is nowhere else in America you can dive with lemon sharks, explore numerous wrecks and encounter critters like striated frogfish within a few fin kicks of the beach. Dive operators in the Palm Beaches area offer easy access to the county’s nearly 70 dive sites, while the Gulf Stream ensures warm water, excellent water clarity and lots of healthy reef growth. Florida divers have long known about the riches off the Sunshine State’s Atlantic coast, but now divers from around the world, including underwater photographers, are getting in on the action. Juno Ledge, a few miles north of Palm Beach Inlet, attracts schooling fish like snappers and plenty of encounters with the big boys, like eagle rays, goliath groupers, barracuda and, in winter, dozens of lemon sharks. Mizpah is a 185-foot former Greek luxury liner intentionally sunk in 1968 in 90 feet of water. Orange cup corals coat its inner structure, while barracuda, jacks and turtles patrol its exterior. Better still, Mizpah, like most Palm Beach diving, is done as a drift — you’ll also explore two other wrecks, PC1170 and Amaryllis, on the same dive. There’s always the chance to see something weird in the shallow waters at Blue Heron Bridge in West Palm Beach, so pack your macro lens along with your flip-flops. Plus, this winter getaway is packed with lots of surface-interval action, including Major League Baseball spring training and kayaking on the Intracoastal.