British Columbia, Western U.S., Baja, Socorros, Cocos, Galapagos

Diving the cool waters off the northern sector of the western Americas is done mostly off of Vancouver Island, Canada and Washington’s San Juan Islands. Here, rocky reefs and kelp forests are home to giant octopi, wolf eels and a stunning mix of colorful invertebrates.

Exploring Central California near Monterey and Point Lobos offers the opportunity to see the antics of seals, sea lions, sea otters, as well as healthy populations of fishes and invertebrates. Slightly further south, the eight California Channel Islands are known for giant kelp forests that serve up encounters with Bat Rays, sea lions, harbor seals, more than 60 species of rockfishes and the bright orange damselfish known as the Garibaldi.

Mexico’s Sea of Cortez remains one of the most prolific bodies of water on earth. Divers know it as a place for Whale Sharks, schools of Scalloped Hammer-heads, Manta Rays, big groupers and dense schools of jacks. In Baja you can enjoy the option of a week-long live-aboard vacation or a land-based stay near the Bay of Los Angeles, La Paz or in the Los Cabos.

High voltage diving with Humpback Whales, Manta Rays and sharks is the special allure of a trip to the Revillagigedos Islands, which are popularly known as the Socorros. These islands are only accessible by a live-aboard charter boat. The same is true of the trips to the adrenaline-producing Costa Rican island of Cocos, where currents bring in pelagics like Whale Sharks, Scalloped Hammerheads and billfish.

The enchanted isles of the Galapagos, where Charles Darwin made so many of his observations, are only a few hundred miles further south. Most trips to this volcanic island archipelago involve a combination of diving and land-based excursions. Underwater, the Galapagos is inhabited by a mix of temperate, sub-tropical and tropical species while hikes ashore provide an opportunity to observe the world’s only seagoing lizard, the marine iguana, and a variety of birds.