Peek beneath the surface: Some of the world’s best snorkeling destinations
There are so many places on land to discover, but even more that are underwater, just waiting to be seen. Once you take the plunge beneath the surface and open your eyes, what you see can transform your perspective. Snorkeling is an activity that most anyone can enjoy, even those who don't necessarily like being completely underwater. It provides an opportunity to see what's below the surface, along with a chance to dive deep down to the depths of the ocean. Next time you find yourself in one of these top snorkeling destinations, grab a mask and have a look for yourself.
Florida Keys, Florida
Home to the only living coral barrier reef in the continental United States, the Florida Keys are your best bet for spotting colorful and diverse marine life close to home. Reef sharks dominate the area, but there is no need to panic, as these local sharks are both common and harmless. Additionally, snorkeling in the Keys will give you the opportunity to see turtles, stingrays, eels, barracudas and tons of tropical fish. Don't miss Key Largo, where the Molasses Reef is located, and Islamorada, which is a bit more secluded. It's also where you might see hammerhead sharks.
Punta Mita, Mexico
Travelers that fly into Puerto Vallarta airport are often completely unaware that one of the best kept secrets in the country is less than an hour away. Punta Mita is a small town that provides a very high-end resort experience, with some of the best hotel chains in the world dominating the area. Many of the resorts have exclusive, private beaches with access to crystal clear waters and rock formations near the coastline. The topography provides an opportunity to see and swim with all sorts of marine life, including eagle rays, moray eels, starfish and seahorses. Punta Mita is also home to underwater caves, which invite exploration. While out in the ocean, keep watch for the dolphins that occasionally swim by.
Maui has something for everyone, including great snorkeling spots all around the island. Between the lava rocks, coves and sandy beaches, it's no wonder Maui's reputation is renowned among snorkelers. Make sure to drive out past Big Beach to the Ahihi Kinau Natural Area Reserve to enjoy this very unique spot for where no fishing is allowed. Experience memorable sea life encounters by taking a boat near Molokini, just off of Wailea Beach. Trips here are usually available via tour boats that take you to the best dive locations around the island and offer an amazing experience in the open waters.
Nusa Lembongan, Indonesia
There are many reasons to visit Bali, or the “Island of the Gods" as it is commonly referred to. But when you come to Bali with plans to snorkel, things are done a bit differently. What makes Bali such a cool experience is that in some spots, jumping in the waters and riding the water current provides a special way of snorkeling. Drift snorkeling, as it's called, can be a little intense. But what can beat letting your body flow with the current while your eyes spot all sorts of biodiversity? Once you have had your share of the fast-paced snorkeling, hire a boat for a short ride to Nusa Lembongan where the waters are calmer, making it an ideal spot for snorkelers of all levels.
Great Barrier Reef, Australia
With more than 3,000 individual reef systems and coral cays, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia is the largest and, hands down, the most desired coral reef in the world. A visit to Heron Island will provide you with the opportunity to swim next to and see approximately 60% of the species of fish that live along the reef. Beyond beach snorkeling, boats are available for hire from most coastal cities and can take you to some of the better locations for snorkeling. Popular reefs are located near the cities of Cairns, Port Douglas and Townsville.
If you go
If you can't get to Mars, what's the next best thing? Apparently Iceland. A team of renowned explorers and researchers recently journeyed to Iceland to test a Mars analog suit in a Martian-like environment.
The United sponsored expedition, led by The Explorers Club — an internationally recognized organization that promotes the scientific exploration of land, sea, air and space — and in partnership with Iceland Space Agency, involved the team venturing inside the Grímsvötn volcano and across the Vatnajökull ice cap. The group traveled to the remote location and lived for six days in the Grímsvötn Mountain Huts and endured harsh weather conditions and unstable terrain.
Helga Kristin Torfadöttir, Geologist and glacier guide, using the LiDAR system to map the ground and test the suit's capabilities on the glacier.
The objective of the mission was to explore the potential of concept operations at the Grímsvötn location while testing the suit in an arctic environment similar to what would be found on the surface of Mars. "This mission was an important test of the design of the MS1 suit, but it was also incredibly helpful to understand the how to conduct these sorts of studies in Iceland," said Michael Lye, MS1 designer and NASA consultant and RISD professor. "No matter how thoroughly something is tested in a controlled environment like a lab, studying it in a setting that accurately represents the environment where it will be used is absolutely essential to fully understand the design."
The suit was designed and constructed by faculty and students at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) with input and guidance from members of the HI-SEAS IV crew and NASA's Johnson Space Center Space Suit Engineering team. At 50-60 lbs, the suit is similar to what a planetary exploration suit would weigh in Martian gravity. The suit was originally designed to be used in the warm climate of Hawaii, however the martian climate is much closer to what would be found on top of the glaciers in Iceland. The data collected will inform the future of habitat and spacesuit design that can be used to train astronauts on Earth.
Today, we remember the colleagues, customers and every single victim of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
I know each of us in the United family marks this difficult moment in our own way. Still, we all share a common commitment to honor how our brothers and sisters left us and also celebrate what they gave to us during their lives. We remember their professionalism and heroism. We cherish their camaraderie and friendship. We carry with us the examples they set forth, especially in the heroism and bravery displayed by so many on that terrible day. Above all, we understand a simple truth: While thousands of our fellow human beings lost their lives in New York City, Arlington and Shanksville, the attacks of September 11th were aimed at all people of peace and good will, everywhere. They were attacks on the values that make life worth living, as well as the shared purpose that make us proud of what we do as members of the United family: connecting people and uniting the world.
We may live in times scarred by discord and disagreement, and we know there are those around the world who seek to divide us against one another. But, on this day – above all – we come together, as one. We affirm our core belief that far, far more unites us as citizens and fellow human beings than can ever divide us.
Let us embody that belief as we go about serving our customers and one another – on this day and every day – as we continue to help building a world that's more united. Let that be our memorial to the sisters and brothers we lost, eighteen Septembers ago.