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Published: February 2009Best Island Vacations 2009: Pick Your Paradise

Scout the World’s Best Shipwrecks

Bermuda

Text by Meg Lukens Noonan
The reefs that encircle this genteel, prosperous British territory some 600 miles off the coast of North Carolina have trashed hundreds of vessels, including the Sea Venture, which in 1609 tossed the island’s first European settlers ashore. Today that translates to some of the most spectacular and accessible wreck diving in the world. As if the nearly 400 identified sunken ships weren’t enough, the Bermuda government deliberately scuttled two more in the last two years—a 70-foot passenger ferry and a 75-foot tugboat—just for your diving pleasure. Most of the boats, or what’s left of them, are resting no more than 50 feet deep on vibrant coral beds. "There’s not a single wreck that’s sitting in a desolate sand hole," says Marie Wilson, dive instructor with Blue Water Divers & Watersports, the island’s only year-round operation. In late winter and early spring, you’ll find air and water temperatures in the 60s and 70s, the best undersea visibility of the year, and far fewer people at the dive sites. Book a dive/stay package at the shell-pink 74-room Pompano Beach Club on the southwest coast or, when it opens for the season in April, at the more casual 9 Beaches. The latter is a collection of canvas-sided cabanas, the best of which are directly over the water and have Plexiglas panels in the floor.

The Lure: Wreck diving

Vitals: Blue Water Divers & Watersports, from $105 for a two-tank dive; divebermuda.com. Pompano Beach Club dive/stay package, five nights, $1,416; pompano.bm. 9 Beaches, doubles from $205; 9beaches.com

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