2001-02 Enchanted Realms

By Ty Sawyer, Senior Editor

It's hard to fathom a dive adventure to destinations like those in our Romantic Getaways section without a lover-like Santa's sugarplums, visions of soft sand beaches, glass-clear water and ...well... passion inducing vistas, dance right into your reality as soon as you exit the plane or boat. Exotic islands such as Bora Bora and Moorea in Tahiti have such a fabled allure of romance that early sailors would rather mutiny than leave their shores. And like Tahiti, the Hawaiian Islands have long lured lovers to its seas. So many that Maui has been labeled the "honeymooner's island." And Kauai's rugged Na Pali coast has inspired intimate rendezvous since Captain Cook first spied its coastline. That so much great diving exists just beyond these island's shorelines only increases their attraction.

For more secluded trysts, there are the Belizean hideaways of Glover's Atoll and Blackbird Caye. Once the hideouts of pirates, these slivers of sand and palm are so off-the-beaten-path that you will scarcely meet another diver on their reefs or another couple on their beaches. And what surely must be St. Valentine's scuba diving cousin, the island of St. Lucia is a sweet indulgence of sea, tropical breezes and sand.

While the romantic getaways in this issue are best shared by two, you need to bring a sense of awe to the remote world of the Galapagos Islands. Here, in isolation on the equator, penguins, marine iguanas and Hammerhead Sharks exist side-by-side in what can only be described as an enchanted realm.

But for an even more enchanted realm you need look no further than our cover. It is an original work painted exclusively for Skin Diver by renowned marine artist, Wyland. After an encounter with a California Gray Whale early in life, Wyland dedicated his life and art to preservation of the sea and its creatures. His "Whaling Walls", massive marine murals decorating the sides of buildings, can be seen worldwide, and his story is a humbling reminder of how one person can, indeed, change the world.