Twenty of the world's top athletes and explorers share their wildest dream trips—a dazzling list of never attempted feats daunting to even these world-class competitors. For the rest of us, consider their must-do adventures—and start planning. —Kate Siber
Photograph by Paul Nicklen, National Geographic
Caves are the sunken pirate treasure of diving. They hide untold underwater secrets—wild stalactites and stalagmites, fossils, and otherworldly light shows. They also hold untold dangers, from tight squeezes to maze-like passageways.
“Firstly, never go into an underwater cave—no matter how experienced a diver you are—without the proper training and equipment,” says Broad. “That said, an adventure in and of itself is to get cave dive certified. I recommend North Florida, the Bahamas, or the Yucatán for training.”
On the Yucatán Peninsula, Puerto Aventuras-based school DIR Mexico offers four-day cave-diving fundamentals courses in which students learn buoyancy, propulsion techniques in delicate environments, and underwater communications, among many other safe-diving techniques. The classroom includes some of the hundreds of miles of subterranean limestone passageways that form the cenotes of the Yucatán, once considered sacred among the Maya. It’s easy to understand why when exploring these wild rock formations where, if you’re lucky, you might spot a halocline, a mixing of saltwater and freshwater that resembles a mysterious, otherworldly cloud. Sacred, indeed.
DIR Mexico’s fundamentals course costs $1,500. The instructors also offer private guiding for certified divers.
Next: See Kenny Broad's Dream Trip: Dive and Surf From Florida to the Bahamas
An environmental anthropologist and National Geographic Emerging Explorer, Kenny Broad dives in some of the world’s most technical and dangerous underwater caves for the sake of science. Broad has descended into some of the world’s deepest caves in Mexico's Huautla Plateau and in the Bahamas.