Dive Among the Channel Islands
Where It Is: Sometimes called “the North American Galapagos,” this chain of eight islands lies 150 miles off the coast of southern California, roughly between San Diego and Santa Barbara.
What to Look for: A confluence of cold northern water and warm southern currents makes for an extraordinary spectrum of sea life here. Giant kelp forests, with stalks that rise more than 100 feet from the sea floor, shelter species ranging from sea lions and great white sharks to cartoonish Garibaldi fish and crayon-bright Hermissenda crassicornis sea slugs.
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.