Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park
The first land-and-sea preserve in the world (it was established in 1959) encompasses 176 square miles of stunningly clear water, along with dozens of cays, islets, and beaches. But though the “land” part of this environment is pretty (and provides a protected habitat for iguanas, nesting sea turtles, and innumerable sea birds), it’s the “sea” part that truly dazzles. The underwater scenery here is easily the best in the Bahamas—and a mecca for divers and snorkelers. Spotted eagle rays, barracuda, spiny lobsters, and all manner of sponges, corals, and Technicolor fish make their home here; visitors can explore either by day-tripping from Great Exuma or by doing a multiday live-aboard trip. Georgetown-based Dive Exuma (www.dive-exuma.com) runs daily boat dives to various sites in the park, ranging from shallow reefs to caverns and blue holes. And AquaCat Cruises (www.aquacatcruises.com) offers weeklong cruises aboard its state-of-the-art, 102-foot catamaran. Several dives per day—including night dives—plus cabin accommodations and all meals are included in the package rates (which start at $1,695 per person; equipment rental costs extra).
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.